A Guide to Optimizing Your Ads for the Holidays

Holiday pillar page blog header

It’s that time of the year again — the holiday season! Is your marketing strategy ready?

The festivities are just around the corner, and it’s of utmost importance for app marketers to start planning their holiday marketing strategies, to expand their ability to serve more users and grab a larger slice of the holiday pie.

Programmatic is king when it comes to the holiday season. Seasonal changes have a dramatic impact on app users’ behavior and purchasing power, which impacts the demand for ad inventory. Programmatic is a way for you to get your ads in front of the right people at the right time. Taking advantage of seasonal and holiday trends and tailoring your marketing campaigns to these different periods, will give you an opportunity to grow your app, as well as display your festive spirit. 

Quick links: 
  1. Run Programmatic Holiday Campaigns with Aarki
  2. Three Reasons to Celebrate the Holidays All Year-Round 
    1. Mobile Behavior Has Shifted
    2. More Money is Spent on App Marketing
    3. Metrics are Changing
  3. Case Study
  4. Creative is the Beating Heart of Your Ad
  5. Holiday Creative Capabilities
  6. Retargeting and Seasonal Creatives
  7. Final Thoughts

Three Reasons to Celebrate the Holidays All Year-Round

Incorporating seasonal and holiday elements into your ad creative is an easy and fun way to get audiences to engage with your message. It is also a smart approach to advertising, as it makes your mobile ads more relevant and immediate. Let’s review some key trends to gain a better understanding of the importance of leveraging the holiday season all year round.

1. Mobile Behavior Has Shifted

It’s no surprise that during holidays and celebrations, people turn to mobile apps as a form of communication, entertainment, shopping, and more. As stated in InMobi's 2022 holiday shopping report, 2022 is forecasted to be the first true post-pandemic holiday shopping season in the U.S. and mobile is the channel expected to see the most significant growth in usage, a projected 19.5% in 2022.

As per the research discussed in the same report by InMobi, 53% of consumers say they discover new products through mobile advertising, 21% enjoy seeing ads in apps, and 32% visit a brand’s website after interacting with the ad.

It’s common to focus on the busiest and most competitive times of the year – Q4 and the holiday season. However, post-holiday season is also a great opportunity to run retargeting (RT) campaigns, especially for users who failed to convert during the Q4 shopping season, such as users who left items in their shopping cart, or users that failed to complete an action with your shopping app. 

It is also worth noting that gaming apps dominate the app market during the holiday season too. The holiday season is a period for gaming sales when mobile downloads and in app-revenue from games are at their height.

Taking part in the celebrations will definitely increase your ads’ relevance and will help you resonate more with your target audience. And participating in holidays all year round can also be an opportunity to set the tone for your mobile marketing plans for the year. 

2. More Money is Spent on App Marketing

Strategies vary per advertiser. Some app marketers reduce budgets during the Q4 holidays for reasons such as higher cost-per-miles (CPMs) and increased competition in the market. We at Aarki always encourage our clients to run topical campaigns that resonate with their target audience, such as taking part in celebrations, or highlighting seasonal changes, to take advantage of higher user engagement and purchase intent. Holidays bring higher conversion rates and thus make ad inventory more valuable.

3. Metrics are Changing

App marketers need to keep an eye out for cost-per-installs (CPIs) and cost-per-mille (CPMs), as trends change during the various holidays due to the influx of campaigns from different apps and marketers. It is best to review and update your key performance indicators (KPIs) accordingly to reflect the season. To provide you with a clear picture, we did an analysis into Aarki data assets.

Users are already in the mindset of making in-app purchases, and they are more likely to spend because of in-app deals, promotions, and discounts. This drives conversion rates higher. With high demand from advertisers driving competition in the market, the CPM and CPI will typically rise in Q4. However, a high CPM or CPI is not necessarily a cause for concern, as you are most likely to get a higher return on investment (ROI). 

For both UA and RT campaigns in iOS and Android, CPMs and CPIs usually drop at the beginning of the year, so we advise advertisers to take advantage of this period to run RT campaigns to make the users complete actions. 

Case Study

There are often good ROIs to be experienced during the holiday season even if apps battle with high CPMs and CPIs, which is why it is important to continue launching campaigns during festive periods. As more users turn to their phones for gaming and shopping during any holiday, it presents a golden opportunity to maximize your ROI and reach (or even exceed) your campaign’s KPIs.

Aarki partnered with a social casino app for a retargeting campaign run during Lunar New Year. Prior to launching the campaign, we analyzed the app’s audience data to build custom machine learning models and design relevant retargeting ads. We segmented the existing app user base based on their spending habits and last open dates and created our target audiences. We then developed creative strategies for each targeting group to be sure that the right personalized messaging was shown to the right audience. 

Our next step was to examine the effectiveness of having Lunar New Year creatives compared to the app’s regular creatives. We saw that, compared to a regular campaign, the performance of the holiday campaign registered better results:

  • 435.21% increase in ROI
  • 37.35% increase in CTR
  • 39.42% increase in CR

Although there was a 50.37% increase in CPM, it was justified by the ROI and CR increase. With so many users downloading the app, there was a natural decrease in CPI. There was also an increase in CTR, which proves that the holiday-based creatives are effective in encouraging action among users.

To get more insights about the benefits of programmatic when running a marketing campaign during the holiday season, read our Holiday Whitepaper here.

Creative is the Beating Heart of Your Ad

It is crucial for marketers to get the creative right and connect with users with relevant and engaging ad creative. When planning your campaign calendar, include ad creative that displays the themes of recognized international holidays, as well as local ones that are popular in the country where you are targeting your ads. Taking part in celebrations makes your brand more connected to users and improves your localized appeal. Here are some creative practices that have proven successful:

change the background creative1. Change the background and use the right colors

Crafting ad creatives with seasonal themes can positively influence conversion. Tweak the background and borders of your creative to match the season and holiday. Most people associate Christmas with winter and snow, and Thanksgiving with autumn and falling leaves.  Highlighting the season in your design makes your ad creative look more cohesive. 

Colors can also represent a specific occasion and emotion, which is why they should be carefully selected. For example, when you think of St. Patrick’s Day, green is the color that comes to mind for many, as it is associated with Ireland and with luck. For Valentine’s Day, red and pink are the colors everyone is familiar with because they represent passion and romance. Having the right colors in your ad will help capture the attention and emotion of users while complementing your message.

2. Make the characters relevantmake characters relevant - vday

Using characters and recognizable figures in an app can help attract and acquire new users, as well as reactivate lapsed users. Present the characters in seasonal situations or attire to grab the users’ attention. The inclusion of other app elements that match the season will also help drive performance. For example, Easter or spring subjects for a puzzle game, hearts for Valentine’s Day, splash of colors for Holi Festival, etc. 

make the look festive - halloween3. Make the look and messaging of the ad festive

To stay relevant, take part in the celebration! That might mean cute bunnies and colorful eggs for Easter, costumes, ghosts, and trick-or-treats for Halloween, or maybe even some spooky visuals to bump up the fun. Festive and entertaining ads will help ensure maximum conversions. 

It is also important to ensure that your ad copy supports your graphics. An enticing copy can amplify the overall holiday and seasonal feel of your ad and drive action. Use witty and timely expressions that are associated with the specific holiday, like “Boo!” for Halloween or “Merry” for Christmas.

4. Use creatives backed by data creative backed by data - ny

Good creatives are a waste if they do not reach the right audience, which is why targeting and segmentation data is a key aspect of a successful seasonal creative campaign. Before you begin to optimize the creative, analyze your data thoroughly.

Great creative targeted at the wrong crowd will not generate strong conversion rates, but when targeted at a relevant audience and location, you are sure to drive your conversion rates up and boost your return on investment (ROI). Data-driven creatives are necessary to produce the best programmatic advertising performance. 

Some other creative strategies worth noting are:


Creative Strategies for UA

The best way to optimize creatives is to test different variations to see which is the most optimal. We at Aarki use our proprietary creative suite, Aarki Studio, which allows us to test different creative and messaging at high velocity, and report down to the variant tied back to your KPIs. Through testing, we have found that holiday-based creatives work best compared to regular creatives when run during the festive season.

HubSpot Video

Retargeting and Seasonal Creatives

Relevance is one of the most important aspects of a successful app marketing campaign. Today’s consumers want a better shopping experience, which means there is a need for more relevant ads with engaging content. Beautiful creative ads targeting the wrong audience will not generate strong conversion rates. Appealing creative and relevancy are both necessary parts of the puzzle to deliver the best advertising performance. Here is where you need to master a retargeting strategy.

During the holiday season, retargeting will help you connect with shoppers who have already shown an interest in your product or service and have begun their journey down the marketing funnel. With different audience segmentation and targeting strategies, you can rekindle the trust of your target audience and encourage users to complete their purchases. A well-planned retargeting strategy will allow you to maximize existing app users and drive high lifetime value (LTV) users to your app.

Final Thoughts

The holiday season is almost here, and one thing is certain: consumers love mobile games and love to be mobile when spending. Ensure you follow the seasonal trends and that your customer-centric mobile strategy has the best chance of attracting the attention of your target audiences. To learn more about how Aarki can help scale your mobile programmatic campaign during the holiday season, shoot us a message here. 

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Topics: Marketplace Insights