Retailers are not making the most of online search marketing dollars during the Christmas period a US study claims.

The web content management analysis study by CrownPeak, entitled ‘Holiday PPC Ad Strategies, concentrated on key holiday advertising phrases, hundreds of advertisers and online advertisements.

It found that 66% of Christmas-themed search advertising drives traffic to homepages or landing pages that are not clearly tied to the online ad where traffic originates.

Only 34% of the Christmas-themed search ads analyzed directed traffic to specific landing pages that repeated the advertising call to action or were reflective of the original ad.

However, despite these findings, the study also revealed that traffic driven by product-specific advertising was more strategically targeted than its Christmas-themed counterpart.

The company analysed search marketing results across 10 different Christmas-themed phrases, including general phrases, specific products (such as ‘Nintendo Wii’, ‘Elmo Live’) and product categories (‘Christmas Decorations’).

When looking specifically at ecommerce sites, 54% of advertisers had content-specific landing pages paying off a click from a search ad. Amazon and Target scored highest for advertisers overall.

Jim Howard, CEO of CrownPeak, indicated that the goal of the study was to determine how smart marketers are being with their online Christmas PPC spend.

“By driving traffic to irrelevant content or the company’s homepage, marketers are virtually guaranteeing that they aren’t going to convert site visitors to buyers through online ads. On the other hand, tying campaigns to landing pages with a specific and relevant call to action can improve lift by up to 40% and – given how precious marketing dollars are these days – it’s time that marketers get more strategic with their Christmas season budgets.”