The Data-Backed Holiday Timeline


  • An advertiser’s holiday campaign should start in October with both prospecting and retargeting.
  • November is a key time to swap in new creative and reallocate some prospecting budget to the retargeting campaign.
  • Many shoppers are still actively checking off their lists in December. 
  • Don’t forget about Q5, when gift card recipients are ready to spend.

Q4 is upon us. For marketers who don’t yet have their holiday strategy tied up with a bow, we dug into MNTN’s first-party data and used it to outline the ideal (data-backed) schedule to maximize your Q4. Below is a month-by-month look at how to make the season bright. 

Launch Quick, Launch Right

A quick note before we jump into the timeline. To make the most of this season, you should launch your prospecting and retargeting campaigns at the same time; if you wait until you have prospecting up and running to add in retargeting, you risk limiting your return on ad spend and reducing the number of site visits you receive. Read more about this launch strategy here


October is the perfect time to get started with a holiday campaign. Advertisers who wait until Black Friday will miss some key holiday tentpoles throughout the month of October. Instead, launch your campaigns at the start of the quarter, with a heavy focus on your prospecting campaign. From our research, here’s the ideal breakdown of your budget in October:

Shoppers are already getting in the holiday spirit so this is the perfect time to make them aware of what your brand has to offer and get on the top of their holiday shopping list.

One factor kicking off the season early: Amazon. Last year, the giant’s October Prime Days influenced shoppers to start early. According to eMarketer, October’s ecommerce growth rate in 2022 surpassed the rest of the quarter, thanks to the boost from Prime Days. eMarketer has deemed the season the “Holiday Hammock” — Amazon’s deal in October and the Cyber Five as tentpoles supporting slower spending in between.


November is the shining star of the holiday advertising season. It is the month that houses the “Cyber Five”: Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Sunday, and Cyber Monday. While Black Friday deals seem to start earlier and earlier each year, the Cyber Five is still a key shopping period.

Consider shifting some of your budget from prospecting to retargeting in November, especially toward the end of the month in the days surrounding the Cyber Five. Our pacing recommendations for November are as follows:

As you approach the two-month mark of your Q4 campaign, this is an ideal time to swap in some new creative. There’s a lot of competition during this time, so don’t fall victim to ad fatigue when attention is crucial. Add in additional creative that speaks specifically to your BFCM offerings while those are active.


Shoppers are making their final selections and buying those last-minute gifts. In fact, many people shop up until the last minute. Last year saw an influx of late December shoppers, due to rising inflation and a stabilizing supply chain. This year looks like it may follow the same trend.

Spend the majority of your budget before Christmas, then continue to shift budget to your retargeting campaigns where appropriate.

Add in any creative that speaks to last-minute offerings. This is also a great time to highlight offerings like gift cards for those who left their shopping to the last minute and won’t have time to receive a physical item in the mail.


Believe it or not, Santa’s arrival doesn’t mark the end of your advertising season. The end of December into early January, affectionately called “Q5,” is an essential time to take advantage of all the insights that you’ve gained throughout your Q4 adventures. Plus, there’s a flurry of shopping activities happening during this time. People have received gift cards that are burning holes in their pockets, and in-store traffic increases as gift recipients come in to exchange (or even upgrade) underwhelming gifts. Save a little bit of your budget to take you all the way to the finish line and maximize your profits in Q4. 

Learn More

For more info on the holiday season and spending recommendations, get Your Performance TV Guide for 2023
Don’t want to miss a thing this holiday season? Sign up for Seasonal Campaign Alerts.

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