The Top Three Tips to Make You King of the SERP This Black Friday and Cyber Monday

by Margaret Davis, 20 Nov 2018

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are crucial days for online retailers. Last year, US retailers earned a record $7.9 billion on Black Friday and $6.6 billion on Cyber Monday. On Black Friday 2017 alone, Amazon exceeded $5 billion in sales, and was responsible for nearly 50% of all online transactions.* Given that roughly half of US households have an Amazon Prime membership, what does it take for a retailer to compete with Amazon’s deals? Not only will Amazon be funneling more media dollars into promoting their deals, but, like a ripple effect, consumers are taking notice. Therefore, competitors are clamoring for best ad rank in an effort to crowd each other out during these two 24-hour windows.

In 2017, DRUM analyzed year-over-year performance for a specific retail category, discovering that during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, our average cost-per-click increased by more than 20%, while both our ad average position and impression share worsened. Basically, we were paying 20% more for a lower ad position and less ad visibility on the SERP, versus the prior year.

So, how do you keep your client’s paid search ads in the best position, all while also achieving their goals and maintaining efficiencies? Here are a few key takeaways from our Black Friday and Cyber Monday success story, where we utilized the prior year’s insights  to conquer the SERP on a major retail account.

  1. Identify your top keywords.

Which keywords drive the most conversions in your paid search account? These are the keywords that you always want to have the best 1.0 average position. Find your historical top-converting keywords, and take a look at each one’s average position. For example, if “Red Shoes” is one of your top converting keywords, you’d naturally want your ad to show at the top of the search results page when someone searches for it.

However, not all accounts have unlimited (or near-unlimited) media budgets like Amazon, so pick your top keywords wisely. We selected our keywords according to their retail category, where we knew our offer was competitive to Amazon’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers. At DRUM, we’re all about maximizing efficiency, whether our client has an ROI goal, or a cost-per-conversion goal. Therefore, we selected keywords that would be worth incurring an incremental cost while remaining within our KPIs.

  1. Utilize reports and automated tools to help you maximize impression share on those top keywords.

Automated rules automatically make changes to your keywords according to the  settings you choose and can be implemented within each search engine’s UI for various actions. For example, one of the automated rules we implemented was to keep our top keywords above minimum first page bid. So, whenever someone searched “Red Shoes,” automated rules ensured that our ad would show on the first page, rather than requiring us to manually monitor each auction every hour. We scheduled our automated rule to check hourly and boost our keyword search bids if our ad no longer appeared on the first page — thus ensuring we wouldn’t miss out on any conversions due to our ad not showing on the first results page. 

Using Auction insights reporting from the prior year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we analyzed our top keyword’s impression share** relative to our competitors — a figure measured on a scale of 1% to 100%. If a keyword has 100% impression share, it likely has a 1.0 average position. 

We discovered Amazon was bidding on some of the same keywords as we were. More specifically, Amazon’s impression share and average position improved during these days in 2016, resulting in our paying a higher cost-per-click on our keywords and ads. As a DRUM best practice, we utilize various automated bid strategies for our top keywords, but by implementing automatedrRules, we can ensure that our ad will always show.

**Impression share (IS) is the percentage of impressions that your ads receive, compared to the total number of impressions that your ads could get. Impression share is a good way to understand whether your ads might reach more people if you increase your bid or budget. (Source: Google AdWords)

  1. Don’t throw away your KPIs.

Lastly, and most importantly, whenever implementing major changes to your paid search or shopping account, it’s always smart to monitor spend. Monitoring your account’s performance every one to two hours will ensure that you aren’t spending inefficiently, as there will also be smaller retailers investing more ad spend on these days. 

Naturally, this makes the environment more expensive, and you want to make sure the additional cost is resulting in more conversions. Check each search engine’s UI and pull conversion reporting to ensure you aren’t wasting your client’s money. Are your top keywords holding up? Are competitors really impacting your results? Or, can you take a step back? And, if reporting shows that your account isn’t performing, it may be better to pause your keywords altogether than to spend money inefficiently. Overall, be certain to budget for cost-per-click increases and allocate budgets for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, just like you would for Prime Day.

Our strategies helped DRUM maintain competitive ad positions during Cyber Monday and Black Friday last year, all while driving more conversions versus the prior year. And remember: Always stay up-to-date on new features coming out for Google AdWords, Bing Ads and Oath Ads to help maximize your paid search account’s efficiencies.



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