This Week in Digital Advertising: TikTok Safety, Google Privacy, Valentine’s Day Campaigns

This Week in Digital Advertising: TikTok Safety, Google Privacy, Valentine’s Day Campaigns

Hello Bidtellectuals!

Congratulations to Bidtellectuals of the Week Danielle May and Lena Pettingell! We appreciate your hard work behind the scenes!

Hey Lovers

Are you planning your Valentine’s Day campaigns yet? It’s time. This year, creating inspiring content and utilizing contextual targeting to reach consumers seeking ideas for at-home dates will be one of the keys to success. And you may have noticed that Valentine’s Day in recent years has stretched to include friends (Galentine’s Day!), family, even coworkers (Saturday Night Live made a sketch on the phenomenon). Shoppers even spent $2.1 billion on their pets last Valentine’s Day! Check out the full piece.

TikTok Commits to Brand Safety While Growth Continues

TikTok has partnered with OpenSlate to verify certain categories and content as brand safe. Brands will be able to see where their ads are running through pre-campaign solutions and post-campaign analytics. Like other social media platforms this year, TikTok hopes to calm the nerves of advertisers who are drawn to its massive audience of young people, but worried about objectionable, free-rein user-generated content. eMarketer forecasts that TikTok will have 65.9 million monthly US users in 2020, up from 35.6 million in 2019, amounting to nearly one-fifth (19.8%) of the US population. Some might credit the pandemic, but US social media users were already spending more time on TikTok in October 2019 than any other platform except Facebook, according to Comscore data.

3 Tips for QSR Digital Marketers + a OneSheet

Last week we shared our latest research on the QSR industry. This week we have a fresh one sheet you can download and a video with our top tips for digital marketers. Check it out. 

Google’s New Privacy Controls Will Affect Financial Services

Google posted a big privacy change to its updated product. The new targeting rules prohibit ad targeting by gender, age, parental status, marital status or zip code. The change applies initially to three broad categories of products and services: Housing, Employment and Credit and applies to all ad formats (text, display, video) and all channels (search, display, video). The new rules are set to go into effect Oct. 19, 2020.

Good News

Broadway may have announced its theaters would stay closed through Spring 2021, but elsewhere around the country theaters are doing their best to revive live performances with increased safety measures. This beloved theater in New Hampshire found success (and safety) with Little Shop of Horrors. If there were ever a time we needed the connection, energy, and inspiration that live theater brings, it’s now.

Stay safe, friends!


Want this right to your inbox? Subscribe here:

Valentine’s Day 2021: Spending Habits, Predictions, and Steps to Success for Digital Marketers

Valentine’s Day 2021: Spending Habits, Predictions, and Steps to Success for Digital Marketers

Valentine’s Day 2021 may look a little different (surprise!), but love always prevails, doesn’t it? Retail has held steady during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, while the holiday itself has evolved in its own way to be more inclusive and creative. Digital marketers should adjust messaging to the times, maximize contextual targeting and optimization, commit to a multi-channel approach. Read the data plus our 6 recommendations for a successful Valentine’s Day digital marketing approach below.

Spending Habits:

In 2020, consumers in the US reported an average spend of $196 on Valentine’s Day, an increase of 21% over 2019, according to research from the National Retail Federation (eMarketer, February 2020). It’s unclear if spend will be as high this year, though retail and consumer-spending has rebounded since the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Spend by Age (NRF via eMarketer, February 2020):

  • Age 35-44 had the highest average expected spending in 2020: $358.78
  • Age 65+ had the lowest: $99.14

→ Target and adjust messaging content towards Gen X.

Favorite Gifts (NRF via eMarketer, February 2020):

  • 52% Candy
  • 43% Greeting Cards
  • 37% Flowers

Candy: More than half (52%) of US internet users planned to purchase sweets for Valentine’s Day, ranking above flowers, an evening out or jewelry in 2020. (eMarketer, February 2020) A combined 62% of internet users spent on an experience: evening out, tickets to an event, trip, or spa. Due to coronavirus safety concerns and varying mandates across the country and world, we predict that Valentine’s Day gift-givers will steer away from those experiences and instead shift to creative, at-home entertainment and experiences to celebrate. Offer creative ideas or products to inspire them. 

Retail as an Indicator for Valentine’s Day 2021:

If we gauge retail ecommerce habits as a worthy indicator of how spending will continue into Valentine’s Day, then expect more shoppers to order online this year versus last. Thanks to ecommerce, retail stayed afloat during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic and consumers in turn developed new levels of comfort with online ordering.

  • New research by Mastercard shows U.S. ecommerce sales were up 92.7%  in May 2020, with more than $53 billion spent via ecommerce channels between April and May—the height of the pandemic. For scale, that’s more spent online than that last 12 Cyber Mondays combined (DigitalCommerce360).
  • Between July and August 2020, total retail sales in the United States rose by 0.6 percent. During this period, retail sales of clothing and clothing accessory retailers grew by 2.9 percent, rebounding from consistent and heavy declines in February, March, and April (Statista, September 2020).  

Digital Ad Spend & the Importance of a Multichannel Approach:

Engagement via mobile device continues to grow year after year, and consumers – especially shoppers – are consistently utilizing a multi-channel approach to read, research, engage with brands, and ultimately buy.

  • eMarketer expects retail to remain the largest spender on digital ads among all verticals. The industry will increase spending by 3.1% to $28.23 billion. (eMarketer, October 2020)
  • Retail ad spending on mobile will surpass $18 billion this year, and desktop/laptop spending will reach nearly $10 billion.
  • Mobile had a 106% higher CTR than Desktop in 1H 2020 on Bidtellect’s platform, so it’s imperative to implement a multi-channel approach  (Bidtellect 1H 2020 Native Report)

The Evolution of Valentine’s Day:

Treat Yourself

55% planned to celebrate Valentine’s Day in some way in 2020. But even those who answered “Not celebrating” did in some way.  35% of 18-25 year olds said their non-traditional Valentine’s Day gift or celebration would be “Treating Yourself.” (NRF, 2020 Valentine’s Day Spending Survey)

Lovers and Friends (and Family and Coworkers…)

Spend in 2020 (NRF, 2020 Valentine’s Day Spending Survey):

  • Significant Other/Spouse: $14.1 billion
  • Other Family Members: $4.2 billion
  • Friends: $2.1 billion

Valentine’s Day isn’t just for significant others, spouses, even casual lovers anymore. Parks and Recreation may have dubbed the holiday “Galentine’s Day” to celebrate friendship, but gift-giving seems to span across all relationships, including family and coworkers (Saturday Night Live even wrote a spoof about it). Since 2010, spend on Valentine’s Day gifts for friends has nearly tripled, from $737 million to $2.1 billion (NRF, February 2020). Retailers have adapted with more inclusive products that “allow for casual or non romantic gift giving” (eMarketer, February 2020).

And Furry Friends

Don’t forget your furry friends! Valentine’s Day spending on that very special pet in your life has also increased. In 2020, 27% of those celebrating Valentine’s Day said they’d buy gifts for their pets, up from 17% in 2010 (NRF, February 2020). Spend on pet gifts has grown exponentially, from just $450 million in 2010 to more than $1.7 billion a decade later (NRF, February 2020).

The trend is not just being driven by younger consumers like millennials and Gen Zers; spending on gifts for pets has grown among all shoppers under the age of 55.

The Takeaways: 6 Steps for Digital Marketing Success

1. Gear Valentine’s Day messaging to all relationships – friends, pets, even oneself! – not just romantic ones.

2. Anticipate a preference for physical gifts, not in-person experiences or trips, due to safety.

3. Content: offer ideas for “at-home” dates like eating in or romantic activities

4. Utilize on contextual targeting to reach consumers reading about gift ideas, inspiration, and comfort for Valentine’s Day

5. Commit to a multichannel approach: consumers will engage with content and shop on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices

6. Use real-time creative optimization: optimize to best-performing creative and adapt accordingly. Eye-catching creatives drive results.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter:

This Week in Digital Advertising: Amazon Prime Day, QSR and Travis Scott, a T-Rex

This Week in Digital Advertising: Amazon Prime Day, QSR and Travis Scott, a T-Rex

Hello Bidtellectuals!

Congratulations to Bidtellectual of the Week Lysa Vincent! We appreciate all you do for us.

Amazon Prime Day Announced, Sales Up the Wazoo

Amazon announced its Prime Day will be October 13th and 14th this year! In 2019 and years past the deal day was held in July, but the pandemic changed this year’s plans (said everyone in the world). Amazon joins the likes of Target and other major retailers who have started holiday sales earlier and earlier, appealing to consumer cost and in-store shopping concerns. eMarketer even released its first ever Prime Day forecast, anticipating that the day “will shake up the entire retail landscape heading into the holidays.” eMarketer forecast Prime Day sales will increase 43% from last year’s event, and Echo and Fire TV devices along with home appliances are predicted to be the top sellers. If you haven’t yet solidified your holiday advertising campaigns, read our best practices here.

QSR: Fast Food Successes, Struggles, and Travis Scott

QSR has been out here crushing the pandemic, but not without its bumps. Brands that relied heavily on morning commuters and eat-in consumers suffered the most, while brands that maximized digital channels, at-home delivery and promotional content flourished. Not to mention McDonald’s buzzy campaigns with Travis Scott and J Balvin. The key to continued success will be think digital, target locally, and create content. Read the full analysis and takeaways for marketers here. 

Webinar Alert: Data and the Multi-Cloud Future

Companies that are not innovating with data are in danger of being disrupted. Bidtellect CTO Mike Conway will be chatting with Constellation Analyst VP Doug Henschen on the next generation of analytical platforms, the agility and flexibility of cloud options, and steps to take now. It’s October 15th at 11am EDT. Sign up here.

Good News: A T-Rex Fossil Just Sold

I mean, seriously, up your collecting game. An anonymous buyer just paid $32 million for a complete T. rex fossil, making it the biggest dino fossil sale ever. (The last record was $8 million in 1997.) You think it has its own room? In the meantime, I found this faux T-Rex head on Etsy that coincidentally has been sitting in my cart for two weeks (it’s like I have ESPN or something).

Stay safe, friends!


Want this right to your inbox? Subscribe here:

QSR and the Pandemic: The Successes, the Struggles & Travis Scott

QSR and the Pandemic: The Successes, the Struggles & Travis Scott

QSR stands for Quick Service Restaurant. Also known as fast-food, drive-through, on-the-go – whatever you want to call it, the industry has transformed out-of-home dining into a universal and convenient experience. In the U.S., all the states have QSRs – in 2018, California accounted for the highest number, while Wyoming had the least. And the QSR industry revenue has risen by nearly 90 billion U.S. dollars over the past 10 years. 

In 2020, while the coronavirus pandemic shut down eat-in restaurants, food and grocery delivery flourished. The QSR industry generated a whopping revenue of 293 billion dollars. McDonald’s and Starbucks typically lead the QSR chains in revenue, while Yum Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell) also adjusted pandemic strategies to great success.

The Successes: Online Ordering, Low Prices, and Innovations

“The quick service segment as a whole has seen greater demand during COVID-19 than pre-pandemic as consumers [grew] tired of their own cooking and leaned into drive-thru and off-premise for engagement with restaurants,” Bank of America analysts’ report

With varying degrees of state bans on restaurant dining coupled with consumers’ own fears, ordering food for delivery from the comfort of home (or quarantine) became the norm. Fast-food restaurants normally reliant on drive-through or counter ordering had to adjust their capabilities to app and website delivery or click-and-collect options. Expect discomfort with in-person dining to linger, and a renewed comfort with and expectation of online ordering with live-tracking updates.

The ordering portal drove 40% of contactless sales, and Yum! Brands now projects that one-quarter of its 2020 sales could be through digital channels.

Taco Bell promoted its free delivery through Grubhub for orders over $12. Same-store sales increase from 75% drive-thru to nearly 100% drive-thru or contactless delivery, and overall sales increase 1% in 2020. 

Chick-fil-A tried new innovations to grab customers’ attention. The chain introduced Family Meal Bundles early on, with collections of entrées, sides, and beverages starting at $13.25. It launched a “Nightly Nuggets” video cooking series that demonstrated easy recipes using its menu items. 


McDonald’s also saw success in innovations: partnerships with rapper Travis Scott attracted younger consumers and a renewed interest in a classic product: the Quarter Pounder. The chain also announced a partnership with Latin pop superstar J Balvin. 

dunkin pandemic covid

The Struggles: Breakfast, Eat-In, and Regional Differences

At Pizza Hut, same store sales declined 5% in Q1, partly due to the allure of eating in or stopping in for a slice. The drop initiated a “massive shift in brand messaging,” according to Yum! Brands CEO David Gibbs, focused on food safety, team safety, contactless delivery and giving back to the community. Of course, ordering in pizza became the norm over the course of the pandemic.

QSRs that rely on morning commuters suffered greatly. With so many Americans working from home or not at all, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Dunkin’ and other chains that focus heavily on breakfast and coffee-to-go are struggling. 

Starbucks reported a 41% decline in comparable store sales and a 53% drop in the number of transactions during Q2 in the Americas region, compared to the year-ago period. Still, while the total number of transactions declined, customers in the Americas spent, on average, 27% more on each order during the quarter. In June, Starbucks announced plans to close 400 stores in the United States and Canada over the next 18 months, while adding a number of carryout and pick-up only locations.

McDonald’s profits last quarter were the chain’s lowest in 13 years. The company temporarily scrapped its all-day breakfast menu to streamline its operations amid the virus crisis. The fast food giant is up 50% from the depths of the coronavirus crash in March and is up almost 14% year-to-date; revenue is almost back to pre-pandemic levels.

McDonald’s, Starbucks and Dunkin’ sales are all increasing incrementally month by month, which indicates diners across the U.S. are returning. 

The Takeaways: Think Digital, Appeal to Local, Create Content

1. Digital and online ordering via websites or through apps will be the norm:

Continuously expand and improve online ordering and contactless pick-up options. Communicate messaging effectively to eliminate confusion and encourage greater comfort with the process. 

2. Adjust messaging and target to the local-level:

Re-opening laws and food-service laws differ by region, state, even county. And consumers have a growing sense of localism and pride.  It’s imperative to execute digital marketing effectively at the hyperlocal community level. Target local customers with personally relevant and meaningful messages, with products they’re looking for from your local locations, and across all channels (QSR Mag). A platform with effective targeting capabilities will be most successful. 

3. Create compelling content to drive traffic to:

Just as Chick-fil-A saw success with their content series and McDonald’s with their partnerships and buzz, QSRs that create compelling content, inspiring products, and exciting innovations will more easily be able to draw traffic to their sites and customers to their order platform.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter:

This Week in Digital Advertising: Beauty Recs, CCPA Enforcement, NFL & Alcohol Sales

This Week in Digital Advertising: Beauty Recs, CCPA Enforcement, NFL & Alcohol Sales

Hello Bidtellectuals!

Happy October! It’s officially spooky season! Congratulations to Bidtellectuals of the Week: Team All-Hands Courtney Bonkowski, Missy Steiner, and yours truly. And congratulations to all Bidtellectuals for an amazing four days of virtual learning and bonding!

COVID’s Impact on Beauty: Take 2

Last week, we shared our research on COVID-19’s impact on the beauty industry and the shift to ecommerce. Check out our video with 5 tips and takeaways for marketers. Here are a couple of hints: consumers are investing in skincare, “affordable luxuries,” and are increasingly comfortable buying online. Shift your dollars to a performance digital strategy! AND we asked Bidtellectuals for their favorite beauty products they discovered during quarantine. Brighten up your WFH routine, gorgeous!

CCPA Enforcement Has Begun

It’s timeeeeeee! At the stroke of midnight (maybe) on July 1st, the California AG’s office sent a series of warning notices to businesses for alleged violations of the CCPA. The businesses have 30 days to cure their violation before the AG takes any action. Unclear if they’ve done anything yet. “We’re watching and we’re aware [and] looking to see how the industry is responding,” said Lisa Kim, a deputy attorney general in the privacy and enforcement protection unit of the consumer law section at the California Department of Justice.

NFL Postponed a Game, Alcohol Hoarding Has Begun

Name a stronger duo. Due to some positive COVID-19 tests (who is surprised?), the NFL has postponed its first game: this Sunday’s Tennessee Titans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers. The season went off without a hitch for three weeks until this, though!

Meanwhile, alcohol consumption has skyrocketed—at home, that is. In March and April, among purchases made at liquor, grocery or convenience stores, spirit sales were up 34%, wine sales 30%, and beer, cider, and malt beverages 20%, according to Nielsen. Meanwhile, my favorite alcohol delivery service, Drizly, has dubbed March 15 to April 30 the “Covid Stocking Period.” The top five liquor brands sold on the platform were Tito’s, Bulleit, Casamigos, Jameson and Jack Daniels. Red and white wine took the top spot ahead of vodka in categories. Classy!

Good News

If you haven’t yet read about Tanqueray, the breakout Humans of New York star with the incredible story (and storytelling), click here. Talk about inspiring. More inspiring, founder and photographer Brandon Stanton set up a donation line to help fund her end of life care. HONY fans delivered: they raised over $2.5 million. 

Stay safe, friends, 


Want this right to your inbox? Subscribe here:

This Week in Digital Advertising: Beauty, Privacy, & COVID Drones

This Week in Digital Advertising: Beauty, Privacy, & COVID Drones

Hello Bidtellectuals!

Congratulations to Bidtellectual of the Week Lindsey Morgenthaler, whose clients and colleagues alike sung her praises! 

All-Hands Goes Virtual

This week, Bidtellectuals have gathered “virtually” each afternoon for our annual All-Hands! Usually the team gathers for a few days of fun in sunny South Florida, but this year looked a little different (i.e. through a Zoom camera). The theme of presentations has been “The Journey of an Ad:” how each department and platform capability contributes to the journey and successful placement and performance of an ad through Bidtellect’s platform. And check this: we broke into teams to come up with a fun “commercial” for Bidtellect. Take a peak at one team’s final product! Get ready to smile. 

Beauty and the Coronavirus

Yes, the industry felt a hit at first, but a shift in popularity to skincare, the “affordable luxury” mentality, and the desire to feel good even in a crisis has helped the industry rebound and more. Expect a permanent shift to ecommerce or hybrid models for customers post-pandemic. Now is the time to build out content to inspire shopping online and expand those digital channels to reach more now. In the words of Elizabeth Taylor: “Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.” And read this.

eMarketer: Identity 2020

If you’re looking for a good run down of the changes to cookies, ad IDs, and any other regulations taking aim at tracking this year: this is it. Don’t worry, eMarketer also surveyed marketers across the country about how they’re handling it. Surprise: compliance and data regulation will be taking up most of their attention: 60% of respondents will increase spend/emphasis on use of first-party data (IAB via eMarketer). More concerning, though, is that fewer than one-third of data professionals in North America were actively testing and investing in new solutions as of May, per IAB via eMarketer. So we’re heading towards a cookieless future, but most of the industry is about to be like, “Sorry, the dog ate my homework.”

Drones: Covid Tests of the Future??

And on the Covid-testing front: those eager to fly to Hawaii might be happy to hear that United Airlines passengers can take a rapid test at the San Francisco Airport starting on Oct. 15. Travelers who test negative will be able to skip Hawaii’s 14-day mandatory quarantine, BUT will have to foot the $250 bill. (And those who test positive won’t be able to board.) Want to test at home? No problem! Walmart is offering at-home Covid-19 testing kits by drone thanks to a new partnership with Quest Diagnostics and DroneUp. There are a few caveats, but in a blog post, Walmart said it will begin trial deliveries of Covid-19 collection kits starting Sept. 22 in North Las Vegas, with Cheektowaga, N.Y., to follow in early October. And if you’re feeling really confident: Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines released new safety procedures and hope to set sail by October 31st!!!! No more buffets, but lost of testing. 

Stay safe, friends, 


Want this right to your inbox? Subscribe here: