It’s that time of year again. Office parties, boozy lunches and Hans Gruber plunging to his death from Nakatomi Plaza. Agency life in a nutshell, really.

paid search christmas

“Welcome to the party pal…”

If you’re like most well-adjusted human beings, this time of year probably brings joy and excitement; the satisfaction of one year ending combined with festivities ushering in a new one. If, however, you’re a cynical, empty husk like myself then it’s possible the Christmas shutdown brings with it a sense of existential dread as you contemplate that the office skeleton crew will be characteristically staffed by manifestations of Murphy’s law.

Tim Minchin ever so eloquently described the Australian Christmas experience in his song, ‘White Wine in the Sun’ — 6.5 minutes of absolute joy to make even the most Dickensian villain warm-and-fuzzy inside. Grab onto that moment in your brain. Now imagine it being interrupted by an angry phone call from a client because those ads didn’t go live like they were supposed to.

Yep. I’ve been screamed at by a client over the phone on Christmas Day. Not my proudest moment.

My Dad always said you should try and learn from other people’s mistakes; it’s cheaper. So, in the true spirit of Christmas, I am hereby going to sacrifice myself on the altar of altruism and share some of the lessons I’ve learned from getting things wrong in search.

Save yourself some grief and double-check your schedules

An industry untouched by seasonality is rare indeed, so chances are good your clients will be closing shop at this time of year.

Do your campaigns have to come down? When do they have to go back up? Are there seasonal ads that need to be activated & swapped out on specific days? Are you absolutely sure that the automations you’ve set to manage this will do exactly what they’re supposed to when you need them? Are your media budgets configured ahead of time?

Trust is ultimately the cornerstone of client retention. Nothing quite undermines that like promising to do something and failing to deliver. Ouch.

Do yourself a favour and make certain your account will behave the way it should when you’re not behind the wheel.

Prevent the New-Years’ hangover with data exclusion events

If you’re using algorithmic bid optimisation, one of the things you may not be aware of is data exclusion events. Platforms like Kenshoo and Doubleclick have the capability to exclude specific date ranges from consideration in the optimisation algorithm, which means you can tell the machine driving your CPC bids to ignore the 4 weeks from mid-December through mid-January because you know results will be poor.

This prevents your campaigns from losing ground while the market slows down around you, and lets you hit the ground running when things pick back up and your competitors’ algorithms are still crawling out of bed and wondering why their alarms didn’t go off.

Clear the decks ahead of time so you can enjoy your holiday

It’s an occupational hazard in real-time digital media that you may have to occasionally respond to things when you’re supposed to be off the clock. Sinking hours into work when you could have your feet up by the pool can be absolute misery.

The only thing worse than downing tools for a few weeks and returning to a pile of work you could have finished earlier, is coming back to discover a pile of work you should have finished earlier; making your first task upon returning to the office a whole bunch of firefighting with angry customers. Save yourself the headache and put in the hours now so you don’t have to when you could be playing backyard cricket instead.

Establish a rollout-freeze for your clients

If you’re the unlucky bastard who gets to hold down the fort while everyone else wears ugly shorts and enjoys drinks with umbrellas in them (that’s what humans do, right?), you know what’s coming. Your colleagues saddle you with their accounts and give you a hastily scribbled set of handover notes. If you’re lucky, you’ll know what you have to check and when – most of the time the detail in these notes is lighter and a touch more ambiguous than it should be.

Give your clients plenty of notice that your agency will be unable to process/launch any new activity that hasn’t been briefed in by a certain date. This will do 2 important things;

  • Take pressure off you to execute build work and launches in accounts that may be unfamiliar.
  • Allow you to perform your role as caretaker on all the other accounts you need to babysit.

Remember that it’s important to unplug

Whether you have the holiday season off or you’re working through, remember to find some time for what matters most. Whether it’s family, travel abroad or simply you-time, remember that we’re here for a good time, not a long time.

The Indago Digital team wishes you a happy and safe end-of-year non-denominational celebratory period. May the arbitrary exchange of gift items bring you contentment.

About Phil O'Connor

Phil O’Connor (Searchinae Peculiaris).Mammal: Digital Performance Manager for indago digital in Sydney, Australia; has been at the forefront of technological & tactical innovation of the search industry since 2007.Natural habitat: Reddit. Can be found occasionally in whisky bars. Hibernates in winter.Diet: Steady intake of marketing industry content. Crippling dependency on ham & cheese croissants.
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