Why The Christmas Crunch For D2C TV Buyers Really Comes in August

This article was written by Tatari's VP of Media Buying, Brad Geving, and was featured on MediaPost's D2C Weekly.

TV continues to attract D2C brands that have hit the ceiling in terms of optimizing paid digital opportunities like Instagram ads -- but it can be an expensive learning curve for first-timers.

That’s especially true when it comes to running Q4 holiday campaigns, as “the most wonderful time of the year” can actually be a make-or-break time in terms of allocating for linear TV. 

Whether the goal is to drive traffic to a pop-up shop or make shoppers aware of key shipping dates, there are a few things first-time TV buyers need to know about advertising’s biggest quarter.

Most important: The time to start planning for it is now.

Limited supply and high demand can lead to sticker shock

The holiday season for TV advertising begins shortly after Halloween and runs right up to Dec. 24. While millions of impressions are up for grabs, there’s still a finite amount of premium inventory available. And that inventory pool shrinks further when targeting specific demographics or genres.

For example, there are just a handful of kid-friendly networks like Nickelodeon or Disney XD, and holiday spots on those networks can start selling out in September. July becomes the prime time to start working to secure that inventory before it sells out.

And while not all holiday inventory sells out in September, the slots that do remain can sometimes come at a premium. In some cases, we’ve seen a 30-second spot that would run for $3,000 in September, cost up to 350% more in December.

So even if a D2C brand doesn’t need to secure the inventory this far in advance, it’s important to build a Q4 budget that can account for those potential price increases and avoid sticker shock come November.

The window for integrations and sponsorships can close quickly

Many networks highlight the holidays with special programming, from blocks of movies, to “Top Ten” lists focused on regional or local businesses. D2C brands interested in running ads or being integrated into these programming blocks need to start mapping out what an ideal sponsorship would look like now. This leaves time to approach the target networks and develop content before the window for inclusion and customization closes.

Don’t miss out on potential discounts

Despite the limited supply and premium pricing, there are certain days during the holiday season where ad slots are available at a significant discount — which can be the perfect time to run test campaigns and prep for the next quarter.

For example, the two days right before (or after) Christmas, or the lull in the days leading up to New Year’s.

While every D2C brand’s holiday strategy will be unique, if linear TV campaigns are part of the plan, one crucial element to Q4 success is planning and allocating for those premium opportunities now.

Brad Geving

Head of Media Buying & Ops and I love it when a plan comes together

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