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Facebook advertising planning for Christmas – PART 1

I hear you! Christmas, CHRISTMAS?! Yep that’s right, it may be summer but now is the time to start thinking about the festive season and how you’re going to start planning Facebook ads to make the most out of advertising during this period.

In part one of this series, we will look at planning and preparation.

STEP 1:  5 – 6 months in advance (NOW!)

Lay the foundations

  • Evaluate your tech needs – what we mean by this is look at your Facebook pixel, catalogues and tracking. Are they working effectively and do you need to make any optimisations for campaigns such as dynamic ads?
  • Test and learn campaigns – you should be using AB split testing to determine what delivery and creative methods are working the best for you before the season kicks on so you are using the best ad strategies for your business. Here’s some things you could test:
    • Do automatic placements improve conversion rates and cost?
    • Which bidding strategy drives higher conversion volume?
    • How should I consolidate audiences with campaign budget optimisation?
    • Which create concepts resonate with key audiences?
    • Which discount strategies are most effective?
    • Do creative overlays improve conversion rates?
    • Should I add static brand assets to dynamic creative?

STEP 2: 3 months to go

Build your audience 

Start to generate interest in your product with prospecting campaigns and pre-awareness holiday campaigns: 

  • Brand awareness campaigns: Sometimes businesses stay away from using the brand awareness objectives as they are not optimised for ‘conversions’. However, brand awareness campaigns are really important in the run up to big events. By using brand awareness objectives in the run up to a big event, not only does your brand awareness increase, but it increases the intent of the user which in turn decreases the CPA and increases the CTR in the long term.  
  • Broad targeting: The latest motto at Facebook is ‘broader is better’. When I first started doing social ads, I loved using all the interest based targeting to get some lovely niche audiences. However, Facebook’s machine learning has got so good now that it knows who to show your ads to out of all the people in your broad audience. Just because you are targeting 2 million people, does not mean Facebook will try and show your advert to 2 million people! By going broader, I have found that the CPA’s and CPC’s are lower than if I go more specific with targeting. So, don’t be scared of placing your fishing net a little bigger, you could reap the benefits 
  • Lookalike campaigns: If you have not tried a lookalike campaign, then you should! It’s doing the hard work for you, Facebook will look for people that look like your desired audience. For example, you can ask it to look for people who look like your website visitors, purchasers and more. 
  • Dynamic Ads and broad audiences: By using dynamic adverts, you can personalise your ad sets with your product catalogue and different creatives. It’s like each of your dynamic adverts are a helpful sales person, introducing the top products that they know they will like, or reminding them of things they have already shown interest in.

STEP 3: 1 month to go

Ramp it up – Flash sales & stay in touch

The month running up to Christmas is when there are usually flash sales such as Cyber Monday and Black Friday and so this is a great time to really ramp up your prospecting and testing. 

Forward planning is key to making your flash sales work. Facebook say that even for a sale that is only 3-4 days long, they recommend preparing 4-8 weeks in advance. Think about the phases in the run up to the flash sale, every business will have different timelines but here’s a template to consider:

  • 4 weeks in advance – test creatives, acquire new customers through brand awareness and prospecting
  • 2 weeks before – carry on testing and optimising creatives, start remarketing to your audiences, keep yourself top of mind  
  • Sales days – you should know by now which creative has worked the best. Do not touch the adverts otherwise you will reset the learning phase 

STEP 4: The final few weeks

Heavy lifting complete

In the last 4 weeks, most of the heavy lifting has been done. You have already assessed tech needs, tested your delivery & creative strategies and built your audiences. Don’t start changing the adverts during the crucial sales period – keep your adverts out of the learning phase, this will keep the CPA’s down. 

You might want to consider increasing bids and budgets for shopping days and also consider how close you are to the big day. The closer you are to Christmas, consumers are less concerned about price and more concerned about delivery speed and collecting offline. Here, you can leverage creative overlays to highlight expected shipping services, digital gift cards and offline collection services if you offer them.

Another aspect you need to consider during peak is your communication. People increasingly expect to speak to business in the same way they speak to their friends and family. 64% of people prefer messaging to call and email and 1 in 2 people wish they could communicate to more businesses through messaging. Think about your communication channels and how easy it is for consumers to get in contact with you. 


So, we’re finally here, peak holiday season is over, but after all that effort to build brand and find new audiences and drive sales, don’t forget to keep your audience engaged. You could retarget ads to high value holiday purchases with dynamic ads, highlight post holiday sales and introduce new merchandise.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where we will discuss creative considerations!



Google Shopping Update

Google is making the majority of product listings in the Shopping tab FREE for merchants!

**UPDATED 5th October 2020**

From Mid October 2020, it will be free to list your products in Google Shopping in the UK and Europe through the Merchant Centre.

Beginning next week, search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google. With hundreds of millions of shopping searches on Google each day, we know that many retailers have the items people need in stock and ready to ship, but are less discoverable online.

For retailers, this change means free exposure to millions of people who come to Google every day for their shopping needs. For shoppers, it means more products from more stores, discoverable through the Google Shopping tab. For advertisers, this means paid campaigns can now be augmented with free listings. If you’re an existing user of Merchant Center and Shopping ads, you don’t have to do anything to take advantage of the free listings, and for new users of Merchant Center, we’ll continue working to streamline the onboarding process over the coming weeks and months. Link to announcement>


  • Advertisers are now automatically opted in to “surfaces across Google” which means that free listings will be eligible on the Shopping tab. To check, go to the Growth tab in Merchant Centre under Manage Programmes
  • We don’t think that this is actually going to to have a major impact on advertisers since, despite the large volume of listings on the Shopping tag, the majority of Shopping ad clicks come from the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), and this will remain an exclusively paid for ‘surface’
  • There will still be paid listings in the Shopping tab – probably at the top and bottom
    Surfaces across Google


  • The first reason Google is taking this path is in response to the massive gain in product advertising share for Amazon in the last few years.
  • Secondly, it will raise the profile of the Shopping tab, and appeal to consumers as well as advertisers. Potential new advertisers can ‘try before they buy’ and become familiar with the platform before deciding whether to pay for product ads.
  • The change will raise awareness of the Shopping platform
  • Lastly, in Europe at least, it improves Google’s argument that it is opening Shopping to competition, complying with the EU’s competition ruling that saw the company fined $2.4bn in 2017
Google’s own line is that it has introduced the change to help struggling businesses who can’t afford to advertise at scale. They claim to have brought the plans forward in response to current crisis.
We feel that this is a good move in many ways for both consumers, retailers and Google, and it will indeed go some way to combat Amazon’s dominance in product listings.
We will watch with interest to see how the change affects advertisers, and of course we will discuss with our clients individually.


A day in the life of… Josh!

Tell us a bit about yourself…

After spending three years at University in Bristol and graduating with a degree in Business Management, I came back to sunny old Devon to pursue a career in digital marketing. Having spent the last 3 years working as a Digital Manager within a full-service marketing agency, I recently joined the team at Launch Online to further hone my craft and surround myself with fellow PPC geeks!

What’s your job role at Launch Online?

Account Manager, where I’ll usually be working across a wide range of clients which involves analysing and optimising digital activity, ensuring that online marketing efforts are as effective and efficient as possible. Due to current events, my role has changed slightly, where I’m now using my experience in web usability, to provide our clients with valuable insights as to how they can make their customer’s online journey more seamless and ultimately drive more conversions, in what is a difficult time for most businesses.

What would a typical day look like for you?

I’m not sure I’ve come across a typical day yet! First thing, I’ll usually catch up with the rest of the team, and then will begin to crack on with whatever tasks come my way. These can vary from assisting my colleagues, to auditing accounts internally or exploring client websites and researching their competitors. I also always try and put some time aside to learn new skills, and keep up to date with the latest goings-on in the world of PPC. Right now I am learning advanced Google Tag Manager skills!

What is something you look forward to everyday?

Learning something new about the fast-evolving world of digital marketing! Outside of that, it’ll be checking in on performance after making tweaks to a campaign, or finding new ways to improve our clients’ websites.

What do you like most about your job at Launch Online?

The team dynamic is great, and as well as being good fun, provides a strong foundation for creative thinking and new ideas. I’m relishing the opportunity to learn from the rest of the team, who all have their own unique wealth of experience.

How do you wind down after a day at work?

Outside of work, I’ll usually be found kicking a football around, watching a gritty crime drama, eating too much or re-repairing some poorly constructed DIY I’ve already put together at home!

Digital Strategy & Marketing Playbook – Covid-19

Digital Strategy & Marketing Playbook – Covid-19

Now is the time to rely on your business partners and we’re here for you to help. We’ve put together this playbook with helpful advice & ideas on how to approach your digital strategy.

We cover:

  • The Current Challenges
  • The State of the Nation
  • Digital Strategy Industry Insights
  • Channel Insights
  • Website Structure
  • CRO






Staying Positive During a Crisis – Covid-19

5 tips to stay positive, focused and mentally strong

We’re in unfamiliar waters; to experience a threat to both our family and our business, our finances and our freedom, is completely new and terrifying. There are people making knee-jerk decisions from fear, we all need to take a deep breath and just pause.

Mark Twain: “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”

I have a fascination with behavioural psychology; I wish I had studied it at university but for now it is something I try and read and understand, especially as it helps to influence our advertising strategy for clients. I read an interesting brief article in Forbes by Bryan Robinson where he talks about the psychology of uncertainty, giving an overview of why we are responding with panic.

“We’re hardwired to overestimate threats and underestimate your ability to handle them—all in the name of survival. If your brain doesn’t know what’s around the corner, it can’t keep you out of harm’s way. It always assumes the worst, over-personalizes threats and jumps to conclusions

Your mindset during this crisis is everything. Your perspective is the most powerful thing you can control in a situation that is beyond your control. Yes, these disruptions are scary, but fear, panic and worry are not preparation.”

So mindset is everything and we should focus on what we can control.

staying positive during coronavirus

Some tips for staying positive:

I am not an expert but I am a mother, wife, sister, daughter, business owner, mentor and colleague and I am known for my positive vibes. In fact my leaderboard name on Peloton is #always_smiling so it must be right!

1 – Write down or gather a little round up of positive things that are happening – the Coldplay live session on instagram, Joe Wicks inspiring all the kids for live workouts, Gok Wan lounge clubbing…no? just me? Encourage people to share more. These moments are part of the experience and should be celebrated.

2 – Be selective with your news consumption – stick to the media outlets you trust.

3 – Gather your tribe – many of you will be home-working so organise virtual coffees but be strict with the topics – don’t make it a doom and gloom session. Perhaps start every coffee with positive or funny story. Holding a hot drink is proven to make you feel warm and fuzzy. We are loving HouseParty app, you can even play Pictionary with friends on it, in fact my social life has actually improved in isolation!

4 – Prioritise your immediate circle, your family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and clients. If your immediate circle are happy, it will help you be happier and feel more positive.

5 – Working from home can be a challenge so make sure you get organised, work in a nice clean space that is decluttered. Even if it’s an ironing board, make it the best damn ironing board desk there is. Start your communication with colleagues early, with a morning cuppa. We’ve brought our 10@10 earlier to 9@9; once those channels of communication are open then you are more likely to speak to each other more during the day.

What has been very interesting to see are the barriers come down between colleagues and even clients. We’re all in our trackies, we’re all in box rooms and cupboards, we’re all struggling to stop the dog barking…we have a shared camaraderie and a lack of formality. It’s actually really nice.

My final observation is about the future; our children will be experts in online communication, it will be their normal. Will we ever go back to how it was before? I hope we certainly take some of the positives into the new brave world.

Written on 24 March 2020 by Jaye Cowle, Founder of Launch Online, Digital Strategy & Advertising

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