Deciding where and when to advertise during the end-of-year holidays can be overwhelming for advertisers. Every year, more networks get into the Christmas spirit, and content starts airing as early as October. That gives brands rich opportunities to reach consumers who are curled up with hot cocoa to watch their favorite shows and with money to spend on gifts. But they need innovative creative and well-designed campaigns that reach the right audiences.
There are big dollars at stake. The National Retailers Federation forecasts that holiday shoppers will spend between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion this year, up 6% to 8% over 2021 levels.
To help brands find the best content and high-value audiences, New York Interconnect (NYI) designs custom ad packages for holiday programming. Using its Audience One platform, the company inserts ads on linear cable networks and streaming platforms, reaching more than 20 million viewers in the New York City region. NYI is a joint venture between the region's three largest cable operators -- Altice USA, Charter Communications and Comcast.
For the past several years, one of NYI's most popular offerings has been a holiday-themed partnership with two local news channels, NY1 and News 12, which unites the channels' most popular anchors and brand sponsors, explained NYI Account Executive Julie Figueiredo.
In 20-second vignettes, NY1 personalities (like Emmy award-winner Pat Kiernan) and anchors from News 12 share some of their favorite holiday traditions. The messages are followed by a 10-second sponsorship tag. Immediately afterward, an advertiser runs a more traditional, 30-second spot, usually with a seasonal message.
"These pieces create a 60-second spot that really gets you into the holiday spirit," Figueiredo said. "There's also built-in trust and loyalty with our anchors, and it is a very brand-safe environment for advertisers."
Over the years, NYI has signed up car manufacturers, toy companies, quick service restaurants and even Broadway shows for the news channel opportunity, all of them eager to reach New Yorkers with seasonal messages.
For marketers interested in more traditional advertising, NYI builds custom six-week holiday ad packages that run from the Monday after Thanksgiving through New Year. Advertisers can choose from the most popular -- and most prolific -- holiday programmers, including Hallmark Channel, Lifetime, Freeform, Food Network and HGTV.
"Holiday advertising works really well for brands if they have a specific holiday product, like a toy company, or great holiday creative, like car companies," Figueiredo said. "But some brands also just like to go heavier in the holidays to reach more viewers."
Perhaps no network is more synonymous with Christmas than Hallmark Channel, which offers an annual feast of holiday movies. This year, Hallmark kicked off its Christmas content on Oct. 21. The network plans to run 40 movies over the holidays on Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. New movies premiere every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Meanwhile, Lifetime kicked off its It's a Wonderful Lifetime 2022 push in early November. The network is expected to run more than two dozen original holiday movies on its linear channel and streaming app. Even lifestyle network HGTV is getting into the holiday movie business this year with two original movies featuring Hilary Farr of Love It or List It and Ben and Erin Napier of Home Town.
For viewers that prefer lifestyle programming, Warner Bros. Discovery-owned Food Network, HGTV and Cooking Channel offer themed content on everything from baking to decorating. For example, the Food Network's menu includes a new installment of the hit Christmas Cookie Challengeand a fresh order of Holiday Baking Championships.
On linear TV, Figueiredo said holiday programming draws particularly strong ratings and attracts desirable demographics. Take Hallmark Channel. In recent weeks, holiday programming helped the network rank as the most-watched cable network among households, women 18+ and women 25-54, according to Nielsen. By the week of Nov. 15, Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie & Mysteries Christmas movies had reached nearly 28 million unduplicated viewers this holiday season to date, the network said.
To help brands get the most out of those opportunities, NYI uses third-party and first-party audience data, helping clients identify target audiences and the best holiday content, Figueiredo explained. NYI has access to anonymous household data from set-top boxes and streaming on mobile devices, allowing it to study viewing trends and past performance.
"We can use our data and attribution to find the target audience and expand on it," she said. "We can find holiday movies and other opportunities."
Occasionally, Figueiredo noted that her team finds unexpected holiday treats. For example, audience data revealed that large numbers of women tuned into last year's college football bowl games. Given that insight, NYI might suggest that an advertiser add sports inventory to their holiday package.
After the tree is disassembled and the needles swept away, NYI can help its clients measure the impact on their business. The company uses attribution studies to connect viewing impressions to online activity, such as visiting a brand's website, and visits to physical locations. "We can track the entire journey," Figueiredo said.
Then it's on to the 2023 season. Because Christmas movies and shows start airing in the fall, NYI's team begins planning campaigns in May or June. It's kind of like the year's "it" toys.
"Holiday programming is so popular, and it is in such high demand in the New York market," Figueiredo concluded. "Our clients know they have to plan sooner and get in early if they want the best inventory."
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