Real Time Banter: Performance marketing as we prepare for the holiday season

In our nineteenth episode of Real Time Banter, Jessica Spira from Ziff Davis joins LiveIntent’s

In this Real Time Banter webinar, LiveIntent SVP of global marketing, Kerel Cooper, and VP of marketing, Nick Dujnic, speak with Jessica Spira, vice president of partner growth and management at Ziff Davis, about performance marketing in preparation for the holiday season.

Key insights from Jessica Spira

Ziff Davis reaches more than 100 million readers each month across its suite of publications, including, and To achieve its aim of “the Internet’s shopping companion,” Ziff Davis has always written about the best products and services to make people’s lives better.

So when COVID-19 hit, the company’s overall strategy didn’t change too much. But it did have to learn to adapt to unexpected changes in the market.

“We doubled down in certain areas where we saw a lot of natural growth,” said Spira. “Desktops, laptops, and WiFi routers are really important elements if you are suddenly forced to work from home, and we saw a tremendous growth in traffic and buying behavior across all of those products.”

Ziff Davis also had to make sure its content was properly updated as products quickly went out of stock.

“If you have a lineup of the best WiFi routers from Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy, and they’re all out of stock, you’ve got to be able to switch gears pretty quickly in order to provide a consumer experience,” Spira said. “So we were able to be pretty nimble on the backend of our sites in order to fulfill the customer need.”

The publisher also invested heavily in email acquisition, since it’s seen email open rates and clickthrough rates increase year over year.

“We believe that email is a great way to drive sales and performance,” Spira said. “Also, our merchants are very interested in being in our email. It’s one of the more popular placements that we have across our entire portfolio.”

With the holidays approaching, Ziff Davis launched a Black Friday survey in August to gauge shopping behaviors for the coming season. The publisher found that one-third of shoppers had already started purchasing their gifts. Meanwhile, on the retail side, the company is seeing brands release ad scans 10 to 15 days earlier than usual.

“We need to mitigate what happened last March and April: How do we keep supply chain and fulfillment centers up and running?” Spira said. “And I think there is some concern that a resurgence of COVID means people may not get what they need for holidays. We see that in how consumers and merchants are behaving.”

Best practices for performance marketing in 2020

  • Combine performance marketing and branding. “What we have found is that there’s really a convergence of the two. My team works with our first-party display team, who gets RFP for a lot of branding campaigns. And a big component of a lot of these branding campaigns is: What can you do from a performance standpoint? What can you do from a commerce standpoint?”
  • Keep your program running. “I would have a strategy that keeps your program on and your marketing on throughout the year. Understand where those pulse moments may be, depending on your sales strategy around certain holidays or [events].”
  • Communicate your goals. “You’ve got to be able to tell your publisher what your goals are, what your KPIs are, what the expectation is. And conversely, the publisher needs to be able to manage expectations appropriately. In performance marketing, it’s a lot [about] communication. It’s a lot of understanding what kind of deals you’re going to be having.”
  • Ask the right questions. “There are questions that we’re asking that we never asked before. I don’t ever recall asking or worrying about supply chain. It was more about, ‘When are you having this coupon and this deal?’ Now it’s, ‘What does your supply chain look like and what does your fulfillment look like?’ I think we’ve grown as an organization and I’ve started to really understand our partners’ businesses a lot better than we did a year ago.”

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