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Marketing platform LiveIntent teamed with MediaRadar to dig into how the pandemic impacted advertising during the recent holiday shopping season. The joint research project found that between October and November, retailers spent 22 percent more on digital ads as compared to the same period in 2019.

Overall, advertising spending was down for the year, the companies said in a statement, but did not say by how much.

The study looked at ad spending across email, online, print and other channels. In the report, the companies said the analysis revealed that conversion rates “for advertisers skyrocketed on email Black Friday weekend, 2020. Particularly, the conversion rate for retail advertisers was 32 percent higher this year than it was last year (2019).”

The report noted that this spike as likely due to retail advertisers leveraging “identity solutions” to help bring “intent and targeting to their advertising across devices, channels and platforms.” This approach was particularly successful for fashion and style ads, which had the “highest conversions on the LiveIntent platform — two-times the click-through rates, compared to average,” the authors of the report said.

Both the fashion and style and the shopping categories had the most aggressive ad spend during the season — especially on Black Friday. As a result, advertising spending for those two categories was three- to four-times the average normally spent. The apparel and accessory category was also up, year-over-year, in particular with digital ads.

“In regard to the top publisher categories for retail advertisers, LiveIntent discovered that shopping and hard news newsletters had the most impressions — 10-times and five-times the impressions compared to average, respectively,” the report stated. “LiveIntent also found that retail ads that were in newsletters devoted to personal finance and law, as well as government and politics, had the highest click-through rate — two times above average, which may be a reflection of disposable income.”

Still, the research showed that ads in newsletters keyed to family and parenting as well as shopping had the highest conversion rates, “which reflected target audiences intent to stock up on gifts for the holidays,” the report said.

Kerel Cooper, chief marketing officer at LiveIntent, said despite the pandemic, “decreasing ad spend overall this year, this holiday season saw relatively healthy digital spend numbers.”

“As we saw earlier this year at the beginning of the pandemic, people are continuing to engage with ads served in emails,” Cooper added. “This engagement gave advertisers the confidence to know that they would be able to reach and convert consumers ahead of the holidays on email.”

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