Google Ads Targeting Marketing

How to plan Google Ads campaigns around holidays and events

By James Bessey-Saldanha, Paid media manager

Reflect Digital Limited


The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

Find out more

December 17, 2021 | 5 min read

During events and holidays, brands and businesses are keen to push seasonal products or deals to hitch a ride on that sweet holiday buzz. So what can you do to supercharge your Google Ads strategy and catch the holiday wave?

Reflect Digital consider how Google's features allow greater targeting for ad campaigns.

Reflect Digital consider how Google's features allow greater targeting for ad campaigns.

Keyword research

Let’s start with the basics. Your first step should be to check if there’s any search volume for high-intent keywords surrounding your product or service during the holiday or event. Google’s keyword planner is your friend - however, the in-browser tool isn’t going to give you the full picture. It’s important to download the data and check volumes for the month your holiday or event is targeting. For example, if you’re an electronics retailer and wanted to target users searching for laptops in the January sales, keyword planner will only give you the average monthly searches.

To get a better idea of keywords with strong potential, you’ll need to download the historical data as a .csv or Google Sheet and view the data split by month.

We can clearly see that, when split by month, during January, search volume for these keywords increases sevenfold. This suggests they could be very valuable targets to use in January. This same process will work for other events such as Easter, Black Friday, Valentine's day and more.

Sitelink extensions with a tailored landing page

If, despite your best efforts, you find that your keyword research labors yield no hidden gems, do not despair! There are plenty of other ways to promote your offers. We often find this is the case for certain industries, particularly if your marketing objective is lead-based rather than sales-focussed.

For example, if you run a subscription-based business, you’ll probably find very few people will specifically search for Christmas, Halloween or Easter discounts or deals. So let’s explore some more creative ways to put offers in front of targets.

Creating a bespoke landing page that highlights the key benefits of your offer can be a great way to showcase your deal. To get users onto the page, simply introduce a sitelink extension to direct traffic towards your deal. You can also replace your existing ad landing pages with this offer-focused page for the duration of the campaign. This can be a fantastic way to increase your conversion rate across your account.

Offer extensions

Similar to sitelink extensions, you can also create simple offer extensions to promote your ongoing deal.

Audience targeting

Instead of targeting event- and holiday-specific keywords, you can layer your existing keywords with in-market audience targets. These can either be set up as separate campaigns with audiences set as ‘targeting’ or within existing campaigns as ‘observational’ audiences with bid modifiers.

You can use a range of audiences. We’d recommend starting with the ‘Seasonal Shopping’ dropdown within the ‘in-market audiences’ tab. Then you can break down your targets more specifically from there.

When implementing this, you have the option to set audiences up as ‘targeting’ or ‘observational’. ‘Targeting’ audiences narrows down campaign targeting so that ads only appear for in-market audiences searching for target keywords. This allows you to write specific ad copy about the offer as your target users are in the market for your offer. If you do this, we recommend setting up another identical campaign without audience targeting enabled to avoid narrowing down your targeting.

Observational audiences are more straightforward to implement and simply involve you adding a bid modifier to your existing targeting, making your ads more likely to appear at a higher position for these users. We recommend a 15% bid increase to begin with; you can adjust this based on performance.

Using display ad formats

Another great way to target users within target audiences is to run display-focussed campaigns. This involves targeting users within your audience selections on YouTube and the Google Display Network with video, discovery and display ads and can be a great way to show off seasonal promotions to key targets.

Bear in mind that display campaigns are a form of ‘passive’ advertising, as opposed to the active advertising you see with search ads. This means you’re likely to have a very low CTR compared with search campaigns, and a lower average conversion rate. However, the much lower CPC of display campaigns makes up for this, allowing you to drive positive ROI.

Get creative with your targeting

Google supplies a huge array of tools to allow you to communicate and promote your offers to the most valuable users across the internet. Exploring Google’s features and getting hands-on with your account is the best way to learn these methods. Getting creative with your targeting allows you to test new things you never thought possible, allowing you to drive a strong ROI and hit users you never could before.

James Bessey-Saldanha, paid media manager at Reflect Digital.

Google Ads Targeting Marketing

Content by The Drum Network member:

Reflect Digital Limited

Putting our client’s customers first, we work closely with ambitious global brands and eCommerce businesses looking to elevate their marketing and move towards...

Find out more

More from Google Ads

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +