Holiday Planning for PPC

By — 11.13.12

As the holiday season fast approaches, retailers are gearing up for what is poised to be another record breaking season of online gift purchasing. For many online advertisers, these few weeks are the most important time of the year, representing a significant portion of their yearly revenue. Even if you are not counting on a substantial increase in sales this holiday season, smart advertisers understand the opportunities that this surge in web traffic offers them and ensure that their campaigns are prepared for optimal performance.

Source: ComScore’s Q3 2012 SOR Report

When the holiday traffic begins to accelerate, the smartest advertisers will be spending the majority of their time closely monitoring account performance, actively bid managing keywords to maintain optimal positions, and understanding and reacting to new holiday trends. This means that in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving week (and as the shopping season expands, even earlier) advertisers should thoroughly review their accounts and ensure the foundations of success have been laid.

  • Understand Daily and Hourly Holiday Trends
    The majority of successful paid search campaigns implement some degree of a day parting (or ad scheduling) scheme. Day parting is a pattern of raising and lowering keyword bids, set by advertisers, based on the value of each click during a particular time. The days of the week and the times of the day that consumers are most likely to buy from a particular retailer varies by the time of the year and the device the consumer is using, but never more starkly than during the holiday season. Advertisers would be wise to use all available data—whether that is a previous year’s PPC campaign or an analytics platform—to understand the trends that their campaign is subject to. They will use this knowledge to create a day parting plan that will change daily through the holiday season. More than any other time of the year, advertisers are encouraged to be aggressive during peak times and ensure their best advertisements receive maximum exposure during times when the data suggests consumers are most likely to purchase.

    • Promote Optimal Ad Copy
      While the increase in traffic would suggest a prime opportunity to test new ad text, the most important focus should be generating converting traffic. This means that smart advertisers have largely completed their ad text tests and have decided on the optimal variation to bear the brunt of the holiday traffic.This does not mean that new ad text or holiday promotions should not be introduced, but they should not be introduced to the exclusion of your pre-determined optimal ad text. Instead, rotate your promotions in slowly and ensure they are providing added value before running them exclusively. Additionally, ensure that your ad text is eligible to run in all your ad groups. If you plan on running any promotions during this period, upload them sufficiently in advance and give them time to receive approval. Disapproved ads mean lost traffic.

      • Ensure Coverage of Top Seasonal Products
        Every year, a handful of new must-have items enter the gift buying arena. Whether it is an ever-sharp chef’s knife, an ingenious new phone case, or the latest “Tickle Me Elmo,” many retailers find themselves carrying a variety of products that have caught the public’s holiday eye. Identifying these products and ensuring adequate keyword coverage is critical for proper holiday preparations. A simple Google search will provide you with a multitude of top 10 gift lists, but there are arguably better ways to understand the pulse of the holiday consumer. Amazon provides a list of products added to the most wish lists and registries. These products often end up on the best seller list, are conveniently divided into categories, and are an easy place to begin your research.

        • Maximize CTR with Ad Extensions
          Compelling sitelinks and product extensions are a quick and easy way to see measurable increases in your campaign’s click through rate. Advertisers should ensure that all of their campaigns have the most relevant sitelinks and product extensions enabled—including those directed towards mobile and tablet. Carefully consider the text you use on your sitelinks. Does this campaign have a best-selling product? Consider drawing attention to your ad by mentioning it in a sitelink. Remember that gift certificates are big this time of year, and a sitelink directing otherwise undecided gift-givers towards your gift certificate page may be all it takes to drive additional conversions.

          • Identify Ideal Landing Pages
            With this increase in website traffic, ensuring that new customers are presented with a landing page that maximizes their chances of converting—and converting with the most value in their shopping cart—is of paramount importance. Prior to the holidays, advertisers should test the landing pages of their most valuable keywords and should feel comfortable running the variation that will create the most value. Consumer behavior can be surprising when it comes to landing page design, so it is important to test often and well in advance of the holiday season. Finally, make sure your landing pages are active and working properly, both in preparation of the holidays and continuously during them. A broken landing page or an inactive website means lost revenue and wasted investment, so constantly monitoring your keywords and fixing problems should be a top priority.
          • The holiday season represents an enormous opportunity for online retailers to generate efficient revenue and new customers. The best advertisers will make sure that they are positioned to succeed well in advance. While it is important to be capable of quick and nimble actions during the holiday rush, there is no substitution for adequate preparation. With the hours counting down until Thanksgiving and Black Friday, understanding what actions you can take now that will have the most impact is critical. So take these tips and make sure you are ready to sell as many Furbies/Tamagochis/Uggs/Teddy Ruxpins as you can this holiday season!

Lennie Sliwinski

Lennie is an account manager at Adlucent. He loves training for his eventual summit of Everest and eating buffalo chicken wings. Connect with him on LinkedIn.


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