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PPC Isn’t Just For Ecommerce: Holiday Trends For the Rest of Us

John Lee
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santa-hatThis time of year, the search marketing blogs and PPC social groups are overrun with holiday tips and tricks.

Much of the hullabaloo is focused on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the marathon leading up to Christmas. There's nothing wrong with this. If you manage ecommerce PPC campaigns, the information is timely, important, and useful.

What about those of us who don’t manage ecommerce PPC (or ecommerce that isn’t big for the holidays)?

The short and obvious answer is: we have our own trends to follow! And humorously enough, they too include the year-end holiday season. Let’s look at a few campaigns that turn the typical holiday PPC madness on its head.

Nonprofits

Nonprofits are fun, but challenging to manage for PPC. They typically have rigid budgets, strict policies (client side and engine side) and in some cases extremely competitive keyword segments. Nonprofits provide services of all shapes and sizes throughout the year.

How does this apply to the topic of holiday trends? Well, most nonprofits survive on donations from their supporters.

The end of the year is when many folks decide to unload their spare cash to charitable or nonprofit organizations in the hope of catching a break on the next year’s taxes. Nonprofit related search queries lift by 26 percent during November and December, according to data from Google.

nonprofit-queries-indexed

What can you do? Be sure to set aside a unique budget for the holiday donation season. Be prepared to begin launching ads in November. Launch ads in a blend of channels across search, display and social. It’s a wild ride all the way through December 31!

Products Targeting Teens

Teenagers are an interesting market for PPC. While they are a fickle bunch, there is one constant: teenagers go to school. And if you hadn’t figured this out already, their search patterns directly reflect the school calendar. Summertime, spring break, and the winter holidays are the “busy season” for teenagers and search.

If you have a product or service that’s geared toward teens – and even their parents – consider shaping your strategy around the school calendar. While your PPC contemporaries are riding the Black Friday/Cyber Monday wave, you can be prepping your campaigns for the last two weeks of December when your customers will be home!

Service Businesses

If you manage PPC for a typical service business, you know the holiday season is the infamous “dead zone” for PPC. Customers apparently stop searching at Thanksgiving and refuse to look at Google until the following January. This is the polar opposite of the typical ecommerce PPC account where the holidays are the focal point of the year.

Smart PPC advertisers who recognize this trend plan accordingly. Budgets are intelligently spread across the year with reductions in the final 2 months of the year. Depending on the client, you might even go so far as to reduce campaigns to a “keep the lights on” mode where bids and daily budgets are reduced far below their normal levels.

The story for service businesses doesn’t stop here. After the “dead zone” passes and January 1 hits, it’s a whole different ball game. PPC picks back up and for many service businesses, January is a huge month.

The lesson here: be prepared to crank your spend and bids back up to their normal levels (or higher if appropriate) right on the 1st. Happy New Year!

Travel Businesses

This industry example comes with a caveat – the travel business encompasses a huge swath of advertisers and businesses. There are travel deals 365 days a year.

Travel destinations in the Caribbean, Bahamas, Mexico, or cruises to those destinations count the U.S. holiday season as their busy season. It’s warm, calm, and beautiful there this time of year. In contrast, most of the U.S. experiences cold, frost and snow. Where would you rather be? So, the busy season for these travel destinations is now.

A novice would assume that the busy season for PPC advertising would be now, too. Wrong! When customers plan vacations, they do so months in advance – the sweet spot is 6 months out.

Travel destinations who count the holiday season as their busy season ramp up their advertising in June. That’s right… summer advertising for winter travel.

Do you manage a PPC account that defies the year-end ecommerce hullabaloo? Leave a comment and share how your PPC vertical or business trends differ from the norm!


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