It’s beginning to look a lot like the holiday season! As we approach the end of the year, a few questions always arise: What’s the best strategy for Paid Search during the holidays? Should campaigns pause during Thanksgiving? Should December budgets be spent in the first three weeks? Should we simply ask jolly St. Nick for a few apartment leases and hope for the best?
In order to answer these common questions, we whipped together some data analysis, looking specifically at 2018 and 2019 Paid Search performance through the holiday season.
While it makes sense to assume that performance drops off during the holidays, the best campaign strategies are not created from gut reactions but from data driven decisions…which is kind of our M.O. Now that Digible has been around for a minute, we have enough historical data to dive head first into user behavior during the most wonderful time of the year.
Over the 2018 and 2019 holiday seasons, we examined trends for 12 different accounts, looking at metrics including spend, site conversions (from Paid Search campaigns), calls, and website traffic. The resulting data and recommendations are our little gift to you.
Thanksgiving Day vs. The Avg of 3 Thursdays Prior – Average taken from ‘18 & ‘19
Calls saw the biggest decrease of 76.65% when comparing Thanksgiving Day to the 3 Thursdays prior.
Google Ads Spend saw a slight decrease on Thanksgiving Day compared to the 3 Thursdays prior.
Even with only a small dip in spend, conversions and sessions from Paid Search campaigns dipped significantly.
Thanksgiving Week vs. 3 Weeks Prior – Average taken from ‘18 & ‘19
In the month of November, WoW performance fluctuated, with the week of Thanksgiving showing consistent drops across the board.
With Google Ads spend staying constant from Week 3 to Week 4, site conversions and website sessions from Paid Search campaigns still dropped.
Calls and All Website Traffic also dropped, staying consistent with Paid Search performance for Thanksgiving week.
The 2nd Week of November showed the strongest performance, even with lower Google Ads spend.
Performance in November showed slight changes WoW, but overall performed well up until Thanksgiving. Consider focusing most of your spend in the first three weeks of the month to optimize call volumes and site conversions, and keep Google Ads spend minimal in the final week of November. Expect calls to drop significantly on Thanksgiving day, and all other metrics to be down as well.
Christmas Day vs. The Avg of 3 Week Days Prior (By Week) – Average taken from ‘18 & ‘19
Christmas Week vs. 3 Weeks Prior – Average taken from ‘18 & ‘19
December performance fluctuated WoW, with no clear rockstar weeks.
Even with the highest spend of the month, Christmas week performed the worst across the board. Calls were down most significantly, but site conversions and sessions also underperformed.
Website Sessions decreased throughout the month, regardless of Google Ads Spend.
December performance trended down as the weeks passed, with Christmas week showing consistent drops. Consider pacing more aggressively towards the beginning of the month and pulling back leading up to Christmas. Christmas Day showed the most significant drop in performance, so expect all metrics to be down across the board on this day.
Whether we like it or not, Paid Search performance is heavily affected by the holiday season. Both Thanksgiving and Christmas gave our paid campaigns a run for their money (pun intended), with sessions, calls, and conversions down across the board. Calls seem to be hit the hardest, showing huge drops both week over week and on the holidays themselves. This is likely due to most businesses being closed, which discourages prospects from even trying to make the call.
Overall, week over week performance decreased more significantly in December than it did in November. In fact, even with a decrease in Google Ads spend, November actually saw an increase in performance from the 1st week to the 2nd week. With this in mind, be sure to cater your Google Ads spend and strategy differently in these separate months, as they have varying levels of performance.