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Seasonal Spotlights: Valentine’s Day

A couple smiles whilst hugging each other on a couch.

Welcome to our ‘Seasonal Spotlights’ series, where we explore the potential of seasonal moments for your (search) advertising campaigns. In this edition, we’ll focus on Valentine’s Day. You’ll learn about the popularity of Valentine’s Day in various markets, the best time to target consumers who are planning to spend money, and how to do so effectively with Microsoft Advertising.

Valentine’s Day in Europe and North America

Let’s start with some trivia. Whilst planning this blog post, I wondered where Valentine’s Day came from, so I asked Copilot. What I learned is that Valentine’s Day has its roots in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated in mid-February to mark the beginning of spring and fertility. The festival was later Christianised and renamed after Saint Valentine, a Christian martyr who was executed for secretly marrying couples in ancient Rome. There are several legends surrounding Saint Valentine, but the most popular one is that he fell in love with his jailer’s daughter whilst imprisoned and sent her a letter signed ‘From your Valentine’ before his execution. According to Wikipedia, “the day became associated with romantic love in the 14 and 15 centuries when notions of courtly love flourished, apparently by association with the ‘love birds’ of early spring. In 18th-century England, it grew into an occasion for couples to express their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines").”

In our current times, Valentine’s Day is certainly widely celebrated. The National Retail Federation asked consumers last year if they were planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day. The answer was ‘yes!’. These are the percentages of consumers per market that were planning to give a gift or experience, such as an evening out or concert tickets:

  • US: 52% the population
  • Canada: 59% of the population
  • United Kingdom: 76% of the population
  • France: 35% of the population
  • Germany: 18% of the population

It goes without saying that this popularity provides opportunities for advertisers who want to target these lovebirds with gift ideas or experiences.

Am I too late?

Valentine’s Day related searches generally start to increase right after Christmas and peak in the days leading up to February 14. The same goes for clicks. Compared to last year, early January clicks were up by 5%.

The search journey of Valentine’s Day shoppers is influenced by both brand and non-brand search queries. Users are most likely to start their journey with non-brand search queries, and as they move through their journey, the percentage of non-brand searches increases to nearly 70%.

Most Valentine’s Day conversions in February start with clicks in January and December. According to our data, 62% of Valentine’s Day conversions in February start with clicks that happened in December (9%) and January (53%). As users convert, there's an even distribution between brand and non-brand conversions. This means that you need to target both non-brand and brand search queries to maximise your conversions.

If you haven’t created your Valentine’s Day campaigns yet, rest assured that you’re not too late. After all, 38% of Valentine’s Day conversions will start with a click in February. In other words, there’s no better moment to start your Valentine’s Day campaigns than today!

What makes this year different?

Traditionally, Valentine’s Day drives sales for products like candy, greeting cards, flowers, jewellery, gift cards, gift boxes, and experiences (like a night out).

At the start of this year’s Valentine’s Day ramp up in January, we noticed some emerging trends for this year:

  • Branded searches are trending up: Search queries that include well-known flower shops and gifting stores are trending up, so don’t forget to include branded keywords in your Valentine’s Day campaigns.
  • Shoppers are looking for value: More people are searching for price sensitive terms like discount, cheap, coupons, promo code in their gifting queries. Make sure you include these and adapt your ad copy.
  • Shopping local is popular: Floral and gift basket searches that include city/state, delivery to, near me, local, are rising fast. Activate call extensions and location extensions to target these local shoppers.
  • Consumers are looking for ideas: More people are using search queries like ‘Valentine’s gift ideas’, ‘Valentine’s inspiration’, and ‘gifts ideas for him/her’. Include these in your campaigns and group your products or experiences on your website on a dedicated Valentine’s Day page.
  • Superlatives are popular: Gifting queries that include superlatives like best, top rated, perfect, largest are up in January. Include these queries and update your ad copy.

How can I target shoppers?

To capitalise on this seasonal opportunity, we advise advertisers to at least update their Shopping campaigns and Multimedia Ads and activate Local Inventory Ads, especially when the cut-off dates for shipping are getting close.

We also advise to:

  • Activate Audience ads alongside search ads to drive lifts in clicks and conversions.
  • Capture higher click-through rates (CTRs) and conversions by increasing your cost per click (CPC) bids to remain competitive during this high traffic period.
  • Increase your search term coverage through Dynamic Search Ads, which use your website’s content to serve ads on users’ queries that aren’t part of your keyword list.
  • Use automated bidding to drive conversions and save time during this seasonal lift in traffic.
  • Highlight same-day delivery, exclusive offers, and personalised gifts with Callout Extensions.
  • Refresh your ad copy and creative ahead of Valentine’s Day, to promote limited edition products, discounts, or gift sets.
  • Leverage broad match to capture the projected increase in volume.
  • Use Multimedia Ads, which run alongside existing text ads, to highlight your offerings.
  • Reach audiences who are looking to buy gifts for their loved ones with In-market audiences. Simply apply the Valentine’s Day Shoppers In-market audience to your campaigns:
    • Search ads: Apply to top performing campaigns and ad groups on search campaigns with “bid only” targeting and a bid-boost of 20%. Adjust as you evaluate the performance.
    • Audience ads: Create a new campaign with these audiences set to “target and bid” to showcase your brand and Valentine’s Day offers to potential customers.

And once your campaigns are running and leading to conversions, it’s time to honour Saint Valentine with a gift or card for your own loved ones, signed with your name or more mysteriously with ‘Your Valentine’, just like he did.

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