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5 min read

PPC for Black Friday: Top Tips for 2020

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

Black Friday is unlike any other time for PPC advertisers. 51 weeks of the year is spent carefully adjusting campaigns, measuring results, and assessing the impact of every optimisation. But when Cyber Week hits, PPC becomes all about evolving and reacting… fast.

But that doesn’t mean Cyber Week has to be frantic. With the right preparation, and a clear strategy in place, advertisers can reap the rewards of the biggest e-commerce opportunity of the year.

Before Black Friday

Preparation is key. Make sure you are in front of your audience before Black Friday while users are still researching.

1. Build Awareness with Display

  • It’s all in the build up. You’ll struggle to cut through the noise on the day, so start building audience lists by driving website traffic via the Google Display Network. These remarketing audiences can then be targeted during Cyber Week itself.
  • In the run-up to Black Friday, use custom intent audiences to reach new users who are actively searching for your products and services.

2. Use Paid Social to Create Anticipation

  • Instagram Stories, Facebook video, and YouTube pre-roll ads are all ideal platforms/formats for priming users ahead of Black Friday. ‘Teaser’ content with countdowns and offer previews build awareness and anticipation.
  • Re-engage past purchasers and last year’s Black Friday shoppers using custom audiences.  Paid social advertisers can also prospect high-intent new users by building lookalike audiences of their most loyal and high-value customers.

Consider Your Approach to Smart Bidding

Advice from Google has always been to turn off smart bidding strategies. Google’s automated bidding does not have time to react to spikes in traffic/conversions so advertisers will benefit from being reactive through manual bidding.

Google have recently released their ‘Seasonality Adjustment’ feature, which claims to allow smart bidding to react to seasonal spikes. Personally I’m skeptical about this and wouldn’t test such a new feature during a high-stakes period like Cyber Week. I’ll be letting other advertisers iron out the bugs this holiday season, with my own trial in 2020.

Ad Copy Is King

Add countdown timers to ad copy to create a sense of urgency. Some retailers will extend offers into December, so make it clear when your offers end and prompt users to purchase.

Consider changing your calls to action, including buttons in Facebook and Instagram campaigns. While you may usually use ‘Learn More’, for example, create urgency with ‘Shop Now’ or ‘Get Offer’ calls to action.

Set up Promotion Extensions in your search ads to stand out in the SERP. Ad extensions can also be used to highlight why users should shop with you rather than a competitor (e.g. free delivery or product warranties).

Black Friday Budget Management

Determine your KPIs from the start. If you’re working towards a target CPS or target ROAS, budgets can be uncapped to allow for the increased volume of sales and revenue. Don’t let daily budgets limit your top-performing campaigns.

Consider changing your budget to ‘accelerated delivery’ (set at the campaign level). If your budgets are higher than usual, this will mean ads can be served throughout the day and ads appear as often as possible.

Use rules or scripts to schedule your budget changes in advance. If you’re using Shared Budgets to allow Google to generate the most traffic possible from your campaigns, you can use our Black Friday Budget Script to give them the boost they need on the day. Find out exactly how to automate your budgets with our Black Friday budgets guide.

Supercharge Your Audience Strategy

Make sure you are making the most of remarketing lists for recent website visitors. Early-mid November is when users are researching their Black Friday purchases. Make sure you can be found when past website visitors are ready to buy by applying high RLSA bid adjustments for these audiences.

As well as recent website visitors, create custom lists of Black Friday buyers from previous years. You know these users are sale shoppers, and they’ve bought from your website previously, so go big with bid modifiers for these audiences!

Users will be browsing multiple retailers throughout Cyber Week. Use audience data to target cart abandoners with dynamic product remarketing on both the Google Display Network and Facebook throughout Cyber Week. Personalised product ads, in combination with sale-specific ad copy, will ensure users come back to your website over your competitors.

Google Shopping Top Tips

Merchant Promotions are an absolute must for Black Friday and Cyber Week as a whole. If you can, map products where you will be the absolute cheapest versus your competitors and push these as your ‘hero’ products.

If you’re already using Google Shopping, split the products that are most profitable (or those ‘hero products’ where you have the best deals) into their own campaign. Apply an increased standalone budget for those specific items to make sure they get maximum visibility during this key period.

Beyond PPC; Other Considerations for Cyber Week

To ensure you can track the success of your campaigns and report accurately, make sure all campaigns are UTM tagged using a consistent naming convention. Ensure custom channel groupings are set up in Google Analytics so traffic can be accurately attributed.

Bear in mind this year audience sizes will be smaller due to the changes in Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP 2.0) and similar. Users won’t stay in your audience as long as they used to so any long build-ups you’re doing will have to regularly re-engage users; it’s typically a 7-day window.

If you are expecting large spikes in traffic, speak with your hosting provider or development agency to ensure your hosting is up to the task! Some providers allow you to preemptively increase your server capacity in preparation for high server loads. All your hard work up to this point could be lost with an inaccessible website.

If you’d like to speak to a member of our team about your Black Friday strategy, why not get in touch?