Budgeting and Bidding Strategies for Paid Search during the Holidays

The holidays are nearly here, and PPC marketers are already in overdrive. As a rule of thumb, the holiday season means more impressions, more click-throughs and (hopefully!) higher conversion rates. However, there might be some paid search marketers out there who’re procrastinating and will dive into execution mode without spending some quality time building the right budgeting and bidding strategies for their campaigns. (Not you though, right?)

Fortunately, CommerceHub is no stranger to holiday and is ready to drop some quick tips to get you off and running, whether or not that’s to close that procrastination gap or to give you the reassurance that you’re ready to go.

 Increase Daily Campaign Budgets in Preparation for Additional Traffic

As we all know, search traffic to retail sites tends to spike during the holiday season, starting in late October and staying up into the end of December.

Increased traffic from PPC campaigns means you’re probably spending more of your campaign budgets than usual, so you’ll want to increase holiday PPC budgets based on the YoY growth that you expect for each product category and/or brand. Don’t forget to account for a little extra cushion in your budgets, so you don’t have to make an eleventh hour plea on Cyber Monday to keep things going.


Bonus: Check out what key dates you should be focusing on this holiday season

To help determine what these budgets should be, set up automated reports in Google AdWords to keep track of how much your campaigns spend every day and send them to yourself. Do you see your campaigns exceeding the daily budgets during the holiday months? Time to up that daily budget limit specifically for the season.

Use the budget simulator as a guide to determine what that new budget should be.

Source: Google AdWords

Ramp Up Bids for Product Listing Ads (PLA) and Text Ads

Surprise, you’re going to have to increase the max cost per click (CPC). You and a hundred other PPC marketers are probably trying to get impressions for the same keywords and products, right this minute. And it’s not just on search engines like Google and Bing, but also on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.


Recognize Important Differences in Bing Ads versus Google AdWords

Bing Ads is slower to accept bid changes as compared to Google. During Holiday 2015, we saw it take up to 12 hours for a new bid to take effect. This year, Bing Ads has made significant improvements to speed that up, but the following still holds true on the approach to take when working with products ads specifically this year.


Set Bids Appropriately and Anticipate CSE Channel Lag Times

Bing Ads is not unique in being slower than Google on recognizing intra-day bid updates. Many Comparison Shopping Engines (CSEs) present the same problem. Think about using a similar strategy as outlined above with Bing for these CSEs when it comes to submitting bid changes.

This is an improvement over previous years, where some CSEs would take up to 2 days to update bids!

Budget Smarter, Not Harder

If you have a paid search bid management platform to help you manage your bidding strategies, great. Just make sure that you know how often that platform will be making adjustments on your behalf. A less sophisticated platform may actually do more harm than good, and we often see managers turn them off or manually override edits since they’re not built to deal with the volume that the holidays can bring, especially during Black Friday weekend.

Make sure that when you’re adjusting portfolios or reviewing performance with those tools you’re removing or flattening out spikes in the reporting. A high conversion rate over the course of 4 days will make November look really good – better than it might actually be overall.

Don’t forget, it was an election year, which means that a lot of e-commerce sites’ performance would have seen a dip during that week, especially when compared to year over year numbers.

And, don’t worry so much. You got this.