A Marketer’s 2015 Guide to Holiday Planning

A Marketer's Guide to 2015 Holiday Planning

The weather is heating up, the beach is calling your name and the letters “TGIF” carry a little extra oomph. Yes, we’re already in the full swing of summer—summer vacations, summer weather and summer work schedules. But as marketers, we know this is also prime time to be looking ahead to the next big advertising push of the year: the holidays.

While we would never want to pull you away from your summer fun, we also know our fellow marketers are finalizing plans for the rest of the year, and we want to ensure you’re armed with the information and insights needed to make an impact this holiday season. With 1 in 3 Americans enjoying music on Pandora during the holidays, we know how brands can successfully rise above the holiday commotion and capture audience attention.

Here are 4 tips to deck the halls in your favor this holiday season:

1. Approach Holiday Media Early and Often

Marketers should expect this holiday season to start earlier and last longer than before. Looking back at 2014, eMarketer reported that we experienced our longest shopping season yet due to drawn-out sales, more free shipping offers and better fulfillment technology1. For marketers, designing holiday media campaigns to engage early and often will extend selling opportunities throughout the season.

Looking at November spending patterns, retail saw $20 billion in eCommerce sales in the first part of November last year, not including Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday1. It’s going to be important for advertisers to connect with target audiences by November 1st to build brand awareness and to sustain a consistent cadence through January 1stto capitalize on the full shopping season. Staying top of mind as people complete their gift buying and continuing to drive messaging throughout the season to capture last minutes shoppers will be not only be critical for holiday shopping but also during post-holiday sales.

Looking at the shopping habits of our listeners, we know that 42% plan to start their holiday shopping in November2. The National Retail Federation also found that 53% of people typically complete their shopping by December 10th3. On Pandora, we consistently see that big listening coincides with big online spending, even outside traditional spending days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This makes sense when we take into account the longer, steadier holiday shopping season, as well as how people pair music with their favorite holiday activities.

2. Shoppers are Thinking Mobile-First, and So Should Marketers

We live in a mobile-first world, especially during the holidays when people are most pressed for time. Between smartphones and wearables, connected cars and tablets, people expect easy access to content (and shopping) wherever and whenever they want. This year, eMarketer is expecting mobile traffic to account for more than 50% of all online shopping traffic this holiday season1.

But it’s not just that people are shopping on their mobile devices more. It’s that mobile has bridged the gap between online and offline, creating a singular holiday experience where consumers arrive in-store primed to buy exactly what they want. We’ve certainly come a long way since “showrooming” and in-aisle price comparisons, but the fact remains that mobile is now as essential to the holiday shopping experience as mall Santas and holiday jingles.

Mobile will be the key to unlocking a valuable connection with your target audience this holiday season. It will be critical for you to partner with a publisher who can reach a massive audience not only on mobile, but across the vast landscape of connected devices.

3. Follow the Music to Capture Audience Attention

We like to think that audio is the gift that keeps on giving. Why? Because audio can effectively capture attention in ways other media cannot, transcending devices and activities to deliver messages that really resonate. Think about it: everywhere you look today people have their headphones on. We’re officially an earbud culture, and during the holiday season it’s safe to assume that music is playing on the other end.

Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that most people’s favorite holiday companion isn’t their family or significant other, but their beloved holiday music. Just last December, Pandora saw a record 89.4 million unique visitors4, each spending more than 2 hours per day with their personalized stations. This listening often coincides with traditional holiday activities; for instance, 20% of Pandora users listen while online shopping and 46% listen while on the way to the store or mall2.

By tapping into the passion point of music, which is heightened during the holidays, and harnessing the power of audio ads to deliver seamless messages across devices, marketers gain instant access to a very captive audience. And when competition for attention is at an all-time high, it’s even more important to invest where your audience is spending so much time.

4. Prioritize Personalization for Holiday Messaging

Now more than ever, personalization has become a cultural expectation for everything from media and technology, to cars and clothes. It’s also a valuable tool marketers must leverage to stand out during the busiest time of year for advertising.

Mass media alone won’t generate awareness in today’s world. Brands that integrate personalization into their holiday strategy will be rewarded with attention, time and loyalty. In fact, 86% of people say personalized messaging plays a role in their purchase decisions5.

Here at Pandora, we’ve been pioneering personalization since the early 2000s. With such a large audience tuning in monthly, we’ve seen first-hand the emotional connection our listeners have when their stations are tailored to their individual taste. People will appreciate advertisers that take a similar approach to deliver relevancy in every piece of communication this holiday season—personalized, one-to-one interactions will be a game-changer.

While many consumer holiday sentiments haven’t changed, overall shopping behaviors are evolving—and marketers must take note on their holiday planning list (and check it twice). Our holiday tips were crafted to help advertisers look ahead to the upcoming holiday selling season. But for now, grab that towel and sunscreen and enjoy that summer vacation. We’re here to strategize on holiday advertising opportunities when you’re ready to set your sights on planning year-end.


1 eMarketer, Holiday Shopping Preview, March 2015 2 Pandora Holiday Soundboard Survey, November 2014 3 The National Retail Federation, December 2014 4 comScore, Media Metrix Multi Platform, December 2014 5 Infosys, Rethinking Retail Study, January 2014