Prepare your PPC for the Winter Holidays

Ian O'Rourke Posted by Ian O'Rourke

Want to capture traffic from holidaymakers looking for a winter break? Take advantage of lead-time booking, top keywords, and an erratic market.

Though most people travel during the summer holidays, a significant number skip town in winter in search of warmer weather. How can you optimise your PPC to dominate the feisty competition over visitor traffic at this time of year?

Holiday Planners

As reported by Klara Stover on Bing, 50% of travellers book their holidays more than a month in advance, an unsurprising figure given the lower prices that come with booking early. This trend dictates that advertisers maintain a large PPC presence from early November through the end of February.

Even though many people plan ahead, some customers do still prefer to book at the last minute. According to Stover, 17% of all travelers make reservations the week of their flight and 10% book only eight to fourteen days ahead of time.

With this in mind, let’s check out the most popular keywords for the winter holidays.

Key(words) to Success


The graph above illustrates the yearly traffic rates for several keywords. Though the graph shows that most searches occur in late autumn and winter, there are several smaller swells of traffic at the end of summer and in early and mid-autumn.

The most powerful keyword is “winter sun,” with 8,500 clicks at its peak. The success of “winter sun” at the end of November suggests that travellers are sharing a “get me out of here” response to our British winter!

The second best-performing keyword is “winter sun holidays,” peaking at 3,500 clicks in late December and reaching comparatively high levels during the summer. “Winter sun destinations” takes third place, with 2,000 hits starting in October and holding steady through the end of the calendar year.

Learn from the Best in the Business

SOVLet’s now look at the performances of the top holiday providers. We’ve established that the best time for bookings runs from late autumn through the end of winter. Thomas Cook comes in with the highest Share of Voice (SOV) metric for this period, with a SOV ranging from 25 to 30%.

On the Beach, however, grabs the lead in January, at the same time that “winter sun holidays” surpassed “winter sun” as the most powerful industry keyword. While On the Beach then dominates the summer traffic swell, the two providers once again swap places after that.

The clicks for both providers drop away almost completely during slower periods.

On the Beach gets the most clicks for the “winter sun holidays” keyword, with Thomas Cook close behind. When the traffic for this keyword peaks in December and July, the SOVs for the two top players predictably surge.SOV2

You’ll notice that Low Cost Holidays took nearly 30% of the SOV for the “winter sun holidays” keyword in March. Though this feat seems impressive, keep in mind that SOV is proportional: A big share of a small pool of traffic will be overrepresented on the graph.

The traffic on February 28th, for example, came in at around 800 clicks, so Low Cost Holidays would have garnered only around 260 clicks. However, on November 30th, Low Cost Holidays garnered 15% of the day’s 3,500 clicks, or around 520 clicks in total.

Even though the provider didn’t dominate the SOV in November, it still gained more clicks than it did at the top of the SOV standings in February and March.

Follow the Customers

Thomas Cook and On the Beach came out on top partly because they saved their PPC pennies while traffic was low. The data shows that with this sort of erratic traffic, it’s better to be a small fish in a big pond, and that good things come to those who track the seasonality of their customers’ desires.

At the same time, keep in mind that getting a click isn’t the same as getting a booking. Getting visitors to your site is a great thing, but it’s better to pay for a click that will actually result in a conversion. And a great way to increase conversions is to optimise your internet presence at a time when people are likelier to book. Pile on the marketing at the right time, and the bookings will follow!

If you’re having a hard time parsing through all the data and figuring out the right time and place to target your digital marketing campaigns, Adthena’s tools can guide you through the statistical minutiae of obscure markets and recommend the best use of your company’s resources.

(Main image credit: roger blake/Flickr)

About the author

Ian O'Rourke
Ian O'Rourke
Ian is the CEO and Founder of Adthena. He has been involved in technology businesses and start-ups for over 22 years and has built businesses across the globe including in Silicon Valley, London, Australia and Taiwan. Ian has grown Adthena since 2012 to its current position as the premier global provider of competitive intelligence. Ian likes to foster a culture of great products, getting things done, responsibility, freedom and continuous improvement.