Google, Microsoft Prep Marketers For Holiday Buying Season

For this holiday season, Google and Microsoft are stepping up with ways for brands to reach consumers willing to spend -- from dedicated deals pages on Search to bid strategies for audience ads.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) last week forecast a slower growth rate for holiday spending in 2023, reaching between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion. That total is up between 3% and 4% from the prior year.

Online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, are expected to increase between 7% and 9% -- reaching between $273.7 billion and $278.8 billion. That figure is up from $255.8 billion last year, according to the NRF.

Some 23% of consumers in a Google survey said they procrastinate over holiday gift-giving because deals are hard to find, but the new deals destination on Search aims to make it easier for consumers to decide to make the purchase.

Search still plays a vital role for Google, especially during the end-of-year holidays. A dedicated details page found on its search engine organizes millions of promotions from thousands of brands and retailers in one place. This feature in Chrome and Search can assist marketers in helping consumers keep an eye on prices.



Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales mean more to consumers than just about shopping for holiday gifts. Some 64% of consumers plan to treat themselves, according to a new Shopify-Gallup survey. In fact, 64% plan to buy something for themselves or their household.

Google's deals page will promote products and list markdowns in top holiday categories, such as apparel, electronics, toys and beauty. The deals from a variety of merchants include big-box stores, direct-to-consumer brands, luxury multi-brand retailers, designer labels and local stores.

Consumers simply search shop deals to access the new deals page and start crossing off your holiday list.

Merchants, Google said in a blog post, also can set up discount codes in Chrome for those proactively looking for deals. Merchants can manage where their deals show up across Google in their Merchant Center settings.

Microsoft this month gave advertisers automated bidding strategies on the Microsoft Advertising Network, adding Maximize Conversions and Target Cost per Acquisition (CPA) for all markets where Microsoft Audience Network is available.

The bidding strategy seeks to maximize conversions, even for marketers on a budget, as well as the additional optional guardrails of a maximum Cost per Click (CPC) and a Target CPA. In automated bidding, marketers maintain control to reach performance goals.

Campaigns with less than 30 conversions monthly are likely to see higher volatility, and these bids are exclusively managed on Microsoft Advertising. Enhancements include conversion prediction model accuracy and initial performance monitoring while bidding strategies are still learning.

Setting up Universal Event Tracking (UET) correctly to have a successful bidding strategy remains key. Microsoft has UET testing functions to help add context and give more control over troubleshooting UET tags.

When marketers enter the URL to review UET events status, options become visible, such as Tag not found, No traffic received, Time out, or Receiving Traffic to help monitor UET tag data and test issues that may surface in real time.

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