Q4 PPC Planning: eCommerce Search/Display/Shopping Tactics

This is the perfect time to begin prepping for Q4. Last year we saw so much uncertainty around just life in general, but that brought us many different learnings.

When it comes to holiday shopping, if we learned anything from 2020, consumers are going to shop online more than ever, and they are going to start early.

Personally, my holiday shopping last year ended up being a disaster.  There were delays with many shipping companies which led to some of my gifts not arriving on time or even at all. I was not alone. With that, I suspect consumers will start shopping even earlier this year to avoid the panic and stress of procrastination.

Also, last year we saw many retailers close their brick and mortar stores on Thanksgiving or Black Friday and shift to all online tactics.  I predict we will see something similar this year, which will make this a massive increase in the eCommerce space. If you are in the eCommerce industry, the time is now to begin your strategy to tackle your Q4 goals.

Here are some helpful tips and tricks to get you started.

Shopping Campaigns

You know how important shopping campaigns are to driving revenue.  In Q4, expect competition to be high.  Before the busy season hits, it is important to get a couple of things out of the way now:

1. Optimize Your Feed

Make sure your feed is fully optimized and ready to support high volume. Think of it as the ad copy of shopping campaigns. With the new free listings while on Google, your feed is going to decide where and if you show.      

2. Utilize Promotions

Leverage promotions to help entice users to shop with you. Develop a promo calendar and get all of them loaded into Google Merchant center ahead of time!  

Shopify recommends experimenting with different deals and try some discounts that increase as customers add more to their cart. As a consumer myself, I am all about promotions; I rarely buy without some sort of incentive. If you don’t advertise a promotion, you may have customers leave your site to look for a promo code and end up buying from a competitor.  

3. Test Automation

The busy holiday time is not the ideal time to test something like Smart Shopping campaigns or automated bidding, but now is!  This will give the algorithm the time it needs to learn and adapt accordingly.  Smart Shopping campaigns allow you to drive new customers while also dynamically remarket to users. Automated bidding with these campaigns will also help you win more auctions as competition picks up for Q4 instead of relying on bid adjustments after you have already lost the auction. You are also able to use additional images in these campaigns, and let’s face it, your product image may be one of the most important parts of your shopping ad.

4. Budgets

Make sure you have a hefty Q4 budget reserved.  Expect your CPCs to rise and for competition to pick up. Start front-loading your budget for the end of Q3/start of Q4 to ensure you can win auctions.    

Search Campaigns

Similar to shopping campaigns, you need to find creative ways to stand out in a highly competitive landscape.  Here are some things to consider:

1. Promotions

Remember those promotions you put into your shopping campaigns?  Make sure you also utilize promotion extensions as well as ad copy that highlights your promotions. I also recommend uploading these all ahead of time and use ad labels to enable and pause your ads automatically. This will help speed things up when it comes to getting your ads approved before you really need them to show. When it comes to ad copy, I recommend highlighting the holiday/deal so users know they cannot get this deal any time of the year. 

2. Audiences

I am a fan of adding in some additional audiences around Black Friday/Holiday, etc shoppers into your search campaigns (as observations) now to see how they perform and if you need to start adding in some adjustments where necessary.

3. Competitor Research

Once we get closer to Q4, make sure you do some competitor research. Look at what kind of promotions your top competitors are running and make sure you have deals that are enticing to beat the competition.

4. Automated Bidding

Similarly to shopping campaigns, now is the time to begin testing automated bidding, if you have not already. This will help you have a solid plan in place before the rush.

5. Remarketing Campaigns

If you aren’t already utilizing remarketing campaigns for search, you should.  This can help you include some broader keywords but limit them to past site visitors, for instance, to help bring costs down.


To help your business develop a strategy that encompasses the user from their first touchpoint to their last, consider budgeting for some display campaigns.

1. Discovery

Discovery campaigns on Google are a great test to try that can reach users across the Discover feed, Youtube, and Gmail.  I have had success with using these for both prospecting and remarketing to help drive traffic and sales. Any top-of-funnel efforts will also boost up remarketing pools. If you already have strong creative assets you use across social media, this is a great place to use them as well.

2. Remarketing

Make sure you have appropriate budgets to use for remarketing to drive purchases. Here are some of our favorite remarketing tips to get you started.


The most important part of your strategy needs to be your plan. Get your content, promotions, and budgets arranged now. Q4 is not a time to ‘set it and forget it.’ Make sure your plan includes constant check-ins and adjustments to your bid/budget to ensure you are showing. Don’t forget to leverage your strategy across all platforms, like Facebook!

This is part of our Q4 PPC Planning series. Check out our other posts: