Early Holiday Paid Search Data and What It Means for 2015 Strategy

Historically, Black Friday has been the kickoff for the holiday shopping season. With Thanksgiving falling later in the month the past two years, retailers have responded by bumping up promotions to get out ahead of the competition and capture early shoppers.

Kenshoo data for the season so far has revealed that this Thanksgiving saw significant boosts in both paid search spend and revenue compared to 2013. Meanwhile, Black Friday and Cyber Monday witnessed smaller year-over-year investment increases — while still being top overall days for spend when looking at the whole month of November and providing notable revenue upticks.

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But across the pond, Black Friday is catching hold in the U.K. as retailers spent 88 percent more on paid search on that day over last year.

How the tides and trends seem to be changing.

These key dates are still producing positive return on investment (ROI) for retailers, so it is unlikely that they will totally be discounted in future; but what can these shifts mean for the future holidays, and are there any takeaways that can be applied to 2015 PPC planning?

The Challenges With Seasonality

Seasonality fluctuations can cause uncertainty with campaigns and leave search marketers unsure of what to expect from performance.

Does that feel like an oxymoron? Isn’t seasonality about “predictable movement“?

When looking to create plans — whether at the start of a new year or at peak periods of seasonality such as the holidays — many marketers will look at what was done last year and use that as the basis for decision making. But this historical data, while insightful, may not be the best barometer for future PPC planning. So, in the case of holiday investments, while Black Friday has typically been a boon to your paid search program, will this still be the case next year?

As consumer trends continue to shift and the market responds and adapts at a rapid pace, search marketers need to be able to not just keep up with changes and trends, but also be able to get out ahead in order to maximize spend and clicks. Search marketers want to be sure (and rightly so) that their investments are worthwhile and clicks aren’t going to waste.

In today’s search world, this points a key area where marketers should consider investigating or investing more in 2015: predictive technology.

Power of Predictions

Advanced analytics have come a long way, and now new innovative, predictive technology is in place to help marketers be more nimble than ever.

Sophisticated algorithms are able to ingest data points to test the accuracy of predictions and train the system to improve forecasts. With the intelligence and granularity that machine learning technology can provide, search marketers can gain confidence in the planning and forecasting stages to understand projection on potential return of their campaigns. Furthermore, this type of technology can account for more market factors that may not readily visible to you.

Not only is it important to think about how predictive models can help you in the upfront stages of planning and forecasting, but think about how advanced algorithms can help you better execute as well. This means understanding how forecasts can impact budget shifts and bids and being able to automatically implement those adjustments as scenario plans changes. This informed optimization means you can come closer to achieving your goals at the desire price.

Of course, it’s a science but also an art; this technology must also be balanced with the first-hand knowledge and involvement in you have in your own business ecosystem and programs. Take what you have learned and what you know, but also don’t be afraid to take a leap and put your faith in a predictive platform.

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