Holiday Advertising Survey

New Study: 2018 Holiday Marketing Trends & Research Report

By Hila
November 5, 2018 · 8 min read

Our survey shows the #1 marketing trend expected this holiday season is video; SMBs’ video adoption rate is skyrocketing.

What would you do with $721 billion?

That’s enough money to buy everyone in America a $5 coffee every single day–for over a year!

Or, you could hire Tom Brady as your personal quarterback. In fact, you could keep him employed for roughly the next 1,200 NFL seasons with that kind of dough.

Simply put: It’s a lot of money. But that’s how much shoppers in America are expected to spend this coming holiday season on the latest gifts and gadgets. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday spending in 2018 is expected to eclipse $720 billion–an increase of nearly 5% over spending in 2017. According to another survey published by Adobe Analytics, U.S. online spending during the holiday shopping season is likely to grow 14.8 percent this year to $124.1 billion. And every business owner and marketer out there wants a piece of that pie. In fact, in 2016, US retail companies spent a combined $1 billion on advertising over just 3 weeks between November 21 and December 11.

So how can companies participate–or compete–in these festivities?

Savvy marketers and business owners already have their holiday promotion plans in full swing. While consumers are thinking about the first days of fall and the changing seasons, businesses are getting a jump on their special offers for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Experian found that 49% of marketers launch a holiday campaign before Halloween!

The team at Promo wanted to know what’s to come for holiday marketing in 2018 and beyond. So, we conducted a survey of about 400 business owners and marketers to learn about the upcoming holiday season, which marketing trends are likely to take hold, and how marketers are hoping to outsmart–and outsell–their competitors in Q4 of this year.

Here are the highlights from our survey:

  • 2018 marks a tipping point for video marketing–nearly 50% of respondents started using video just within the last year
  • In total, 77% of all marketers in the survey are using video as part of their marketing strategy
  • Of those surveyed, more than half expect the holiday season to be positive for their business, but 66% say they have trouble measuring the ROI of their holiday campaigns
  • Facebook wins the day–with nearly 80% of respondents saying they plan to spend the majority of their holiday budget on FB ads
  • Christmas leads for marketers and nearly half say it’s the most important holiday for their marketing efforts
Holiday Advertising Infographic

Let’s take a look at each of these trends and what they mean for marketers heading into the holiday season–and beyond!

2018 is the Year of Holiday Video Marketing

Video marketing–and especially social video–has been on the rise for some time. But, the 2018 holiday season is shaping up to be THE year of holiday video marketing, according to our research.

We found that a huge percentage of marketers and business owners have recently adopted video marketing as an integral part of their strategy and are now using it, leading into the 2018 holiday season. 

Of those business owners, marketers and freelancers in our survey, 77% said that they now use video as part of their marketing strategy. But, probably the most incredible finding from the study isn’t just the widespread adoption of video, but its recent emergence. 

An incredible proof that the video market is still in its nascency is the fact that nearly 50% of all respondents in our survey say they started using video within the last year

While video marketing has been a rising trend over the last several years, this seems to indicate a level of mass adoption within the last 12 months. And that will likely correlate with an increase in the use of video marketing during the upcoming holiday season.

This is why we’re calling 2018 the Year of the Holiday Marketing Video.

Consumers and brands should expect to see a large uptick in the number of branded video messages and advertisements floating across their newsfeed, making an appearance on YouTube, or popping up on their favorite websites.

Video marketing has gone mainstream and this holiday season will prove it.

Holiday Competition is Heating Up

It’s no secret that while the holidays can be a boon for businesses, it can also mean a boom in competition. Many companies up their game during the holiday season, pouring in extra ad budget, putting together intricate campaigns, and offering the best deals and discounts of the year.

Holiday competition in almost every industry can be fierce.

Our respondents are feeling the pressure, with 68% of businesses surveyed indicating that they feel an uptick in competition during the holiday season.

Unsurprisingly, companies are also dialing up their own efforts to match–or exceed–their competitors. Many companies are increasing their marketing efforts during the holidays.

But, businesses aren’t just throwing more money at their holiday marketing efforts to try to make a splash. While 40% of marketers in our survey said that they’re increasing their ad spend during the holidays generally, only 8% listed this as a strategy for dealing with increased competition.

Instead, companies are thinking of new and creative ways to stand out from the crowd. In our survey, we asked which tactics people are using to outsmart their competition in the 2018 holiday marketing season.

The top three responses were telling:

  • 45% post content more often
  • 20% run a sale or promotion
  • 20% use more videos in their marketing

It seems that video marketing is becoming the secret weapon for marketers looking to get a leg-up on their competition. About 1 in 5 respondents said that they are planning to use more videos as a way to stand out and snag more holiday business.

From the data, we can conclude that many businesses are looking for more creative ways to make a splash. This is likely one of the big drivers behind the increased popularity of video marketing.

As competition for attention has continued to grow more fierce on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, brands have been looking for new and exciting strategies that they can use to reach consumers and earn their trust.

Video marketing seems to be perfectly suited for that purpose.

Most Businesses Expect a Positive Bump from the Holidays but Struggle to Quantify the ROI of Holiday Marketing

While the holiday season definitely drives a bump in overall sales and traffic, it seems that individual businesses may not always be able to feel or measure the impact directly.

Of those surveyed, more than half of business owners say that they believe the holiday season has a positive impact on their business. But a full two-thirds of respondents also said they struggle to quantify the ROI of their holiday campaigns.

This seems to be a common thread that expands beyond just the holiday season. In a 2016 study from eMarketer, measuring ROI was rated as the chief struggle for social marketers. This points to the importance of improved tracking technology and planning when it comes to holiday campaigns, especially when coupled with the rise in competition and spend during this busy season.

Marketers and business owners need a clear strategy not just for how to launch and run their campaigns, but also for measuring the impact–and calculating the return.

Facebook and Christmas Lead Holiday Marketing Focus

It likely comes as no surprise to marketers that the Christmas holiday and Facebook platform were both top-ranked among respondents.

After a tough quarter for our friends at Facebook, the following stat will probably bring a smile to Mark Zuckerberg’s face. When asked where marketers are spending most of their holiday budget, nearly 80% of those surveyed said that Facebook is their number-one platform based on investment.

Similarly, Christmas was rated as the strongest performing holiday by nearly 50% of all respondents.

The study shows that many marketers are doubling down on the platforms and strategies that are known to work. But they’re also investing in new creative approaches–like video–to bolster their efforts. As competition in online marketing continues to increase and the added pressure of the busy holiday season, new and emerging trends will continue to become mainstream. This year marks the maturity of video marketing–but who knows what 2019 will hold.

About This Study

These results were based on a survey conducted by Promo by Slidely in September and October of 2018. We surveyed approximately 400 small business owners, freelancers, and marketers about their marketing practices and their holiday marketing plans for 2018. Respondents represented a variety of business types, sizes, and industries.

Included in the study:

  • 36% were freelancers or sole proprietors
  • 37% business with 2-10 employees
  • 13% business with 10-50 employees
  • 6% business with 50-100 employees
  • 7% business with 100 employees or more

Among the businesses represented in this survey: 58% operate both offline & online, 16.5%  provide an offline service and 25.5% provide an online service.
65% of businesses are global, and 35% are local only.

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