The holiday season is right around the corner, which means the inevitable: holiday ad campaigns will start to populate our screens and billboards. We’ve all been exposed to ad campaigns on digital platforms or traditional media, but do you know how far in advance to start planning for the holidays? How does media buying look differently for a holiday ad campaign? Read on.


Plan ahead and determine your holiday ad campaign budget

Ideally, a media buying plan should be established a year before to identify areas where you want to maximize your budget and flight your campaigns. When planning for the upcoming year, keep seasonality in mind – when are all the major holidays? Which holidays are relevant to your brand? What channels do you want to advertise on? All of the questions should be answered well in advance of developing and launching your campaign.

Don’t reinvent the wheel – in addition to researching any new platforms you want to launch on, changes in the market, and your target audience, look back at your previous holiday campaigns to see what worked and what didn’t. Past strategy and performance will give you a stepping stone to start developing your strategy for the new year.

The busiest time of the year for advertising, unsurprisingly, is Q4. In 2020 alone, online shopping grew from 32.2% from 2019, topping over $188.2 billion in spending as the pandemic forced shoppers to stay home. Be prepared to spend more on advertising during this quarter as competition increases across all platforms, and keep this top of mind as you start to determine your budget.


Consider running paid search campaigns

The channels you run campaigns on will be determined by your budget, KPIs, and target audience. However, above all other platforms, we strongly recommend running ads through paid search. Google Ads is an excellent platform for seasonal advertising because you can add specific holiday-related keywords to your campaigns to target your intended audience. During the holiday season, search volume increases for terms related to “gift ideas” (or any variation of this term). If you run a men’s apparel store, for example, adding keywords such as “gift ideas for men” to your campaigns will help reach potential customers that are looking for specific items (such as apparel for men), but not necessarily specific brands.  


Incorporate holiday-specific ad copy and creative

During the holiday season, think about how you can optimize your offer to increase revenue and develop long-term relationships with your customer. This could take the form of a VIP program where frequent customers get early access to deals or even running a holiday giveaway through paid social channels to celebrate the holiday season. Once you’ve established your holiday offers, you can create separate ad campaigns that highlight those features. Take advantage of the holiday season to offer these special discounts that you may not grant elsewhere in the year.

Keep in the spirit of the holidays by including holiday-related terminology, emojis, and imagery in your ad copy and creative. Address a customer’s needs through all of those creative elements – if a customer is searching for gift ideas or holiday discounts, make it clear in your copy and creative that your brand has what they’re looking for! 


Think about your overall holiday marketing strategy

No aspect of digital marketing should exist in a silo. Your paid ad campaigns are part of your overall marketing strategy, and holiday ad campaigns shouldn’t be an exception. Integrate email marketing, social media strategy, and website content to create a seamless and coherent experience for your consumer. Any holiday branding or offers that you apply to your paid ad campaigns should be highlighted in your other channels as well.

If you’re looking for help developing paid ad campaigns, we can help! 

Follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram