Well, today’s the big day: The official kickoff to the 2015 holiday shopping season. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that Thanksgiving 2015 is in the books already. I might blink and the next decade will be gone.

Hopefully by now you’ve perfected your PPC campaigns and have a strategic plan for monitoring, testing, and optimizing performance over the next crazy few weeks to get the most out of the holiday shopping frenzy. If not, well, you know what they say: There’s no time like the present.

Check in with me right here every Friday for the latest news, happenings, and tips and tricks for keeping your PPC campaigns at peak performance throughout the holiday season. And now for your Black Friday PPC update…

 

What’s happening in Google-ville…

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks – er, years – consumers will be conducting more holiday shopping via their smartphones this year than ever before. Even those who don’t click the buy button from their mobile devices are increasingly turning to their smartphones and tablets to find deals and conduct research, then completing transactions later on their laptop or desktop (do people still use desktop computers?).

So, in the spirit of Black Friday, Google did a little digging into foot patterns in retail stores from Black Friday 2014 to help you better connect with shoppers in and near your retail locations. Some interesting tidbits:

  • Black Friday store traffic actually peaks in the afternoon – not the wee hours of the morning you’d expect given the media coverage of literal stampedes crashing through the doors of big box retailers. Traffic actually peaks between 2 and 4 p.m.
  • As you’re probably well aware, there’s quite the backlash against stores who choose to open on Thanksgiving to help consumers get an even earlier start on Black Friday shopping. Still, many shoppers take advantage of these opportunities, with the highest traffic happening between 6 and 7 p.m.
  • Black Friday drives more foot traffic than any other weekend during the holiday shopping season. In fact, traffic is 2x higher in electronics stores and 1.6x higher in cell phone stores on Black Friday.
  • Still, there are many stores that don’t see their largest crowds on Black Friday. “Shopping malls, superstores & discount stores, and department stores have the highest store traffic on the Saturday before Christmas, while dollar stores have the most foot traffic on Christmas Eve — perhaps due to last minute stocking stuffers.”

In light of these stats, Google offers up a few tips to help you maximize your PPC campaigns to accommodate Black Friday retail store traffic:

  • Allocate enough budget across all your campaigns to support the increase in traffic as shoppers head to their local retail stores.
  • During those peak traffic times in the afternoon, think about increasing your mobile ads.
  • Use the mobile bid adjustment simulator to evaluate your opportunities and act on them.
  • Use location extension targeting to entice nearby shoppers to visit your retail location.
  • Add location extension targeting to local inventory ads if you run them to reach shoppers within a specified distance of your store, between 0.4 and 40 miles.

Get the full story from the AdWords Blog here.

This holiday season is expected to be plentiful for app marketers. Phone sales are expected to soar on and around Christmas Day, and millions of apps will be downloaded as people customize their brand-new smartphones and tablets. And of course, the shopping frenzy doesn’t end on Christmas Eve, with post-holiday promotions allowing savvy shoppers to score big deals on all the things Santa didn’t bring. In fact, 58% of holiday shoppers plan to take advantage of post-holiday sales.

Google shares four valuable tips for app marketers to help you be in the right place at the right time to capitalize on all this momentum:

  1. Drive up app discovery with Universal App Campaigns.
  2. Spice up your Play Store presence for Christmas Day, as 25% of app users discover new apps through search.
  3. Use New Device Targeting to reach consumers who are excitedly setting up their shiny new toys.
  4. Tap into the power of video. The average YouTube user is 2x as likely to download apps, making video the perfect medium for engaging ready-to-download users.

More details on putting these tips to work in this post.

In non-holiday related news, Google has launched Google Compare for U.S. mortgages, which is available in California to start with and more states to follow. “Google Compare for mortgages provides a seamless, intuitive experience that connects lenders with borrowers online. Whether you’re a national lender or one local to California, people searching for mortgages on their smartphone or desktop computer can now find you, along with a real-time, apples-to-apples comparison of rate quotes from other lenders — all in as little as a minute.”

Borrowers can review ratings, read reviews, and enter relevant criteria such as loan amount, approximate credit score, and home value to get rate quotes targeted to their needs, and visit the lenders’ websites to apply or work with an agent or loan officer via the phone. Learn more about Google Compare for mortgages in this post.

Before we move on to Bing, check out this post for info on YouTube’s Awesome Stuff Week Gift Grab, and be sure to read this post for tons more tips and advice for capturing the attention of busy holiday shoppers this season.

 

Now, let’s see what’s up with Bing…

So, it seems Microsoft is “all-in” with search advertising, and Bing is offering an inside look at the people and the brilliant ideas behind Microsoft Search Advertising. Check out this post for the full video or catch a snippet at a time in six episodes of a minute or two each.

Bing Ads has launched its Bing Ads Elite SMB Partner Program, “a new global program for partners who have proven their competence in bringing success to small & medium businesses.” These carefully chosen, ultra-elite partners have to meet a few criteria to be eligible for the program, including serving as a Bing Ads trusted advisor to a large group of small and medium businesses, meeting certification requirements, and having a minimum number of certified advisors on staff, among others.

Bing Ads will support these elite partners with exclusive trainings, dedicated account management, invitations to product ideation sessions with Bing’s product teams, joint marketing programs and partner events, and more. Find out more, including more details on qualifying and how to apply, in this post.

What comes after Black Friday? None other than Cyber Monday, of course. Bing Ads offers a timely reminder that Cyber Monday just so happens to fall on the last day of the month, meaning if you’re not careful you could run the risk of your budget running out – and thus missing out on critical opportunities to score sales to the millions of holiday shoppers who will be rushing to give the UPS drivers a workout this holiday season.

Check out this post from Bing Ads for more pertinent tips for Cyber Monday, and the 56-slide presentation, Holiday zen and the art of planning: Insights for digital marketers.

 

Let’s check in with the PPC thought leaders…

PPC Hero offers up some last-minute tips for holiday ad extensions in this post, and you should also check out this post with six simple physical store tactics to boost Black Friday PPC sales.

3Q Digital makes seven SEO predictions for 2016 in this post. (Hint: Social, Local, and Mobile Optimization rule the world.) Also, you might find this post with three key considerations to weigh before you bid helpful for the holiday bidding wars – er, I mean shopping season.

PPC has gone visual…have you? Clix Marketing explains the visual trends in PPC here.

Merkle|RKG has released its 2015 Cyber Weekend Search Marketing Report, obviously a must-read. Get it here.

Looking for ways to personalize your PPC strategy? Look no further. WordStream reveals seven ways to make it happen in this post. And for good measure, be sure to read these three ways to win Cyber Monday with PPC here.

 

Well, I’d say that should get your holiday shopping weekend off to a good start. Whether you’re plugging away in your AdWords dashboard frantically optimizing your PPC campaigns or heading out to participate in the mad stampedes at your local retailers, have a fabulous Thanksgiving/holiday shopping/BlackFriday-Cyber Monday weekend!