Data & Insights

9 min

Holiday 2020: By the Numbers

Michelle Meleskie, November 30, 2020

Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, it's time for Amazon advertisers to start thinking about how to maximize the increased traffic expected for the Holiday Season.

We took a look at the 2019 data to help plan for the 2020 Holiday Season and put together the top three most critical takeaways to help inform your strategy through December.

1. Increase target ACOS and Budget early in December, slowly start to reduce starting December 23rd.

Following a brief increase in ACOS the day after Cyber Monday in 2019, ACOS stayed lower during the holiday season than it had been in November, and sales per day increased significantly.

On December 22, sales started to decrease and ACOS started to increase, with significant movement on December 23. Although sales fluctuated back above the baseline between Christmas and New Years, ACOS stayed above the baseline following December 23rd until the New Year.

2019 sales and ACOS % change through the holiday season. *Baseline made up of aggregate average sales from 5 weeks prior to Black Friday.


2020 strategy: Budgets should be high for the month of December, as you can anticipate higher than usual sales volume with a lower than usual ACOS. Take budgets and ACOS targets down around December 22nd or 23rd to prevent a high ACOS as Sales on Amazon slow down.

2. Maximize the increased opportunity on non-brand, category keywords (vs. competitor).

Although Impressions increase for all types of searches during the holiday season, there is a larger increase in impressions for non-branded keywords.

Change in impressions based on type of Keyword. *Baseline made up of aggregates from 20 days prior to Black Friday. Keywords containing a brand includes both branded and competitor segments.

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In addition to seeing the largest increase in impressions for non-branded keywords, this segment also saw a decrease in ACOS during the holiday season. Branded and competitor segments both saw an increase in ACOS over the same time period.

2019 holiday season changes in ACOS by segment. *Baseline made up of aggregates from 20 days prior to Black Friday.


The increased ACOS for branded and competitor segments were driven by the same thing. Although there was an increase in conversion rate for each of these segments, there was also an increased CPC as well as a decreased average order value.

As for the decreased ACOS in the non-branded segment, there was also a decrease in average order value, however this was offset by an increase in conversion rate and a decrease in CPC.

Factors driving ACOS changes in 2019 holiday season. *Baseline made up of aggregates from 20 days prior to Black Friday.


2020 holiday strategy: The December holiday season is a more expensive time of year to target your competitors than the days leading up to Black Friday. With any additional budget you have for the holiday season, focus on targeting non-branded keywords rather than allocating significant budget to competitor keywords.

3. Exercise caution when using gift-related keywords.

Within Non-Branded Keywords, a popular strategy is targeting gifting related keywords. Gifting keywords saw an increase of impressions of over 600% during the holiday season.

Change in Impressions based on type of Keyword *Baseline made up of aggregates from 20 days prior to Black Friday. Gifting keywords are keywords containing "gift," "holiday," or "Christmas."

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It can be tempting to bid aggressively on these gifting keywords, however in 2019, gifting keywords had an ACOS 2.5x higher than all non-branded keywords. This is because gifting keywords have a conversion rate much lower than other non-branded keywords. We suspect this relates to shoppers have a more browsing-oriented mindset when they execute searches with these keywords.

Non-branded keywords vs. gifting keywords during the holiday season. *Gifting keywords are keywords containing "Gift," "Holiday," or "Christmas."


2020 holiday strategy: Think about how your product category will do on gifting keywords, and if it makes sense to have a higher ACOS (do you anticipate repeat purchases?). If you want to use gifting keywords, monitor closely to ensure that your ACOS is not getting out of hand. In most cases it will make more sense to use regular category keywords as opposed to Gifting keywords.

Do you have questions about what you should be doing this 2020 Holiday Season? Let us know at

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