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Searching for the Perfect Recipe for Holiday Campaigns

Monday, November 09, 2009

Posted by Guest Blogger: Heather Dougherty, Research Director at Hitwise

The holidays are almost upon us again, which means one thing – time to eat! Every year, the search term variations for ‘recipe’ and ‘recipes’ peak during the weeks of the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays. There are two major types of destinations for searches on recipes, naturally the websites specializing in recipes & food content, followed by the websites of CPGs. Search is the key driver of traffic for both recipes and CPGs. During the peak holiday weeks last year, the share of upstream traffic from search engines to recipe websites was 60% and 32% for CPG Food websites.

Drilling into the relationship between search and food-related websites during the holidays, there is an interesting distinct pattern to when search engines delivered the highest share of traffic to the websites. Last year, the first & highest peaks took place on the day before the Christmas & Thanksgiving holidays and the second happened 3-4 days prior to the holidays. The highest peak is likely to be the creation & cooking of the recipe – so depending on the cooking skills of the chef, anything to help simplify the process during a busy day of preparations is going to help engender loyalty with your brand.

The latter peaks were over the weekends, suggesting weekend shopping trips, a good time to get coupons & promotions in front of the consumer, as well as recipes to help plan the holiday meal.

The same pattern occurs for recipe websites with the peak of downstream traffic from search engines taking place immediately before the actual holidays, without the weekend increases.

Last year, websites started to receive traffic from a portfolio of Thanksgiving-related search terms in mid-October although the majority of the activity took place the week before and the week of Thanksgiving. Dollars followed that same trend, with the share of paid search traffic beginning to ramp up in mid-November. Overall, the share of paid traffic generated by all search terms within the Thanksgiving Recipes portfolio for the 4 weeks ending 11/29/2008 was 22%.

Searches for holiday recipes start earlier and build up over a longer time period due to many events that take place during the entire month of December leading up to the holidays, such as parties and cookie baking (a personal favorite). Last year, over the 4 weeks ending Dec. 27, 2009, the share of paid search reached 32%, highlighting increased competition for sponsored links during the Christmas holidays than Thanksgiving.

Timing is definitely everything, so reflecting on the past can help drive your holiday campaigns for this year to help anticipate and capture the search peaks. There are also plenty of opportunities to try to drive earlier demand through coordination with your other marketing efforts along with search campaigns.

To learn more, please join us on November 18, 2009 for the Hitwise Webinar - Recipes & Food during the Holiday Season.