Marin Software's official blog

3 Tips for Retail Advertisers to Maximize Results Over the Holiday Shopping Season

Crystal Hammond
|
October 29, 2015

The holidays are a busy time of year for retail advertisers. Outside of work, their lives are packed with relatives, shopping, menu planning, and social events. Add launching holiday promotions, bid management, and budgeting to the agenda and they have an even longer to-do list in the middle of an already stressful holiday season.


To help our retail advertising customers succeed during the critical holiday shopping season, we’re happy to introduce Marin’s Center of Excellence. This is a new division of the Marin Customer Success team that combines marketing expertise and mastery of the Marin platform to help grow your business. The team provides consulting and tailored offerings for Marin customers to address business needs and help them get the most out of the platform.


While consumers are editing their shopping lists in October, you’re editing keyword lists and writing endless variations of holiday ad copy. And, if you’re asking yourself, “What am I missing?” or “How can I better optimize this?”, the Marin Center of Excellence team is here to help you through these and other common challenges.


Having managed campaigns themselves once upon a time, the team has compiled a list of step-by-step recommendations to keep handy as holiday promotions begin to kick off in the coming weeks.



Step 1: Prepare Your Campaigns for Success by Leveraging Key Retail-Focused Marin Capabilities


Start by loading holiday focused objects into Marin early (e.g., keywords, creatives, sitelinks, and mobile-preferred creatives) and keep them paused until you’re ready to launch. This will allow enough time for creatives to go through review on the publisher’s side, for you to submit any exemption requests, etc. Don’t wait until the last minute or you risk forgetting important objects (like sitelinks!) and hitting policy violations.


In addition, make sure you have the necessary Scheduled Actions configured for your holiday-themed campaigns and creatives. Scheduled Actions are essential during promotions and sales and help you take back those long holiday hours by automating the pausing and activation of select campaigns and creatives. If you know that certain days or weeks see an increase in traffic, set up rules so you’re always showing top-performing ads at the most opportune times.


Marin Dimensions are another great time-saving tool. For example, if you have different promotions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, tag them with a Dimension. Once tagged, you can quickly filter for those objects tagged with a “Black Friday” dimension to pause them and take the same steps to resume your Cyber Monday ads. This workflow works great for those time-sensitive campaigns you’ll be switching on and off across publishers.


Finally, you should consider an account audit ahead of the holiday. This will ensure you have an account structure in line with best practices, help identify specific performance issues, and allow enough time to prioritize any issues requiring implementation. The Center of Excellence is offering holiday focused account audits to improve account performance and better optimize your program this holiday season. Contact your Marin account representative for more details.



Step 2: Review Your Bidding Strategy and Objectives


In anticipation of the expected increase in traffic and competition, the Center of Excellence recommends setting up a schedule for any bid changes that need to occur throughout the holiday season. Take a look at your historical data for previous years. Do you notice a year over year rise in historical CPCs? Did traffic increase significantly? Pair this data with your goals to set up an ad scheduling or boost schedule.


These two features allow you to make faster adjustments to bids without making drastic changes to your overall bidding strategy (by changing folder targets) that could prompt unwanted results. If you want a little help crunching those numbers, the Center of Excellence is offering a Holiday Bidding and Boost consultation tailored specifically to your program that works in tandem with our bidding algorithm.



Step 3: Closely Monitor Performance Throughout the Holiday Season


Marin offers an easy way to set up and schedule automated email alerts to assist you with monitoring account activity during the holidays. The Center of Excellence recommends creating email alerts for the following:




  • Day over day cost changes


  • Sync errors for creatives/keywords


  • Average position threshold


  • Objects missing tracking


  • Creatives status = disapproved


If you manage multiple accounts in the platform, try setting up an All Clients report to review cross-client performance data. For example, set up a campaign performance report across all your clients to eliminate having to log into each Marin client account. Hint: Creating alerts across client accounts will save you time, which can be spent enjoying your holidays!



Bonus Time Saving Tips from our Top Center of Excellence Consultants!



  • If you’re a client that has many different publisher accounts within many different Marin accounts, utilize Marin’s cross-client bulk sheet feature, so you can create everything with one file rather than having to organize and upload many different bulk sheets.


  • If you plan to use ad scheduling to help manage bidding this holiday season, set this up in Marin using the multi-edit feature, which will allow you to set your schedule across many campaigns or ad groups at one time, rather than individually.


  • Prior to making changes for holiday bidding, download a report of all your current keyword bids with the columns you would need for a keyword bulk upload. Use this report to upload these same bids into the application after the holiday season is over and more quickly return to expected levels of performance and traffic.


  • When creating a scheduled report or alert, take an extra 10 seconds and also create a saved view for those same columns and filters. This way, if an alert or performance report merits investigation, you can retrieve the corresponding saved view to pull this up in the application immediately.


  • Tag all of your holiday objects in Marin using a Dimension. This will make it easier to apply setting changes and scheduled actions at scale so you can get back to family and fun!

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