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Quarterly Roundup: Holiday Shopping, Streaming Wars & Getting Out the Vote

 

Holiday shopping is off to an early start this year — as is voting. With the digital acceleration of consumer behavior, this season will be like no other. Here’s our roundup of news to have on your radar. 

 

Prime is the New Black

Holiday Shopping

Stealing Black Friday’s thunder as the kick-start for end-of-year shopping, Amazon moved their (in)famous Prime Day from July to October this year. Spending during the event jumped 36% compared to last year, and nearly one-third of shoppers purchased holiday gifts. With retail rivals also holding concurrent deal days, the race for holiday specials is on. 

E-commerce

This follows a huge spike in e-commerce shopping. We’ve already seen major increases this year as consumers shifted from stores to websites, with ten years growth in three months. It shows no signs of slowing down through the holidays, with other channels like mcommerce and social commerce also gaining in popularity. Many social platforms have beefed up their e-commerce integrations since last year, and most recently Google announced YouTube is aiming to become a shopping destination. 

Gift Ideas

A Google survey suggests that shoppers will browse for gift ideas online versus in-store. When they do shop in-store, it’ll look different this year. Click and collect (buy online pickup in-store) methods are expected to remain popular for retailers with half of holiday shoppers planning to use curbside or contactless pickup. 

Our stay-at-home holidays have many rethinking how to give gifts, whether it be to family, friends or colleagues. Many people will be looking for digital options that provide safe, convenient digital delivery methods. It’s also a great year to help a cause or local business. 

 

The Holiday Digital Mix

Digital Spending

The channel shift in retail sales is one of the factors driving an increase in digital spend. Digital display is predicted to grow 10%, as is overall digital spending, thanks to the digital acceleration of consumer behavior. Brands need to be discoverable online as shoppers research their holiday purchases and pre-plan their shopping more than ever before. 

Personalized Campaigns

Personalized messaging, localization and staying agile has become the mantra this year, given the rapidly changing customer behavior and marketplace. Dynamic campaigns and personalized video ads can help fine tune your messaging to the audience, environment and device. We know that consumers are increasingly expecting and looking for more relevant advertising. Nearly half of consumers will try new brands if an ad is relevant, and especially if it’s relevant to the content they’re viewing. 

Connected TV

The demand for streaming content has never been stronger across devices and platforms —  digital video consumption has soared. Time spent with connected TV (CTV) devices continues it’s upward trend from last year, jumping 81% during lockdown and remaining strong since.

Our partner true[X] calls CTV an incredibly rich canvas for engagement with an impressive amount of creative potential that can be complex, but worth the investment.

Digital Audio

Digital audio consumption, both streaming music and podcasts, is back on the rise after an initial slump. True people aren’t commuting as much, but there’s been a surge in listening at home using voice-activated speakers, smart TVs, and gaming consoles

People are still finding time to listen to podcasts even though listening habits have changed. Challenging Apple’s foothold, Spotify launched its curated podcast playlists to help with discovery and saw growth in both subscriptions and content consumption.

Digital audio spending is expected to bounce back as well, helped in part by an increase in programmatic spending, especially as publishers adopt the necessary ad tech. Google has taken steps to grow its digital audio business, beefing up its programmatic audio buying suite in Display Video 360 and Ad Manager along with tools like Audio Mixer.

 

The Streaming Wars

The Landscape

The streaming rivalry is an evolving battleground as it continues to change the media landscape. There’s a lot of strategic tension between services on pretty much every dimension. 

Much of the streaming discussion is focused on high-profile subscription video (SVOD), Nielsen now tracking it on a weekly basis. But as streaming increases, ad supported video (AVOD) has staked claim to a significant share of viewing. With the number of both SVOD and AVOD services expanding, the streaming content field is getting more crowded and fragmented, putting pressure on streaming services to keep audiences engaged. 

So who’s winning? NBCUniversal’s Peacock grabbed the top spot in Q3 with its hybrid AVOD/SVOD service. Amazon Prime Video dropped to the number two spot with HBO Max gaining traction as number three. Hulu, Disney+, Netflix and Apple TV+ falling in line behind them respectively, all seeing decreases from Q2 as the newer launches grabbed attention.

Content versus Hardware

Content remains king in these wars and streaming services have made bold statements with their aggressive moves to acquire content, benefitting from theatrical cancellations or delays. Netflix scooped up Paramount’s The Lovebirds and acquired Zendaya and Malcolm & Marie, Apple TV+ grabbed Tom Hanks’ Greyhound, Disney+ gobbled up Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton and accelerated its release. Amazon set the record with the acquisition of two major sequels (Borat and Coming to America) that will help drive subscriptions and put heat on rivals.

But this war is being fought in hardware devices as well. Google capturing the latest buzz with its latest Chromecast with Google TV, a legitimate threat to Amazon and Roku. Behavior trends related to preferred device and content viewing platform continue to persist and intensify.

 

Getting Out the Vote

Campaign Spending

Election Day is right around the corner, and millions of Americans have already cast their vote. Political ad spending has been tremendous this cycle, with nearly $11 billion expected to be spent across all races – 50% higher than in 2016. The presidential ad campaign alone will amount to almost $5.2 billion, with broadcast TV and digital spending breaking records, even leaning into video games.

Brands Making a Statement

Brands and agencies have also been doing their part to help get out the vote. Many organizations have opted to make Election Day a holiday for their employees, ensuring that there’s time to head to the ballot box. There’s been some notable, if not provocative, campaigns to help encourage voters to head to the polls including Nike and TIME making history with its cover.

Make sure your voice is heard – go out and vote!

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