The 2021 Holiday Shopping Season: Four Lessons Learned

The 2021 Holiday Shopping Season: Four Lessons Learned

Retail

The 2021 holiday shopping season was a qualified success – all things considered.

Consumers entered the season amid uncertainty. Would Covid-19 spike again? And yes, it did – later in the season. How bad would the supply chain crisis get? It was a problem – holiday inventory shrank 2 percent because of shortages – but it was not a big problem for the big-box retailers who possessed the resources to plan ahead. Would inflation hurt spending? Yes, rising inflation played a role, especially in December.

The good news is that overall, U.S. holiday sales overall rose 8.5 percent according to Mastercard SpendingPulse. Online spending in the United States rose 8.9 percent in the United States, according to Salesforce. The bad news is that in both cases, the growth rates were lower than expected. MasterCard had predicted an 8.8 percent increase. Salesforce had predicted a 10 percent increase. But keep in mind that no one was predicting inflation to spike, and inflation definitely hurt sales as December wore on.

What do spending patterns in 2021 say about how advertisers might approach 2022 seasonal campaigns?

  1. Getting a head start is more important ever. Everyone should brace themselves for the launch of seasonal campaigns even earlier. That means Memorial Day campaigns starting sooner. Fourth of July, Back to School, Christmas 2022 – all sooner. That’s because the supply chain crisis is casting a permanent shadow over retail for the year and possibly beyond. During the 2021 holiday shopping season, retailers were launching holiday promotions in September to get out in front of the possibility of shortages hurting inventory availability. By Thanksgiving, 30 percent of consumers had made their holiday purchases, according to Salesforce. Even though the supply chain crisis proved to be less disruptive than many had feared, few retailers lack the scale and resources that the big box retailers possess to offset the effects of inventory shortages. In addition, retailers learned a lesson about the value of getting an earlier start, and now they are all feeling the pressure to get a jump on the seasonal sales before a competitor does. With uncertainty continuing, retailers will to advertise sooner.
  1. Big-tent events may have less impact. A byproduct of launching campaigns earlier is that they can dilute the actual impact of an event-oriented sale (Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, etc.) In 2021, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales were subdued. But muted sales were only a problem for businesses that defined Black Friday or Cyber Monday as a single-day event. In fact, for the past few years, big retailers have been redefining Black Friday in particular as a series of events throughout the month of November. As a result, they may have expereinced strong “Black Friday sales” over a period of days, while sales from the actual Black Friday may not have been as strong. This is all OK. It just means that retailers need to adapt to changing shopping patterns and more creatively combine day-of sales with smaller flash sales that occur near the day-of sale.
  1. Adaptability is essential. Advertisers should be ready for the unexpected. For example, typically as December 25 approaches, we see a slowdown in online retail sales as consumers avoid taking the risk of buying a gift and missing the cutoff day for having a gift arrive by Christmas Day. But according to Salesforce, “Retailers nabbed 23% of their holiday sales during the final two weeks of the year, up 11% from the previous year, even though the shipping cutoff date had long passed by then.” Why? Likely because the surge in Covid-19 with the Omicron variant made shoppers more cautious about buying in-store. Interestingly, Salesforce reported a surge in buy online, pick up in store shopping during this period, which suggests that however they shopped, people just wanted to stay away from browsing in a store. Flexibility also means being adapting to different shopping formats online. Salesforce said that over the 2021 holiday season, 4 percent of global digital sales on a mobile device were made through a social media app; and 10 percent of mobile traffic originated from consumers browsing through social networks. Social commerce will be an increasingly part of the advertising and marketing mix in 2022 especially for any business whose customer base is composed of Gen Zers and Millennials.
  1. Promoting flexible financing options is important. With inflation worsening, consumers are looking for ways to ease the strain on their budgets, but they may be leery of racking up big credit card bills. These are reasons why, according to Salesforce, “Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) services in the U.S. during the holiday season increased 40% compared to 2020. Consumers turned to these offerings throughout the holiday season to offset the higher price tags. Alternative payment forms, including PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay, also increased by 15% YoY in the U.S.” In fact, the rise of BNPL is one of the hottest topics in retail now. Retailers should make BNPL an important part of their advertising strategies for 2022.

In 2022, advertising will be an adventurous industry with so many fascinating formats arising and trends coalescing around changing consumer behavior. One thing is clear: wise businesses are going to advertise, both during lean times, prosperous times, and uncertain times. We’ve learned time and again that scaling back because of uncertainty is always a bad strategy, as we have discussed on our blog here and here. Get ready for an exciting ride!

Contact True Interactive

At True Interactive, we’ve helped a number of businesses develop and execute seasonal holiday campaigns. Contact us to learn how we can help you.

Image source: https://pixabay.com/photos/background-bauble-celebration-21658/

Advertising and Marketing in the Metaverse

Advertising and Marketing in the Metaverse

Advertising

The metaverse is hot. One need look no further for proof than the fact that Facebook changed its company name to Meta in October 2021. Consequently, the metaverse is one of the most talked-about topics in business right now. Companies are already figuring out how to make the most of what it has to offer. How might the metaverse help them make money? How might brands embrace advertising and marketing there?

The Metaverse Defined

As was the case with the internet back in the day, new definitions of the metaverse are constantly cropping up, from all quarters. There is a lot of speculation about the metaverse arriving in the future. But the term was actually coined decades ago in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science-fiction novel Snow Crash. Aspects of the metaverse — a shared virtual world where people can work, play, and live through digital twins, or avatars — are here already. Every time someone uses a digital currency, every time someone hangs out on Fortnite or Roblox (gaming is currently a big slice of the metaverse), we’re engaging with parts of metaverse (they’re just not yet connected seamlessly).

As the metaverse takes shape, savvy brands are already planting a flag in this rich terrain. And to do so, they are looking at things a tad differently. Brittan Heller, counsel with the American law firm Foley Hoag, puts it this way: “When you think about advertising in XR [extended reality, one of the building blocks of the metaverse], you should think about it as placement in the product instead of product placement.” Heller may be thinking of luxury brands like Louis Vuitton or Marc Jacobs, which have designed digital products for the game Animal Crossing. Or Balenciaga, which has collaborated with Fortnite to drop exclusive wearable skins for in-game characters. She notes, “An ad in virtual reality may look like buying a designer jacket for your digital avatar [but] that’s an ad for a clothing company that you are wearing on your body.” Coveted digital fashion sometimes bests even real-world counterparts: in Roblox’s virtual world, for example, a digital-only Gucci bag sold for more money than the bag would have netted in the physical world.

Some metaverse advertising, of course, falls back on real-world models. Consider games like Tiki-Taka Soccer and FIFA Mobile, which are already incorporating billboards as part of the game universe. The billboards are meant to raise awareness —just like the billboards we pass on the highway — and if players wish, they can access more intel about the product.

But there is also a concerted effort to create advertising unique to the metaverse experience. The day when users can interact freely with embodiments of a brand — an avatar for a celebrity or an existing character from, say, Disney — is not far off.

The takeaway: there are already opportunities for brands to flex advertising muscle in the metaverse, and those opportunities are growing exponentially.

What Businesses Should Do

What does this mean for your brand? Does delving into the metaverse make sense for you? As you consider these questions, we recommend that you:

  • Remember your audience first. How attuned are they to immersive worlds such as the metaverse? Is marketing and advertising in the metaverse a good fit for them? Currently, the biggest audience for the metaverse skews young: Gen Zers who have grown up gaming and for whom the intricacies of a virtual world are already familiar. But some brands are addressing this divide by reaching out directly to an older cohort. Roblox, for example, has developed features to appeal to older users. And so, the attendant question to ask yourself is: do you have the energy and resources to think outside the box and woo your audience, no matter what generation they inhabit?
  • Assess your appetite for experimentation. This is a brave new world that’s constantly changing. How comfortable are you with that dynamic?
  • Learn from businesses that have been getting involved in advertising and marketing in immersive gaming worlds, which are, as noted, extremely popular in the metaverse. A really good example consists of brands that have been embracing in-game ads, as we blogged here.

Contact True Interactive

True Interactive knows how to make online advertising deliver measurable results on all platforms and apps. To learn how we can help you, contact us. Learn more about our services here.

The Roku Deal with Google: Advertiser Q&A

The Roku Deal with Google: Advertiser Q&A

Connected TV

The fight is over – for now. Connected TV provider Roku has reached a multiyear agreement with Google to keep YouTube and YouTube TV on its streaming platform. Thus ends a months-long standoff between Roku and Google that had resulted in Roku users losing access to YouTube TV (Google’s livestreaming service) and most likely the YouTube app. The deal will allow the 56.4 million active Roku accounts to continue to watch YouTube and YouTube TV without disruption. So, what does all this mean to advertisers? Let’s answer some questions:

Why does Roku matter to advertisers in the first place?

Roku matters because it’s a gateway to over-the-top (OTT) television viewing, which is gaining in popularity. OTT television refers to watching TV content that is streamed directly through the Internet – such as subscribing to a streaming service or streaming content from apps like YouTube on TV.

Approximately 2.3 billion people worldwide watch OTT content, and the number are growing. The OTT market will grow to $1.039 trillion by 2027, according to Allied Market Research. Of all the revenue made in the OTT market, 52 percent comes from advertising video-on-demand (AVOD). In short, advertisers are following the eyeballs.

You don’t need cable to watch OTT — but you do need a device like Roku.

Roku competes with devices such as Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV to offer audiences access to OTT. These devices collectively are known as connected TV. Roku is the most popular device, with a 37 percent share of TV viewing time in North America.

These devices control access to content on OTT. They need to support apps and streaming services in order for a viewer to get access to OTT. In short, connected TV devices wield considerable power. And Roku is especially popular because it sells smart televisions with built-in streaming technology along with devices that users can plug into TVs.

Roku makes most of its money selling ads on streaming channels and taking a share of the streaming services’ subscription revenue and ad inventory. In addition, Roku offers OneView, an ad-buying platform for TV streaming.

What was the problem between Roku and Google?

Roku had removed YouTube TV from its channel store in April as part of a dispute with Google over how search results were displayed on Roku’s platform. As a result, viewers could still watch the Google app, but access to the app was about to expire when Roku and Google reached a deal.

Roku alleged that Google interfered with Roku’s independent search results, requiring that it favor YouTube over other content providers. The company also claimed that Google discriminated against Roku by requiring search, voice, and data features not required of other connected TV devices.

As a result of Roku removing YouTube TV, an owner of a Roku device could not stream YouTube TV via OTT. The YouTube TV app allows subscribers to watch live TV channels online for a monthly fee. YouTube TV offers live streams of nearly 100 popular channels, including ESPN, CBS, Fox News, and CNN.

And, Google lost access to those viewers for its ad-supported YouTube TV service.

Why did Google and Roku reach an agreement?

Google was under pressure to reach a deal. Google would have lost out on millions of dollars in ad revenue in addition to the YouTube TV revenue that would have come from Roku. But Roku had motivation to reach an agreement, too. Competitors such as Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV carry YouTube. Roku could have lost customers to those competitors.

What were the terms of the deal?

Terms were not disclosed. We don’t know what concessions both sides made to restore access to YouTube TV for Roku viewers. Likely Google eased up on some behaviors that Roku deemed anticompetitive, but it’s hard to say exactly what might have happened.

What should advertisers do?

The news underscores why it is important for advertisers to understand the constantly evolving OTT and connected TV landscape. Connected TV makers are rolling out more ad units that increase revenue (for the connected TV devices) and reach (for advertisers). For example, Amazon is expanding advertising opportunities on Amazon Fire TV, which competes with devices such as Apple TV and Roku to stream content on connected TVs for millions of viewers. Amazon Fire TV is more than a connected TV provider. It’s a way for advertisers to reach people as they browse and discover new entertainment. One new ad unit, Sponsored Content Rows, is designed for businesses to promote content such as new shows and movies in the form of a row (or carousel) of sponsored content while people browse for shows on their connected TVs (akin to sponsored search results in a Google search engine results page).

Watch, learn, and capitalize on connected TV and OTT ad opportunities.

Contact True Interactive

Eager to capitalize on the opportunities connected TV can offer your brand? Contact us. We can help. Learn more about our connected TV services here.

For More Insight

Advertiser Q&A: Connected TV,” Tim Colucci

How Video Advertising Delivers Results

How Video Advertising Delivers Results

Video

The digital advertising industry is picking up steam, and one reason is the growth of video advertising, according to a new research report from PQ Media. Anyone who works with video advertising can attest to this growth. Video ads are delivering more benefits because:

  • The formats and placement channels are expanding. Look at how TikTok has exploded in popularity. It didn’t even exist five years ago.
  • In the age of TikTok and YouTube, consumers love video as a content format.

At True Interactive, we’re definitely seeing the results of video’s popularity. Recently, one of our clients experienced a challenge: its share of branded search was dropping. The client, a photo curating and sharing company, naturally wanted to improve. So, we launched a video-based awareness campaign that spanned display, YouTube, Google Display Network, connected TV, Yahoo Online Video, Facebook, and Yahoo Display. Our focus: mobile and connected TV. We also ensured that YouTube ads could target connected TV screens. 

Our ads consisted of continuous promotions with six-to-seven offers consisting of aggressive pricing and deep discounts across multiple products. We ran:

  • 10 different 15-second videos specific to a product (trimmed from a master 30-second video).
  • Four 30-second videos.

The ads also focused on mobile users in order to drive downloads of the client’s app.

As a result, our client enjoyed significant improvements in both awareness and also revenue – showing how powerful video can be as a direct-response format in addition to brand awareness:

Year-over-year sales results

Meanwhile, the client’s search share increased noticeably for three consecutive months. Mobile and TV screens typically accounted for 65 percent-to-70-percent of video views/Impressions.

So, why did this campaign deliver results? A few reasons stand out:

  • We began with a large audience (women aged 25-54) with the purpose of hitting as many eyes as possible. That’s because the brand’s low levels of search volume told us that it lacked brand awareness more broadly. Targeting an audience would have been premature.
  • Incorporating mobile video to drive downloads of the client’s app was well timed with the popularity of in-app usage.


Mobile app usage

  • Our approach allowed us to keep CPMs down. The more targeted you are, the more expensive the ad becomes; your CPMs increase when you narrow your audience.

We recommend that businesses take a closer look at how you are using video advertising. How much are you investing into video ads? If you’re not deploying video ads, what’s holding you back? If it’s a lack of in-house creative and media expertise, then a partner can help you.

Contact True Interactive

We deliver results for clients across all ad formats, including video and mobile. To learn how we can help you, contact us.

Photo by CardMapr on Unsplash

2021 Holiday Ads: Hope and Realism

2021 Holiday Ads: Hope and Realism

Advertising

Ready for some memorable holiday ads? In response to widely reported supply chain issues, some brands have teed up their holiday ads to come weeks ahead of traditional schedules. And as was the case last year, the campaigns are tasked with addressing the elephant that hasn’t left the room: Covid-19 and its lingering effects. If striking the right tone somewhere between hope and realism can be tricky, a few reliable themes — from connection to music, humor, and cheer — are helping brands thread that needle. Here are some examples:

Connection

We may live in divided times, but Etsy’s hopeful Give More Than a Gift campaign for 2021, which highlights unexpected connections, reminds us of our best selves. In one spot, a friendship springs up between two people from different walks of life. The tightly edited ad runs a mere 30 seconds, but it packs a wallop. The e-commerce company’s focus on unique, handmade items figures into the story, and the implicit message — that Etsy’s constellation of DIY sellers may help shoppers avoid the headache of larger retailers with supply chain issue delays — doesn’t hurt the brand, either.

Music and Surprise

The right music is key to a successful ad campaign, and brands have long been incorporating modern interpretations of classic hits in hopes of connecting with shoppers on a nostalgic level. In fact, according to Chelsea Gross, director analyst at research firm Gartner, nostalgia is particularly resonant this year as consumers potentially gather with loved ones after a year or more of pandemic-era separation.

For financial reasons, advertisers don’t always use the original song. It’s also worth noting that employing a cover can also add a unique spin, beyond the song’s original interpretation, to a nostalgic favorite. Consider the spot from Dutch e-tailer Bol.com, which is set to a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.” In the ad, a boy who originally asked for a doll turns the soccer ball he got instead into an imaginary friend. Cue all the expected cozy feelings — but Bol.com is mining a different theme here, and an unexpected twist at the end of the spot gives Lauper’s familiar song added resonance. (Spoiler alert: this kitten has claws!) By subverting expectations — of a familiar song, of a storyline that, at least initially, seems familiar — the brand grabs our attention.

For a brand like Amazon, deep pockets can mean the freedom to use a song in its original incarnation. This year, the e-commerce giant debuts “Hold On” from Adele’s new album 30; the song hits a home run on several levels, playing backdrop to a spot that doesn’t shy away from the lingering challenges people face from the pandemic. The storyline isn’t overtly festive: two women share a quiet connection over their love of birds. But the ad, which is aligned with the launch of Amazon’s Christmas gift shop, covers a lot of ground, addressing mental health, loneliness, and the power of connection in a subtle two-and-a-half minutes.

Humor

Like Amazon, Extra gum isn’t afraid to look at the curveballs life can throw, but it takes a different tack, using humor to lean into some inconvenient truths about the holidays. As Extra spins it, while it’s great to be gathering for the holidays in a way 2020 simply didn’t allow, some time-honored traditions — from passive-aggressive presents to long-winded relatives — remain as tricky as they ever were before the pandemic. The solution? “Chew it before you do it.” In other words, chewing a piece of Extra gum can give that extra moment of pause, and transform a potentially awkward moment into a time of grace and connection. And who can argue with that?

Cheer

Of course, holiday ads for time immemorial have succeeded by tugging on the heartstrings, and a few notable campaigns from 2021 take that approach and run with it. Consider the McDonald’s U.K. ad that introduces us to a little girl and her imaginary monster friend, who bond over the Christmas ritual of leaving out bags of McDonald’s carrots as treats for Santa’s reindeer. Time passes (a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” plays in the background – apparently 2021 is Cyndi Lauper’s year), and we think the girl has outgrown her joyful friend. But — spoiler alert! — you might need to pull your hanky out. Some friendships are meant for the long haul.

Finally, consider Apple’s spot, which was filmed with an iPhone 13 Pro by the father-and-son team of Ivan and Jason Reitman. The three-minute short follows the efforts of Olive, a little girl determined to keep her snowman buddy alive all year ‘round. An unexpected finale doesn’t quite cue up as expected, but the overall vibe — and a dedication to the ones we’ve waited all year to be with — goes for the feels in a big way, and succeeds.

Contact True Interactive

Looking to navigate the nuances of a complex world and connect with audiences via digital? Contact us. We can help.

How Advertisers Should Respond to Supply Chain Uncertainty

How Advertisers Should Respond to Supply Chain Uncertainty

Advertising

A global supply chain crisis has created uncertainty for manufacturers and retailers alike. How are these problems changing the way business advertise for merchandise that may or may not be available when consumers shop?

The problem many advertisers – especially retailers – face right now is uncertainty of product availability. This is a different problem than scarcity. When a product is scarce, but retailers can predict how many units they will have on hand during the holiday season, they can set ad budgets with confidence. But when a business has no idea how many products it will stock, figuring out how to stoke demand with advertising becomes very tricky.

For example, as reported in Advertising Age, Jay Foreman, CEO of toy company Basic Fun, usually sends new products to influencers for promotion through product unboxing videos. But this year, he’s being more cautious because he cannot predict with certainty whether retailers will be able to carry his products.

“I don’t want to get the influencers going and the merchandise is not in store yet,” he said. “The consumer views that [influencer] unboxing and they’re like, ‘Cool, let’s buy it now,’ and if it’s not there, they’re not going to look at that unboxing video again.”

According to Ad Age, some advertisers are scaling back their ad spend. But many others are taking a more nuanced approached that we recommend:

  • Shift offline advertising to digital. Tactics such as paid search give advertisers more flexibility to calibrate their spend as supply-and-demand levels fluctuate. National Tree Company, which sells artificial trees and holiday décor, will focus its advertising on online search with some social media advertising as part of the mix. This approach makes sense especially as more product research and purchases occur online:

Research online

 

Purchase online

 

Because Amazon and Google dominate product research and purchase, look toAmazon Advertising and Google’s many ad units to capture holiday spend. By the way, Amazon Advertising offers ad units for businesses even if they don’t sell products on Amazon. Those ad units include Sponsored Display and Video Ads.

  • Increase advertising now. Many businesses are ramping up their advertising to encourage shoppers to buy products as soon as possible before retailers run out of products. We noted a “buy now while you can” surge in holiday promotions weeks ago. Those promotions are coming from big, well known retailers such as Target and Walmart. Be aware that when big retailers launch holiday promotions, they create general consumer awareness of the holiday shopping season. As a result, retailers should expect an uptick in searches for holiday sales and promotions. Now might be a good time to capitalize on that increased search activity to activate your own campaigns.
  • Keep brand advertising spending levels strong. As Ad Age noted, auto makers are promoting their 2022 models even though a global chip crisis has created a short-term shortage of available inventory at dealerships. Per Ad Age, “Auto brands continue to push out broader marketing campaigns touting new vehicle launches, including Toyota, which this week rolled out a new campaign for the 2022 Tundra pickup truck that it described as the largest U.S. ad campaign for a new vehicle launch in Toyota’s history.Ad spending cutbacks are more likely for locally-focused ads aimed at getting people to dealers for sales events.”

Whatever you do, don’t cut advertising because of uncertainty. Procter & Gamble’s approach during the Covid-19 pandemic offers a great lesson as to why. To say that the early days of the pandemic created uncertainty is a massive understatement. Businesses everywhere faced economic uncertainty and a global supply chain crisis (yes, the supply chain crisis was going on back then – it just was not getting the attention it is now). And who can forget the great toilet paper panic of 2020, when a spike in consumer demand resulted in retail shelves being stripped of this essential product?  Procter & Gamble was affected by this uncertainty – the company manufacturers toilet paper brands as well as many other household products that faced shortages. But Procter & Gamble kept advertising, and as a result, the company’s earnings in 2020 exceeded analysts’ projections.

As Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller said, “We view this as a time to spend forward in terms of our advertising levels, not to spend back. First, there’s never been more media consumed than there is currently, as we all try to entertain ourselves and our families and survive. And two there’s a heightened need to spend on hygiene and health.”

Procter & Gamble was, and is, looking at the long game: before the pandemic, people were spending more time online, and the pandemic accelerated that behavioral shift. The company understands that although demand and supply for products will always fluctuate, the long-term shift in behavior is here to stay. So, Procter & Gamble is taking its ad spend to where shoppers are: online.

How about you?

Contact True Interactive

How can your brand benefit from digital advertising? Contact us. We can help. Read some of our case studies here.

Photo by Cameron Venti on Unsplash

True Interactive Blog Posts for Additional Insight

Consumer Shopping Trends for the 2021 Holiday Season

Why Big Retailers Are Ramping up Holiday Shopping Promotions – and What Advertisers Should Do

Why Google Is Doubling Down on E-Commerce

How Retailers Can Prepare for the 2021 Holiday Season

Five Lessons Learned from the 2021 Ad Spending Surge

Why Procter & Gamble Is Succeeding (Hint: Advertising!)

Why Businesses Need to Step up Their Digital Advertising in 2021

Don’t Go Dark During the Coronavirus Crisis

Why Discord Matters to Advertisers

Why Discord Matters to Advertisers

Social media Uncategorized

Discord is a free voice, video, and text chat app that’s used by people aged 13 and up to chat and essentially hang out. Initially launched in 2015 as a home for gamers, the app has since expanded its reach and now attracts users from gaming and non-gaming communities alike. To say it’s popular is something of an understatement: the app enjoys more than 150 million monthly active users as of July 2021. But it accepts no advertising.

Why should advertisers care about Discord? Read on to learn more.

What Is Discord?

Users have embraced Discord as a way to connect with friends on a daily basis. Available for Mac, PC, iPhone, and Android devices, the app facilitates talk around any number of topics, from homework to mental health to travel.

Discord is mostly used by small and active communities who like to connect regularly, and for these groups the app follows an invite-only protocol. But larger, more open communities also flourish on Discord; these larger communities can be public, and tend to focus on specific topics like gaming, the app’s original mandate. Minecraft, for example, draws a large following.

As Discord puts it, shared interests drive the conversation.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, an entire vocabulary exists to help users navigate the app: “servers” are the spaces created by communities or friend groups (as Business Insider describes it, servers are a less-formal version of the Slack app). Any user can initiate a new, free server, and invite their friends; individual servers promote their own topics and rules. Discord servers are subsequently organized into text and voice “channels,” which are typically devoted to specific topics. Users can post (type) messages on text channels; they can also upload files and share images. Voice channels allow users to communicate real-time through a voice or video call.

There are literally thousands of Discord servers, so whether your jam is cute cats or a game like Fortnite, a Discord server that reflects your interests probably already exists.

Why Discord Matters to Businesses

But there’s no advertising. So, why should businesses care?

In a word: presence. Even though Discord is an ad-free platform, brands can and do maintain a presence there. Think of Discord as a social-listening tool. As reported in Marketing Dive, Discord is a source for learning about emerging culture and trends. By following Discord, brands can figure out fresh was to become culturally relevant with their marketing.

What does that look like, exactly? Essentially, brands can create their own branded communities on Discord, places where they can interact head-on with their most loyal customers. These communities are a zone where brands and consumers connect over common interests — and there might be a perk or surprise in there for the customer, to boot.

Virtual events are popular on the app: consider the Q&A fashion retailer AllSaints hosted in May, in which the menswear designer gave users a peek into how its styles have changed over the years. Chipotle took a different tack, hosting a virtual job fair on Discord that allowed the fast-casual restaurant chain to announce a hike in wages (to $15 an hour), and gave current employees an opportunity to talk about benefits and career paths.

Of course, for some brands, the app’s gaming roots are a rich vein to mine. Consider teen retailer Hot Topic, which initiated a Discord server specifically targeting fans of Japanese anime. Hot Topic relies on its own presence to support anime fandom, which overlaps with Hot Topic’s own audience.

What Brands Should Do

What does all this mean for your brand? We recommend that you:

  • Keep in mind Discord’s audience. Are they your audience? In other words, does Discord promote a niche that represents common ground for your brand and a community of Discord users?
  • Do your homework and learn from how other brands are succeeding on Discord. Discord users seem to respond to authentic conversations and events on the app. How can you capitalize on this? Keep in mind the Hot Topic example: the retailer tapped into a theme already established as part of the Hot Topic brand — then ran with it. They didn’t pretend to be something they’re not or try to shoehorn themselves into a conversation that didn’t make sense.
  • Listen and watch closely for ideas to inform your advertising beyond Discord. What can you learn from the ways Discord connects with its audience?

Contact True Interactive

Interested in exploring Discord—or another chat app? Contact us. We can help you stake your claim.