Holiday advertising – are you ready? 2020 has been an eventful year, but cancel the holidays?! Impossible. While this year may look a little different(more at-home and virtual get-togethers, fewer Black Friday in-store sales) trends from last year will only strengthen: ecommerce is poised to thrive, as is mobile shopping and killer online sales – and it will all start a

bit earlier. Start early, start strong, and bring a thoughtful touch to digital strategy and messaging this year.

1. Online shopping will be EVEN more popular than years past

2019 holiday online sales were already record-breaking, and ecommerce only strengthened and solidified its dominance during the covid-19 pandemic. Ecommerce will continue to dominate consumer shopping as consumers are wary of stepping inside stores for health reasons. Some stores like Walmart, Target, and Dick’s have already announced they’ll be closing stores on Thanksgiving, usually a huge in-shopping day ahead of Black Friday.

  • 71% of US adults said they planned to do more than half of their holiday shopping digitally this year (daVinci Payments via eMarketer)
  • 60% of consumers plan to shop less in-store this season due to fear of COVID-19exposure (Radial survey via MarTech Series)
  • Under stay-at-home orders, US consumers shopped heavily online: In Q2 2020, US retail ecommerce sales grew by almost a third (31.8%) from the previous quarter, or 44.5%year over year, per the US Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce (DOC) (eMarketer).
  • Ecommerce is poised to grow 18.0%, following a 14.9% gain in 2019 (eMarketer).
  • 44% of respondents plan to shop more online during this year’s Black Friday, CyberMonday and Christmas holidays compared to last year’s holiday season (Quibit study via eMarketer)
  • In 2019, Black Friday turned out to be the second-largest online sales day, reaching $7.4billion. Cyber Monday hit $9.4 billion. (CNET)

2. Holidays 2020: less travel, more local gatherings, and virtual get-togethers

People are still wary about traveling, even to visit family within the U.S. and Canada. Based on consumer surveys and trends this summer, if holiday-goers do travel (most will not), they will prefer road trips over plane travel. Many will turn to outdoor or socially-distant gatherings, as well as consider “virtual” gatherings over Zoom or similar video conferencing services. I mean, really, who wants to be the uncle that brought covid to Christmas this year? Holiday advertising should take into account alternative holiday plans this year, and adjust messaging and contextual targeting accordingly.

  • 58% of people are not planning to travel this year, up from 49% last year and “equivalent to 31 million fewer travelers” (CNN).
  • 51% of Americans do not expect to spend the Christmas holiday with their family this year (The Christmas Company).
  • 64% of those surveyed will be wary of planes and trains for some time (Criteo survey).
  • The longest Americans would be willing to drive to see relatives for holidays would be 11hours (The Christmas Company).
  • 28% of New Yorkers said they’d feel safer having a virtual Christmas (The Christmas Company).
  • Since Coronavirus hit the U.S., more than 75% of those in a survey said they have been intouch with family virtually (“Love in the Time of COVID” survey via WSJ).
  • Zoom is the #1 downloaded app in U.S., Europe, and Asia (eMarketer).
  • 75% of Americans say that Christmas is the most dicult time of the year to spendwithout family around (The Christmas Company).

3. Mobile shopping: the new way to online shop

Based on consumer behavior this year and consumer surveys regarding holiday shopping, expect mobile usage to be higher than ever this holiday season. That includes shopping online and via apps, comparing prices, and even using click-and-collect options. Mobile shopping has become easier and easier, and consumers are growing more accustomed to it. Deep mobile engagement continues to grow year after year; holiday advertising should target mobile.

4. Holiday shopping (and sales) will start earlier

Based on consumer surveys and data, some shoppers plan to start at the same time this year as last year, which could mean that retailers will have no break between the current COVID-19 ecommerce climate and the already overwhelming holiday peak season rush. But others plan to start their holiday shopping earlier, and some big retailers plan to lure the rest with sales. Target will kick off holiday sales in October (Target via The Washington Post), while Amazon is considering moving its postponed Prime Day to October (CNBC via The Washington Post). The preference seems to be pretty evenly split amongst shoppers, but advertisers should plan to start holiday campaigns early.

  • 39% of shoppers plan to start shopping for the holidays in October into early November, and 30% plan to start on Black Friday/Cyber Monday (Radial survey via MarTech Series).
  • 41% of shoppers say they don’t plan to shop any earlier for holiday gifts (Radial survey via MarTech Series).
  • Target will kick o holiday sales in October (Target via The Washington Post), whileAmazon is considering moving its postponed Prime Day to October (CNBC via The Washington Post).
  • 47% of Americans say they may need to start saving earlier for Christmas presents, while16% say they are already saving for the holiday. Almost 10% of Americans say they mayeven go into debt due to the cost of Christmas this year (The Christmas Company).

5. Don’t forget many are still at home: working, learning, and using Zoom

Based on the current state of affairs, much of daily life will still be “at-home” even if to varying degrees. Many schools, jobs, workouts, and social activities will still be from home during the holiday season. Cater holiday advertising, creative messaging, and product suggestions for this new lifestyle. Think easy at-home entertainment toys for kids, or stylish products for Zoom holiday parties.

There will also be a shift in gift-giving: away from experiences and towards physical entertainment: “In the past couple of years, we’ve seen a significant shift to gifting experiences: sporting events, trips, concerts,” said Natalie Kotlyar, head of the retail practice at consulting rm BDO. “This year we’re going to be moving away from that, back to more traditional gifts like electronics and toys.” (The Washington Post)

  • 42% of the U.S. labor force now works from home full time, compared to less than 10%in 2010. (Stanford University and the Census Bureau via The Washington Post).
  • 33% of U.S. colleges and universities will be online-only or primarily online (Davidson College via New York Times) 15% will be a hybrid of online and in-person.
  • Zoom reported in April that it has 300 million daily meeting participants (Zoom via The Washington Post).

The 2020 holiday season will be here before you know it. Start your holiday advertising sooner rather than later – and keep these trends in mind. Reach out if you want a head-to-head test to see how Bidtellect can increase your holiday engagement. Check out our Case Studies.

​5 Holiday Trends for Digital Advertisers 2020


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Charlotte Otremba is Sr. Manager of Communications and Marketing at Bidtellect.

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