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Back to School Season: Tips & Trends for Managing PPC Campaigns

Back to School (BTS) shopping brings one of the largest retail spending events for online and in-store businesses. With students returning to in-person classrooms this fall, changes are on the rise for this year’s BTS season. Advertisers will need to adapt and adjust their digital marketing strategies, and we have some tips and trends to help manage pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns during this competitive season!

Consumer Spend Potential

Consumers plan to spend record amounts for both school and college supplies as students plan to return to in-person classrooms, according to the National Retail Federation. Families with children in grades K-12 plan to spend $848.90 on average, which is $59 more than last year’s spending on back-to-school items. The total 2021 back-to-school spending is expected to reach $37.1B up from $33.9B last year - an all-time high in the survey's history. The total spending on back-to-college is expected to reach $71B up from $67.7B in 2020.

The top 6 categories that are most in need by BTS shoppers in 2021 are:

  • School Supplies--------------------43%
  • Apparel & Footwear--------------35%
  • Desk/Furniture------------------------8%
  • Cleaning & Sanitation-------------6%
  • Backpacks & Lunch Boxes------5%
  • Electronics-----------------------------5%
*Source: Google Consumer Surveys, 2021*

When Will It End?

According to Google Consumer Surveys, this year, “70% of BTS shoppers plan to purchase items gradually throughout the school year,” changing the BTS season from the average 3-month sale to year-round. This will challenge advertisers and retailers to find new ways to stay relevant and connect with consumers throughout the year.

In fact, Back to School shopping began early this year with 26% of back to school and college shoppers already started as of early June. Even with the early start, marketing experts are preparing for a prolonged BTS season, which will not end in September as usual. Experts are actually predicting that September will be just as important as June for BTS shoppers.

PPC Strategies You Don’t Want to Miss

There are various pay-per-click strategies that can help your brand scale BTS sales this year. These include:
  • Discovery Ads
  • Smart Shopping
  • Local Inventory Ads
  • Dynamic Search Ads
  • Audiences
  • Extensions

Discovery Ads

Activate Discovery campaigns in the beginning months of BTS to capture new shoppers that are open to different brands.

Smart Shopping

Strategically accelerate sales by utilizing automated bidding and ad placement for product listings and display ads.

Local Inventory Ads

Bring your local store online! Showcase local inventory and store information to nearby shoppers. Let them know your store has what they are looking for, the moment they’re searching on Google.

Dynamic Search Ads

Maximize your coverage by allowing Google to match searches to your website or specific pages that are not covered by your text ads.


Capture your target audience by using multiple audience types:
  1. Implement Remarketing Audiences to drive repeat purchases
  2. Utilize Similar Audiences to expand your target audience
  3. Layer In-Market Seasonal Shopping Audiences
  4. Use Detailed Demographics to capture parents and college students


Take advantage of all PPC features for BTS by testing the following extensions:
  1. Add ‘Back to School’ sitelinks as a test across your campaigns.
  2. Use promotion extensions to highlight sales and promotions for your
  3. business’s best deals
  4. Implement location extensions for shoppers who are researching online for offline purchases

Get Started On Your PPC Strategy With BVA

As consumers prepare to shop and spend more this BTS season, advertisers and retailers need to make sure they’re reaching the right audience, at the right time, in the right location. By following new trends and responding to changing needs, this BTS season can be a success.

Our BVA team of PPC experts are ready to help retail brands looking to exceed their bottom line to scale their marketing strategy. Drop us a line to chat with us today.

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