How to prepare Google Ads campaigns for the sales season – Google Retail Academy

Article preview: From this article you will find out what are the Google search trends during Black Friday, how to prepare your Google Ads campaigns for the sales season and what optimizations you should have developed for the mobile version of your online store.

The best time of year for online stores is approaching, and in order to make the most of it, it is good to have a marketing strategy developed as early as possible.

The Google Retail Academy event took place last week, bringing together the most important online stores in Romania that were able to find out the main ways in which they can increase their sales this year with the help of Google Ads. We participated as trainers in the Google Ads – Advanced Search Strategies module, and in this article we gathered the most important ideas from the event.

Google Trends

  • 45% of people plan to buy something during Black Friday, and Romanians’ interest for this event is growing every year in Google searches, both on that specific day and in the following days. Therefore, it is a good idea to let the campaigns work in the days following Black Friday.
  • About 68% of all Black Friday Google searches are coming from mobile phones, so pay close attention to mobile traffic monitoring.
  • Users tend to search for generic keywords in the days leading up to Black Friday, and their behaviour changes 1-2 days before the event, when they search directly for the name of a particular brand / online store. Make sure you have coverage on your own brand.
  • Most searches are in the fashion and home categories. If you belong to one of these categories, it is recommended to have a DSA campaign active (but be careful how you optimize it) to capture as many searches as possible.
  • Below are the most popular stores during Black Friday.

Advanced Google Ads techniques – Search

Creating keywords list

Or keyword mining. This is the first step in creating new campaigns. Start with keywords that have worked in previous years and add search terms that have brought you conversions. In addition, review the offers on the website, in case you added new products / categories compared to last year, and make sure everything is included in the current campaigns.


You probably know about the countdowns or the ad promotion extension features, so we won’t discuss this matter. Google is also testing new ad formats (more headline and description fields are already available in the accounts). Basically, Google is slowly moving to Responsive Search Ads, an interesting ad format that we already have the opportunity to test on international accounts. Here’s what it looks like:

Audience Lists

Search campaigns have taken a completely different level with the ability to add and bid on audience lists. If until recently we analysed the performance of a keyword and we were tempted to stop it because it did not convert, now we can optimize the results with the help of specific audience lists on which to run the campaign.

What are the best audience lists? It depends on the specifics of the store and on the recurrence of users. You can try standard lists based on the activity on your website (visitors from the last 30/60/90/540 days; users who have added products to the cart etc.). In addition, you can create lists based on in-market audiences with which users who convert to your site have the highest affinity. Here is an example:

Smart Bidding

If you’ve been working with Google Ads for a while now, you’ve probably come across terms like “machine learning” or “Smart Bidding.” Basically, Google takes many factors into account when deciding on the amount to be paid per click, so that it meets the target set according to the chosen bidding strategy. The main types of bidding strategies are:

In e-commerce we work very often with target CPA and target ROAS, and to implement them Google recommends at least 30 conversions in the last 30 days for target CPA and at least 50 conversions for target ROAS. In reality, it would take at least double the number for good performance. How do you choose the optimal target? Very simple: either take the average cost per conversion from the last 30 days, or go along with the value recommended by Google. Most of the time they are similar (if everything is set correctly in the account).

Once you’ve started a Smart Bidding campaign, give it time to learn for a few days and don’t interfere with changes or bid adjustments. First of all, you will extend the campaign’s learning period. Second, you will be interfering with the system, and Google’s recommendation is not to make any adjustments to your target CPA or target ROAS optimized campaigns.

Dynamic Search Ads Campaigns (DSA)

Keep it as an accessory to your account, but be careful what kind of optimizations you apply. For example: avoid attracting as search terms keywords that you are already bidding on, use a feed or content exclusions to avoid taking into account pages with out-of-stock products in your campaigns. Also, try to set either a target CPA or a target ROAS on your DSA campaign, as you will have much better results.


If you’ve already reached a slightly more advanced level in Google Ads, then you can use scripts or AdWords Editor to faster complete certain tasks on your account. Don’t forget the automated rules, which can save you a lot of time.


Once the sales period is over, make sure you’ve stopped all specific ads and adjusted your budgets, audience lists, and keyword matching types according to the new strategy.

Advanced Google Ads techniques – Display

  • Prepare the audience lists you want to use this year for Black Friday or Christmas and develop banners and graphic materials. Try to have at least one responsive format in each group and make sure you prepare your campaigns ahead of time because the banner approval can take several days.
  • Smart Display campaigns: we have spectacular results in the accounts we manage (comparable to the performance in Search, incredible, isn’t it?). We recommend that you test them.

Dynamic Remarketing Campaigns: be smart about it, select the right remarketing lists, create at least one responsive ad, and make sure your product feed is working. Also, make sure to increase your campaign budgets during Black Friday, so that you are not limited by this issue.

Mobile optimizations

  • It seems that the stress brought by a page that is not loading is comparable to that brought by a horror movie. 
  • Upload speed is officially a criterion for indexing responsive pages in Google.
  • Basic optimizations: Click to call, real time validation implemented on forms, try to make it easy to complete the purchase from another device (save cart, send by email), place the search bar at the top of the page, in the centre.
  • A useful guide on Mobile UX for retail can be found below.

About Optimized

At Optimized we are specialized in e-commerce PPC campaigns (Google Ads and Facebook Ads). Unlike other local agencies, our portfolio only includes online stores and our approach is based on clear performance objectives (CPA, ROAS). Our team consists of PPC specialists and certified Google trainers, as well as people with hands-on experience in e-commerce.

Our strategies are not generic, but strictly applied to e-commerce. We work with stores that want to profitably scale PPC campaigns, with clear objectives, aware that marketing is an investment.