The first week of December accounted for 25 percent of all holiday season profits, according to Marin Software's 2009 study. It also found that Sunday search buys performed best.
While Cyber Monday and Black Friday get a lot attention each holiday season, new research from Marin Software says search marketers need to target their spends on "Peak Week."
"We found that the first week of December is actually when sales, profits, and conversions peak," said Matt Lawson, VP of marketing for a Marin team that analyzed 2009 holiday campaigns from clients like Macy’s, KAYAK, PriceGrabber, and University of Phoenix. The data showed online sales during that week outpaced both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In 2009, Marin's so-called Peak Week registered 24 percent of all impressions, 18 percent of all clicks, and 25 percent of profits.
Another intriguing finding was that online holiday shoppers appear to be the busiest on Sundays. Throughout the 2009 season, Sundays outperformed other days of the week in terms of conversion rates and profits for paid search campaigns.
And Marin found that clicks and conversion rates for paid search shot up by 18 percent and 42 percent, respectively, during the holiday shopping season when compared to the rest of the year. The study also found that holiday season profits benefitted from what Marin calls a "compounding effect," which sometimes increased the net gain to 500 percent when considering the cost of a click.
Lawson added, "Recognize that by being able to anticipate that change and by being ahead of the curve, you can increase your bids first and get a disproportionate share of the profits. Planning it out gives you a big heads-up."
The marketing VP recommended that search advertisers manage keyword bids with a "boost schedule" during the holiday shopping season. "As conversion rates rise, your bids have to rise with them," Lawson explained. "It gets more complicated as other companies come in with their offers."
Lastly, online retailers should set alerts so that they back off on keyword spending when they're about to go out-of-stock on an item, according to the San Francisco-based paid search management company's report. This practice ensures that marketers don't pay for clicks that can't result in a sale.
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
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