Back to leadership Contact Us

Three Key Tactics for DTC Marketers This Holiday Season



***This is an extended version of the article originally published by MediaPost***

Talking about the holidays in August always feels a little strange, but planning ahead is more important—and challenging—than ever. For marketers, the holiday season represents a time where media opportunities and product seasonality converge in a perfect customer acquisition storm. But this year is complicated: what will viewers watch if their favorite shows can’t be produced? How can companies revise creative to stay with the times, without seeming performative? What will happen to media traditionally consumed during our commutes? We’ve all spent this year closely monitoring graphs and trends (some favorable, many not) and there are a number of industry figures to consider when navigating this pivotal season. The below tactics are among the most powerful for direct to consumer brands, and each offers room for growth amidst the uncertainty of Q4.


I am not the first to say it, and won’t be the last: the power of podcast advertising is real. The trends in this space, while staggering, aren’t surprising.

  • eMarketer predicts US podcast ad spending will surpass $1 billion in 2021, compared to less than half that in 2018
  • Time spent listening to podcasts still went up in Q2, despite the disruption of COVID-19
  • Targeting and measurement solutions are seeing widespread adoption

Partnering with podcast hosts for personal endorsement has long been the gold standard, but now, developments in audience-based buying have unleashed new scale potential within the medium. The popularity of podcasts isn’t slowing down, and platforms like Spotify attribute much of their own growth to investment in this space. The consistent increase in listenership, coupled with success against brand goals, solidifies podcasts as a much-needed reliable advertising source heading into Q4.


Another environment where consumption and ad revenue continue to climb is digital video and OTT, where viewers access premium video content via internet enabled devices including connected TVs and streaming hardware.

  • The industry is seeing continual diversification of viewer demographics
  • Top streaming platforms are experiencing continued growth in active accounts (Roku now surpasses 43mm!)
  • 32% of US TV households have cut the cord from traditional TV services

Platforms like Hulu and YouTube have invested in live content (ahem, sports), which helps make their services competitive with traditional cable. Concerns about financial stability during COVID-19 are driving viewers to reevaluate home entertainment expenses and turn to lower-cost options. The trajectory of this medium, and an array of opportunities ranging from highly efficient to ultra-flashy, make OTT a can’t-miss tactic.


During a time when differentiation defines brands, partnerships play an integral role. Custom content and sponsorships can evolve traditional advertising into an organic part of pop culture. Media is highly personal—just ask anyone about the Game of Thrones finale.

  • Partnerships tap into the human element of media buys
  • They allow for topical storytelling and content that is relevant to the current climate, without needing to re-work creative assets
  • We are seeing opportunities for shorter-term commitments and advantageous pricing

Selecting brand or media partners requires methodical research and negotiation, but the outcome can be incredibly powerful for both awareness and customer acquisition. Whether it’s through sponsoring an athlete or developing a storyline integration, the impact of partnerships is unmatched.

The changing landscape–economically and politically–has introduced countless new variables for marketers to consider. Investing in multiple avenues for advertising with an audience-first approach helps brands speak to their target regardless of media habits. Flexibility in creative messaging and strategic alignment ensures companies have a platform to make a statement. Podcasting, OTT, and Partnerships are three environments in which advertisers should rest assured that their dollars will work exceedingly hard this holiday season.