Paid Social Advertising Trends During Lockdown

Author Dan Lifton 6 min read time

2 weeks ago, we ran a webinar sharing the insights and trends we have seen across Paid Social and PPC since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. 

For those of you who were not able to attend this webinar, I’d like to share with you the trends we’ve identified from a paid social perspective. 

The paid social advertising landscape has seen a significant shift, but it really is not all doom and gloom. I truly believe those businesses who can continue to advertise and market themselves will be best placed to come out of the other side of this in the best possible position. 

Here are four key trends we are seeing in the world of paid social currently and a set of actions you should implement off the back of them:

1. Costs

Facebook CPMs - March to April 2020

Across our highest spending accounts, we’ve seen CPMs at times drop by over 60% since the beginning of March. Why is this?

The inventory of Facebook has opened up, bringing costs down. Many big spenders such as travel and betting companies have currently paused their activity, which has resulted in a less competitive auction. What we are currently seeing with these prices, is CPM levels drop to the levels of 2016/2017 – the holy grail of cheaper CPMs. 

This is great for advertisers, as it means we are getting more bang for our buck on Facebook.

However, we are seeing the opposite trend occur on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn CPC - March to April 2020

Since the beginning of March, LinkedIn has slowly but surely seen an increase in CPCs across our clients. This is due to the platforms auction becoming a bit more competitive than previously. 

We’ve seen CPCs across our clients rise by up to 48% vs the start of March. What was already more expensive channel, just got a bit pricier.

Why is this trend happening? My thoughts on this are B2Bs who have advertising budgets to spend are potentially shifting away from Facebook and spending more on LinkedIn, as it does not feel as invasive and the brand is not as likely to be positioned between a lot of COVID-19 information as it would be on Facebook.

Key Action: If you’re not already, now is the perfect time to start testing ads on Facebook for both B2C and B2B.

If you’re in the e-commerce space it really is a no brainer, as long as stock levels and fulfilment availability is there. For B2Bs, keep your sales pipeline strong for the future. Invest in strong content and push your best converting content on Facebook. Costs are down so there is no better time to test the platform.

2. E-Commerce is thriving… but not all categories

These are the 5 key areas we are seeing thrive in the last few weeks. These are all things people value the most in the current situation. Notice how there is a trend around things you can do at home. 

E-commerce categories thriving during coronavirus outbreak

What’s also interesting is the usual drivers in Women’s Fashion and Accessories has completely changed. We are now seeing products such as loungewear and casual attire bringing in the bulk of the revenue.

A key trend we are also seeing is around gifting. This is an area that we are seeing a lot of growth. This can be because people can’t see each other in person for Birthdays but also because they want to send gifts to people they haven’t seen in a while as an act of kindness. 

On the flipside, these are the categories we are seeing not perform so well.

E-commerce categories that are not performing during coronavirus outbreak

Key Action: Pivot your focus to key product areas instead of a catch all approach.

3. Ad creative and copy has transformed on Facebook

Copy and creative has needed to be more reactive than ever before. With our clients, we’ve tried to subtly address the ‘new normal’ with imagery that reflects the WFH lifestyle we are all experiencing at the moment. We have also tried to seed this into messaging without being too in your face about the current situation. 

Utilising UGC has seen some fantastic results, showing real people in real home environments. As an example, we used this approach with one of our clients in the arts and crafts space:

If you haven’t got UGC imagery, give your best performing creative a new lease of life with refreshed copy to best fit the times. 

What we are seeing work really well currently is the following: 

  • Messaging such as ‘delivered to your door’
  • Delivery timings / Free delivery / Extended returns messaging has seen positive results. The more transparent the better.
  • Subtle hints to current situation e.g WFH look, Spa at Home etc 
  • Bespoke landing pages relevant to products people want to buy and the experience they are seeing with the ads – e.g incorporate UGC content on landing pages
  • Promotions (if business and margins allow for this)

Key Action: Review your copy and creative assets. Test new ad variations that are more relatable.

4. Broader audiences are killing it

Broad prospecting is seeing really strong results at the moment. People are online more than ever and are potentially in the market to try new things and treat themselves to a few extra purchases they had been putting off. 

Larger lookalikes based on pixel data and segmented customer data are seeing fantastic ROAS and CPAs with our clients at the moment. Instead of trying your usual 1-2% Lookalike audiences, why not try a 5-10%? The audience size will be larger, and you are opening yourself up to a lot of new potential customers. As I mentioned earlier, with CPMs so low, it is the perfect time to try it. 

Key Action: Test larger lookalike audiences or a Broad DPA campaign in your account.

I hope you’ve found these trends and key actions interesting and useful to apply to your campaigns. 

It would also be great to hear about any other trends you are all seeing. Please feel free to comment below with what you’re seeing or reach out to me on LinkedIn.


Dan has been working in Paid Media for 5+ years, and has extensive experience in managing strategies and campaigns both in-house and agency side, meaning he knows the best of both worlds.