Looking at key performance metrics gathered during the 2011 Christmas season it would appear that UK consumers used November as a heavy research phase, with lots of search queries on generic terms but fewer in percentage terms purchasing. Whereas, December consumers hit decision time, and start clicking on more ads and making more purchases.

Interestingly, when we looked at Cost-Per-Click’s (CPCs) from October through December there was often little change in the CPCs for advertisers. Of the cross section of industries we analysed we did see significant spend increases during November and December however as a general rule the increased spend was a result of increased search queries, search volumes and click through rates.

Over the past few years four significant dates appear to be increasing in prominence during the festive season and these have been listed below for the 2012 season with a brief explanation of each.


US Cyber Monday

Being only the seventh largest day in terms of paid search click volumes in the UK, the US version of Cyber Monday – continues to rise to prominence in the UK. As US retailers such as Amazon, eBay and Toy ‘R’ Us roll their US CyberMonday promotions into the UK market.
There is increased confusion as to when Cyber Monday falls in the UK, or if there even is such a thing as Cyber Monday in the UK. However, all online marketers in the UK should have the US date in their diary as one to watch.

UK Cyber Monday ( 1 )

The day which has been coined by the UK press as “CyberMonday” is the first Monday in December, which last year was the 5th December.2011 data shows that this was marginally the largest day in the UK in terms of paid search click volumes.

UK Cyber Monday ( 2 )

Closely followed by the following Monday, the 12th December in 2011.These two days were very close together in terms of click volume, so it’s hard to declare a clear winner as Cyber Monday. We recommend online marketers have both dates noted.

The implications

  • Advertisers need to be clear about objectives during November and December
  • A clear plan needs to be in place for the busiest shopping time online.
  • Budget allocations should be made during November to cover the increased search volumes without significant increased revenues.
  • Ensuring a significant presence in the UK during the research phases of shopping in November should give revenue boosts during the buying phase in December.
  • Campaign Ad text needs to be re-aligned to show clear promotions and special offers.
  • Cut off dates and special delivery arrangements need to be clearly visible on websites.

Our Findings

  • In short our Christmas findings suggest there are two campaigns required in the UK buying cycle.
  • The first is during November and designed to entice the researchers and prudent buyers searching for the ideal gift, product or service.
  • The second late November and during December is sealing the deal utilising strong calls to action, special offers and clear stock levels with perhaps a further clearance phase added.
  • The campaigns clearly have to be designed in advance of the season with budgets and promotions pre-set. The client and their PPC agency need to use historic data to agree a switch over date from research aimed advertisements to targeted specific call to action advertisements,with an open mind and flexible view maintained as online marketing is a fluid medium.
  • Keyword selection, Ad text, website content, negative matching, technology and platform targeting all form considerations to be taken alongside competitor behaviour, product lines and stock levels.

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