3 ways to get the most out of your Christmas ads this December

by Cameron McMaster
December 10, 2020

Christmas is just around the corner, and our feeds are filled with digital donation appeals.

Our Instagram feed in December 2019

If you’re running a digital campaign, the work doesn’t stop once you hit ‘go’ on your ads. You must also optimise your ads on a regular basis, ideally daily.

Optimising means tweaking things like budgets, audiences or advertising creative to hit your advertising objectives—whether that is to reach as many people as possible, to drive people to your website or to get people to donate to you this Christmas.

Here are three optimisations to maximise your impact this giving season:

1. Spend more after mid-December

If your ads aren’t performing right away, don’t fret! Christmas is a crowded time in the ad market. Lots of brands are wanting people to buy their things.

Luckily, not-for-profits have an advantage. The product you sell (donations) isn’t physical, so it doesn’t rely on shipping times. Ecommerce retailers have an ‘end date’ to their advertising—they usually stop advertising around mid-December so that their products arrive before December 25. This is something to take advantage of.

Consider phasing your budgets so that you spend 40-50% of your budget up until mid-December (around December 16), and then the rest in the final week of Christmas. Your ads will show up in more places thanks to the decreased competition.

Here’s how to do this on Facebook:

  1. Set the budget at a campaign level (the folder icon) by making sure you have ‘campaign budget optimisation’ switched on:

  2. At the ad set level (where you set your audiences and ad timing), adjust your end date to when you would like to ramp up your budget (for example, December 16)

  3. When you reach that date and time, jump back into your ads, increase the budget on the campaign level so that it is equal to your total budget, and have your ads run until December 25

2. Use A/B tests to find the best creative

A/B tests will make sure you’ve got the best creative for Christmas. This is where two versions of your ads are shown to different segments of your audience to see which one performs best. The ‘winning’ creative should then be used for the rest of the campaign.

Facebook has an in-built A/B testing feature:

  1. When setting up your campaign, hit ‘Get Started’ under A/B test. Build out your campaign as normal.

  2. When you hit ‘Publish’ on your campaign, you can choose which variable to test against. Select from the options available to you (such as image, video, ad text or audiences) or build your own test using ‘Custom’.

  3. Make sure to test your test schedule (this is different to your ad schedule) and budget, as well as the metric that will be used to determine the winner. Facebook will also provide you with an ‘estimated test power’ — this is how confident they are that your test will give you accurate results. Adjust your budget, schedule and metric so that it is at least above 80%.

  4. Your campaign test will be duplicated and the test will run until your test end date.

We’ve already run some creative tests this Christmas—can you guess which one won?

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3. Include the impact of the donation in your messaging

Not-for-profits are selling a promise: of clean water, a research breakthrough or an end to poverty. Your advertising creative must communicate this clearly and demonstrate the impact you have already made.

A rule of thumb is to always make sure you put the focus on the donor or recipient, not the organisation. That means you should steer clear of saying ‘Donate to [charity]’ and instead say ‘Donate to make sure a child doesn’t go hungry’, or you should say ‘Give life’ instead of ‘Give money’. These are subtle changes in messaging, but important.

We wrote an article including how to nail your Christmas messaging here. You can make these changes directly in your ads manager, and when in doubt, test the message that works best using A/B testing.

The key to maximising the effectiveness of your digital advertising is to optimise regularly—keep checking in on your ads and making adjustments like the ones above. Good luck and happy holidays!