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The Coronavirus’ Effect on Digital Advertising Efforts

Mar 12th 2020

There are many concerns about our economic state as the coronavirus is declared a pandemic and continues to spread globally. In this time of unease, we’ve received questions from clients and partners regarding advertising budgets and whether or not it’s wise to maintain current spend levels.

We wanted to take a moment to address these questions and explain why our recommendation is to continue with current budgets, with potentially some minor campaign adjustments.

Should businesses continue running digital advertising campaigns?

The majority of your digital advertising budget should be dedicated to pay-per-click search advertising. Search advertising is demand-based, which means users are actively going to search engines like Google and Bing to search for the products and services that you’re selling. Search ads that are running today are showing to people who are in-market, ready-to-buy, and performing low-funnel searches. It’s a given that people may spend less and venture out less during the coronavirus outbreak. However, there will still be people online shopping and expressing interest in buying during this time. Because search ads are pay-per-click, they will not show and you will not be charged unless these interested shoppers are actively searching for and clicking on your ads. 

Won’t search demand decline?

If search demand does decline in your region, it’s unlikely that you previously owned 100% of the market share within your geo-targeted area. You can use any remaining budget from the decline in search volume to capture additional users who you were previously not reaching. You may be able to expand your reach through additional geo-targeting as well.

What about other advertising platforms and non-search campaigns?

For non-search campaigns, including display, social, and video, you should make sure your campaigns are focused on targeting low-funnel, in-market shoppers who have expressed recent interest in the products and services you are selling, either through remarketing or in-market audience segments. These users, although they were not actively searching in Google or Bing, are still low-funnel and valuable to serve ads to. It’s important that these campaign types still bid on a pay-per-click basis (when available) to ensure your dollars are being spent on people who have chosen to engage with your business. If you have higher-funnel, impression-focused campaigns where you’re paying for impressions instead of clicks, we recommend taking a critical eye to whether or not those campaigns should continue as-is or transition to a lower-funnel, pay-per-click model. 

While we do recommend maintaining ad spend and continuing your digital advertising campaigns at this time, it’s important to do a complete assessment of your marketing channels to ensure you’re spending on the appropriate campaigns and platforms. If you would like assistance or have further questions about advertising during the coronavirus outbreak, contact your Digital Advertising Strategist or reach out directly. We’re here for you during this time and will continue to partner hard to help your business succeed. Sign up for updates below or visit our resource hub for additional data and insights. Stay safe and be well.


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