Why marketers are going all in on TV streaming this holiday season

by Dan Robbins, vice president of ad marketing and partner solutions, Roku

There’s one thing at the top of every marketer’s mind these days — making sure the holiday is a success. In 2021, there are reasons to believe that the market will return to growth and a feeling of optimism. 

In Roku’s 2021 survey with the Harris Poll on holiday shopping trends, a clear theme emerged: hope for the future. In the survey, 7 in 10 respondents said that they believe the economy is improving, and consumers are feeling upbeat and hopeful. 

The marketing timeline is changing, pushing brands to innovate

At Advertising Week, American Eagle CMO Craig Brommers talked about how his brand is engaging customers in the build-up to the holidays. With supply chain issues threatening to disrupt product availability, brands such as American Eagle have taken to creating events that extend the holiday season earlier and can accommodate the ebbs and flows of the supply chain and consumer interests. 

“Brands have to be the best storytellers out there,” said Brommers. “There are day-to-day, week-to-week stories that we want to communicate with our customers. That’s why you see retailers talking about ‘Giftober’ or ‘Falliday.’ That will continue on through the New Year.” 

With new products emerging all the time, brands must keep customers coming back.

Unwrapping the 2021 holiday shopper

The Roku and Harris Poll holiday survey suggests Brommers’ initiatives are well placed. Among the respondents, 86% of consumers anticipate spending the same or more money on holiday purchases as they did last year. Just as retailers have launched holiday-themed sales promotions throughout the year, consumers are shopping earlier. 

Meanwhile, 1 in 5 holiday shoppers started in August due to fears of shipping and supply chain issues. Parents are concerned that must-have toys won’t be in stock and are scooping them up as soon as they are available. Consumers plan to shop in-store about as much as they did prior to the pandemic, but millennials and Gen Z will continue to spend more of their time and money shopping online.

With TV streaming, brands can deliver experiences, not just ads

Brommers spoke about how American Eagle plans to reach shoppers this holiday season. 

“It is very clear from the kids that we talk to, Gen Z and younger millennials, that they are so excited to embrace a more nostalgic holiday season,” he said. “We certainly feel that kids are going to embrace nostalgia this year, and our holiday campaign is all around that particular emotion.”

American Eagle will use TV streaming to reach younger audiences. “Gen Z doesn’t even know what linear television is,” Brommers said. “They are streaming, so we’re going to follow them.”

TV streaming is mainstream

It’s not just younger audiences who are streaming TV. At Advertising Week, Dallas Lawrence, Roku’s head of platform communications, explained: “Today, 86% of consumers are TV streamers. Let’s put that into perspective: 68% of consumers have a dishwasher and 85% of us have a washing machine. Streaming is mainstream. It’s in every house today and is really becoming part of the fabric of our lives.” 

Additionally, TV streaming ads inspire action. The Roku and Harris Poll holiday survey asks respondents the same question each year: “In the last 30 days, have you seen a TV streaming ad so compelling that you stopped what you were doing to learn more or shop?” 

Three years ago, the survey revealed that 20% of respondents had paused an ad to learn more about a product. This year, that number is nearly 50%. 

It’s worth noting that among millennials, 71% say they’ve stopped watching TV to learn more after seeing a streaming ad. This indicates that though this generation may crave holiday nostalgia, their proclivity toward engaging with the products they see advertised represents a new and growing opportunity for brands.


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