It may seem early, but September is the best time to start planning your Black Friday and holiday season ads. Starting early will not only give you plenty of time to test, learn, and iterate, it will also allow you to take advantage of record low CPAs. 

Your leadership team might be eager to see that spike in Q4 revenue, but your growth team knows there will be high costs, daily fluctuations, and lots of content demands.

Don’t let it sneak up on you! Here’s how to prepare in a way that minimizes cost and allows you to spread your bandwidth out over a few extra weeks of prep.

Avoid the CPM Spike

Usually, CPMs increase throughout November and reach their peak the week of Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Then they stay pretty high until mid-December, as shown in the chart below.

While you might not be able to avoid increased costs at that time, you can still minimize them by finding your most effective ads in the months and weeks leading up to the holidays.

​​The Best Time To Start is Now

For the first time in two years, CPAs are on a steady decline leading into the holidays. This is great news because it means you can leverage the low CPAs now to find your winning ads at the lowest costs.

CPAs Are at Their Lowest in 2 Years

Due to the larger economic climate with increasing prices and layoffs around every corner, many companies have been forced to reduce or halt advertising to cut costs. This opens up the opportunity for companies that can run paid social ads to do so at prices we haven’t seen in two years. 

Across our portfolio of partners, CPAs are at their lowest since August 2020:

The best time to start preparing for the holidays is now.

Your Week-by-Week Plan

At Primer, we launch new tests every two weeks. This testing cadence gives you enough time to find wins and pause mediocre ads before launching something new. These tests typically alternate between big, bold ideas and iterations on top performers – striking just the right balance to find and scale your wins.

With just 10 weeks until Black Friday, that gives you 5 potential tests you can launch between now and then, assuming you started today.


Test #1: 10 Weeks Before Black Friday

Launch a new “big idea” ad set. This is a brand new idea, theme, or creative style that you want to try for the first time. You don’t want to test out brand new ideas in the 2 weeks leading up to Black Friday. Now, 10 weeks out, is the time to test if these ideas really convert, before iterating on them and then adding Black Friday messaging.


Test #2: 8 Weeks Before Black Friday

Launch iterations of your big idea “wins” from the weeks prior. You should have at least one clear top performer but hopefully, you have a couple. Top performers must actually convert – a low CPC does not make it a top performer. We define a top performer as: 

  • A 10% improvement over average CPA/ROAS
  • Minimum of 10 conversions

Now’s the time to test out small changes on your top performers, such as changing only the image, only the copy, or only the landing page to see what changes lead to maximum impact. Make sure not to change more than one element on an iterative test.

For more on big ideas vs. iterative tests, check out the blog post: What To Test on Your Social Media Ads: Big Ideas vs. Small Iterations


Test #3: 6 Weeks Before Black Friday

Launch another new “big idea” ad set. Your last big idea may have worked or fallen flat. Either way, you learned something, and hopefully have new ideas to test. Now’s the time. 


Test #4: 4 Weeks Before Black Friday

Launch iterations of your big idea “wins” from the weeks prior. By the end of these 2 weeks, you should have your winning ad creative, landing pages, videos, and copy picked out, so all that’s left to do is add Black Friday messaging to them.


Test #5: 2 Weeks Before Black Friday

Black Friday is still two weeks out, but this is when we recommend launching your Black Friday ads. Here’s why: You have time to test and adjust your Black Friday messaging on your winning ads before the big day.

You can also benefit from improved conversions all month long. In our testing, calling a sale “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” increases conversion rates throughout the entire month of November, even without a drastic discount. A modest increase over your “evergreen” offer — or simply repositioning your evergreen offer as “Black Friday” — will increase the conversion rate.

If possible, consider starting the actual sale 2–3 weeks early, too. This gives your ads time to get out of the Learning Phase and into Active to really capitalize on Black Friday. 

Facebook CPMs will be high for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but if you start deals early, you can get good results before and after the actual Black Friday weekend. Make sure to include key phrases that are proven to improve conversions, like “Black Friday,” “lowest prices of the year,” and “best deal of the year.”


The Day Before and Days After Black Friday

On the day or two before Black Friday, pause your mediocre Black Friday ads and scale the budget of those with the highest conversion rates, as determined throughout the 2 weeks prior.

If possible, we highly recommend extending your campaign through that weekend and after Cyber Monday with messaging like “SALE EXTENDED!”

Simple copy changes can keep your ads fresh and relevant after Black Friday: switch the messaging on your top-performing Black Friday ads to be about Cyber Monday for that following Monday, and then to “Holiday Sale” to increase conversion rates throughout December.


This weekly plan should give you plenty of time, space, and breathing room to step into the Black Friday season cool, calm, and confident.

Brace for Daily Fluctuations

CPAs will swing during this time period. These daily fluctuations will happen to you and pretty much everyone, and it’s important not to react too quickly. Advertisers who immediately pause their ad set or otherwise overreact to daily results can hurt their performance.

This is another reason to start your tests early. When you know for sure that an ad works – it has a relatively low CPA and definitely converts more than your other ads – you won’t stress so much over these fluctuations. You’ll go into the holiday season confident that you have the right ads running and know these fluctuations would happen even to the best ads at the best companies.

Start your tests early to avoid this holiday stress!

Ready For Black Friday?

There’s plenty to do, but thankfully, there’s still plenty of time to do it. If you need any assistance in your holiday planning, that’s what we’re here for. Need some extra hands to get all of your ad creative produced on time? Primer On-Demand is the solution for you. Get unlimited creative that’s designed to convert.

Need full-service ad management, rapid testing, and conversion-focused creative? Our growth agency is the solution for you. Click the button below to get started.