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The Coronavirus Impact on Paid Digital Marketing

April 24, 2020

While there are many business considerations regarding your advertising during this global pandemic, opportunities definitely exist especially with paid digital marketing. The key is to know the difference between the risk and opportunity, and it’s easier said than done.

Millions More are Embracing Digital Solutions

After all, we can see a new normal begin to take shape, even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt households and businesses across the world. Consumer behavior has been shifting for years, but now millions of people have been forced to embrace digital solutions. Some habits being created now will continue past the crisis.

People still want information. Organic search interest remains high. Daily audio and video calls on Facebook products WhatsApp and Messenger saw activity spikes in March typically seen on New Year’s Eve. Usage on platforms like Google and Facebook has surged as people seek answers to questions. How has coronavirus affected my community? Is it safe to go out? How are my friends and relatives? Should I wear a mask?

Yet even as the shift to digital accelerates, paid advertising spend on those two giants – Google and Facebook – is down, according to a recent New York Times report.

One reason is that travel and entertainment ads, normally abundant this time of year, have just about disappeared from Google search engine results pages. In recent weeks, cost-per-impression on Facebook fell 35-50%. Wall Street analysts predict annual revenue declines for Google and Facebook, which would be a first in either company’s history.

Digital Ad Spending Mostly Consistent

There is significant opportunity for the right products and services reaching people in a stay-at-home economy.

Smart businesses are adjusting, connecting with people who are online now more than ever before. Consumers are still looking for products and services. Ads on desktop devices, particularly video, increased nearly 25% since March 7, according to a report by analytics advertising platform Pathmatics. And while some industries face tremendous challenges, particularly travel, sports and entertainment, most verticals have kept digital advertising spend consistent.

Meanwhile, The Myers Report forecasts a 20% year-over-year decline for total digital advertising in 2020. So as others pull back, and with cost-per-click at remarkable values, it is a prime time to stay top-of-mind, maybe even capture market share.

3 Things to Keep in Mind

This is a great time to be creative, but also to be careful. Here are 3 things to remember before you get started.

The public is worried: About their health. About their livelihoods. About their families.

If you have done buyer personas as part of your initial marketing plan, consider revisiting them. Times have changed dramatically in the past few months and will continue to change as this drags out. Your customer’s priorities are very different.

Be sensitive: With any creative, ask yourself:
● Is the content appropriate?
● Is it relevant?
● Could the tone be considered insensitive?
● Is there anything you could add that would make it more helpful?

Branding can set the tone for the future: Demand for many products and services is decreased, in some cases restricted by local guidelines. Consumers are still looking for quality experiences, but the bar is set higher.

In any messaging, but especially with advertising, think contribution, not conversion. Now is the time to create bonds with your communities. Brands that are responsible, trustworthy and empathetic will leave people with a good impression after the crisis wanes. If you stay top-of-mind through the crisis, your communities will have an easier time remembering you when the economy rebounds.

Ben Hardt, Director of Operations and Digital Strategy, TruStar Marketing, LLC.

TruStar Marketing fuses the art and science of marketing to improve your business. We specialize in health care, insurance and high-tech manufacturing industries. Digital marketing that works stars with a free introductory call.