Advertising for consumer goods or especially services seems almost absurd in times of the corona crisis. But for the economy to continue to exist, even if the conditions are very different, advertising is still needed. However, worrying developments have already been revealed in Google Ads, one of the most important advertising systems in the digital space. But even in times of crisis there are various potentials and strategic approaches that marketers can rely on. The SEM agency Smarketer has in cooperation with Google and Microsoft published a guide, which reveals them to advertisers for Google Ads.
How do advertisers react to the corona pandemic?
As the world as we know it stands still due to the outbreak of the corona virus, the online marketing industry is also experiencing drastic changes. On Amazon, searches for groceries, medical, or home office supplies are suddenly skyrocketing, conversions on Google Ads are falling for some marketers while CPC is rising significantly there, and global advertising spending is likely to fall well short of expectations in 2020.
But the extraordinary circumstances also promote the creativity of companies; This has already been proven by a number of local businesses with very special offers that were promoted on Instagram. The crisis guide from Smarketer focuses on which crisis strategies companies can use to effectively advertise during the corona crisis. It concretely shows how various industries in the areas of retail, travel, technology and software as well as lead gen are adapting their Google Ads campaigns as best as possible. OnlineMarketing.de has the Head of Product from Smarketer, Maik Lehmannasked three questions that are currently on fire for many marketers. We give you this relevant information before you take a look at the guide.
The interview on crisis management at Google Ads
OnlineMarketing.de: Due to the economically precarious situation, should marketers increasingly focus on immediate performance, i.e. conversions and sales, as the campaign target and put branding campaigns on the back burner for the time being?
Maik Lehmann: There is no general answer to the question. In principle, performance channels should always be exhausted, but not every company experiences a decline in demand and sales due to the current situation – quite the opposite. As always, the marketing strategy should be adapted to the circumstances. Specifically, marketers should ask themselves the question: Are you in the winning or losing segment?
For the travel industry, for example, it is currently not worth playing branding campaigns or upper funnel campaigns because there is hardly any demand due to the many travel restrictions. Before the upper funnel is served again, the performance area should be stabilized and the branding budget shifted towards performance.
It looks different in the winning segment. People are now spending a lot more time at home and on the Internet, which means that providers of digital products and services and entertainment, for example, benefit. But home and garden as well as hardware stores also benefit greatly, because the gardening season could now start much earlier depending on the situation. Upper funnel campaigns should definitely open up new target groups here. The Google Display Network and YouTube Ads are very suitable for this in the Google Ads portfolio. There is only one scenario in which the winning segment should not invest heavily in new customer acquisition: if delivery difficulties and low inventory levels can occur in the foreseeable future.
CPC is rising and conversions are currently falling for many advertisers on Google Ads. Does that mean that advertisers have to expect additional expenses to continue using their KPIs? And in case of doubt, is it not more economical to deduct specific advertising budgets?
we clearly see another trend. All of our
Looking at the customer portfolio, the CPCs remain stable. In many
Industries, CPCs are actually falling very sharply. That could have two causes
have: On the one hand, demand and large advertising investments are increasing
are put on hold, for example in the travel industry. To the
others are big players from some markets in terms of advertising technology
completely back, the entire competitive environment is changing
In our view, advertisers therefore no longer have to spend money to reach KPIs. However, as always, it depends on the individual company. In general, we can say that as long as the core campaigns, i.e. the performance campaigns, are profitable, no budgets have to be deducted. Demand is clearly increasing in many industries – so it would be fatal to cut campaign budgets there. Only when orders can no longer be served, for example because of delivery bottlenecks, can it make sense to reduce budgets.
Do advertisers and brands, whose liquidity is not badly affected by the corona crisis, now have special potential due to possibly lower investments from other sides in order to reach the users effectively? But what should advertisers pay attention to in order to balance piety and performance?
In any case. We also looked at these potentials in our marketing guide and looked at them in an industry-specific manner. At the beginning there are two questions: Where is my target group located? In which areas am I already active? If you have already exhausted the performance area here, it is about opening up new target groups. Again, YouTube Ads and Google Display Ads are an excellent option.
But it is also very important to adapt to the current situation in many ways and to link your own brand with a positive message. What can I do with my brand for a positive effect? Creativity is required here to score with creatives and content in the social media area but also on page. Pictures with people who touch each other should now be avoided, adapting your own brand logo to the subject of “social distancing” is again a clever move. A good example of this are the car manufacturers Audi or VW, which have changed their logos in this context.
There are also many other ways to respond to the current needs of customers. For example, online shops can offer payment in installments or zero percent financing and thus meet financial uncertainties among buyers. Retailers can now use topics such as trust, security and cohesion well in their messages.
Even ailing industries can try to break new ground. Many products or services can possibly be transferred to the digital world. Travel and food service providers can sell vouchers with an extended validity to compensate for lost sales.
Insights from the crisis guide to marketing at Google Ads
Consumer behavior changes during the corona crisis, but many needs remain. Therefore, brands are still required to optimize their campaigns for Google Ads.
In the retail and home and garden categories, for example, Smarketer is seeing an increase in search queries. After all, many people just have time to clear their balcony or garden for spring. And a lot of time is currently being spent there. While advertisers in this segment can adjust their budgets to the increased demand, it is also possible to reach completely new online target groups. Even price increases or conversion campaigns for new customers are an option. In the course of this, however, advertisers are warned against turning the price too clearly or sending misleading advertising messages. And the risk of a lack of stocks or supply bottlenecks must also be taken into account.
For the period after the crisis, the guide advises advertisers to keep an eye on impression shares in order to analyze other marketers who are re-entering the market as competition for their own position.
For another category in the retail sector, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, the guide advises the use of significantly higher budgets, for example on YouTube or via Google's display network. In addition, availabilities in the area of shopping and Co. should always be updated in order to be able to offer transparent communication even in the event of delivery bottlenecks. It should also be noted in this category that the demand for products after the corona crisis could drop significantly again. Therefore, some strategies may only be temporary.
Travel: Bookings are falling and marketing has to be future-oriented
Travel is also covered in the crisis management guide. This has been severely affected by the corona crisis. According to analyzes by Smarketer, bookings are falling in various areas. For example, by 50 percent for hotels and accommodation. And these values could increase.
The guide sees only a few opportunities for this area, including the reference to later trips and the offer of travel vouchers. Risks are associated with the lack of clarity as to how long the corona crisis will last and with the fact that customers currently prefer to cancel trips rather than book them. The guide advises to shutdown budgets or pause campaigns.
While the travel industry is suffering, technology and software can benefit. Opportunities arise here from the increased use of many digital services, for example from the home office. Increased advertising activities, paired with special offers or discount campaigns can mean a competitive advantage here. However, advertisers should be careful not to use inappropriate price increases or advertise that are obviously aimed at making profit from the crisis.
Showcase ads in the area of shopping or smart display campaigns could, however, provide good options in terms of formats. Remarketing and mailing campaigns can bind new customer groups in the long term or lead them to conversion. However, the search volume should also be closely monitored after the crisis.
Lead Gen: Opportunities for practices, law firms or telecommunications providers
The Smarketer guide, including expertise from Google and Microsoft, provides information on several levels for different industries. Including in terms of lead generation. In this context, telecommunications providers or real estate companies could benefit. Because in times of crisis, people could opt for real estate instead of financial investments or explore their options for making calls and surfing – two extremely important moments of the day.
In the meantime, there are special opportunities for medical practices or law firms. The shutdowns are likely to result in many layoffs; and thus to increased demand among legal specialists. And many patients are likely to look around for practices that can be there for them even during the corona crisis. However, it is risky when advertising for corresponding offers that it is not yet clear how long direct contact with law firms will remain possible or which practices may still have to close. And the address also needs a sensitive message in order not to be perceived as brusque. The users also remember this for the time after the crisis.
Especially in times of crisis, it is important that a business area that is already as nuance-minded as marketing is treated with great care. The Smarketer Guide can help advertisers from various industries in the Google Ads area; However, they have to recognize their own potentials and pitfalls based on the current situation and a lot of information.
The entire guide you can download from Smarketer.