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Targeting Paid-Search Ads, Videos Pays Off On Thanksgiving Day

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with walnuts became one of my favorite recipes after searching online for a different type of dessert that would allow me to taste chocolate and get nutritional benefits from oatmeal. The good ones actually use less sugar and butter and more oatmeal. Rather than print out the recipe, I pull up the directions on my iPhone to follow along. Apparently I'm not alone, according to Google. Interestingly, the idea to use the Web as recipe box gives consumer product goods brands an opportunity to cross target paid-search ads to cooks looking for specific ingredients or cooking times and instructions for side dishes and main meals.

Since the Web has become the definitive guide for would-be chefs to learn and master recipes, expect many cooks to have a smartphone in hand this holiday. Some 44% of recipe searches came from mobile on Thanksgiving Day last year, per Google. With more than a week to go, searches already are trending higher. McCormick took note of the trend and creates and promotes recipes such as Leftover Turkey Chowder and the Ultimate Leftover Turkey Panini.

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And there's nothing better than voice search when hands are caked with flower. It turns out that one in four adults use voice search while cooking, per Google. "Okay, Google, how many tablespoons in a gallon?" or "Okay, Google, how long should I cook a 12-pound turkey and at what degrees?"

For each of the past three years, searches for "leftover recipes" hit an annual high three days after Thanksgiving, per Google Trends. During the Thanksgiving season it makes sense for turkey-related items to rise, but following turkey day cookies recipes begin to spike. Year over year, searches for dessert recipes continue to grow three times faster than searches for turkey recipes in November, and 25% of all cookie recipe searches happen in December, per Google Trends.

As a cook I make sure to have all the ingredients in advance to make a shopping list, but almost always need to redo the search for the recipe the day I make the meal. Despite the fact that recipe searches spike the day of the meal on Thanksgiving Day, few marketers run campaigns on the holiday. It leaves a big opportunity for some forward-thinking brands to reach consumers in their key moment of need.

Searches for Thanksgiving recipes start around the beginning of September and peak on Thanksgiving Day. There are twice as many searches for recipes during the week of Thanksgiving than during the average week. Recipe searches peak on Sundays throughout the year, but few advertisers take advantage of consumer interest on the actual holiday or event day, per Google.

Targeting paid-search ads should become a strategic plan on the actual holiday -- especially when trying to reach consumers who forgot someone on their shopping list and need to go back to the store. While there are universal food stables on Thanksgiving, how consumers prepare them differs by location. Think also about targeting ads to consumers who will begin their online holiday shopping Thanksgiving Day.

Brining turkey is the most popular preparation for turkey this year -- up 22% compared with 2013, especially in the Northwest, per Google Trends. Frying is most popular in the South, smoking in the Midwest, and roasting in the Northeast. Among pies, pumpkin is most popular across the country. Apple pie tops the list in Vermont, pecan and lemon meringue in Mississippi, and cherry in Wisconsin. (My dessert table will have good old pumpkin and apple, along with homemade ice cream.)

Google also put together a cookbook calendar based on online searches. In January we're made aware of high searches for Paleo and vegan diets, along with exercise routines and fried foods. During February there are nine times more searches for buffalo wing-related stuff during the day of the Super Bowl. Searches for Easter side dishes peak four days before the holiday, and more searches rise in April for juice, fish, and detox cleanses.

How will you cook your turkey and what garnishes will fill the table? 

1 comment about "Targeting Paid-Search Ads, Videos Pays Off On Thanksgiving Day".
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  1. Mark F Simmons from Mixed Digital - #SmartData Consulting, November 20, 2014 at 9:45 a.m.

    Thank you for this write up. It certainly makes sense that as consumers make a shift in the way they use a marketing medium, we as marketers must take notice and adapt. I'm curious to hear your thoughts on the broader Holiday season and e-commerce as it relates to paid search. I'd also like to hear more on what you've observed with regards to video.

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