2020 has been one for the books, but take heart as we’re in the home stretch. In our series of holiday marketing posts, we’ve covered recapping 2019 performance, creating scorecards, budgeting & a whole lot more. You can download a PDF copy here that includes all the tips and suggestions we’ve pulled together in one place.

In this last edition of our holiday 2020 series we’ll be walking through finalizing holiday planning and trafficking ads. Before we get to that though, let’s quickly discuss the uniqueness of this holiday season. We don’t fully know what impact COVID-19 will have on holiday spending but looking at overall retail sales in August we’re seeing a slight bounce back (~2.6% YoY lift vs 2019 in August) so we can assume the holiday will be at least comparable to normal for the purposes of this exercise but be prepared for anything. Also, remember Prime Day? Typically Prime Day occurs in July but this year it was pushed back to October – if you don’t think this will have an impact on holiday shopping you might find yourself sadly mistaken. You should be finalizing holiday strategy/budgets, working on creative AND beginning re-engaging with customers to build anticipation ahead of holiday campaigns being live right now.

Take A Last Look At Holiday Strategy

Points to cover: Start by going to your website on mobile and imagine it’s your first interaction with your brand as a new customer. Is there anything you could change? What do you think people will do on-site and what changes might you need to make? Is your offer strong enough? Review primary messaging of all ads and make sure retargeting ads are building on that.

Hopefully, you’ve followed along with us throughout this holiday marketing series and have been planning ahead with lead generation optimizations, and are ready to convert more visitors than ever before, but either way we have an exercise we recommend. Pretend you’re a new customer just becoming familiar with your brand. After you land on-site with no prior knowledge of what your business offers, is all the information you need accessible? Are conversion actions simple and obvious? If you don’t think you would reasonably take the next step, why would your customer?

After tightening up any loose ends on your website, finalize your holiday offers. Make sure you’re putting your best foot forward and it will be attractive enough to get the results you need. Promotional strategy is far more important than it gets credit for, don’t just assume your 15% off sitewide offer will do the trick. An example from Numerator shows Easter promotions differed in 2020 vs 2019. Target shifted from ‘Buy 3 Get 1’ to ‘Buy 1 Get 50% Off’. That’s a pretty big change and shows the emphasis in 2020 may be on a lower expectation for shopping cart values.

Trafficking Holiday Ads

You’ve made it, it’s time to start building your holiday ad campaigns! Here are a few considerations to take into account during this important time.

Traffic Holiday Ads Separately From Others

It’s about as simple as that header. Do not add your holiday creative into existing campaigns and mix with non-holiday creative. You’ve put the time in to develop new creative, an offer, an entire strategy around holiday marketing – put the same time into placing the ads. Create holiday campaigns in all your platforms that clearly delineate holiday from non-holiday. If you don’t it’ll be impossible to control the budget amount that goes to your holiday ads and it will be much harder to rotate out these ads after campaign completion.

Take Extra Time Trafficking

These are likely the most important ads you’ve made all year – treat them that way! Allow for extra time to traffic holiday campaigns, extra QA time, and additional monitoring of early performance. If it normally takes 3 business days after receiving creative for you or your team to get campaigns live, prep for 4-5 days for holiday time. Do not launch these ads on a Friday unless you are planning to monitor performance over the weekend. .

Campaign Settings: Check Them Twice

In the past, you may have always setup Facebook ads campaigns as traffic objectives, or brand awareness campaigns. You may have boosted posts from your page instead of making ads from Ads Manager. Holiday isn’t the time for that. Every setting in a campaign/ad group that impacts delivery, optimization, or targeting should be carefully considered.

In Search, Don’t Forget Ad Extensions

Do NOT just let account-wide site extensions live on top of your holiday search ads. Write new site extensions, callouts, structured snippets, and even try out new extensions you haven’t used before! Now might be the perfect time to try pricing/promo extensions or call extensions, this is one area where you should experiment and be aggressive.


The work doesn’t end once campaigns are turned on, you have to take steps to improve performance post-launch through optimizations. Your holiday campaigns should be given extra time and attention, with clearly defined tasks that will be performed along the way. These are conversations to have internally now and built into your scheduled project deliverables.

  • Who will be responsible for sharing performance data with the creative team so new ad variations can be introduced throughout campaign flighting?
  • How often will optimizations and reporting internally on performance be done?
  • How should we best pace our holiday spend, how much should be kept in reserve for key weekends/days like Black Friday?
  • Will it make sense to have someone on the clock over Black Friday for live optimizations and budget adjustments if the budget is being exhausted?

Putting A Bow On It

Holiday (especially in 2020) is a time where you shouldn’t take any detail for granted. Put in extra time during the planning and execution phases and you’ll likely find that the results are worth it. Make this holiday campaign your best ever and head into 2021 with positive momentum and new learnings you can apply.