Dramatic shifts in holiday marketing budgets?

Marketing Pie for 2013 holiday seasonWe couldn’t help but notice a flurry of recent articles on the aggressive shift in ad dollars on the part of big brands in terms of their marketing budgets for the 2013 holiday season. While the move to digital is nothing new, these recent reports hint at a marked acceleration in the trend.

Who’s gaining ground this holiday season?
Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past 3 years, it’s no secret that digital —specifically mobile ads and social media— is claiming an ever-larger slice of the holiday marketing budget pie. Consequently, production talent and advertising agencies are following suit, creating short-form ads for use across a variety of screens, not just tv.

Brands still need the quality inherent in a high-production-values commercial to cast their magical holiday spell. But this season, you’re more likely to encounter their video ads online courtesy of social media, or via your mobile phone on the commute home, than on your tv. And that assumes that you still regularly watch tv. (Hello, millennials?)

So who’s losing out?
Again, no surprises here: tv networks & cable shows are the ones on a restricted diet this holiday season. As per a report from Business Insider back in August, marketing budgets are showing an aggressive shift of dollars away from traditional tv networks and cable channels to online video and social media. As reported by Forbes last week, a poll of 900 ad agencies, advertisers, ad networks, and publishers claims that “video ads are exploding.” With newer, faster, automated ways of buying video ads, marketers now have an easier way of purchasing ads, mainly from video ad exchange services. Given the encouraging metrics, it’s no surprise that marketers are flocking to online video ads, despite the occasional PR snafu (e.g.  “This Beheading Brought To You By Nissan.”)

Video ads also provide brands with an easy way of inserting their content into newer on-demand video content. Forbes hints at a major discrepancy between agencies and marketers as to which areas are losing out: marketers believe it’s tv/cable and out-moded digital practices; agencies believe that it’s billboard and paid search that will suffer. The Wall Street Journal reports that Procter & Gamble are blazing a trail with a much larger ad spend on digital and mobile this year. The WSJ quotes Emarketer studies that show that “the average time that consumers spend with digital media per day is expected to surpass TV viewing for the first time this year (2013)… Digital ad spending in the U.S is expected to grow 14% this year to $41.9 billion, while TV ad spending is expected to grow just 3% to $66.4 billion, according to eMarketer.”

Changes within digital
But even within digital, many once-reliable methods are being discarded. Metrics (website visitor traffic patterns) clearly show a lower return for ye olde banner ads and other static display formats, as compared to the traffic generated via content that is shared on social media. The exceptions are animated or video display ads, which are still highly effective.

In response, Target’s chief marketing officer, Jeff Jones, clearly laid it out last week in this interview for AdAge: “The overall budget for the campaign is similar to a year ago, though Mr. Jones pointed out Target is shifting substantial portions of its budget to mobile, social, email and display. He said the strategy enables Target to be more personal, relevant and timely with the deals it is promoting. Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter will be key platforms, he added.”

Nothing changes on New Year’s Day?
But come January, after the confetti’s been swept away, and downtime (aka “peak eyeball season”) becomes scarcer, and the sports channels gear up for Spring, will marketers revert to a more balanced marketing mix? Is it a short-term shift or a long-term trend? What do you think?