According to a new report by CreativeX, a technology business that powers creative decision-making for the world’s leading brands, brands are losing hundreds of millions of dollars in digital ad expenditure during the holiday season.

The study, which examined over 3.9 million ads from 400+ brands across 10 industries, including retail, food and beverage, and consumer packaged goods, discovered that brands spent over $600 million globally on ads that are not digitally suitable during a critical time of year for marketers. Extrapolating this to 2023 ad expenditure statistics, it is estimated that over $73 billion will be lost on digitally inferior commercials in Q4 2023.

Previous CreativeX research indicated that in 2020 and 2021, more than half of digital ad spend was directed toward picture and video advertising that were not optimized for their digital environment ($700 million out of $1.2 million examined). A year later, nearly the same amount of money has been squandered in the fourth quarter alone.

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For many brands, the fourth quarter accounts for more than half of their yearly income and a disproportionate percentage of their annual media spending (about 30% of total global ad spend). It’s a critical time for firms to attract customers, as purchasing intent rises throughout the holidays of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.

While marketers invest millions of dollars to bring their Christmas campaign concepts to life, they fall short in the final mile before their ads reach their digital destination. Ads are not appropriately suited to their digital settings due to the continuous reuse of made-for-TV content on digital platforms, and they fail to incorporate basic fit-for-platform creative best practices that maximize the possibility of the message’s cut through. Millions of dollars are spent on ads that do not include any branding in the first three to five seconds (the average view-length of a digital video), are formatted incorrectly, or fail to include subtitles or supers in media environments where 90%+ of videos are watched without sound, all basic creative quality criteria that have been shown to deliver better digital performance.

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“Creative teams have worked hard all year to deliver break-through holiday campaigns and tap into consumers’ heightened intent to purchase,” said Anastasia Leng, founder and CEO of CreativeX. Unfortunately, the final executional leg of the journey reduces the effect of their work: altering creative assets to fit them with the digital media contexts for which they are designed. These minor changes boost an ad’s Creative Quality Score and media effectiveness, and in a year of tight budgets, it may just offer marketing teams something to cheer about.”


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