How to Succeed with Paid Search During the Holiday Season

For our retail clients, and probably many of yours, November and December are often the busiest months of year for online advertising. According to comScore, U.S. consumers have already spent upwards of $9.87 billion with online retailers this season, which is 14% more than last year.

This season we’ve seen very profitable days for our clients since the big Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping pushes. As we enter the final pre-holiday shopping stretch, here are some best practices and tips our retail teams put together to help you through the busy season!

  • This is definitely not a time to “set it and forget it”. The key to a successful holiday advertising campaign is preparation, planning and flexibility.
  • Use sale ad copy to spark interest amongst the tough competition on the search page.
    • Compelling and accurate offers will win over the potential buyer
    • As always, be sure to pick the most relevant landing page for your ads. This is especially important during the holidays as online shoppers are searching to find what they are looking for fast.
    • Include shipping deadlines within your ad copy to create a strong sense of urgency with the buyer. Additionally, make sure that the shipping deadlines pertain to the area in which you’re targeting. For example, don’t serve the same shipping messages to both domestic and international campaigns as those deadlines vary.

Threadless shipping ad

  • Increase remarketing efforts.
    • Be sure to have remarketing pixels in place on your website well before the holiday season to capture a base of non-purchasing site visitors.
    • On the Google Display Network, advertisers can target previous purchasers and non-purchasers alike using both banner ads and text ads in an attempt to woo buyers back.
    • These folks were interested enough in your product the first time around; remarketing will bring them back when you are presenting your most enticing sales.
  • Maintain strong spend and expand keyword coverage.
    • Take advantage of bidding on keywords that revolve around “store hours” and “coupons/coupon codes” as these terms are popular during the season.
    • Returns are usually much greater during the holidays for advertisers so don’t be afraid to open up spend to make sure that all of your bases are covered.
  • Monitor ad positions and increase keyword bids to combat competition.
    • Keywords become more expensive around the holiday season due to increased traffic and competition. Therefore, it is important to routinely monitor your ad position to make sure that ads have not fallen below the desired position.
    • Setting up an automated rule through Google will allow you to bid to a desired position. It is a quick and easy way to ensure you are not losing out on traffic to your competitors and affords you more time to focus on other holiday sale initiatives.
  • Maximize your mobile presence.
    • According to Google, mobile queries have spiked the week before Christmas over the past 2 years. Whether you are an online retailer or brick-and-mortar, make sure that your campaigns are a) targeting mobile devices and b) utilizing ads enhanced for mobile.
    • Break out separate campaigns that target mobile devices so that you can gain better insight into reporting and use different ad messages for mobile users. You can even offer exclusive discounts for mobile users.
    • Most importantly, make sure your site is mobile friendly!


  • Don’t shut down after pre-holiday sales.
    • A recent report by Google shows that shoppers usually have 25% of their shopping left to complete by mid-December.
    • Shoppers will be looking to take advantage of post-holiday (after December 25th) sales and redeem those gift cards they received in their stockings.

If you plan ahead and use some of these best practices for your holiday PPC campaigns, hopefully it will not only be the busiest time of year, but can also be the most wonderful time of year for your clients!

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