As the nation awaits the annual John Lewis opus, there are signs that UK retailers are taking a different advertising approach this year, eschewing blockbuster ads in favour of more direct appeals to get shoppers through their doors.

With Halloween and Bonfire Night out of the way, the crucial Christmas trading period is now under way in earnest, and the Advertising Association predicts businesses will spend £6.4bn on seasonal advertising during the final quarter of this year, a 5% rise on the same period last year.

“Advertisers are increasing their investments in Christmas advertising year-on-year, because they know Christmas advertising works,” said Karen Fraser, leader of advertising’s think tank, Credos.

But where and how that money will be spent appears to be changing. ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall recently said that total advertising revenues at the broadcaster would be down 3% in Q4 although she added that online advertising “continues to deliver strong double digit revenue growth”.

The implication, then, is that TV advertising will be hit. The Guardian’s take on revised AA/WARC advertising expenditure forecasts was that the total amount spent on TV advertising is expected to fall by almost £44m in the final three months of the year as advertisers shift spending to the internet and mobile display.

But WARC Data Editor James McDonald cautioned against such an interpretation. “The figures alone do not show budgets are shifting, only that internet growth – much of which is being driven by SMEs – is continuing at a time of easing spot spend (which was at a near record-high this time last year)” he said. “Indeed, all other TV formats – most notably video-on-demand – are expected to grow this quarter.”

But retailers’ Christmas strategies are definitely changing. “The world’s moved on [from blockbuster Christmas ads],” according to Nathan Ansell, Marks & Spencer director of marketing for clothing & home.

Those campaigns did a different job, he told Marketing Week. “The job now is to get customers out shopping, on to the high street and into our stores.”

“In the world of modern marketing a lot of the entertainment value comes through social sharing and we just wanted to change our approach and be a bit more commercial,” he said.

Sourced from Advertising Association, ITV, Guardian, Marketing Week; additional content by WARC staff