For many marketers, advertising for the holidays doesn’t really get off the ground until Black Friday, or even later. But every savvy marketer knows that campaigns should really get up and running months before December rolls around. We wanted to help prove this point to marketers so we dove into our internal data and found something pretty surprising. Contrary to what we had originally believed, the total number of ad impressions served for our customers began to dip the closer we got to the end of the year. Here’s a breakdown of how:



Believe it or not, the summer months are a great time to get your brand out in front of your customers and establish an identity that will see dividends paid once the holidays draw near.

August is actually the beginning of the end of cheap advertising when it comes to running holiday campaigns. When looking at our own data, we noticed that the cost for ads slowly started to rise through the end of the calendar year right before Labor Day. The benefit here is that these CPMs are still quite a bit lower than they’ll be for marketers in November and December. Even better, the total number of impressions served for ads is running at a very high and steady rate.


September is when summer days start to wind down, but performance certainly doesn’t. As you can see above, the total number of impressions served really starts to peak in the second half of the year during September—holding out at this increased rate through Halloween. When pulling our internal data, we also noticed that most campaigns saw their click-through rates (CTR) increase around Labor Day. This calendar really emphasizes the necessity to begin your holiday marketing campaigns sooner rather than later. In fact, 20% of Americans start their holiday shopping by mid-September. There really is no better time to start than the present.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Nearly 20% of Americans start their holiday shopping by mid-September. #holidays #adroll #marketing” quote=”Nearly 20% of Americans start their holiday shopping by mid-September”]


October is the make-or-break month for holiday campaigns. This is the last month before digital marketing goes off the charts. CPMs and CPCs rise significantly—with November seeing 18% higher rates than the month before. You can also see that the number of impressions served starts to steadily decline. At AdRoll, we actually noticed that the total number of impressions served for marketers can decrease the later in the year it gets. One possible reason for this is that there is a lot more competition for any remnant ad space on the sites that your potential customers are visiting. To make sure your ads are breaking through the holiday marketing noise, it’s best to run them before Halloween.

[clickToTweet tweet=”CPMs and CPCs are 18% higher in November than the month before. #holidaymarketing #adroll #planearly ” quote=”CPMs and CPCs are 18% higher in November than the month before.”]

So, we’re now aware that there are a lot of advantages that come from the high amount of impressions served in early fall. But how do you take advantage of this great performance? The simple answer is to run Prospecting campaigns.

What is Prospecting?

Prospecting is an upper-funnel marketing tactic that aims to find and drive new, high-quality visitors to your site. When running a Prospecting campaign, it’s important to use a vendor like AdRoll that can find users who mirror the customers who have already purchased products or services from your brand. These campaigns can be run across the web and social media, like Facebook and Instagram.

So, how does Prospecting work?

This part is pretty simple. Prospecting leverages your own website’s customer data to find audiences that act like your converted users, which in turn drives the highest value new users possible.

Why should I run Prospecting for my holiday campaigns?

Because what’s better than gaining new customers and driving more holiday sales? Prospecting is the flat-out simplest way to grow your online customer base. In fact, AdRoll has driven 30 million net new visitors to our customers’ sites. These Prospecting customers will act as a continuous stream of new visitors that can supercharge your retargeting campaigns when it matters most—during the holiday shopping season. 

Once we compiled all of this data, it became pretty clear that every marketer should not only be running Prospecting campaigns, they should be doing it now. To help get your Prospecting campaigns off the ground, check out our full holiday marketing calendar. We even let you plug it straight into your Google calendar so you can be reminded exactly when to take advantage of great holiday marketing performance.

Want even more insider tips for how to make your holiday season as successful as possible? Check out our eBook, calendar, e-commerce checklist here.