Halloween 2011: Optimize Your Search Campaigns in Microsoft Advertising adCenter

Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sah-WEEN). The Celts believed that on the night before their new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they began the Samhain celebration, when it was believed that the ghosts […]

Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sah-WEEN). The Celts believed that on the night before their new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they began the Samhain celebration, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

To make the most out of your Halloween 2011, optimize your adCenter advertising campaign early, as queries for costumes and decoration are already increasing daily.

To help get started, the adCenter team analyzed data from Halloween advertisers in 2010.

"After removing branded terms, our research shows that 10 keywords alone drove 34% of all clicks. Only 7% of those happened in August, 23% in September and 70% in October, indicating that shoppers are not in a hurry when looking for costumes. The list also indicates that most people searching for Halloween costumes do not have a particular costume in mind. Instead, pricing and presentation on the landing page seem to be the key factors driving purchases," noted Peter Haubold.

The table below shows these top 10 keywords from 2010 and how pricing changed. Advertisers should be prepared to increase budget in October, as costs per click (CPC) doubled on average compared to September.

Optimization tips for Halloween 2011

  • "Your keyword strategy should include the more generic terms shown above to reach an audience that hasn't decided yet on specific costumes or decorations. Additionally, leverage the downloadable keyword suggestion list* with specific costume ideas. Initial data for 2011 indicate that Captain America and Harry Potter costumes are most sought after, followed by Star Wars, Batman, Superman and Pirate themes. SpongeBob and Power Rangers are popular, too.
  • Adults seem most interested in Renaissance costumes and anything labeled "sexy". If you use any keywords including the term "sexy", make sure to upload them early to ensure you get editorial approval before the peak season starts.
  • Bidding: A competitive bid is crucial for success. 75% of all clicks for the top 10 keywords in October 2010 went to ads in positions 1 through 4. Click-through-rates (CTR) below position 4 dropped sharply and fell under 1%, while positions 1 through 4 were in the 20 - 30% range.

  • Ad Copy: To make your ads more relevant, use dynamic keyword insertion in the ad title. If your keywords were uploaded originally in lower case, consider using param2 insertion instead with a capitalized form. An ad for "Harry Potter Costumes" simply looks better to consumers than one for "harry potter costumes."
  • Targeting: If you own a brick and mortar store selling Halloween costumes, you can now use the Radius Targeting feature in adCenter. This allows you to target searchers who are in close proximity to your store.

    If you run an online store, incremental bidding is a powerful way to target the right audience. Almost 2/3 of all searches for Halloween related terms are coming from females and the most active age groups for both genders are 25 to 34 (33%) and 35-49 (37%). Placing higher bids for this audience can pay off in the end," explained Haubold.