2018 Holiday Paid Search Insights: Top Tips & Takeaways

For many retail advertisers, Q4 holiday sales make up a significant amount of the annual revenue.

This year, sales are expected to grow 5.1 percent driven by, in part, increases in both online (+14 percent) and in-store sales (+3.5 percent) growth.

Such positive predictions should motivate any advertiser to maximize their paid search efforts this year.

Having insights on the data and timing will ensure your PPC strategy is on point and capturing all opportunities. Bing Ads recently released some insights on trends for holiday PPC.


It seems like the holidays start earlier every year, so it should be no surprise that shoppers start to research holiday purchases in October.

On the Bing Network, October has shown the greatest click growth year-over-year for retail. Twenty-two percent of consumers planned to start their shopping in October.

The top categories receiving clicks in October, as a percentage of retail clicks:

  • Computers: 27 percent
  • Toys and games: 15 percent
  • Clothing: 15 percent

In November last year, the Bing Network saw the highest YOY retail growth during the November 5 pre-Cyber Week as retailers rolled out early deals.

We see the same top categories as October with Toys and Games increasing:

  • Computers: 27 percent
  • Toys and games: 18 percent
  • Clothing: 13 percent

Cyber week, Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday, accounts for a whopping 32 percent of holiday revenues.

Digging into the top category click share, November 23- 27:

Post-Cyber Monday

Seventy-five percent of shoppers will continue to shop.

One important trend to note: as shipping options become less viable after December 18, shoppers are choosing the buy online and pick up in-store options.

Last minute shoppers are also looking for gift cards on the Bing Network.

Forty percent of gift card searches on Bing occur post-Cyber Monday through Christmas day, with general merchandise stores and restaurants as the top two.

After Christmas

Shoppers will keep shopping, tidying up their holidays with returns and using gift cards.

This is a good opportunity to upsell to gift card holders who tend to spend $38 on average over the gift card amount.

Tips & Takeaways for Retailers

  • Try rolling out early deals before the Cyber Week timeframe, as Bing reports seeing increased growth last year.
  • Be sure to have remarketing lists ready to go early, to capture the additional traffic volume and retarget shoppers at different points in the season and shopper journey.
  • Bing shopping campaigns feature Merchant Promotions options to showcase offers to shoppers. Use this feature to stand out from the competition.
  • Search volume on the Bing Network peaks on weekends in November, so plan on allocating additional budget to meet demand.
  • Consider the buy online/ pick up in-store option by making this a key CTA between December 18 and 25.
  • Last minute shoppers are searching for gift cards, making this a great opportunity to be present for searches and even promoting deals with gift cards (buy $100 gift card and get a $10 gift card).

The data cited in this article was provided to by Bing Ads and Search marketing insights for holidays 2018.

More Paid Search Resources:

Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, September 2018