Seasonal trends and the impact on PPC

September 25th, 2015 by Rory Dunlop


With summer coming to an end and winter approaching, there’s no better time to discuss seasonal trends and the impact they might have on a PPC account.

The beauty of PPC is it can be chopped and changed depending on performance, and optimised according to trends in consumer behaviour, therefore strategy and timing can be crucial to the success and efficiency of any PPC account. Are you continually adapting your PPC account to suit the current trends in the market? Or are you satisfied with allowing it to tick over at a steady pace day to day? Could you be investing more money during certain periods and maximising your ROI? Or equally reducing budget at certain times to protect your ROI?

The Summer Season (briefly!)

When it comes to the summer season, you might find days that a big chunk of your market is outside enjoying the rare spell of decent weather we get in the UK, instead of being on their laptops scouring the World Wide Web for their next online purchase. If searches/clicks tend to drop on days like this then it might be an idea to move some of that budget from desktop to mobile, with the assumption being if they’re not on their laptops then they’ll be on their phones. With the days being longer and nights shorter, people will be outdoors later in the evening – so it might be worth keeping those bid modifiers in place for a bit longer!

Example 1 – Conservatory Market

If we take the keyword ‘conservatories’ and look at Google trends, the last 12 months we can see a clear drop in search volume from the end of summer leading into Autumn/Winter. I suppose it would make sense that installing a conservatory isn’t your first thought as the weather begins to get wetter and colder.


Searches then spike when the weather begins to improve in the New Year and then remains fairly steady leading into the Spring/Summer months (peaking in June) – an optimal time for having a nice open conservatory wouldn’t you agree?

After this, searches begin to tail off and then remain steady until September/October time. With still a lot of steady traffic coming through in those periods it’s important to analyse and optimise WoW, looking as granular as the best time of time to increase/decrease your bids.

You might find after looking through previous data in analytics that between 11am – 2pm and 6pm – 10pm you get your lowest spend but highest conversion rate, but most of your budget is being spent in the morning and just after lunch by ‘browsers’. Adapting to these little changes during those periods will keep you ahead of the game and ensure you’re always getting the most out of your budget.

Example 2 – Gas/Electric Market

Another example could be people looking to change their gas/electric provider and searching for ‘Gas prices’ or ‘Fuel prices’. Both fairly generic terms that generate about 13,000 impressions a month (on average).


Now what you can see here is very interesting. As you’d expect you have your strong months leading up to Christmas when the cold starts to really creep in and everyone starts to be more aware of their ever increasing energy bills. The above graph clearly shows consumer behaviour radically changing in the space of only three weeks occurring mid-late December and reaching its peak a couple of weeks into January.

After that period searches do drop but then we have a random spike occurring in February which lasts only two weeks and then falls and stays at a fairly low level until August. From a PPC point of view, these are the best times to increase bids and get your ads to the top of Google! Essentially you’ve got five key weeks in the year to optimise bids and really get the most out of your budget. If you’re not quick to react to changes like this then you could be missing out on valuable sales – which in that line of business could potentially be lifelong customers.

Having a look at Google trends can really help plan the strategic side of your PPC accounts and help keep you up to date with those ever changing seasonal market trends.

A couple of other things to consider

  • Look at previous Adwords/Analytics data. YoY data can give you a really clear indication of how you should be performing at certain times of the year and areas you could improve on. If you’re down on sales for “conservatories” for example, is that because you’re now serving in lower ad positions this year? And is this because there are more competitors in the market forcing CPC’s to increase? It allows you to raise questions you might not have been able to raise and plan around that.
  • Keep up to date on industry news e.g. you might have a client in the gas/heating industry – keep an eye on gas prices rising and falling.


Facebook due to launch dislike button

September 18th, 2015 by Charley Downey


Recently, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook will be introducing a whole new dimension to voicing an opinion on Facebook…a dislike button.

My initial reaction- ‘what real effect will this have on Facebook users…will people actually use this as genuine display of opinion as opposed to sarcasm or empathy?’

The like button has been with us for years. Since 2009, we were blessed with the option to show our appreciation for posts we considered like-worthy. A best friend’s profile picture perhaps or an interesting article- but what about being able to dislike?

Although YouTube has had this option for years, we’ve never been exposed to this on a more social platform like Facebook. As YouTube’s likes appear as a number and, in most cases, on a much larger scale, it feels less personal- less opinionated. We usually like something on Facebook with the intention that the ‘poster’ of the post will acknowledge our appreciation- so what will happen when it’s a dislike?

*Love my new shoes* well I don’t actually like them, or you so….dislike.

It seems strange to openly express a dislike something doesn’t it? Especially when it’s a personal post. Ouch.

So what will happen to businesses with a constant social presence? Will this allow them to engage with their consumers more, or have a broader understanding of the success of new products for example? After all, there are two sides to every story and a dislike is an easier and quicker way of expressing disapproval than a comment. Surely in terms of improving customer service this could only be seen as an advantage?

Some have suspected it’ll be used only to express ‘mild’ disapproval, or to express solidarity when someone posts about a negative event, a death or a loss. Some have assumed it will do nothing other than attract trolls to dislike almost everything.

However, regardless of the controversy this little thumb may cause, for advertisers this could be a huge chance to analyse consumer responses to Facebook ads. We may have the analytics reports, but we don’t have the overall voice of the consumer. It’d be incredibly helpful for advertisers to understand and manipulate various factors, what product set works best, if the creative needs tweaking and so on.

What better way to understand your target audience- than to ask them if they like what you’re showing them?

In the world of advertising, Facebook data capture and perhaps politics, the dislike button could be a pretty good gauge of the opinion of the vast majority, therefore the best thing since sliced bread.

For Claire and her new shoes that her husband Paul bought her because he’s ‘the best hubby ever’…maybe not so much.

Instagram is open for business

September 10th, 2015 by Rory Dunlop

Instagram logo

This week Instagram, owned by Facebook, announced that it would be opening its advertising platform up to all advertisers by the end of the month.

Capitalising on the 300 million global users in an attempt to double current global revenues to $1.5ish billion has been forecast, but how will advertisers and everyday Instagram users react to this?

Working within a full–service comms agency, we find ourselves constantly analysing ads and monitoring targeting methods’ implementation. Yesterday I was on the receiving end of the ad below (debt relief isn’t something I’m looking into or require), sandwiched between a picture of WBA boxing bantamweight champion Jamie McDonnell celebrating a recent defence of his title, and a waterfall in the Philippines. I was underwhelmed by the placement as it negates from any content of interest to me, and also from the statement below.

“People come to Instagram for visual inspiration, and advertising has the power to touch, inspire and move people,” James Quarles head of business and brand development at Instagram

Debt relief Instagram ad


In terms of usability and engagement with the platform, it is as a huge opportunity for advertisers to get in front of their target demographics with engaging ad formats. Landscape photos and videos (up to 30 seconds), and Marquee ads which provide a premium formats to drive mass awareness, provide additional capabilities to give advertisers opportunities to do more on the platform.

It is too easy for agencies to simply push the power of search, but for niche markets and products which can be visualised in the Instagram space, this method (when implemented correctly) should bring with it consumers who are geared for your brand and ready to engage and convert.

Ships and Sheep

September 7th, 2015 by Alex Price

Ships and Sheep 07.09.15

Snobby shopping? That ship has sailed!

Taking your PE kit to school in a Netto bag during the noughties was an error that provoked some serious sniggers – damn the Danish dog! Fast forward to 2015, and whilst the ABC1 females compete at the school gates over who’s got the best bargain on Prosecco, I’d bet my Casio calculator that there are a few Aldi and Lidl bags being used, ridicule free, in the playgroun

So! How did these shabby stores of the past lurch into the land of acceptance. Let’s topline it with some supporting Mad Men gems…..

– Make people feel it’s acceptable. Your peers have tested the water and so it’s time to slip into sheep mode and join the new flock. PR has contributed to setting the shopping savvy bandwagon in motion by dripping product endorsement through “experts” (Martin Lewis) and media outlets (Loose Women).
“Scream with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK.” (Don Draper)

– Throw a creative curveball. Don’t just be a price dictator, but execute tactfully with a Lidl surprise through a taste test, strengthening the quality aspect and heightening customer curiosity. Or alternately, align yourself with an affluent audience utilizing a BBC treasure such as Jools Holland to tinkle on the Aldi ivories. Throwing money at creative surprisingly helps change preconceptions.
“Brands tell us who they are, and we accept it.”(Peggy Olson)

– Disperse spend into channels which will challenge opinion and create a new pool of potential shoppers. Interrupt the habitual audiences in a variety of environments to reinforce the proposition. 2015 has seen Iceland put regional press on ice, reduce investment in the red tops and see further presence in mid-market titles such as the Daily Mail. They’ve also entered new territory via the Metro and London Evening Standard with their trend driven pulled pork products as opposed to their classic 90’s nouveau riche king prawn party rings.
“If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.” (Don Draper)

– The mass marketing delivers the footfall but the investment hasn’t stopped there with the foreign discounters also forking out for in-store revamps, unsurprisingly starting with their sites situated in wealthier conurbations. The advertising pitch needs to transpire in store to aid with the long term game and to generate the jackpot, advocacy.
“One never knows how loyalty is born.” (Bert Cooper)

Combined with these tactics have been wider market influences which have also contributed to the further fragmentation of the supermarket scene;

– Consumer backlash towards a dehumanized Tesco, relentlessly expanding at the cost of local businesses. There was a resistance to a monopoly landscape, people want choice which in 2015 is certainly what they’ve got.

– The joyous arrival of the recession in 2008 meant that loyalty became diluted and accelerated the opportunity. There were, however, discounter casualties with the likes Kwiksave slipping into administration due to competitor NPD of own brand, and the big four slashing prices across the board.

– Neigh! Who fancies horse lasagne for tea? The 2013 scandal increased the demand for fresh over processed produce, which saw Aldi bring in their weekly fresh meat special buys.

Our no frills German friends have been players in the UK market for over 20 years but they’ve seized the opportunity to take their combined share to 9% compared to 5.4% stake only three years ago. Their original proposition hasn’t fundamentally changed, but now it’s socially acceptable, it’s time to jump ship and dabble with the discounters!