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The biggest time of the year is fast approaching for marketers and advertisers - In the United States alone, $616 billion will be spent on shopping for the winter holidays, according to the National Retail Federation.

We recently published a list of ways that Email Marketers must already be preparing for the the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and advertisers also have to step up their game!

Here’s some key ways to start your preparation today as Black Friday quickly approaches:

1. Prepare for an increase in media costs. As we noted last December, advertising costs tend to go up after Thanksgiving as advertisers ramp up their spend. Last year, U.S. media costs of an index of Social.com customers rose a full 70%, from $3.59 to $6.10 CPM, between the start of November and Cyber Monday on December 1st. You may want to increase some bids and campaign caps in order to make sure your ads get traction. Additionally, consider being more careful in who you target with your ads in order to focus on the people who will deliver the best return on your ad spend.

2. Work with your design teams to build Christmas or Holiday specific creative. Your company probably already builds new creative for the season, but you need to make sure that it will be suited for your ad campaigns, including images in the right resolution and aspect ratio. Empower your designers with our two guides to Facebook or Twitter ad specs.

3. Get started with new brand advertising early. Facebook just published a guide for building awareness for the holidays focused on using Video, Link, and Carousel ads that you can use to get inspiration from other top brands. Brand campaigns are especially important leading into the holiday season, before your main sales and promotions are live.

4. Test Instagram Ads now. Instagram is a very visual medium and perfect new channel for a variety of your objectives today. If you haven’t run any Instagram ads yet, now’s the time to test what works for your brand. Think about how to leverage similar targeting to your Facebook campaigns with different creative that features your brand colors or logo in the images or videos and tells a well-crafted story.  

5. Work with IT to prepare any Facebook conversion pixels you need. If you’re doing any special holiday promotions, you may need extra Facebook pixels on key conversion or checkout pages. These can take time to implement, so make sure you start early. For more information, check out Facebook’s documentation.

6. Build out any Website Custom Audiences with IT and start collecting data. If you want to use Website Custom Audiences and don’t already use them, get started now - it can take some time to build up enough data to use for your holiday campaigns whether you plan to target this audience or lookalike audiences.

7. Sync your ads with your email and direct mail marketing teams. In a recent study, Salesforce and Facebook found that by synchronizing email and Facebook advertising, it not only extends the reach of your email campaign by 77%, but the group which both saw the ad and opened the email were 8% more likely to click and 22% more likely to purchase.

8. Plan your advertising and budgets down to the day. Because of major events including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the cutoff for shipping packages for Christmas, you need to schedule your campaigns more narrowly than usual. Use Social.com’s scheduling features and rules to pre-schedule content and spend.

To learn more about succeeding with Retail and eCommerce ads on Facebook, check out how Atomic 212 ran eCommerce campaigns for a major retailer using Social.com!