The most wonderful — and stressful — time of the year is fast approaching, and if you’re like many retailers in the online space, you’re bracing yourself for the holiday rush. If your business relies on fourth quarter e-commerce sales, you’ve got a lot riding on the next few months. If you’re worried that you might not hit your targets — or want to ensure that you do — there is still time to do something about it.
Thanks to the ever-evolving landscape of digital advertising, there are some potent placements and ad opportunities out there that can help you reach those end-of-year goals. Here are five ideas that you still have time to try.
1) Google Expanded Text Ads — Expanded Again!
About: It seems like every few months, Google makes changes to the format and character counts of Google Text Ad elements. And in their usual can’t-leave-good-enough-alone fashion, they’ve done it again: Google has added an optional third headline and second description to text ads. This gives advertisers an additional 120 characters to work with across these two elements.
Pros: Google Ads help put you in front of potential customers who are already searching for your goods and services, unlike interruptive digital media placements like display or social media advertising. If you’re already using Google Text Ads, you can now take advantage of the increased search engine results page (SERP) real estate that the new character counts provide.
Cons: More space means more space to fill. Keep in mind, Google has also stated that the second description and third headlines may not always appear, so make sure your ad can still work without the new elements.
Extra Credit: Use promotion extensions to connect your e-commerce offers straight to your ad copy without killing your character counts. Promotion extensions allow advertisers to publicize monetary or percentage discounts within their ads — a tactic shown to increase click-through rates by more than 100% in some cases.
Expanded Text Ads: https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/7056544?hl=en
Promo Extensions: https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/7367622?hl=en
2) Google Responsive Search Ads
About: If you’ve been working in Google Ads (née Google AdWords) for a while now, you’re familiar with the process of creating dozens of ads with slight variations for the purpose of testing which combination performs best. The problem with this approach has always been that combinations of ad elements were exponential, meaning five headlines and five descriptions required 25 options to test. Fortunately, Google has now automated the process of finding the best combination of headlines and descriptions without that cumbersome process, which makes it much easier and quicker to identify the best combo for your audience.
Pros: These are intent-based ads (meaning searchers are looking for them), and they deliver extended SERP space thanks to the updates noted above.
Cons: This ad type is in beta and has not been made available to all users. While responsive search ads can help save time on ad creation and optimization, these ads do require close monitoring because of their automated nature. Google also recommends including at least 5 headline options, so that can add more time and effort to the front end. And it’s worth noting that these ads are a little harder to set up from a technical perspective — especially if you have headlines or descriptions that must appear in every version of your ad.
3) Facebook Dynamic Creative Ads
About: In the past, testing creative options on Facebook was a real pain. It used to require setting up multiple series of A/B tests and allowing each one to run for a substantial amount of time. Advertisers often needed to start campaigns with extended testing periods before their ads were truly optimized with the best copy and visuals. That said, this ad type can help advertisers delve into the world of deeper testing and optimize ads for maximum performance.
Pros: Facebook Dynamic Creative ads cut testing time by allowing advertisers to upload several options for both headlines and ad visuals and letting the algorithm do the multivariate testing and optimization for them. The combination that performs the best gets automatically pushed to audiences, saving you time and money.
Cons: While Facebook can help you test your ad creative, that’s only half the battle. Targeting and optimization are just as important, and knowledge of the Facebook Pixel is required to truly squeeze the most ROI from your Facebook ads (otherwise you’re just driving traffic).
4) Shopping on Instagram
About: It’s not new, but for some reason, direct response advertisers have been slow to adopt Instagram placements. If you’ve used the advanced targeting capabilities of Facebook’s ad platform, these are exactly the same. What’s more, Instagram ads are placed and monitored through the Facebook ad platform you already know and love.
Pros: Instagram lets you tag products directly in your ads, making it easy for your audience to convert with more effective calls-to-action beyond the generic “Learn More” button. Take advantage of the social network where 60% of users state that they use the platform to discover new products.
Cons: Accounts must be approved in order to enable the product tagging feature, which can take a few days. In addition, you must have a proper product feed (a formatted export of your product catalog data that is able to be processed by the ad platform) to connect to the platform as well. Finally, as with Facebook ads, use of the Facebook Pixel is required to truly optimize performance for conversions.
5) Pinterest Promoted Pins and Product Ads
About: If you’re a food brand, you’re likely already on Pinterest. And if you aren’t, you should be! 93% of Pinterest users use the platform to plan purchases. Plus, Pinterest is a great platform for repurposing seasonal photography and content you may already be developing for the holidays. With a robust set of targeting options and a built-in user base that is motivated to buy, Pinterest can be an effective ad placement space for the holiday season — especially for premium brands that fit with the platform’s focus on lifestyle and food content.
Pros: Pinterest users are motivated to buy, with one in two users stating they’ve made a purchase after seeing a pin that appealed to them. In addition, the ad platform is flexible, offering users the option to promote existing pins (much like Facebook boosted posts) or connect an e-commerce platform to create a product feed (like Google Shopping Campaigns). In addition, targeting can be based on demographic/interests, keywords, retargeting or a combination of all of the above.
Cons: Pinterest is all about visual appeal, so if you don’t have attractive ads, images or photos, you should probably stick to another placement. Additionally, many brands are unfamiliar with the platform, so getting acclimated to its nuances and creating content that feels genuine can be a challenge.