PointRoll Study Shows Holiday Advertising Season Starts Early

Late October and Early November Are Prime Periods to Influence Holiday Retail Shoppers

NEW YORK, NY – Advertisers may be missing a key opportunity to engage holiday shoppers, according to a PointRoll study of retailers’ online advertising campaigns from 2006 – 2009. The study analyzed performance of online advertising campaigns and consumers’ interactions with the ads and found that shoppers begin engaging with holiday-related retail advertisements now, in late October and early November.

These findings indicate that retail marketers can take advantage of this early-season consumer interest and a lack of competitive advertising by starting advertising efforts earlier.

“Because fewer advertisers are in market with their ads early in the holiday season, marketers who begin their media efforts earlier stand to increase revenues disproportionately to their competitors during the fourth quarter,” said Max Mead, vice president of business development and analytics, PointRoll. ”Savvy retail marketers looking for an edge during the holiday season should begin their online campaigns early to capitalize on user interest and to distance themselves from their peers.”

Weekly Retail Circulars to Exceed Expectations This Season:
ShopLocal, PointRoll’s retail division, found that deals distributed in weekly online retail circulars are on pace for a record holiday season. According to data from ShopLocal on the online circulars of top U.S. retailers, the 2009 holiday season set a record for the number of deals advertised as retailers worked hard to convince shoppers to buy in a down economy. The number of deals in this year’s circulars is already running at or slightly ahead of 2009 levels. Specifically, there were 18 percent more weekly retailer offers during the holiday season of 2009 than in 2008, and so far 2010 is running 1 percent ahead of 2009’s record pace.

“We’ve also seen industry-wide data that indicates that while consumer confidence is growing, particularly with small ticket items, consumer loyalty to brands has decreased in favor of finding the best deal,” said Vikram Sharma, CEO of ShopLocal. “As a result, retailers will be very aggressive with their promotions this season and will need to grab consumers’ attention early.”

Early Opportunities for Retail Advertisers

The PointRoll study also found that:

Interaction Rates Hit Lower Points in Early December: The retail ads evaluated showed average interaction rates range from 4 percent to 6 percent during Q4, beginning in November at 6 percent, and hitting their low points in early December. Interaction rates are measured when a user takes a desired action to interact with the ad, such as clicking on a feature or watching a video within the ad.  This decrease is most likely due in part to heavy levels of advertisements. Interaction rates then increase 25 percent up to 5 percent during the final weeks of December. Most marketers are still preparing their campaigns in late October, but consumers are eager to interact with ads as indicated by these solid interaction rates.

Time Spent Peaks in Early November: The study found that brand time, or the average time users spend interacting with an ad, peaks in the first two weeks of November at an average of 18 seconds spent with marketers’ advertisements, indicating significant levels of user interest. Brand time tapers 22 percent throughout the remainder of the quarter reaching a low point of 14 seconds during the last week of December.

High Levels of Click-through Rates in Early November: Although PointRoll does not utilize click-through rates (CTR) as an ideal measure of consumer interest, the study found high CTRs in early November at 0.5 percent, with irregular activity during the remainder of the quarter.

Impressions Double Mid-November and Early December: Many retailers regard Black Friday as the start of the holiday shopping season. While average weekly retail sector impression volumes doubled from 253 million to 531 million between the third week of November and the first week of December, many measures of consumer engagement (as measured by consumers’ interactivity with PointRoll’s rich media advertisements) indicate that consumers are interested in learning about advertisers’ offerings well in advance of Black Friday.

Study details:
PointRoll’s Holiday Consumer Interactions study examined consumer interest (e.g. impressions, interactions, rate, time spent, etc.) related to manufacturers and retailers during the holiday season. The study looked at advertising activity, such as campaign size and timing, consumer engagement and retailer site activity, measured by best-performing features used in advertisers’ ads and publishers’ sites. Specifically, the study evaluated data gathered from ShopLocal- hosted online Circular Sites and billions of PointRoll holiday campaign impressions from2006 through 2009.

About PointRoll
PointRoll, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), is the leading provider of digital marketing services and technology enabling advertisers, agencies and Web publishers to create, deliver and measure interactive and action-inspiring online video, rich media display, mobile, social, and search campaigns. Understanding both the art and science of the digital medium, PointRoll provides the creative tools, analytics, distributed content, and expertise marketers need to effectively engage consumers and make a memorable and measurable impression. Evolving beyond the banner, PointRoll allows marketers to find consumers wherever they are across any digital platform or social channel and deliver a relevant and engaging experience, dramatically improving marketing effectiveness. Serving more than 350 billion impressions for more than two-thirds of the Fortune 500 brands, PointRoll delivers measurable campaign results. For more information, please visit www.pointroll.com <http://www.pointroll.com> .

About ShopLocal, the Retail Division of PointRoll
ShopLocal (www.AboutShopLocal.com), leader in multi-channel marketing services, offers a complete suite of innovative digital solutions that connect advertisers and consumers – online and in-store. ShopLocal’s industry-leading SmartProduct business solutions (SmartCircular, SmartCatalog and SmartDelivery) enable more than one hundred of the nation’s top retailers, including Target, Best Buy, Home Depot, CVS, Albertsons and Sears, to deliver highly interactive, targeted and localized promotions to shoppers through online circulars, display advertising, search, social media, digital out of home and mobile. ShopLocal is the retail division of PointRoll, a wholly owned subsidiary of Gannett Company.