Holiday ads on mobile: What makes them work so well?

by ilya on Nov 11, 2015

With the holidays just around the corner, it’s time to start ramping up your holiday ads, even in advance of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the official start of the holiday season. Why so early? Research shows that consumers are looking for and engaging with holiday content much earlier than in times past.

But the holiday season typically gets me thinking about holiday ads, specifically what makes for effective and enticing mobile ads that users engage with

Generally speaking, the success of holiday ads comes down to classic holiday imagery that is delivered in a way that generates positive emotion. By “classic holiday imagery”, I mean snow, snowmen, wrapped gifts, Christmas trees, stars, menorahs, ornaments, and hot chocolate by the fire. Successful graphic ads, however, don’t just use those images — they garnish them with something a little extra that adds an emotional element. You’ll see in two of the images below, for example, that there is sparkle — a design element that conveys excitement, warmth, and growth.

But that’s only part of the equation. A good holiday ad manages to mix that holiday tone or emotional content with hints of what you’re selling. So, for instance, with holiday ads for games, you’ll see game elements and even game play interwoven with holiday themes. Whereas emotion is important to entice the users to click on an ad, relevance (such as game play) is important to appeal to and preselect the highest monetizing users. These are the people, who will identify with the game content the most. Hitting that balance is part of what makes creative work in mobile advertising both challenging and exciting.

Christmas768x1024_Gifts NY_2016

Now these images aren’t real ads — they’re not animated because we made them just for this post — but they still showcase what makes a successful holiday ad for mobile. Note that all three have the following features in common:

  • The company logo is in the upper left or center part of the ad.
  • The holidays are alluded to through presents, sparkle, snow, and a Christmas tree. Allusion to the holidays.
  • The colors are bright.
  • The call-to-action is in a contrasting color.
  • The background is relevant (a snowy scene, fireworks, and pine cones).
  • An indication of what’s offered (e.g. a casino game is hinted at with coins, packages are marked with tags to indicate a sale)

So start thinking through your holiday ad strategy now — there’s still time to get a successful holiday ad campaign up and running in advance. Don’t let the shift in engagement with holiday content pass you by.