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Get Ready for Back-to-School Advertising: Pro Tips for Advertising Success on Amazon, Walmart and Target 

Back-to-School is the second largest shopping event of the year and it kicks off right after Prime Day. Even though Back-to-School 2024 sales are predicted to slow overall, online sales are still growing. Market research company eMarketer predicts that Back-to-School purchases online, from July through October 2024, will account for as much as 35% of overall Back-to-School sales in the US, up from 23% pre-pandemic. Brands should capitalize on the momentum of Prime Day and get their Back-to-School advertising into gear for a continued boost, all summer long.  

We’ll be looking at how to prepare for and perfect your retail media advertising campaigns during Back-to-School season, leveraging some of the biggest retail media networks including Walmart Connect, Amazon Advertising, and Target.

When to Launch Back-to-School Advertising Campaigns?

56% of US parents start their back-to-school shopping as early as July

Although peak shopping occurs three to four weeks ahead of the first day of the new school or college year, students and parents start to create wish lists and make purchases as early as July. In fact, early Back-to-School promotions often appear during Prime Day. 

How to Prepare Your Back-to-School Advertising Campaign?

Use all the tools to build highly targeted campaigns 

  • Take advantage of retailer data. Each of them — Walmart, Target and Amazon — can offer you access to their first-party data so that you can target audiences based on lifestyle, demographics, and many other signals. For example, you can take advantage of the granular audience targeting offered by Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC) and build campaigns targeted to In-Market shoppers. You might find our full guide to creating custom audiences in AMC helpful. 
  • Remember who you’re trying to reach. Your audiences include students as well as parents. Amazon’s Wish List is widely used by college students who add items they need, then share the list with family. Walmart and Target offer ‘College Registry’ features for creating Back-to-College lists too.  

Go all-in with a full-funnel strategy 

  • Combine search advertising with programmatic. Each ad type—Sponsored Display, Sponsored Brand, Sponsored Product, and Demand-Side Platform (DSP)—plays a distinct role in guiding shoppers through the various stages of the purchasing funnel. For such a long event, you’ve got time to set up some intricate and long-running campaigns that move shoppers from new-to-brand through to loyal subscribers. For example, search ads—such as Sponsored Products—will support your promotions and get products into carts. Programmatic advertising such as DSP has the flexibility to work hand-in-hand with search ad types, adding a whole new approach to your full funnel strategy and doubling the impact. Check out our guide for getting started with Amazon DSP. 
  • Use Sponsored Display (SD) to purchase space on your complementary products or your competitor’s product detail pages (PDP). To reduce the risk of your brand falling prey to conquesting attempts (where a competitor bids for your branded keywords), you can block competitors from buying SD space on your PDPs.  
  • Nail sponsored search by prioritizing keywords that drive clicks and conversions. Your in-market customers are actively shopping; your product needs to be discoverable in the category for shoppers who are seeking inspiration.  

Let the data guide your plan of action 

  • Use AMC data for sales analysis by each ad type. This will allow you to double down on the most effective touchpoints and apportion your budget accordingly. AMC also allows you to segment based on path to purchase, channel effectiveness, advertising influence, and attribution. 
  • Learn from Prime Day. It might sound obvious, but looking at Prime Day’s early Back-to-School deals should indicate which products and categories will be in high demand.   
  • What happened last year? Look at your path to purchase and attribution data to determine the best ads, channels and platforms to meet your goals. Prioritize budgets based on attribution and previous successes. 

Create a Back-to-School sub-page for your brand store 

  • Setting up a Back-to-School sub-page in your brand store allows you to set out your seasonal stall, showcasing your promotions and the breadth of your Back-to-School assortment.  
  • Using Sponsored Brand ads will draw shoppers to your store who might add more of your items to their basket while they visit. 

When you can’t compete on price 

  • Tailor your content to reflect shopper mindsets. eMarketer shares a great example; parents are willing to spend more on products they believe will improve the wellbeing or health of their children. They’re more likely to buy the product that gives them greatest peace of mind. Reflecting consumer mindsets in your creative will significantly increase conversion if you are unable to match competitor discounts. 
  • Offer value. Consider larger pack sizes or bundles to offer value and reduce the cost per unit. 

House-keeping reminders 

  • Ensure you have enough stock to see you through the season. 
  • Check your Product Detail Pages (PDPs) are up to date and optimized for search and content. 
  • Enroll your Back-to-School assortment in Subscribe & Save. 

Back-to-School Advertising with Pacvue: Top Ten Tips for Summer 2024 

If you’re already using Pacvue, we’ve compiled a handy checklist to make sure you’re making the most of Back-to-School 2024 with our easy, automated processes, rules-based bid management, reporting, and insights. 

  1. Pacvue’s Ad Overlay and Path to Purchase Reports will help you justify spend on DSP and other channels. 
  2. Using Audience Insight Reports will help you build a smarter targeting strategy and support your upper funnel campaigns. 
  3. Pacvue’s AMC tool is the easy way to create custom audiences from complex AMC data. It’s integral to our Amazon DSP dashboard so you will be able to activate new audiences easily when creating your DSP campaigns. 
  4. Check out our Amazon AI Image Generator if you need to create seasonal content quickly. 
  5. Review your automated, rules-based bidding to make sure you raise the ceiling on top-performing products. Pacvue’s Rules-Based Automations automatically adjust spend based on performance. 
  6. Make sure you instruct Pacvue to pause budgets when you’ve lost the Buy Box. 
  7. Monitor your inventory and pause spend when stock is running low.  
  8. In your search strategy, focus on generic keywords although you’ll need to increase the budget to ensure you remain visible. You can set budget caps so you don’t overspend. 
  9. Use the Product Targeting feature in Sponsored Product campaigns to reach the whole category. 
  10. Set up automated dayparting and let Pacvue do the hard work of figuring out the best time to bid high, even while you sleep. 

Three final take-aways for Back-to-School 2024 

First, start early. Back-to-College kids looking forward to furnishing their new dorms are making their Wish Lists already. Secondly, leverage Prime Day. Take advantage of the increased traffic in July and aim to sustain momentum throughout the summer months. Use Prime Day data to get an idea of the products and categories that will do well and enroll your new-to-brand audiences gained during Prime Day in your Back-to-School campaigns. And finally, use all the data you can. As competition for Share of Voice intensifies, you need to do everything possible to make sure your advertising hits the spot.  

Get in touch if you’d like to talk through your Back-to-College or Back-to-School advertising plans with a Pacvue expert. We’d be happy to help you make Back-to-School 2024 a success.  

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