Unlock holiday shopping success

Ramp Up to Win the Holiday Season

Official Guide to Keeping Campaigns Healthy and Successful During the Holidays.

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Now that your product data and campaigns are in tip-top shape for the holidays, it’s time to build on top of what you have to optimize for the busy season.


Secure enough budget

Make sure that your digital store is open for business. Don’t miss out on relevant and converting traffic by cutting your campaign bids and budgets short.

Check that you’re not going dark midday or mid-season

Why: Holiday traffic can be unpredictable. Monitor your account to ensure that you're there when your customers are searching for your products. 

Actively measure your “burn rate” (dollars spent to date divided by the budget allocated to date) to see if you’re over-pacing. Make sure you’ve set adequate budgets with plenty of room to capture strong demand throughout the holidays and even into the post-holiday season.

Adjust budgets to match search growth for holiday peaks

Why: Plan ahead to capture increased holiday search queries. The NRF reported that 59% of U.S. consumers planned to begin holiday shopping in November, but 22% started or were planning to start in October last holiday season.1

Plan ahead to capture increased holiday search queries. Look at your historical performance to find when traffic peaked (e.g. week of Black Friday) and raise budget caps, especially if you’re using Smart Shopping campaigns or Target ROAS Smart Bidding, to capitalize on increased demand. Enable time-of-day bid adjustments to push ads during hours with highest traffic.

Avoid suspensions and disapprovals

Why: You’ll miss valuable holiday traffic if your account is suspended or top products are not eligible to show.

Target easy wins if you need more volume

Why: Start with low hanging fruit to drive more holiday traffic to your products quickly.

If you’re underpacing and not already using a Smart Bidding solution, you can bid more aggressively on products that drive the most profit and higher conversion rates but have low impression share. 

  • Shopping tip: Check the Opportunities tab in Merchant Center for more ways to increase clicks in your account. If you’re not already using Smart Shopping campaigns, reach more shoppers with your Shopping Ads on YouTube and image search by enabling Search Partners for Standard Shopping campaigns. Mobile watchtime of YouTube videos with 'ideas' in the title has increased over 135% in the past 2 years2 and 80% of shoppers who use images, use Image Search, for the top 5 retail categories.3

Be competitive

Put your best foot forward to attract your customers during the most important time of the year. 

Bid aggressively to capture high-converting traffic across devices

Why: Take advantage of rising conversion rates on Shopping during the holiday peak season to capture increased purchase intent. 

If you’re not using automated bidding which already factors in seasonal demand, review bids regularly and bid above your competition to capitalize on increasing conversion rates during holiday peaks.

  • Shopping tip: If you’re using a Smart Bidding strategy or Smart Shopping campaigns, make sure you’ve allocated adequate budgets to capture holiday traffic surges. You may also lower your return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) target if you’re using Smart Shopping campaigns or Target ROAS Smart Bidding to bid even more aggressively. If you’re using the enhanced cost-per-click (eCPC) bid strategy, also focus on adjusting your base bids to accommodate peak weeks. 

Show in the top results for your high value products

Why: Shopping ads in the top results on mobile see up to 3X the engagement from shoppers.4 Advertisers using Target ROAS Smart Bidding are 2 times more likely to be in the first position for queries that convert most versus those on manual bidding, when controlled for average cost.5

  • Shopping tip: View your absolute top impression share (ATIS), overlap rate and outranking share to compare performance with competitors on your most important products. Increase bids strategically for top products with gaps in ATIS and click share to ensure that your Shopping ads show above the competition, especially on mobile where visibility on a small screen matters. If you’re looking to maximize visibility in a specific product category, separate your products into a campaign with a high campaign priority. Set a lower ROAS target with the Target ROAS bid strategy to continue showing for relevant search queries in the best possible position while optimizing for your return.  If you’d like to maximize visibility without regard to return, you can manually optimize bids or use the Maximize Clicks bid strategy to drive a high ATIS.

Prioritize your holiday merchandise and top performers

Gain the flexibility to optimize budgets and promotions for strategic products without affecting the performance of your core campaign.

  • Shopping tip: Use a Smart Shopping campaign to automatically optimize your holiday merchandise and top performers. However, if you don’t meet the requirements for Smart Shopping campaigns, you may manage seasonal and/or strategic products with a separateStandard Shopping campaign at a higher campaign priority so you can actively manage their bids and budgets without affecting the performance of your core campaign. Use custom labels to segment and bid on high priority products. Maintain a catch-all Standard Shopping campaign of “All Products” on low campaign priority with a low bid and make sure products aren’t excluded in your campaign settings. Learn more about optimizing your Standard Shopping campaigns and bids.
  • Search tip: Focus on keywords that will drive the most volume. Manage their bids closely to get the most volume from your efficiency targets, and make sure they get enough budget. Create custom labels to quickly filter for these keywords.

Meet shoppers wherever they go

You’ve got your customers’ attention. Now, reach more shoppers no matter where they are in their shopping journey.

Capitalize on mobile traffic and increasing conversion rates

Why: 58% of smartphone users reported using their smartphone for shopping-related activities in the last 30 days.6 And, over 40% of online transactions are on mobile.7

Shoppers use mobile throughout their shopping experience, so don’t undervalue mobile with a low mobile bid. Boost mobile bids to show in the top results for your most valuable products and capture increasing conversion rates during the holiday peak season.

  • Shopping tip: Check your mobile ATIS and click share. Use the Bid Simulator to find mobile bid opportunities based on your historical performance. If you’re using Smart Shopping campaigns, the campaign will already optimize for cross-device conversions. If you’re using Smart Bidding, the Target ROAS bid strategy already optimizes for cross-device conversions while the enhanced cost-per-click (eCPC) strategy relies on your device bid adjustment modifiers.
  • Search tip: Add all mobile-relevant extensions such as location, call, or app extensions to engage users on the go. And with mobile ads potentially showing just one description line, prioritize the most important information in the first line.

Seize opportunities to drive nearby customers to your stores

Why: Shoppers are using mobile phones as a guide to local stores. Mobile searches for “where to buy” grew over 85% over the last 2 years8 while mobile searches for “open now” and “store hours” peaked on Christmas Day.9

On-the-go shoppers are likely to be on their mobile devices, so set strong mobile bid modifiers to capture foot traffic and drive more store visits.

  • Shopping tip: Promote your local inventory and increase location bids with location extensions on times when you expect more foot traffic, such as store hours and weekends. During peak periods when local searches on mobile surge, like Christmas and post-shipping cutoff,  increase your bids or lower your ROAS target on the Target ROAS bid strategy for top product categories to drive nearby shoppers into your stores.
  • Search tip: Increase location bid adjustments for searches that occur close to a store location. Add all mobile-relevant extensions such as location extensions to engage users on the go. 

Measure your success

Stay on top of your accounts. Make better strategic and informed decisions throughout the holidays based on the right data.

Evaluate cross-device and omnichannel impact on your performance

Why: 50% of people use three or more connected devices.10

Have correct tracking in place to properly attribute value to each touchpoint during your customer’s shopping journey. Bid to CPA parity across devices, both online and offline, accounting for cross-device conversions and store visits. Automate performance reports to monitor your KPIs.

Last, but not least, remember to take a breather during all the holiday hoopla. Have a candy cane, build a snowman, and be merry. Consider it a holiday gift to yourself.


1 The NPD Group conducted an online survey in September 2017 among a U.S. representative sample of NPD online consumer panel members. The survey was completed by 3,785 individuals aged 18 and older. Brand Keys surveyed 11,625 shoppers and Prosper surveyed 7,349 consumers Oct. 3-10 for the NRF.
2 YouTube Data, US, Classification as Idea-related videos were based on public data such as headlines, tags, etc., and may not account for every such video available on YouTube, January - September 2015 and 2017
3 Google/ Millward Brown Digital, "Google Image Search Clickstream Study", U.S., February 2016
4 Google Internal Data, 2016
5 Google Internal Data, Q3 2017
6 Google/Ipsos, U.S., "2016 App Landscape study", n=999 smartphone users aged 16-64, Oct. 2016
7 Google Analytics, US, Jun-Sep 2017. Based on data from Google Analytics accounts that have authorized Google to share website data in an aggregate way
8 Google Data, US, Jan- Jun 2015 vs. Jan-Jun 2017
9 Google Data, US, Nov - Dec 2016
10 Google / TNS Connected Consumer Survey, US population 18+, n=1000, Q1 2016


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