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AdWords Christmas Tips – Big shopping

Preparations for the 2016 Christmas business are already in full swing. First sales records will have been achieved by as early as late November during the cyber week, and companies are battling it off with promotions, trying to draw consumer interests to their products.

Experience shows that online channels have quite a positive effect on retail shops during the Christmas season: 82% of all Christmas shoppers in Germany research gif ideas online (ROPO effect), and 51% proceed to purchase offline in shops.

Companies that profit most from this are those that sell cosmetic products, books, toys, and clothing. Consumer electronics, photo books, jewelry, and furniture are also popular gifts

Depending on the orientation of the product assortment, some companies achieve a large part of their annual turnover within just a few weeks during the pre-Christmas season. During this period, all marketing campaigns must be set perfectly, and online marketing channels controlled perfectly, because the competition is also not quiet, but rather fighting hard for market shares.

740x400-XmasAdwords-02 SEA Google Adwords

AdWords account managers are also not spared by these challenges. It is by no means enough to merely increase campaign budgets and raise CPC bids. In most cases, a complex marketing strategy must be coordinated and advertised on all available advertising media. Every company develops its own strategies.

Below are some of the tips to help you through this contemplative time of the year. The ideas are derived directly from the everyday business of advertising agencies and experience from different customer fields.

Extend the Duration of Remarketing Lists

Many users require multiple contacts with the advertiser’s brand before they decide to purchase. The contact points are hereby not just limited to search campaigns, but include all online marketing channels.

One of the most important contact points is the very first visit to the website. From this point onwards, visitors are marked with a cookie and can be addressed again through remarketing campaigns. This targeted approach of a specific user group often helps raise the sales quota significantly. In the pre-Christmas period, it is particularly important to operate this mechanism optimally. A comprehensive research, purchase decision, and final order placement could even take weeks.

According to Google, the search for an appropriate Christmas gift can even begin as early as October. To avoid losing the user between these phases, you should use remarketing campaigns for the corresponding runtime. Conventional remarketing lists with a 30-day lifetime often fall short.

In order to extend the reach of your remarketing campaigns and attract users from the search phase, you should use additional list versions, with a 90-day and 540-day runtime. The lists can then run parallel in the campaigns. Prioritization based on the runtime should then follow based on graded bot modifications on the respective lists.

This is why you should have 90-day lists, and a maximum runtime of 540 days, in all AdWords by default. With these lists, you can also address users who have not been in contact with your website for a long time. However, the main advantage of such lists is their extended reach. Since the willingness to purchase is generally higher in the pre-Christmas season, the chances of occasional purchases is also higher. Users on the 540-day lists have at least had contact with the website.

740x400-XmasAdwords-03 SEA Google Adwords

Customer Match

Customer data is known to be particularly valuable to companies, but having the data should help you to do more than just send targeted email campaigns. In AdWords, you can convert addresses to remarketing lists using the customer match function. Here, Google compares the uploaded email addresses with Google accounts. In case of a match, the user is placed in the customer match remarketing list. This can be used for all known remarketing applications, and although the number of users in such lists is not as high as in regular lists, the quality of contacts from a correspondingly well-maintained CRM System is relatively higher.

You can effectively accompany your Christmas actions with the customer match function. You can remind users who have subscribed to your newsletters of an exclusive promotions. This could for instance be a special discount for regular customers. This provides you with a variety of contact options and a wide application range, since you can link your customer match lists to all AdWords campaigns (search, display, Gmail, video).

YouTube Remarketing Lists

As of late, you can use video remarketing lists in search and shopping campaigns. Users who have subscribed to your YouTube channel or who have viewed your video are added to one of your remarketing lists. In the past, this was only possible for display campaigns. Many users also turn to video content in their search for a Christmas gift.

You should therefore also use the outreach of your video channel for the RLSA function (remarketing lists for search ads) in order to strengthen your search and shopping campaigns.


AdWords offers different ad formats (text, image, responsive, etc.) that you can use for your Christmas promotions to attract customers. Here, you should promote key actions using your own advertisements. At the same time, ad extensions are also excellent for the Christmas business.

1. With sitelinks

Every online marketer is aware of the advent calendar of online shops, battling each other out through daily changing promotions. For website operators, this means putting in a lot of effort since, besides the daily content of the advent calendar, the landing page must also be modified accordingly. This pays off once the number of sales quickly rises to new record heights. In AdWords, you can very easily design and setup such actions. You can advertise the different actions using the respective sitelink. The runtime for the sitelinks can be defined in advance, to allow for automatic switching of the promotion actions.

2. With callouts

Callouts are also well suited for key USPs during this contemplative time of the year. For instance, many buyers find it important to know the days on which a company can guarantee delivery before the Christmas holidays. Particularly in the last sales-intensive days, just before Christmas Eve, this can be a crucial competitive advantage that should be communicated prominently. After all, the majority of German buyers have bought Christmas gifts from online shops in the last days before Christmas in the past.

Price Extensions

Displaying price extensions is now also supported in Germany. It is now possible to show products and services, including their prices, for mobile advertisements.

In addition to a variety of options (brands, events, locations, etc.), you also have different columns for the title, description, price, and URL, with which you can describe your products.

The extensions are not displayed that often, but this should change soon. It is best to test the extensions using your most important products. The price extensions work exceptionally well for popular items and, of course, with a competitive price.

Abbildung_4_engl SEA Google Adwords

Figure 1: Extensive editing options for customization of price extensions

Real-Time Updates

Real-time update adverts can also be very effective in creating well-suited promotions. The countdown function helps you to prominently indicate the runtime of certain promotions or guaranteed delivery before Christmas.

Abbildung_5_engl SEA Google Adwords

Figure 2: Creating a text advertisement with the a countdown function; the selection window is automatically displayed once you enter “{=” in one of the display fields.

If you would like to tinker around with the business data on AdWords, you can create long-term promotions and access them dynamically via placeholders in the text ads.

Google Shopping Promotions

With the Merchant Center Function, "Promotions", you can also integrate discount actions in your shopping ads. This additionally displays "offer" in blue in the shopping ads. Once someone clicks on the advert, the detailed view is opened, showing information about the action and, if applicable, the discount code.

Although the display of this extension is a bit discreet, advertisements with such a label catch the eye better, thereby increasing the click rates. And, although booking of shopping promotions is quite easy, you rarely see the blue ad extension. This is a competitive advantage that you should not miss in the Advent season.

AdWords Automation

But what happens once the demand drops during the holidays? To avoid wasting money with high bids and campaign budgets, extensive modifications on your account are needed. However, this does not necessarily mean that AdWords accounts must be optimized under beneath the Christmas tree.

You can configure many custom specifications in advance, and schedule them to be run automatically at a specific time. For instance, if you want to automatically reduce the daily advertisement budget, you should click on the “Campaigns” tab, select the corresponding campaign, click on "Automate", and then select "Change daily budget when..."

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Figure 3: Available automation rules in the dropdown menu

For "Automatic action", you can set the percentage with which the current daily budget should be reduced. The "Frequency" is set to "One" allowing you to select the date and time of execution.

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Figure 4: Configuration options for the control function

Similarly, you can also pause campaigns and modify CPC bids. To do this, simply select the "Keywords" tab. Here, you can select the desired keywords and use the "Automate" function to apply the desired rule for bid modification.


AdWords offers many advertising opportunities with which creative campaign managers can gain a competitive advantage. The aforementioned tips are without claim of completeness and are only food for thought. Maybe they can help you rethink established work processes, and increase the efficiency of campaigns in one or more points. In addition, you can of course also use the given examples for any other seasons.

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Published on Dec 15, 2016 by Johannes Stabel