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‘Tis The Season To Be….Thinking Ahead. What Christmas 2020 Can Teach Advertisers About Next Year’s Holiday Season

It’s never too early to make a start on your Christmas shopping, and the same can be said for advertising campaigns for the holidays. Even though you haven’t opened gifts with the family yet this year, it’s time to start thinking about 2021’s holiday season!

Recent trends across Christmas video content and consumer shopping habits suggest the holiday is starting earlier every year. As such, advertisers and brands need to prepare for a longer run up and start to plan as early as possible ahead of next year’s big event.

Our VP & Head of Advertising Sales US Charles Gabriel shares some insights and ideas based on what we can learn from Christmas content trends.

Create More Christmas Content throughout 2021

Christmas and holiday content become more popular on YouTube with every passing year, and it’s also more evergreen than you might realize.

When we analyzed all Christmas content from the last three years, for example, we discovered views on holiday videos peaked for the first time at more than 500 million daily views in 2019. Likewise, the newly classified Made for Kids holiday content hit 100 million daily views for the first time that same year. Should this upward trend continue, we can expect even more views on Christmas content this year, and even further increases in 2021.

Additionally, our data shows that Christmas content is fast becoming more evergreen. With content watched throughout the year, Made for Kids Christmas videos in particular have driven 50-60% of views so far this year across all holiday content. A recent report from Tubular Labs also discovered that evergreen content uploaded before November 2019 made up 55% of all the views on 2019 Christmas videos.

Based on these findings, advertisers should not only be prepared to create more Christmas videos of their own in 2021, but they should also partner with media companies who are developing seasonal content. This is especially important for advertisers looking to message to Kids, Parents or the entire Family on YouTube, as Made For Kids programming is a key driver of holiday viewership and therefore brand awareness.

Develop Christmas Content Earlier Than Normal

Related to the evergreen nature of holiday content is the fact that Christmas appears to start earlier in the year across both the digital video industry and the retail and shopping sector.

In the same report noted above, Tubular Labs found the peak of attention on Christmas content began in late October and early November. Surprisingly, though, there were 15% fewer uploads of YouTube Christmas content in 2019 despite a 16% growth in YouTube views on that same content. Media companies could easily fill this gap in 2021, with advertisers hopping on board to capitalize on this audience viewership trend.

Consumers are ready to spend money on holiday shopping earlier in the year, too. Google Trends over the last five years in the US show that in 2017, an increase of popularity of the phrase ‘Christmas gift’ (a value higher than 10) was noticeable in the week 29 October-4 November, in 2018, it was even earlier – 21-27 October, in 2019 – 27 October-2 November. And this year, the trend of looking for Christmas gifts began during the week: 18-24 October so there really is no time to lose.

Essentially, to capture peak viewership on Christmas content, advertisers should work with media partners who plan to upload holiday content earlier than normal. The opportunity is clearly there to not only release more content, but also to do it sooner in the year to increase potential reach across audiences eager to watch and buy for the holidays.

Changing Gift Trends And The Influence Of Kids

Finally, consider the effects COVID has had on the changing lifestyles of consumers around the world. For example, a change has occurred so far this year in Made for Kids holiday content, as educational videos grew from 5.1% to 10.4% (+104%). Content about kids’ books also saw a gain at 29%, just beating the growth of the toy genre at 20%. These trends imply parents are looking for more educational solutions and related gifts for their children this holiday season.

In our recent report of 3,000 U.S. families, “Making Screen Time Family Time” in partnership with nScreenMedia, we also discovered how much of a significant role kids play in convincing their parents to buy products and services across a variety of categories for themselves and within the home. Two-thirds of respondents say they research or buy products based on their children’s interests fairly often or more. This is far beyond the "nag factor" of old and as a parent I know my kids have a say in nearly everything we purchase.

The data shows 62% of parents say their children influence food delivery options, 58% say the same about grocery shopping, while kids affect 55% of technology decisions made by adults!

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Consumer purchasing behavior and decisions for kids and the home have undoubtedly been different this year, and this trend is expected to accelerate even further in 2021. E-commerce and digital engagement have taken center stage, and a new way of shopping is now well engrained in everyday behaviors. A consumer study from Salesforce released in June this year showed that 47% of global shoppers were more interested in shopping online for the holidays this year compared to last year, and this reliance on e-commerce (and shipping) means we are likely to see companies and brands preparing earlier. 

Consumer purchasing decisions for kids and the home will be different this year. As such, advertisers should keep a close eye on holiday viewing trends. The 2021 holiday season may seem like it’s far away, but the reality is family audiences want to watch more Christmas content earlier in the year. Couple this trend with daily life and purchase intentions being impacted by COVID for the foreseeable future and you now have real adjustments in consumer behavior that will re-shape advertising strategy and media partnerships for the next holiday shopping season.