Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Retailers Linking Online to Traditional Holiday Advertising Campaigns

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Retailers Linking Online to Traditional Holiday Advertising Campaigns

Article excerpt

Holiday advertising adds a digital push


TORONTO - Retailers spend millions over the holiday period -- typically between Black Friday and Christmas Eve -- to get consumers to open their wallets.

But those advertising campaigns are increasingly allocating more funds to target online shoppers, in addition to traditional newspaper ads, radio and television commercials and glossy catalogues.

"Retailers now have . . . many different places where they need to touch the consumer and more of the overall spend is clearly going into the digital market and less . . . is being spent on traditional marketing," said Lori Schafer, an executive adviser at SAS Institute's Retail Practice.

"This is why you can't get by without analytics now," added Schafer, noting the emergence of targeted advertising through Facebook, Google Ad Words, Instagram and Twitter.

Retail sales in Canada are expected to hit $46.8 billion in December, up five per cent from last year, according to a study released by Colliers International. That makes the holiday period "make or break" for retailers.

"It's a highly competitive time of year," said David Rosenberg, chief creative officer and a partner at advertising and marketing firm Bensimon Byrne. "They want to have their message available (online) and it's basically fishing where the fish are."

Emperuman Varadarajan first noticed the Christmas ads online in November, about the same time shopping malls began blasting out Christmas carols. Now, barely a day goes by that he doesn't get an email about an upcoming holiday special or sale.

Varadarajan, a 27-year-old finance worker from Richmond Hill, Ont., understands why retailers need to turn up their marketing over the holidays but he finds the constant stream of holiday bargain advertising can get annoying.

"The ads help consumers like me get their shopping done early," he said. "But after I'm done, I usually don't pay attention to the online ads even if they only take up five seconds of my time."

For Indigo Books & Music (TSX:IDG), holiday sales account for up to 40 per cent of the book and gift seller's annual sales, about the same proportion of its annual marketing budget.

Samantha Taylor, the company's vice-president of marketing, said it's crucial for retailers to have a "razor sharp focus" during this time to know exactly what their customers want.

Indigo is investing more in digital promotions via email, social media and search engine optimization (SEO) marketing. …

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