Media Planning & Buying Social Media

Rethink Retail Marketing: Leverage Paid Social

December 9, 2014

This post is Part III of a five-part series on ways retailers can use digital to make the most out of their holiday efforts, and effectively prepare for the year ahead.

Digital has fundamentally changed the way consumers shop. While many consumers are still making the majority of their purchases in-store, their decisions are often being influenced online – both while they are in-store shopping or prior to their shopping trips. To help retailers take advantage of the omnichannel retail environment and make the most out of this holiday shopping season, we are sharing five ways for retailers to expand their existing strategies, capitalize on present opportunities and increase revenue online and offline through digitally-centric marketing.

The third post of our series explores how advertisers can leverage Paid Social to connect with and influence consumers on their path to purchase.


We made our list, and checked it twice. This year’s must have? Paid Social. Sponsored content is a “must have” on every brand’s list this holiday season, as social channels are an increasingly integral part of the holiday shopping experience. Shoppers utilize social platforms as a method of discovery to find the latest trends, unlock discounts and make purchases on-the-go via mobile (and across devices). Last holiday season, 65 percent of shoppers checked their mobile devices for shopping related queries while out holiday shopping, and almost 6 in 10 people found Facebook extremely influential to their holiday shopping experience on the whole (Source: Facebook).

Unparalleled Targeting Capabilities
Paid Social gives retailers the opportunity to break through the clutter and reach target audiences and the people who matter most to them in an efficient manner. With social’s consumer-centric targeting options, advertisers are able to engage loyal customers, lapsed brand purchasers, email subscribers, app users and even moms with kids of a certain age living in a specific zip code – all at scale. Brands can personalize shopper experiences through custom content designed specifically for the target demo they want to reach. The targeting options are many, and the opportunity is immense.

Consumers like customization. Retailers should seize the opportunity to make consumers feel like each message received is unique to their personal interests and passions. Through the right targeting and messaging strategies, brands have the ability to make deeper, more meaningful connections with consumers. Urban Outfitters, for example, is rolling out Beacon technology in its stores in New York, Philadelphia and Boston to reward loyalty members with in-store rewards, and further enhance their shopping experiences.

Other brands like 360i client Hanes are taking a slightly different approach to their holiday season strategy, with a strong focus on social. Last year Hanes utilized social in a big way to give a face to homelessness and support its yearly mission of donating over 250,000 pairs of socks to shelters across the country. A Nielsen Brand Lift study found that this social campaign resulted in a higher lift in brand perception among Hanes’ audience compared to a more product-centric campaign that ran during that same time frame.

With the evolution of Facebook’s retargeting capabilities this past year, advertisers now have the ability to tell stronger stories through social with simple technology integrations and smart media buying strategies. Video retargeting options allow advertisers to serve users video content in a sequential fashion to drive engagement, and Website Custom Audiences allow for advertisers to seamlessly connect their social content to brand-owned .com properties. The ability to drive a direct conversion, while also connecting and engaging with consumers is part of the advantage of social. And telling a compelling story entices consumers to not only purchase, but to also share on social, allowing for a wider reach. According to sources in Twitter’s brand strategy department, “People will share if they feel there is an emotional connection and they want to show that they’re part of a movement with a mission vs a commercial proposition.”

Objective-based Media Buying
While there are many promising opportunities for retailers and brands alike, the holiday season also signals the most competitive time for advertisers to be in the social space. From mid-November of 2012 to early January of 2013, Cost-Per-Click media costs on Facebook almost doubled, peaking right around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In 2014, advertisers are likely to see even more extreme spikes Year-Over-Year. To drive the best outcomes for their brands, advertisers should use smart bidding tactics, pay attention to real-time signals and utilize technology to connect actionable data and investment in real-time.

2015 Planning Check List
Throughout the holiday season and leading into 2015 planning, advertisers should consider the below guidelines when determining their Paid Social strategy to see the most success.

  1. Use data to reach and engage your desired audience.
  2. Create and define channels for your messaging strategy where it will be found most relevant.
  3. Use the right ad format for the objective.
  4. Know your next 30-60-90 day horizon and strategy, and don’t be caught off guard as platforms will continue to evolve.
  5. Spend more than 20 percent of your marketing budget and measure the impact.
  6. Utilize social media performance insights to inform other brand media channels such as TV Planning, Image/message Testing, Reach & Frequency, and Mobile SEM strategy.

In planning your holiday marketing strategy, don’t forget about leveraging paid social. Social channels are an increasingly essential part of the holiday shopping experience and provide brands many ways to connect with their consumers and influence purchasing decisions. Advertisers have unparalleled opportunities on the platforms to reach their target audiences, customize their messages and create custom experiences for consumers, ultimately forging deeper connections with them and influencing holiday purchasing.


Next up is Part IV of our series: “Rethink Retail Marketing: Mobile Marketing.” In case you missed it, be sure to read Part I: “Rethink Retail Marketing: Invest More in Digital,” and Part II of our series: “Rethink Retail Marketing: Maximize Product Listing Ads.”

Molly Baker, Media Manager at 360i contributed to this post.

Cover photo via Style Magazine