Black Friday: Media leaders on winning brand strategies

black-friday-strategies-original-Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The world’s brands are poised for the biggest pre-Christmas retail event of the year, Black Friday, which kicks into gear tomorrow (Friday, 24 November).

But against a backdrop of global economic woe, the ongoing cost-of-living crises and multiple geo-political tensions, how will consumers respond?

And more importantly, what strategies should brands and advertisers be adopting to make sure they spend wisely in order to engage with consumers, not just over Black Friday itself, but beyond?

We asked some of the leading adtech and marketing agencies for their thinking ahead of the big weekend…

Suzanna-Chaplin-CEO-esbconnectSuzanna Chaplin, CEO, esbconnect

Black Friday signals the start of the holiday ad frenzy but it’s also a key opportunity to grow data; data which can help to drive not only increased but also incremental sales.

With shoppers taking calculated steps before spending during this all-important holiday season, many have kicked off promotions early.

Jumpstarting the season, however, is not as important as a carefully considered strategy – one which can boost sales well beyond the annual festivities.

Advertisers must be more strategic than ever – don’t just discount, consider how you can start a relationship, use it as an opportunity to grab data e.g. sign up to our newsletter to get an extra x% off.

Ensure this is a long-term play in a climate in which few consumers are in a position to splurge.

Nick-Morgan-vudooNick Morgan, CEO and Founder, Vudoo 

“Some have debated whether Black Friday is dead – not according to UK consumers, over half of which are set to spend more this Black Friday and Cyber Monday than in previous years.

“To secure a slice of that spend retailers will need a smart conversion strategy. This means creating a seamless shopping experience linking the moment of inspiration directly to the purchase.

“Giving customers all the information they need to make their decision in one place is the key to unlocking these conversions.

“The research also shows that Black Friday shoppers will be prioritising value and product quality. As such, brands should look to utilise interactive ads that reflect real-time pricing changes and stock levels, and include product information that answers any questions consumers might have.

“On top of this, features such as an in-stream checkout will make for a smooth experience for shoppers, while allowing brands to extend the checkout beyond their website and capture the entire customer journey.”

Picnic-CEO-Matthew-Goldhill-ledeMatthew Goldhill, Founder & CEO, Picnic

To drive meaningful outcomes for brands during Black Friday, and as a challenging holiday season begins, brands should be wary of wasting campaign budgets on ads that annoy, rather than engage users.

According to a recent survey we conducted in partnership with YouGov, more than two-thirds of consumers find digital advertising annoying, while 72% say that bad advertising experiences negatively affect their perception of a brand.

What’s more, almost nine in ten (86%) say that too many adverts on a webpage make them more likely to ignore the ads altogether.

It’s clear that we need to prioritise digital ad experiences that respect the overall user experience; focusing on quality and creativity at these critical moments for brands and shoppers alike.

mattia-slavi-ceo-aryelMattia Salvi, CEO & Co-Founder, Aryel

“Black Friday sales are predicted to drop in 2023 as opposed to previous years, requiring marketers to utilise innovative attention-grabbing campaigns to achieve retail goals and stand out to consumers.

“This can be increasingly facilitated by Augmented Reality (AR) solutions, which enable consumers to engage with branded content in new ways through elements of immersion, interactivity, and effortless participation; transforming mere online content into meaningful encounters.

“What’s more, brands can harness first-party data gathered from AR-powered campaigns — such as emotional state and facial features — to ensure they understand their audiences this Black Friday better than ever before.”

Sarah-whitfield-covaticSarah Whitfield, CMO, Covatic

“Marketers worldwide turn to Black Friday as a chance to flex their creative muscles and engage with consumers trawling the web for the best deals.

“And, despite economic turmoil, consumer spending this year is projected to increase by 7.5%, with over half of consumers allocating budgets towards Christmas gifts.

“However, a highly competitive landscape filled with brands vying for customer attention can make it challenging to stand out from the crowd and reach the most relevant audiences.

“Consumer concerns about advertisers having access to their personal data don’t make that any easier.

“Consumers expect the ads they see to be relevant, non-intrusive, and entertaining – it is the holiday season after all. In the lead-up to global events like Black Friday, marketers must ensure they are not putting sales ahead of audience trust.

“To reach the right consumers at the right time, brands can implement privacy-first strategies that deliver targeted and addressable ads, without neglecting creative execution that truly connects with their desired audiences.”

Larraine-Criss-COO-PrecisoLarraine Criss, COO, Preciso

With Black Friday signalling the start of the holiday ad frenzy, it’s important that advertisers spend wisely, across the most appropriate placements.

Targeted offers and discounts have emerged as a crucial avenue to engage with cash-strapped consumers, and indeed advertisers, with events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday helping to drive increased sales even as consumers continue to feel the pinch.

Fortunately, precision targeting is still possible in this privacy-first era, while disruptive programmatic ad buying continues to democratise access to high quality, qualified traffic at wholesale prices for merchants without the deep pockets of household names. But both require creativity and strategic rigour.

alvaro_pastor_EXTE-1Alvaro Pastor, CMO, EXTE

“Black Friday isn’t just another day of the year. It’s one of the biggest annual opportunities for brands to connect with consumers and gain advantage over competitors.

“The brands that are set to see the most success on 24 November, will be those with a comprehensive marketing strategy that started their campaigns well in advance.

“Beyond this, advertisers that truly embrace creativity in their campaigns and use fresh and unique formats, which feature 3D and XR experiences, will be the ones to capture audience eyeballs.

“Particularly those that augment their creatives with artificial intelligence (AI) that harnesses real-time data to personalise campaigns in line with factors such as the weather, live sports events, or geolocation.

“This mix of creative and technology is key for brands that want to stand out this Black Friday and beyond.”

james-bennie-impact.comJames Bennie, Regional VP, Customer Success impact.com

Advertisers must think beyond the short term, even during this promotional period. It’s important to build authentic and valuable partnerships with customers; leveraging influence to drive innovation, foster growth and create value.

The evolution of technology, and automation, can help to develop influence and build communities at scale.

But while Black Friday, without doubt, is a key moment in the retail calendar – signalling the start of the holiday ad frenzy – brands must take a considered approach which cuts through the noise, especially given the plethora of platforms and formats to choose from.

We haven’t even reached Thanksgiving, and the deals have been rolling in, thick and fast – risking over-saturation of promotional messaging which, in turn, puts pressure on margins.

It’s important to prioritise messaging which cuts through and adds authenticity and differentiation. In this way, partnerships can help.

But these must be meaningful and drive real value in order to compel consumers to part with their hard-earned cash as the all-important festive season approaches.

Nadia Gonzalez, ScibidsNadia Gonzalez, Chief Marketing Officer, Scibids

“With the festive shopping season looming, consumers will be eager to make strategic use of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and ensure that their gift budgets stretch further.

“As a result, in the same way that consumers are after value this Q4, retail marketers should emulate this thinking in their digital media spend.

“Indeed, competition to be in the checkout basket this week will be fierce, so it is important that campaigns stand out above all the noise. This means leveraging sophisticated technology, including AI solutions.

“Although AI has had serious penetration in the marketing industry in 2023, what will move the dial is if marketers are leveraging the right subsets of the technology.

“For example, customisable bidding, which ingests demand-side platform (DSP) log data alongside first- and third-party datasets, can focus on bespoke metrics, including attention and return on ad spend (ROAS) to achieve business-specific outcomes.

“Investing in these technologies will unlock opportunities to improve ROI not only in the short-term but into 2024 too.”

Elliot-Hill-VeraViews.jpgElliot Hill, CMO, VeraViews

Despite a surprise fall in inflation, consumers are still feeling the pinch. Black Friday discounts have become a crucial avenue for consumers to stretch their budgets – but marketers must seek to protect their ad dollars, too.

In the rush to drive sales at key retail moments, advertisers too often lose valuable budget to ad fraud. They must look to protect themselves. In this fast-moving and often opaque media ecosystem, too many jump on the latest bandwagon rather than considering the most efficient tried and tested strategies for mitigating fraud.

Yet technology exists today to help to drive efficient targeting whilst safeguarding against this risk, which is more important to deploy than ever given the cost of living crisis.

Lucia_MastromauroLucia Mastromauro, MD UK, Acceleration, a WPP Company

“With the average consumer spend on Black Friday expected to drop in 2023, there is more pressure on brands to cut-through the noise and capture attention in their digital advertising campaigns.

“Those who exhibit agility, embrace data-driven strategies, and experiment with different tools such as Cloud or AI and machine learning will be the most prepared to deliver superior customer experiences, efficiently increase sales, and enhance market visibility this Black Friday and holiday season.”

rob-ishag-tripleliftRob Ishag, RVP, Demand Sales, N. Europe, TripleLift

“With consumers still feeling economic pressure and some forecasters predicting a drop in Black Friday spend in the UK, the highly anticipated global sale looks likely to be a more muted affair this year.

“Marketers looking to make the most of still-present opportunities will need to tread carefully and remain sensitive with their advertising messaging if they’re to capture the attention of cautious consumers.

“On top of the usual discounts and price promotions, consumers value convenience, so straight to the point messaging that spells out how you can ensure a smoother shopping experience will resonate, especially with last-minute shoppers.

“Buy Online Pickup in Store (BOPIS) services, for example, provided retailers with a sales boost last year and are predicted to increase in popularity during the entire holiday period. Effectively communicating these services can give retailers the edge during this year’s Black Friday event.”