Cross-Channel Integrated Planning

Ovative Trends and Performance Update: May 2021

As much of the U.S. continues to inch back toward a more ‘normal’, pre-COVID state, marketers must monitor trends closely in order to meet consumers changing needs as restrictions are lifted and activities resume. Read on for actionable insights you can apply to ensure you are ready to reach consumers as we adapt to a post-COVID world.   

May Macro Trends  

  • Unemployment claims fell for the fifth straight week – setting a pandemic low¹ 
  • US GDP expanded at unrevised 6.4% rate in Q1 – expected to hit 8.2% in Q2 2 
  • TikTok continues to rapidly grow, forecasted more Gen Zers will be on TikTok than Instagram in the US by EOY 3

What Trends Did We Observe Across Ovative Clients Last Month? 

Stores Re-Opening: 

Lightened Covid restrictions, vaccine roll-out, and improved weather across the country have influenced a shift in focus to store-driving tactics for Ovative clients. 

Testing During Promotional Moments: 

Clients capitalized on seasonal, customer-centric moments, including Mother’s Day brand campaigns, Memorial Day promotions, and showed continued interest in testing new tactics during these holiday moments. 

Promotions Worked in Affiliate during Holidays: 

Affiliate audiences resonated strongly with promotions for Mother’s Day and Memorial Day across Ovative’s client mix, with some clients seeing YoY growth in the channel even against covid comps, and one omni retail client beating projection by 6%, and another seeing 11% conversion rate in affiliate. Rakuten Rewards also took off across many Ovative clients. 

Client Performance Trends

Across our client base we saw an overall increase in costs both YoY and MoM, however with strong efficiency across key channels and tactics enabled higher spending 4.

How Can You Turn These Insights Into Action? 

Lean into store-driving tactics and testing.

In order to increase in-store traffic, marketers in retail or other industries with a brick and mortar presence should consider: 

  • Adjusting for new, post-pandemic shopping behaviors to ensure you’re meeting customers at their comfort level
  • Testing click and collect, or buy online, pick up in-store 
  • Ensuring store logistics and inventory levels are ready for more shoppers 
  • Revising planograms for increased traffic potential
  • Being conscious of spacing and distancing within stores for shopper comfort 
  • Rethinking how you’re driving customers to purchase 
  • Investing in SEM/SEO: One Ovative retail client is investing more in display retargeting after seeing a higher realized store return in May 
  • Testing geo-based strategies: Another Ovative retail client is running hyper-local store support tests to measure sales lift

Additionally, as consumers change how and where they consume media, it’s important for marketers to become comfortable with testing on new platforms in order to drive store traffic. According to eMarketer, not only will TikTok overtake Instagram in number of Gen Z users by EOY 3, but the platform will pass up Snapchat in Gen Z users by 2023 as well. This makes TikTok a great candidate for retail and other clients to test new conversion tactics, especially those that target a younger audience. For more information and recommendations on testing TikTok, read our latest piece “Should You Be Testing TikTok?” 5

Prepare for big holiday moments using both recent and previous insights.

While the winter holiday season tends to garner the most significant impacts to performance, promotional holidays such as Amazon Prime Day should be effectively prepared for as well. Assessing your strategy for events such as Amazon Prime Day will help to ensure marketers are 1) including emerging platforms like TikTok in their media mix to engage existing customers and reach new audiences and 2) being fluid with budgets in order to fund larger promotional campaigns. We also recommend using insights from previous holidays and store re-openings to gain a better perspective on how to adjust strategies and tactics going forward. Ovative began preparing clients for Amazon Prime Day (happening June 21-22) by being fluid with May budgets to fund these campaigns in June, and building on learnings from recent promotional events. Check out our Amazon Prime Day prep piece 6 for more information on preparing for this big event.    

Based on May macro trend learnings and our client insights, marketers should re-think store-driving tactics and testing, plan ahead for holiday moments to test new tactics or channels, and capitalize on affiliate programs to reach promo and influencer focused consumers. 

Ovative is a digital-first media and measurement firm seeking to transform the measure of marketing success. At Ovative, we help brands move the needle. We are curious. We value your brand. We want to see you succeed. Connect with us to learn more! 


1 | CBS News, Unemployment Claims Dip to Another Pandemic Low, June 2021

2 | U.S. GDP Expanded at Unrevised 6.4% Rate in First Quarter, June 2021

3 | eMarketer: More Gen Zers now use TikTok than Instagram in the US, May 2021

4 | Ovative Group, Client Performance Trends Data, June 2021

5 | Ovative Group, Should You Be Testing TikTok, June 2021

6 | Ovative Group, How to prepare for Prime Day 2021, May 2021

Bethany Hawthorne

Senior Director, Client Services

About the Author

Bethany is a Senior Director of Client Services at Ovative where she leads client engagements and delivery for Ovative’s leading ecommerce and retail clients. In her role, Bethany is responsible for defining and implementing cross-channel media strategies and driving operational excellence across marketing disciplines. Prior to joining Ovative, Bethany spent the last 10+ years on the agency side driving... Read More >>

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