It’s hard to believe that one of the most beautiful times of the year is wrapping up. Summer is coming to an end and with that, comes a whole new season for advertisers: Holiday shopping. That’s right – advertisers are preparing for the busiest time of the year as the colder months are slowly approaching.

As the holiday shopping season starts earlier and earlier each year, we’ve thought of helping you stay on track and stand out in Q4 and Q5 (what’s Q5, you ask? Stay tuned to find out). On August 19th, we attended Facebook’s “How to Win Q5: A Guide for Non-Traditional Holiday Advertisers” workshop and we’re excited to share our learnings with you. 

In this blog post, I’m going to share Facebook’s take on:

1. Pent-up demand centers around connection

In March 2021, conversations in travel groups on Facebook returned to pre-pandemic levels after global spending on travel fell more than 50% in 2020. After many months of the pandemic, people are eager for re-connection. By thoughtfully crafting experiences that build on what they’ve missed, marketers in any industry can deliver greater value for customers. 

So, how can you translate pent-up demand into sales? Build on experiences that people have missed. 

  • Attract shoppers’ attention with immersive experiences that blend in-store and online seamlessly
  • Take an always-on approach to brand building to retain newly acquired customers and reach new audiences 
  • Use personalized ads to tap into communities that center around interest, geographies and passions 

2. Community drives discovery

Pre-pandemic, 97% of Gen Z use social media as a top source of shopping inspiration. With increased purchase intent, the holidays present advertisers with the opportunity to help consumers discover their products or services, even while shopping for other items from another advertiser.

More so, 40% of people say they discovered a product or service they didn’t know about while shopping online for the holidays and 65% of online shoppers say the internet is making them more spontaneous or impulsive in their shopping over time.

How can you make discovery your most effective marketing tool?

Build on experiences people have missed 

  1. Make discovery and purchase seamless where people are always spending their time by reducing friction across every step of the journey 
  2. Personalize ads for preferred shopping methods like Buy Online, Pick Up in Store and reach people most likely to make a purchase using a specific delivery method 
  3. Help your products find the right people by reaching and re-engaging people who are interested in your products (or products similar to yours)

3. A longer holiday shopping season

With holiday moments such as pre-Black Friday sales, the holidays are getting even longer, spanning from late October to late December. 56% of people said they finished their holiday shopping in mid to late December (Dec 11-31). 

The pandemic re-defined the holiday shopping season making 2020 the longest holiday season ever. Compared to 39% in 2019, 48% of people have already started their holiday shopping by mid-November in 2020. 

4. The blurred lines of in-store and online

The pandemic also re-defined the barriers between in-store and online sales. 

Compared to only 18% in-store, 88% say researching online is the easiest way to research products or services for the holiday. 

There are 3 ways to help you embrace a new hybrid reality: 

  1. Treat social like your flagship store by creating shoppable experiences that are engaging and immersive 
  2. Build a nimble local strategy that personalizes ads for preferred shopping methods and communicates local store hours, available shopping services, in-store promotions and inventory 
  3. Use live shopping and rich messaging so sales experts can offer real-time advice, product demos and retail-taintment online 

5. Lo-fi content is in high demand

Lo-fi is a term used to refer to shared visual language across social apps like Facebook and Instagram, language that’s high in authenticity and relatability. 

Relevance can make or break your digital marketing. In fact, it was the #1 top factor for engaging with a video ad, even over production quality, content source, and length. 

Casual culture is on the rise with the increased consumption of user-generated content (UGC) ads and posts. 25% of holiday shoppers said they want to see more content that’s real/authentic on Facebook and Instagram during the holiday season while 13% of holiday shoppers prefer more beautifully produced content.  

Other attributes that are here to stay are: 

  1. Platform native style – this is a component of lo-fi advertising that help ads feel more natural and contextual. By using gifs, stickers and text overlays, you’ll be able to connect with the audiences by tapping into a language that’s created and owned by its community. 
  2. Community connection – we’re using interactive tools such as live video, Shops, polling, AR and more, inviting people to connect with culture and one another. 
  3. Real stories, real people – delivering relatable creative in ads that portrays actual life moments. 
  4. Single message, simply executed – when lofi ads are grounded in a memorable idea and expressed with the lens of the brand’s distinctive assets. 
  5. Mobile-first best practices: In certain categories like eCommerce, retail and CPG, lo-fi is associated with better performance. For example, in 2019 self-recorded creative from advertisers outperformed studio shot creative in stories for content views 84% of the time. 

What is Q5 and why does it matter?

What is Q5? 

Q5 is the week between Christmas and New Year, December 26th-31st, where shipping costs are reduced and auction competition decreases. This presents many advertisers with one of the biggest opportunities to still capitalize on existing purchase demand and reduce costs. 

Why is Q5 important: Q5 Opportunity on Facebook and Instagram

  • In Q5, ads tend to cheaper on both Instagram and Facebook compared to peak holiday seasons as purchase intent is still high. 
  • Advertisers should also expect a reduction in CPA (Cost per Action) in Q5 compared to Q4 and Q1 as a result of reduced competition in the auction. 
  • Time spent on Facebook can be significantly longer during the holiday period (including Q5) 
  • The greatest number of new devices come online 
  • Purchase intent is still high and people want to spend gift cards and cash gifts 

How to Prepare for Q5: Crafting your Message for Q5

Creative content is one of the most important components to effectively leveraging Q5. To help increase relevance scores, develop holiday-themed creative for Q4. In order to prevent creative fatigue, plan for more creative refreshes than usual to fully take advantage of Q5. 

The below image is an example of effective creative messaging

Creative messaging thought starters

Flash sales and short promotions are effective in driving action during Q5. Ads highlighting promos or sales engage audiences looking for value or discounts and can reach net new people during the holidays or Q5. 

Deadline-driven special offers: Drive a sense of urgency with an audience that already has high purchase intent, allowing you to drive more sales in a short period of time. 

Creative messaging throught starters infographic

Use resolution language in your ad copy and creative: Considering Q5 is right before the New Year, many consumers have a “new year, new me” mentality. It’s important to use effective resolution-themed language in ad copy to effectively capitalize on the unique moments in consumer behavior. 

Local offers: Using local offers usually in combination with deadlines or promotions is a great way to drive traffic or sales. By using your consumer’s location, culture, themes, or language you can create a more intimate dialogue with your consumers. 


How do you better relate with audiences on social apps? Here are 4 ways to help you stand out: 

  1. Try incorporating an unpolished aesthetic into your creative strategy to signal accessibility, spontaneity and contextual relevance 
  2. Let real, relatable people help tell your story by spotlighting influencers, creators and customers 
  3. Speak the shared visual language on social and get creative with native, interactive features like AR filters and polling in Stories
  4. Experiment with different creative concepts to better understand what drives engagement and sales  

With early planning and a strong strategy, you’re set for a successful Q4 and Q5. Don’t forget to keep messaging and creativity top of mind so you can reach the right audiences at the right time. Happy (early) holiday season!

If you want to improve social media results for your e-commerce business or have questions, we’d love to chat!