The annual antidote to the grey days of January and February is the shimmer and sparkle of the red carpet catwalk, as awards season gets underway. As stars strut their stuff in the season’s most striking designs and hottest hues, brands have a huge opportunity to tap into a fashion conscious audience hooked on the glamour and excitement of the first of the year’s big celebrity events.

Last year, more than 4.5 million viewers in the UK tuned into the live screening of the BAFTA’s and, just a few weeks later, the Oscars attracted a global audience of over 40 million. Live TV broadcasts -from sporting events through to fashion shows and awards ceremonies - continue to attract huge audiences. And the global hype that these events create can have a profound impact on shopper behaviour.

But, with the cost of advertising at these events well beyond the budgets of most brands, how can smart sellers and marketers ensure that they are reaching these audiences to get their share of the prize?

Prepare for couch commerce

With the long, dark nights still upon us, the temptation to spend our nights in front of the TV is still looming – giving the late night broadcasts of both the BAFTAs and the Oscars a captive audience.

And, given the popularity of dual-screening, we’re likely to see the impact online immediately. Viewers may have one eye on the TV, but the other is likely roaming another device online, providing brands with the opportune moment to target and engage with a receptive audience of consumers. We proved just that during last year’s premiere of The Great British Bake Off, registering a 67% rise in searches for baking products on while the show was on air.

This in itself is a huge opportunity for brands to align their strategies with the upcoming TV schedule and manage inventory to cope with the surge in traffic that results from sofa shopping.

Harness the power of real-time

Whilst savvy brands will plan well ahead for the big on-screen events over the coming year, it remains a competitive battleground. The ability to be fleet of foot and react to events as they happen will become an important differentiator for brands looking to reap real-time rewards.

This year’s awards ceremonies are likely to spark online conversations as viewers flock to social channels to air their opinions. For brands keeping an eye on what’s happening on-screen, social media is an easy way to tap into an engaged audience and seamlessly become a part of consumers’ conversations.

So whether Natalie Portman or Emma Stone has just appeared on the red carpet in a pair of killer heels, or Burberry has just revealed the newest style, marketers need to make sure they’re as switched on as their shoppers, turning big screen trends into small screen targeting.

Target, rather than stereotype

Gone are the days when advertisers could rely on demographics; shoppers today are very quick to shun brands who gets them wrong. So rather than wasting precious ad spend by taking a broad brush approach, marketers must really get under the skin of shoppers to understand what it is that makes them tick.

By using insights such as observed shopper behaviours, brands can get a first-hand view of who they should be engaging with; and where and when. Whilst it may be easy to cast stereotypical assumptions as to who’s going to be tuned in this awards season, it’s far more valuable for marketers to spend time understanding who’s likely to engage with their brand and target them accordingly. After the launch of The Great British Bake Off last year, we unearthed a whole host of male bakers, with men responsible for a whopping 380,000 searches for “cake tins” during the first two months of the show.

With a busy TV schedule packed full of awards ceremonies and events, now is the perfect time for marketers and sellers to capitalise on rising consumer excitement and red carpet trends. It’s a golden opportunity for brands to tap straight into their target audience - boosting business by making the most of marketing in the moment.


By Rob Bassett, sales director of hard goods at eBay Advertising

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