PPC Holiday Advertising Tips & How to Profit in Q1

This is a guest article by Tara Johnson, Lead Reporter, Retail at CPC Strategy. 

As we wrap up Black Friday and Cyber Monday, retail brands might be feeling a little overwhelmed about the holiday bid increases, ad copy, or inventory but fear not – you are not alone. 

Although Q4 can be the most competitive time of the year, it can also be extremely lucrative, especially for businesses who know how to elevate their advertising strategy. 

The good news is even if your sales didn’t pan out as you hoped during November’s high volume shopping days, there’s still an enormous opportunity on the horizon. 

Introducing the Longer Shopping Season 

One of the biggest trends we continued to see year over year is the extension of holiday shopping days. Retail brands are starting to become inundated with the idea that Black Friday, isn’t just Black Friday anymore –  it’s more of a focus on the entire Cyber Week and beyond. 

PPC advertisers are focusing more on the long-term promotion rather than just running specials on those specific two days (Cyber Monday and Black Friday). 

“Across the board, we saw that Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (prior to Black Friday) were generally weaker days, more so than ever this year,” Josh Brisco, Operational Head of the Search Department at CPC Strategy said in our holiday recap. 


“And although Black Friday was pretty big for us, the year over year trend is that Cyber Monday is bigger and this year proved to be no different.” 

“But what we did see this year, that was a departure from previous years – is that the performance throughout the weekend was much better, largely because Black Friday deals are now being extended throughout the weekend and into Cyber Week.” 

“I do get the sense that most retailers have shifted or will eventually shift their Black Friday discounts throughout Cyber Week and even into the end of the month,” he said.
 This is an Black Friday and Cyber Monday Google Shopping infographic by CPC Strategy.


PPC Holiday Tips for Q4 2017 & Q1 2018 

As shoppers continue to browse for purchases through the remainder of the holiday season, it’s critical that advertisers keep their foot on the gas. 

A common misconception we see among retail brands is the desire to prematurely dial back their advertising budgets in January, but Q1 represents an enormous opportunity for revenue due to returns, gift cards, and cash in hand. 

Our experts at CPC Strategy expect a big apparel push in January, building off of the ‘New Year, New You”‘ campaigns. In general, categories like apparel have a high instance of returns due to the wrong size, color or fit, so we expect there will be an influx of shoppers either returning items in exchange for something else or shopping for themselves. 

As we mentioned, with more big box retailers joining Google Shopping – the competition has increased. Now more than ever marketers and retailers are savvy on Google’s platform and know how to bid aggressively – as a result we’ve seen an increase in short tail keywords, and the use of remarketing lists for search ads, Auction Insights, and countdown features. 

Q4 is a chaotic time, so we made this simple with a holiday advertising optimization checklist.  

Most of these optimizations are based on Shopping, but there are plenty of tips (under “All”) that apply to both Search and Shopping.

The Google AdWords Q4 Advertising Checklist: 

If you would like to deep dive into each of these tips, you can visit our blog post here.

  • Monitor Shopping Feeds Daily (Shopping) 
  • Watch Budgets & Bidding (Shopping) 
  • Set Up the Right Shopping Reports (Shopping) 
  • Adjust Your Mid-Funnel Search Terms (Shopping) 
  • Break Out Your Best-Selling Items (Shopping) 
  • Update Ad Extensions (Search) 
  • Plan on Data Delays (All) 
  • Use Powerful Remarketing Tactics (All) 
  • Scale Back Bids Based on Final Ship Dates (All) 
  • Loosen Your ROI Goal (All) 

Specifically, as retailers finish out the holiday season, we recommend advertisers: 

  • Stay aggressive: For the next two weeks (or at least up until the guaranteed ship date) retailers should continue to invest in their advertising budgets. Although ROI might not be that good, keep in mind traffic is still on the rise. 
  • If you can run a promotion, the best time to do it will be throughout Cyber Week as shoppers finish up their last-minute purchases. 
  • Keep an eye on inventory – even with an optimized advertising strategy, stock-outs can be detrimental to your success in Q4 & Q1.  

About the Author

Tara is the leading voice behind CPC Strategy’s Blog. Her articles are thoroughly researched and, in general, cover topics like data, social media, PPC and e-commerce. She was recently named one of the “Top 50 Ecommerce Experts You Must Follow in 2017”. 

Angelica Valentine

Angelica Valentine is a Marketing Consultant with several years of expertise in the retail sector. Her work has appeared on VentureBeat, Business Insider, SAP, and more. She holds a BA from Barnard College of Columbia University.

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