Unmasking Paid Search This Halloween

It’s that time of year again, when goblins and ghosts of all ages roam in search of tricks and treats.  And that means big spending according to the National Retail Federation, which predicts U.S. consumers will shell out $6.9 billion on Halloween-related products and activities in 2013.

Keeping in the spirit, we decided to gaze into the AdGooroo crystal ball (a.k.a. the world’s largest search marketing intelligence database) to see what this means for Paid Search. As such, we examined advertising activity around 842 Halloween-related search keywords on U.S. AdWords, between September 2012 and September 2013.

The Top Halloween Advertisers

Halloween Top Advertisers Paid Search

Specialty costume stores lead the list of top retailers, with BuyCostumes.com generating the most impressions at more than 46.5 million, followed by CostumeExpress.com (42.5 million) and WholesaleHalloweenCostumes.com (almost 37 million).

However, the clear leader in the Halloween category, and a testament to the effectiveness of a good domain name, is HalloweenCostumes.com, which had a whopping 31% clickthrough rate on 35.4 million impressions. For comparison, the average CTR among the other 19 top Halloween advertisers was only 2.7%. For a clue to the retailer’s success, simply look at the top keyword by impressions in the next section, “halloween costumes”, which generated more than three times as many impressions as the next keyword on the list, and was joined by several variant keywords (“halloween costume”, “Halloween costume ideas”, etc.) It would not be a stretch to presume that HalloweenCostumes.com is benefiting from general keyword searches that, in effect, become branded keyword searches.

Also making the list are party supply leaders Party City and Oriental Trading Company, mass retailers Target and Walmart, fabric and craft giant Joann.com,  children’s boutique chasing-fireflies.com and two lingerie retailers, Fredericks.com and Yandy.com, who are presumably capitalizing on the much-noted trend of women and girls buying “sexy halloween costumes” (see ‘Top Keywords’ below).

Halloween Costumes Keyword Search 10-28-2013A general search for “Halloween Costumes” (on October 28, 2013) unsurprisingly showed HalloweenCostumes.com in the top position on Google AdWords.

Top Halloween Keywords

Top Halloween Keywords AdGooroo
If Halloween used to be a children’s holiday, the top Halloween keywords prove it is no longer. Costume keywords dominate the list, including those that notably display a variety of grown-up modifiers such as “adult”, “for women”, “plus size” and “sexy”. Still, three keywords in the top 20 exclusively promote costumes “for kids”.  

Interestingly, the only actual costume making the list is “pirate costume”, which suggests one will encounter a variety of swashbucklers this holiday.

Other standouts in the list pertain to food and parties associated with the holiday, including “halloween decorations” and “halloween recipes”—the latter primarily being sponsored by Consumer Packaged Goods manufacturer sites such as KraftRecipes.com and Pillsbury.com.