Retail Performance Marketers, Rethink Your Barometer of Success This Holiday Season

‘Tis (almost) the season! Retail and etail spend massively on measurable digital advertising. This is true all year long, but recent studies show at least 26.8% of retail sales happen during Q4. Additionally, retailers typically devote 25% of their annual budgets to media during the four-day shopping period from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, according to a survey by performance advertising software Nanigans. So holidays are a huge deal for retail.

This year is different. With social marketing in decline, and with the economic uncertainty driving the need to reduce “awareness” marketing in favor of performance channels, the need for retailers to find new measurable, scalable marketing channels is more urgent than ever.

So how do marketers increase the scale of measurable performance spending in a world where the supply of measurable performance advertising channels, like social, have been radically reduced?

The answer is literally right in front of us in 110M U.S. living rooms. Connected TVs.

Why CTV Advertising is the Best Option for Businesses During a Critical Sales Period

Integrating CTV advertising into a digital marketing strategy may feel radically revolutionary, especially for smaller retail companies, but it’s really not. It’s about applying the same principles any good retail marketer would through a search or social advertising campaign, but with more impactful technology. The TV is the most important, and most influential, screen in the house. At its best, CTV advertising offers retail performance marketers the ability to localize large campaigns at scale; addressability; and real-time optimization.

For instance, TV attribution is unique (consumers can’t click on a TV). Radical data transparency and control over attribution windows are a must for marketers to build trust and retain customers at every point along the customer journey. And while growth marketers tend to default to last-click attribution models — because it’s familiar and practiced — there are a myriad of multi-touch attribution models and tools built into an effective CTV advertising platform that can help retail marketers eliminate those concerns through data-informed and tangible reporting of the measurement of TV’s ability to drive ad value and outcomes.

Retailers are not Seeing the Whole Picture With Last-Click Attribution Models

When developing strategies, especially for high-volume retail activity such as the holiday season, digital marketers of all sizes have relied heavily on search and social platforms to reach audiences with targeted messaging. These platforms were the only options for smaller marketers to reach consumers at scale, since running campaigns on television advertising is traditionally cost-prohibitive. Major platforms such as Meta and Google offered last-click attribution as a default solution for campaign measurement.

The “last click” is a final stop in a very long multi-touch journey. For example, if a customer buys a holiday gift on Amazon and a FedEx package arrives at his door, should the marketer give FedExall attribution credit for that sale? Credit should also be given to the ad that inspired the customer to research the purchase in the first place. Without holistically considering the roles of various screens across a customer’s multi-touchpoint journey, retailers will not be adequately equipped to optimize strategies for customer acquisition, retention and increasing brand affinity. This is especially critical for the upcoming holiday season.

The holidays are a prime opportunity to reach digital-first customers at scale. Historically, marketers had no way of proving TV’s true influence due to the industry’s lack of technological capabilities to measure the impact of the medium. Additionally, television’s high cost-of-entry traditionally forced smaller marketers to sit on the sidelines as TV became a private arena for an estimated 200 national retailers who could afford to run holiday-inspired campaigns. Simply put, smaller marketers were unable to justify television ad spend in the way they could on social and search channels.

Connected Television Opens the Door for Holiday Retailers of all Sizes

The recent rise of connected television (CTV) opened up massive opportunities to target and measure audiences with precision. Recent studies show that more than 60% of all viewing time in the U.S. is spent on streaming services. For the first time in television history, marketers are able to holistically leverage digital-like measurement and attribution to active television audiences on a large scale. This means the entrance for more than 9 million online advertisers into the television industry can be realized.

Recent studies show that 76% of viewers watch television with another screen in hand. Retail marketers now have a firm understanding that a television ad has great potential to inspire a sale through other platforms such as search or social. For example, a parent may view an ad for a children’s toy and then search for their nearest retailer, on Google or through an app, and then click on the corresponding link to place an online order. Holiday retailers looking to meet audiences where they are must be able to build all of these screens in their holiday campaigns to truly build incrementality.

Retailers can now opt for more sophisticated self-serve performance platforms that have the advanced tools needed to properly attribute credit to TV-correlated website traffic, from last TV ad impression to the website traffic generated during a specified time frame. Some can also properly credit outcomes of purchases and subscriptions as well. They can also lean into incrementality testing in which marketers can compare against a CTV-exposed group and use this data to adjust their strategies in near-real time. In this way, retailers can quickly identify what is working and measure against their own metrics for success.

While retailers may still be skeptical of television advertising’s effectiveness, the reality is that new innovations in performance marketing have made it more accessibleand measurable than ever while enabling marketers of all business sizes to self-manage campaigns. For the first time since the advent of television, performance marketers can now leverage the medium’s ability to influence millions with relevant, creative and dynamic content and messaging that drive outcomes. This holiday season, marketers must meet consumers every step of the way if they want to meet their bottom lines.


Jason Fairchild is the CEO and Co-founder of tvScientific, a CTV advertising and attribution platform. An Idealab company, tvScientific offers a self-managed solution that combines media buying with deterministic measurement and attribution. Prior to tvScientific, Fairchild was the Co-founder and CRO at OpenX, a programmatic advertising pioneer. Before OpenX, he was an early executive at GoTo.com, the inventor of the paid search model that now generates $200B in annual advertising spend.