holiday ad campaigns

46 PPC Experts Share Tips for Holiday Ad Campaigns

October 20th, 2022

Want to improve your PPC campaigns this holiday season? 

From Black Friday in November, right through to January’s new year sales – the holiday advertising season represents two full months of prime sales opportunities. And the Adobe Digital Economy Index predicts this year’s spike will push annual online spend in the US alone over $1 trillion for the first time.

But with the rising cost of living and altered economic climate, traditional strategies for targeting seasonal customers may no longer be fit for purpose. And the high level of competition during the busy period inevitably shoots advertising costs up, reducing the margin for error

So having the right plan in place to optimise your seasonal ad campaigns and maximise conversions from the outset is more important than ever. With that in mind, we reached out to 46 PPC specialists to collect their tips on a range of different holiday advertising topics. The tips are organised into 8 main categories: 

  • Key Events (Black Friday, Christmas etc) 
  • Performance Max Campaigns 
  • Holiday Promotions & Deals 
  • Search Campaign Optimisations 
  • Audiences & Targeting 
  • Budget Forecasting 
  • Social Media Campaigns 
  • Google Analytics 4 (GA4) 

Simply skip to the sections most relevant to you and start taking actionable steps to maximise return on ad spend, avoid abandoned carts, and close Q4 on a high note.

Key Events (Black Friday etc)

Want to know the best time to start your holiday ad campaigns and prepare for key dates in the calendar? The tips below will help your ads stand out on the most competitive days of the year.

I’ve learned that Black Friday is no longer a single-day event in most Western markets—demand starts growing significantly two weeks before Black Friday. A good practice here would be to check Google Trends / Keyword planner to see if – and in what magnitude this applies to the market you’re advertising in. With this information, you can apply intelligence to how you set your budgets for this period.

Funnelling the lion’s share of your budget only on Black Friday or during the Black Friday weekend is rarely a good decision. Try to match your budget and offers in proportion to the increase in demand, which means you’re probably scaling 2 weeks prior. The added advantage here is that there is less competition during this period, leading to better CPM/CPCs and hopefully an overall better efficiency during the entire campaigning period.

Start your holiday ads two weeks earlier than you think you should. In our testing, calling a sale “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” increases conversion rates throughout the entire month of November. This also gives your ads time to get out of the learning phase and into active to really capitalise on Black Friday.

CPMs will be high for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but if you start deals early, you can get good results before and after the actual Black Friday weekend. Make sure to include key phrases that are proven to improve conversions, like “Black Friday,” “lowest prices of the year,” and “best deal of the year”.

Christy Shannon

CMO at Primer

The countdown timer on Google Search Ads is helpful to get more visitors to your site and let shoppers know how much time they have to react before the sale ends on their favourite products. You can then extend the campaign to retarget visitors who have shown an interest in your products during the sale on Black Friday and continue until Cyber Monday if needed.

1. Prepare early (Christmas is worth the effort!)

I would always advise any business to start thinking about Christmas by the start of November at the latest. It might make your insides cringe, but your customers are most likely thinking about Christmas too! Work with your marketing team to understand the wider business priorities and customer demand and then tie that into PPC activity. Here’s some steps to get you thinking – plan out all the offers you can into a marketing calendar, draft up seasonal ad copy, review potential changes to bid strategies

2. Monitor closely and don’t be afraid to adapt

You’ll soon see traffic start to build and be drowned by the data (and hopefully sales) But the grind doesn’t stop there! You can’t set and forget your PPC like you would your Christmas Day turkey. Instead, use the data you gather on a daily basis to make changes based on the results you’re seeing.

Getting great results? Then see if there is capacity for more spend. Not seeing the results you need? Then look into the search term report, update your negatives or maybe try a new bid strategy.

Sometimes the trends catch you out, so don’t be precious about trying something new, but make sure you have the data to back you up so the changes aren’t made blind. Above all, keep promoting your USPs and push those products or services that are showing great results, so you can capitalise on the available demand.

In a first-party cookie world: unique, high-quality, attention-grabbing creative has never been more essential to the success of eCommerce campaigns. According to a 2021 study conducted by Forbes, consistent branding across the funnel can increase revenue by more than 20%.

My advice: don’t underestimate the power of evergreen campaigns during Cyber Week.

Broader is better. eCommerce brands, for example, are perpetually acquiring new customers. But, Cyber Week also means that audiences will expand to a much wider demographic. This time of year, people buy things for others that they’d never buy for themselves. So, for eCommerce brands, it can be particularly beneficial to serve branded ads in the product catalog. It’s an easy way to widen your net, and drive performance at the bottom of your funnel.

TLDR; Striving to place the right product in front of the right person is quickly becoming a waste of time. Instead, focus on improving the creative of your evergreen campaigns. It’ll increase your brand recognition in the eyes of new customers, at a critical time of year. Strike while the iron is hot!”

If promoting a special event, don’t forget to include this in your ad copy for branded searches. If you have a strong brand with a good volume of inquiries, this can be an easy and cheap way of promoting the event to people who are in the phase of looking for your solution. You may also include a relevant image extension as well as a countdown to emphasise the urgency. Don’t forget to change the copy after the event is over.

The lead up and aftershock of key holiday events is as important as the day itself, ensuring you’re engaging with your audience prior and after the event is key to success. Priming your audience to buy your product through consideration and awareness strands is a great way to ensure your brand is front of mind leading up to key events.

Think about your messaging and creative across social channels and lower intent searches to align your messaging with the key products you’re promoting in your holiday deals is key. As you lead up to key events use a linear spend model to increase your activity leading up to the event and keep spend high into the period after the key event if you’re continuing to run deals, it’s worth noting that Black Friday sometimes has false peaks across different channels so use historical data to ensure you don’t have pitfalls in your spend.

As you progress into your key event push your budget and efforts into conversion channels such as Google Shopping, PMax and Amazon if they are applicable, remember to monitor performance daily and hourly.

After your key event, analyse your traffic levels and performance to see if there’s any opportunity to continue your activity at an elevated rate as other competitors reduce spend allowing cheaper costs and a larger share of the market to round off your sales period.

Performance Max Campaigns

Smart Shopping is now gone for good, marking the first holiday shopping season with Google’s new Performance Max campaigns. These tips will help when reviewing your settings, automation goals, exclusions, product filtering, and audience signals – which are brand new considerations for PPC marketers this year.

Performance Max is the new shiny glamorous type of campaign that Google has come up with that allows advertisers to access all Google ads inventory from one single campaign. As they say not all shiny things are gold and not all gold is shiny, this product reflects the same.

Performance Max is something that should ideally be executed only if your Google ads account has enough conversion data or audience data that you can use for targeting. Performance Max is said to be all automated, but in reality a lot of it depends on the audience signals used for the campaign. Hence referring to your audience segments from previous campaigns or website audience data (Google Analytics audience data) is really important to optimise a Performance Max campaign.

If you are not sure of the above, start with a search or display campaign to collect some conversion and audience data. This will also help you understand the audience that is interacting with your business.

Having a dedicated Performance Max campaign for gifting and other seasonal products will help with increased visibility and easier budget management for this product segment. This campaign can use an aggressive bidding strategy, and the creatives and messaging can be tailored specifically to the audience. You must ensure that there is no product overlap between the main Pmax campaign and this seasonal campaign. In terms of structure, you can further divide it into themes or categories.

Two tips for Performance Max from a Google Shopping perspective:

1. Test your PMax campaigns without any asset groups

This will allow you to only advertise products with shopping results rather than the expanded Google Network, bringing these campaigns closer to the discontinued Smart Shopping. If you have smaller budgets and want to focus on product promotion this could be a smart tactic. As always ensure you test.

2. Utilise the ‘Optimise for acquiring new customers’ setting

Selecting this will help Google prioritise bidding on users who haven’t previously engaged with your site (account audience will help inform here). If you’re looking towards customer growth this can be a strong tactic. In addition, this will also reduce your Pmax budget being eaten up by brand queries.

I’d recommend having a duplicate campaign for comparison purposes.

Performance Max and the new Customer Acquisition Goal is a new feature designed to acquire customers efficiently. It’s currently available to use on the Performance Max campaign attribute.

The feature allows you to bid higher for new customers in comparison with existing, or you can opt to only bid for new customers. The former is considered the best option as it drives all customers to your business, while generating the maximum profit from one single campaign. The latter is more economically beneficial if you have an acquisition focused budget, but it is limited by its potential reach capability, as the ad is targeted solely to customers at the beginning of their journey through the sales funnel.

With all these new developments more data is being collected within Google Ads insight page. This allows you to make more data driven decisions in optimising for greater reach, clicks, ROI etc. The insights function can be used to distinguish which assets consumers value most in relation to the stage at which they are at within their customer journey. Ultimately, Google’s new features will help your business to adopt a more targeted and customer centric approach.

Manpreet Singh

CEO at Bobble Digital

When it comes to Performance Max, lower your goals and push for market share based on your lifetime customer value. Giving Google more data (spend) and moving quicker will give you significant advantages in the automated system as it matures. DO NOT try to push for profit from Pmax if at all possible in your business.

Don’t only rely on Performance Max, remember that you can still use Standard Shopping. Standard Shopping provides you with more control and more insight and has multiple ways of setting it up for success. It does require some learning, but it shouldn’t be ignored if your Performance Max is not effective. Standard Shopping campaigns can be configured in a variety of ways:

1. Single campaign
Simply add all your products to one single campaign.

2. Single campaign per brand/collection
Add all products from a single brand or collection to its own campaign.

3. Multi campaign based on search intent
Create three campaigns and name them P1, P2, P3.

The aim is to separate search intent from top of funnel “cold” to “ready to buy” bottom of the funnel search terms. Set your P1 campaign to high priority in your campaign settings, set your P2 to moderate and set P3 to low priority.

Add your products brand names as negative keywords to your P1, this will force any brand specific search terms to show in your P2 campaign. You can now bid more aggressively on any time a brand is used i.e., “ray ban sunglasses”.

Add products and models you stock as negative keywords to your P2, this will push highly specific brand + model searches through to your P3 campaign.

For extra kick add “price” and other cost related terms too. These are highly targeted searches for prospects that are deep in the buying lifecycle. Bid very aggressively on these terms as they should have high ROI with a strong offer, i.e., “ray ban erika rb4171 price

Byron Trzeciak

CEO at PixelRush

Want to Learn More About Performance Max? 

Check out our webinar with Google Ads specialists Bob Meijer & Miles McNair 

Combined, Bob and Miles have over 10 years of PPC experience, worked for more than 200 clients, and profitably spent over €100M on Google Ads. Unlike agency owners or ‘gurus’, the pair actually manage Google Ads campaigns every single day. And everything they teach is based on real, practical experience.

performance max campaigns

Holiday Promotions & Deals

No matter how well structured your campaigns are, if your holiday deals and promotions aren’t competitive, your ads simply won’t convert – even when presented to the right audience. These tips will help ensure better market positioning for your top seasonal products. 

If you’re running promotions across the holiday period, don’t forget to take advantage of price and promotion extensions, especially for Shopping Campaigns. Merchant Centre Promotions are easy to set up and can make your products stand out vs competitors. The holiday period is very competitive, if you have a price advantage because of a promotion then make sure audiences are aware.

Add affiliate marketing to your channel mix for incremental sales. Some shoppers exclusively use sites like Rakuten or Slickdeals for holiday purchases. Ad spend is proportionate to revenue, as your only cost is commission on completed purchases.

Don’t underestimate the importance of the offer. Customers are savvier than ever when it comes to one-day sales like Black Friday & Cyber Monday. Don’t just create one blanket offer for the days, create multiple offers that you can reveal one by one in the lead-up to the event across each of your channels. Combine amazing offers with a FOMO for the best results.

And if you are an E-commerce or Retail business, be sure to apply ridiculous discounts to slow-moving stock alongside your best offers. If something hasn’t sold for a year, take the opportunity to create an “are you serious” offer. Remember, use the event to free up hard-earned capital for fast-moving products in the final quarter.

When consumers have less to spend, they will start shopping earlier and orientation takes longer. The customer journey will therefore become longer and more diverse. There are three key factors for consumers that will determine whether they will proceed to purchase:

1. Consumers will try to purchase the product as cheaply as possible. The proportion of bargain hunters within your target audience will therefore increase. Try to respond to this by adjusting your marketing communication. For instance, the sensitivity for discount codes will be higher than previous seasons.

2. Some companies cannot keep up with these price wars. No worries. Consumers will also look for products that are durable and long-lasting. They will try to look for products that offer them the highest value for money. Can’t compete on price? Then focus mainly on the sustainable elements of your product.

3. As every marketer knows, marketing is closely linked to emotions and emotions are more present during a crisis than ever. Find out which emotions you can capitalise on during the holiday season. Add emotional value to the products you sell. Imagine your kids ask for an Xbox game every year and this year they can’t because of budget. This would make any parent feel sad. Show them which products with a lower price can also offer similar or more value.

For peak trade, the conversion stage of the funnel is where the money is made. Users have decided which product(s) they want to buy and have chosen a few vendors that they’re looking to purchase from. Your sole job here is to convince them that yours is the brand they should be buying from. When it comes to conversions, remarketing is king.

Remember, you’ve been building audiences for weeks (maybe even a month or two) at this point, so it should be easy to re-engage them through product specific remarketing. This is where you should really be driving for purchase, with clear CTAs focusing on ‘shop now’, using creative and copy aligned with items that users have already shown interest in. To ensure you’re rewarding engaged users, we’d suggest layering in exclusive promotional offers that haven’t been seen at either the awareness or consideration stage.

Remember, the funnel goes beyond that peak trade conversion. Treat users well, reward their loyalty (by not offering everyone a blanket discount, for instance), and you’ll drive the right kind of customers who will come back again and again, increasing lifetime value and yielding more revenue in Q4 and beyond.

Inserting the countdown customiser into your ad copy is a great way to create some extra buzz and urgency around your offering, as you can count down by day, hour, and finally, minute! We love using this feature to indicate when a sale is ending, but we also highly recommend using it to count down to the last day for guaranteed Christmas delivery.

Plan earlier than normally, customers’ shopping behaviour has been strongly impacted by the worldwide events like: war in Ukraine, inflation etc. Consumers are shopping earlier this year looking for attractive offers and discounts, therefore make sure you stand-out with countdown Ads, personalised headlines and enough budget (make sure to be fully eligible).

Search Campaign Optimisations

In a recent report from Google, 49% of surveyed shoppers said they use Google to find new items or products, making Google Search Campaigns an ideal way to reach shoppers at just the right moment during the holiday seasons. And when we put a callout for tips, this was by the most popular topic, with more submissions than any other category. 

If you have enough data to play with, you want to optimise your campaigns towards actions that occur as much down the funnel as possible. When properly set up, target ROAS can give you wonderful results. For that, make sure you’re passing back revenue values correctly alongside your click or transaction IDs. You don’t need to send real revenue, you can also arbitrarily assign a monetary value to certain actions taken by the user e.g, $5 for a newsletter signup, $10 for an e-book download. If your data infrastructure is not mature enough for that yet, switch to either target CPA or Maximise Conversions.

Whilst it may be tempting to go crazy and launch 10 new campaigns and 30 ad sets for Black Friday / Cyber Monday, you’ll actually see much better results when you streamline the account to 4-5 campaigns and give each one enough ammunition and time to deliver. Our data shows that going broad on targeting has outperformed every other interest stack in the top funnel, so focus your attention on multiple dynamic copy & creative variants instead. These are your key levers for success when competition and CPCs will be at an all-time high.

Some of our million-dollar eCommerce clients achieve 80% of their sales in this three-month slot. Going into my 11th holiday season, here’s my advice for those heading into their first.

If this is your first holiday season managing campaigns, look to build your campaigns and data collection with the proceeding seasons in mind. The first season should answer the question, “What does the holiday season mean to us?”. If you can understand the true impact of the holiday seasons on sales, CPA, CPCs, and CTRs, you’ll be able to respond and optimise for the next season and the one after. It’s not just the Google Ads metrics that can be affected. Website behaviour changes, so create audiences in Google Analytics specifically for this time of year. Some of our clients have dedicated holiday themes for their websites ready to switch on and off.

I recommend building and managing these campaigns separately from your year-round ones. Put aside what you know about the rest of the year, and learn about this moment. Open up your bidding, expand and segment the ad schedules, locations, demographics and audience targeting. Gather the information, review the results and plan for the next. Happy Holidays!

Use Automated Rules! Why? It allows advertisers to plan out key activities ahead of time, knowing that Google or Microsoft will roll out those tasks at the date and time you have specified. Some of the key tasks that should be typically left to rules are…

Campaign budgets – scale or decrease budgets during certain periods if you know when your highs and lows.

Activating and pausing adverts (especially if you’re an ecommerce business that has cut off dates). You can determine when you want an advert to run based on time of the period.

Pausing campaigns – you might have seasonal campaigns that need to stop, or periods over the holiday that you don’t operate due to the business closing or not wanting to drive sales/leads.

There can be so much going for companies during the holiday period, so automate smaller tasks. It means advertisers can focus on data analysis and strategic optimisation, releasing some of the pressure and providing the ability to make smarter decisions and take advantage of a time of the year that can be fruitful for a lot of businesses, especially in the eCommerce space.

Use ad extensions. An ad extension is an additional component you can use to amplify your ad to make it stand out and improve the customer experience. Businesses can add their location, phone numbers, links to other pages or even showcase your review rating on sites like Yelp.

Seasonality Adjustments are an underused feature in Google Ads – giving us a rare window of influence over the behaviour of Smart Bidding strategies, including Maximise Conversions / Value, where we have no target to adjust.

By increasing the algorithm’s ‘expected conversion rate’ we can force the bidding strategy to become proportionately more bullish, competing harder, with higher bids in more auctions. Conversely, when you want to cut spend but increase ROAS, a negative seasonality adjustment is another tool in our kit to help achieve that.

But while smart bidding aggression levels can also be shifted by use of targets alone, Seasonality Adjustments have one unique advantage. When you have ROAS (or CPA) targets in place at the ad group level, and you want to keep those ad group differences in place but make an overall adjustment to the campaign’s bidding levels…

Rather than shift all of your ad-group level targets, keep them as they are and use a seasonality adjustment to push overall bidding up or down.

At time of writing (though I think I recently spotted Google experimenting with this) there’s no direct way to adjust ad group-level ROAS targets in bulk in the interface. Seasonality Adjustments can effectively do that for you.

Don’t underestimate the power of your ad quality scores this holiday season. When making use of Google’s responsive search or banner ads, optimising your quality score can positively impact your campaign in powerful ways.

We’ve implemented this at Somebody Digital on numerous occasions. When we achieve Good or Excellent ad quality scores, the campaign generates more impressions, clicks and ultimately conversions, including in competitive niches.

To increase your ad quality scores, take the time to create strong headlines and descriptions that can result in different combinations (and thus avoid repetition), allowing you to maximise your ad assets. Doing so allows you to take advantage of Google’s machine learning to gain a competitive advantage when it comes to your Christmas campaigns.

1. Consider implementing a script to automatically check for product disapprovals in Google Merchant Centre. This will alert you by email when the number of disapproved products exceeds the % threshold set, allowing you to troubleshoot issues quickly and avoid a drop in shopping traffic during peak times. Set the script to run repeatedly so you can be sure the feed is in good check, without having to constantly check for issues manually.

2. Make use of Seasonality Bid Adjustments to inform Smart Bidding of expected changes. When setting the adjustment, consider how much you want CPCs to increase by and choose a bid adjustment based on that figure. We’d recommend looking at the ROAS from a similar sale period in the past to help decide on an adjustment that still results in efficient results.

Cristi Macfarlane

Paid Media Analyst at Honcho

During your peak season, make sure you’re leaning into automated bidding. Machine learning is a huge benefit in a complicated journey, and being ready to open up your budgets while controlling efficiency via ROAS or CPA targets is a great way to ensure you make the most of demand peaks. If you’re running short-term promotions or expecting unusual short-term spikes, that’s where Google Ads’ seasonality adjustments can be helpful.

PPC activity by nature focuses on traffic, which makes it all too easy to forget about the quality of the clicks driven to our destinations. Especially during promotional periods, where there’s more competition (and more opportunities due to high user activity), chasing cost efficiency shouldn’t overshadow maintaining strong engagement rates.

In practical terms, this means that you check both the CPC fluctuation in Google Ads, but also conversion rates in Google Analytics. Maintaining the latter whilst incrementally scaling the former.

Use Seasonality Bid Adjustments on your Google Ads campaigns to 1) catch as much of the peak sales volumes as you can, and 2) mitigate risk after the peak. By using SBAs, the algorithm will push harder on the peak, and scale back afterwards. If you don’t use SBAs, you risk overspending the days after your peak buying moments.

Since we are all using, or getting used to, responsive search ads (RSA) now within PPC, it’s really important to do testing to make sure your adverts are as optimised as possible and all of your headlines are as enticing as they should be. For example, do you know if you have better metrics when saying ‘prices starting from £x’ or ‘Save up to £x’? If not, make sure to get testing and then you can try some pinning, if your campaign is niche enough for that to work. Since RSA doesn’t give us as much data as Expanded Text Ads make sure to track your conversions too – high impressions doesn’t mean high clicks or high purchase volume!

Make sure your conversion actions are up-to-date, working, and tracking exactly what you want. If you can, ensure that you have any revenue or transactional information being fed back to Ads or SA360. Then, if time allows, try and AB test a new bid strategy, perhaps a CPA vs ROAS one – to ensure you’re getting not only the most conversions you can, but the most valuable ones too.

In Google Campaigns, the easiest way to boost Click Through Rate (CTR) is by adding negative keywords and including ad extensions. Don’t forget about the image extension – it’s the real performer but usually gets ignored!

Audiences & Targeting 

Use these tips to deliver relevant messages to specific groups of people who are most likely to convert during the holiday season. It’s all about striking the right balance. Your ad campaign’s audience targeting settings need to be just right – not too broad or too narrow.

To maximise your return on ad spend, I highly recommend leveraging your existing customer list to drive sales. For Google Ads, you can upload your list (Customer Match) to remarket to previous buyers and/or market to a similar audience. By simply uploading your customer list, you are giving Google the power to position your ads in front of an audience more likely to buy your products and/or services. Implementing Enhanced eCommerce is also a recommendation of mine prior to the holiday season.

Audit your audiences ahead of the holiday season, these can be outdated pretty quickly without maintenance. Update any 1st Party audiences, and consider splitting into recent/expired customers to allow different targeting/messaging. Review Google Analytics and update audiences for any newly relevant Customer Segments. Update Custom Intent audiences for any new phrases (review last year and recent search terms) and add new ones for any trends new to 2022.

With seasonality and specific holidays, opening up the floodgates with your targeting isn’t always the best move. This is especially true for Google Ads.

Although, you may be increasing the volume of traffic to your landing page, eCommerce store or product listing, you could be sacrificing on quality. Adding more affinity, in-market segments, detailed demographic targeting, and broadening keyword and interest selections, may appear to be a good choice. However, I would advise you to be cautious, even when your budgets increase when seasonality and the holiday rush come into play.

One of the best measures to keep quality control in check, is to add similar audience segments into your targeting mix for Google Ads. This way, although you are expanding your target criteria, you are using your own data to guide campaign delivery and outcomes. With this approach, you can aim for a lower cost per conversion, while maintaining traffic volumes and ultimately leading to more sales at the end of the day.

I cannot stress enough keeping on top of your keywords regularly!

We’ve found as seasons change, so do our customers’ needs. So we regularly add keywords that are trending now that weren’t when we initially set up campaigns, as well as removing keywords that are not converting but are eating up our budget. Spending a little time reviewing this each month has resulted in increased conversions and improved ROI. This also helps when setting up your PPC budget forecast, as you are already familiar with the trends that your keywords exhibit (and aren’t wasting it on underperforming/expensive ones).

Budget Forecasting 

This year’s uncertain economic climate means many businesses are hesitant to increase their PPC budgets, with some even considering downsizing their marketing team to cut costs. 

Slashing ad spend may deliver a short-term benefit when it comes to your Q4 financial report. But you’ll inevitably pay the price later down the line when the reduced visibility and ad impression share catches up with you. So use these tips to plan your PPC budget responsibly and effectively over the holiday season. 

Tweak your budget mix. We all know consumers act differently over the holiday period (and in winter, in general) so don’t be lazy and keep things ticking along as they have done for the rest of the year. Choose what products or services that you assign more of your budget to carefully. The high-ticket items that are your core focus usually may not be right when people are more interested in presents and avoiding the in-laws.

Even your KPIs may have to change a little – with more of an emphasis on brand and awareness rather than conversions and ROI. Marketing in any form is not just about pushing out the message you want to send but making sure it is something that the target wants to receive and that’s it’s when they are ready to engage with it.

Plan for the last 2 weeks of the year to be slower as people unwind/disconnect for the holidays. Consider switching lead-gen efforts to brand awareness plays during that time (who really wants to download an eBook during winter break?)

Instead, front-load budget to increase frequency and reach just before the winter holiday season. Then, use that audience as retargeting fuel for lead-gen campaigns again in 2023 once users are recharged and ready to convert after the new year.

Do your research first, just because the CEO thinks Black Friday is a prime time to sink a load of cash into PPC; it might not be wise. Look at whatever historic data you can get hold of, be it from your analytics, from Google Performance Planner, from Google Trends or even from your previous AD campaigns around other bank holidays. You should be able to see if search volume increases, if clicks increase, if CTR or Conv Rate is higher. The list goes on.

Over the years in our industry (Construction) we’ve come to terms with the fact that overall search volume is up, but that extra audience is actually less likely to convert in the long run. For us bank holiday traffic is just casual browsing traffic, and we now see the additional traffic over various bank holidays as potential retargeting targets more than anything.

Understand the seasonality of your market. Not all businesses peak during the holidays, and some are dramatically less. If your business goes down during that time period, don’t try to make up for less traffic by overbidding. Understand what you can afford to pay (use target CPA or target ROAS) and don’t get sucked into overbidding for clicks just to drive traffic during this time period.

Social Media Campaigns 

Are your paid social channels performing as well as they could be? Use these tips to boost authentic ad engagement and reduce your cost-per-acquisition across Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and more. 

You also need to ensure users know exactly why they should be buying from your business – and not a product from your competitors. Driving awareness involves finding and making that first introduction to people who don’t know who you are or what you sell.

It’s worth noting that all the big social platforms are really pushing video content. That means two things: lower cost audiences (cost-per-view is significantly less in most verticals than cost-per-click) and easily remarketable content. The real focus here should be on as much forward planning for video production and asset creation as possible.

True consideration activity is tailored to users that have already been on-site or interacted with your brand. This is where you can reactivate those video views you’ve been building up with more product-focused ads (and remember, remarketing audiences can be built from actions from almost six months ago – but obviously the more recent, the more likely someone is to convert). For this, consider activity via Meta, Pinterest, Display or Video.

Users here are likely browsing a range of products and are trying to decide on the right one to suit their needs, meaning they may also need to know who they’re going to buy it from. The main goal here is to help them find the right product. Directing users to potential key landing pages and more tailored product ads – while focusing on USPs – is really going to drive engagement and, potentially, purchases.

Across your paid social channels keep it simple, and pre-plan your audiences, promotions changes and creatives. Don’t try to test to many new audiences or new strategies during peak, instead broader targeting, and fewer audiences each with more budget will improve optimisation, reduce CPCs and lead to stronger results. These will also help you adapt to multiple promotional/creative changes across peak much faster.

Google Analytics 4 

Setting up Google Analytics 4 is non-negotiable this holiday season. If you don’t set it up now, you won’t be able to plan and prepare effectively for next year’s peak sales period. 

Make sure your GA4 is fully setup and all data streams are connected ASAP! Universal Analytics is being sunset in summer of 2023. Having historical data from this holiday season is going to rely on that GA4 instance capturing data – don’t put yourself in a bind for next year. Your future self will thank you.

Make sure that you have your Google Analytics 4 (or an alternative analytics tool) set up properly, as you’ll probably get a lot of traffic you can learn from. Here are 10 analytics tips you should look at before the holidays. Don’t just make a property and implement the tracking code, but make sure you:

1. Set up event & conversion tracking.
2. Set up eComm tracking correctly for GA4 (there are 14 events you can track).
3. Set the data retention period to 14 months.
4. Exclude payment providers as referrals.
5. Add filters for internal traffic.
6. Create audiences.
7. Link Search Console to Analytics.
8. Link Google Ads to Analytics.
9. Set up native conversion tracking in Google Ads to feed the algorithm more data.
10. Set up cross-domain & subdomain tracking correctly.

Want More Holiday PPC Tips? 

In a previous webinar, we spoke to Nicole Santana, Paid Media Supervisor at Marketwake about how to optimise holiday PPC advertising campaigns during an unprecedentedly competitive year. Expect to learn about: 

  • How to adjust your holiday PPC advertising for 2022
  • Offering mystery boxes and tapping into other holiday trends
  • Best practices for maximising conversions on holiday PPC ads 
  • Retargeting strategies to minimise abandoned carts 
  • Gathering data & insights to prep for holiday season 2023 
  • Conducting a holiday season PPC post mortem 
  • Managing PPC spend in a tougher economic climate 
  • Migrating from Smart Shopping to PMax in Q4 

Read the webinar summary (w/ TL;DR section)

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