Essential PPC Planning Tips for Holiday Success
2018 has been reported to be one of the busiest holiday seasons for retailers, with eCommerce sales reaching +18.4% growth YoY. With holiday shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas being one week shorter this year, it is especially important to be on top of your planning game in 2019. Below are several tips that can make your paid search holiday season successful:
Being prepared for key holiday shopping dates—days when people tend to do a lot of research and look for deals—is vital to capture as many relevant searches as possible. This year those dates are:
- November 28 - Thanksgiving
- November 29 - Black Friday
- November 30 - Small Business Saturday
- December 2 - Cyber Monday
- December 9 - Green Monday
- December 17 - Free Shipping Day
Marketers should plan for more flexible budgets during these days and highlight your best offers to capture as much potential demand as possible. In order to get ahead in 2019, it is helpful to analyze the previous year’s efforts. Pay particular attention to any days when campaigns may have run out of budget to plan accordingly this season.
According to studies published by Google, only 18% of shoppers do all their shopping during the Black Friday - Cyber Monday period and more people are starting their gift research and buying throughout October and November. Creating a strategy around early-bird shoppers like gift guide previews and early deals can help you get ahead of the competition and last minute premium cost per clicks (CPCs). Building remarketing lists of early-bird shoppers during this time can also help elevate the efficiency of peak season by prioritizing bidding and deals for these highly qualified shoppers.
A well-crafted automated bidding strategy has become a staple to get the best results possible. Google’s SmartBidding, which allows for machine learning algorithms to fine-tune bidding at the time of the auction, has been a great tool for more agile bidding. Automated bidding platforms like SA360 also offer advantages for advertisers running ads on multiple platforms.
This year, advertisers have gained additional levers to help their bidding strategy. Advertisers can now set up “Seasonality Adjustments” for special sale dates and times when customer interest and conversion rates might be higher than expected. SmartBidding will leverage this information to anticipate behavior that is different than historic data, which will help to increase visibility for top performers. Seasonality Adjustments can specify event start date and time, event end date and time, campaign types that are expected to be affected by the promotion, or even applied to only certain devices or specific campaigns.
Leveraging Seasonality Adjustments to anticipate both high and low periods can help to fine-tune budget allocation throughout the season. In addition, specifying max cost per click (CPC) caps and device modifiers for automated bid strategies can help to prevent run-away spend driven by increased competition.
Both Google Ads and Microsoft Ads continue to innovate ad formats to help advertisers showcase their unique offers and deals. Both engines support price and promotion extensions that help to highlight the best deals effectively. In addition, both Google and Microsoft Ads now allow advertisers to create dynamic customizers, like a countdown within their creative, to bring urgency to time-bound promotions.
Furthermore, this year, both engines expanded into native ad formats on their platforms, introducing additional visual ad formats and placements for brands to showcase themselves. Microsoft Audience Ads allow an advertiser to create ads that combine rich imagery and text and showcase them across Microsoft’s premium partner websites like MSN, Outlook.com, and Microsoft Edge. Similarly, Google’s new Discovery Ads are a native ad offering that allows extended reach within the Google Discovery Feed on mobile, Gmail, and YouTube.
Both ad formats are targeted via their respective platform’s audience products and have shown good early results as a mid-funnel tactic that can help to proactively generate interest particularly for early-bird shoppers who may be committed to specific searches.
Shopping campaigns are essential for eCommerce success. Key elements advertisers should plan for are a clean data-rich feed, a calendar of shopping promotions, and strategic bidding and budgeting.
An easy option to handle bidding and budgeting in Google is to create Smart Shopping campaigns segmented by margin or return on ad spend (ROAS) goals. Google has released new betas that allow advertisers to expand the goals of Smart Shopping campaigns beyond eCommerce focusing on either new customer acquisition or store visits metrics. These betas do require whitelisting, but can be a great option to pursue throughout the season.
On the Microsoft side, Product Ads are a great way to make the most out of the shopping feed. Microsoft Product Ads allow advertisers to reach older and more affluent users who may not be available on Google.
While shopping ads typically drive a lot of success for eCommerce clients, sometimes they may have limited reach on a search engine results page (SERP). To help highlight unique products, their offers, and automatically expand advertisers’ reach, it is now possible to showcase items in the feed on YouTube and Google Display Network (GDN). For advertisers who are not yet ready to dive into Smart Shopping, Google added a new option where advertisers can allow their Standard Shopping campaigns to be eligible to show up on YouTube and GDN as well. This is a great way to get potential shoppers to start considering your products before they even start searching.
Preparing for the holiday season can be overwhelming, even with a checklist. Contact Rise to help you craft your holiday strategy and navigate new features available this season.