Small Business Guide to Holiday Advertising

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Between steep holiday discounts and a significant bump in sales, it’s hard to say who anticipates the holiday season more: shoppers or retailers. One thing’s for sure though: it’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

Despite the recent economic challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the average household spent $1,387 on holiday gifts in 2020. Since then, spending has steadily increased from year to year and now totals upwards of $777 billion. Many businesses in industries like jewelry, toys, and hobbies earn nearly 35% of their annual revenue during the holidays.

When does holiday advertising start?

So, when does the holiday season officially begin? And how early should you start publishing your holiday-themed ads? 

For many small businesses, the best time to start holiday advertising is late September or early October. A recent survey found that 51% of customers plan to start their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving and are looking for deals.

Key takeaway: Plan to start your holiday advertising around early October to reach the growing number of pre-Thanksgiving shoppers.

Using events & holidays to find your customers

Now that you know when to start running your ads, it’s time to think about where and when you should run your ads. 

A good place to start your holiday advertising plan is to review your holiday ads from the previous year. Which ads were the most successful? Which ads completely missed the mark and why? Using last year’s successes to inspire your marketing plan will help you avoid making the same mistakes. If you haven’t run ads before, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.

One of the easiest ways to build out your holiday ad campaign is to publish ads around major holidays. For example, you could run ads right before Black Friday spreading the word about a special holiday offer or promoting a limited number of popular products that will be for sale in-store only at discounted rates. These types of ads create interest and will draw more visitors to your store in search of exclusive holiday deals.

Here are some holidays and events to keep in mind as you plan: 


  • Labor Day – first Monday in September

  • First Day of Fall – 22nd or 23rd, depending on the year


  • Halloween – 31st 


  • Dia de Los Muertos – 1st & 2nd

  • Thanksgiving Day – fourth Thursday of November

  • Black Friday – Friday after Thanksgiving

  • Cyber Monday – Monday after Thanksgiving


  • Hanukkah – dates vary from year to year, usually occurs in December

  • Super Saturday – Saturday before Christmas

  • Christmas Eve – 24th

  • Christmas Day – 25th

  • New Year’s Eve – 31st 


New Year’s Day – 1st With any holiday ad, be sure to keep it simple. Choose copy and images that will resonate with your audience and showcase what matters to them — i.e. product, store, people. 

If you want to learn more about local advertising, including how to set up a call to action or design best practices, OfferUp’s team of experts is here to help. Get a free consultation today

Key takeaway: Pairing your ads with specific holidays and events can help you create a more effective advertising campaign that keeps demand high and ensures your key objectives are met.

Advertising Tips for Local Ads on OfferUp

Advertising locally can be tricky, so here are a few tips to help you be successful with your local ads on OfferUp this holiday season:

Set a budget. Setting a budget is important, but even more important is knowing how your budget affects your ad’s success. In general, a higher budget ensures your ads get seen and gives you more flexibility to test and optimize your campaigns. 

Choose the right keywords and categories. OfferUp uses targeted ads to reach shoppers whose personal activity or searches match your product. Think about what general category your business falls into, then slowly narrow it down from there to determine what specific keywords best describe customers in need of your products. 

Optimize based on performance. OfferUp reports give you real-time data on impressions, clicks, and views, so you can monitor your ad’s success throughout its runtime. If it’s not performing as well as you’d hoped, change it! Optimizing your ads throughout your campaign will help you maximize their performance. 

Keep things simple. Keep your ad short and to the point and make sure your call to action is clear. Also, be careful not to crowd your ad with too many colors or graphics. A simple picture with clever text often performs better than busy, text-heavy ads. 

If you need some help or want advice on how you can take advantage of the holiday season with OfferUp, don’t hesitate to reach out! We’d be happy to connect you with one of our ad experts, advice is always free and OfferUp might be a great place for you to connect with local shoppers near you.