PPC Advertising Trends We’ve Seen During Lockdown

Author Nina Grewal 6 min read time

Last month we ran a webinar which explored the different trends we have been observing across paid search and paid social. We came across some interesting findings in the world of PPC, particularly to do with the difference in B2C versus B2B account performance metrics.

If you were not able to attend, don’t worry – I have compiled four main trends we have been analysing in the world of paid search in the current climate, and some key actions to take away:

1. COSTS

Similarly to LinkedIn, Google has become more competitive. Though B2C industries such as the beauty industry are already expensive, we can see an increase in the CPC of our B2C beauty client starting from mid-March and beginning to decrease into April, and then increasing again, fluctuating due to change:

B2C CPCs have been fluctuating

The CPCs fluctuating was likely due to the majority of B2C companies taking advantage of consumers now relying on e-commerce to provide them with products or services and wanting their ads to be the most visible. However, the landscape of the Google Search Network was at its most unpredictable, and we can see a dip after the initial increase.

It was important to observe the patterns in CPC changes across differing locations and devices in order to gauge what the bids should be set to, as every platform and geo-location was impacted in a completed different way.

KEY ACTION: ADJUST BIDS BEYOND KEYWORDS – LOOK AT DEVICES, LOCATIONS AND AD SCHEDULING.

2. Impact on CTR%

We did not see a continued spike in CTR% with our B2B clients who have either restricted the number of campaigns running, or provide a service which is not relevant during the current climate. People are not engaging with ads which aren’t adapted to the current climate – planning for the future can help with remedying this.

A less consistent change for B2B clients…

As you can see above, CTR% remained steady for our B2B client near the beginning of March. There is an uptick in CTR% around mid-late March which is when the current climate began to shift dramatically, however in comparison to our B2C clients, the spike declines significantly shortly after this period and completely levels off.

On the flip side, some of our e-commerce B2C clients have seen a substantial increase in ad CTR% and clicks, likely due to the ad messaging used (adapted to the current climate), and also with various promotional sales during this period advertised within headlines:

…however was great for B2C clients

In the above graph of a B2C client, the CTR% began to see an increase in March and skyrocketed towards April, which is when most consumers were under enforced lockdown. However, the CTR% dropped and levelled out more near the end of April.

KEY ACTION: TEST AD COPY ADAPTED TO THE CLIMATE E.G. DIRECT TO DOOR DELIVERY, ALSO ADD SITELINKS TO COVID-19 INFO ON HOW IT IMPACTS SERVICES

3. Device Usage

I have seen an overarching trend of computer usage increasing. This can be attributed to more time being spent indoors where access to a laptop or desktop is readily available.

For example, when examining the metrics report of a B2C client within the tourist merchandise industry, we can see that there was a substantial increase in the number of conversions on desktops in comparison to the period before:

Desktops take the lead with B2C

There were large spikes in desktop activity (by conversions) during the beginning of March and from mid-March onwards.

KEY ACTION: RE-EVALUATE ALL DEVICE BID ADJUSTMENTS YOU HAVE APPLIED – AND IF YOU HAVEN’T APPLIED ANY, NOW IS THE TIME TO DO SO

4. Learnings We Can Take From COVID’S Impact On Search

Interest in ‘at home’ as search term

According to Google search trends, there has been a substantial uptick in lockdown-related search terms. Capitalising on these trends as keyword modifiers can help increase ad exposure and relevance to the current climate

There has been a surge in search interest surrounding the following modifiers: ‘from home’, ‘quarantine’, ‘lockdown’ and ‘DIY’ from mid-march onwards. There is great opportunity here to add some of these modifiers to keywords in order to increase traffic and adapt further to the current landscape of Search.

For example, if advertising for a beauty company, consider adding keywords in such as ‘makeup at home’, ‘quarantine makeup’, ‘makeup for video calls’ etc. to try and increase searcher ad engagement.

It is not only keyword modifiers you should be focusing on – below, we can see search query data from one of our B2C clients, they sell cosmetic/skincare face masks:

Irrelevant search terms

With the search interest in medical/hygiene related face masks on the rise due to the current climate, irrelevant search queries were being triggered by the ‘mask’ text in product descriptions.

Some shopping ads from our B2C clients have also been disapproved due to Google believing they are capitalizing on ‘sensitive events’. In that instance, our client was advertising sleep eye masks and the Merchant Centre disapproved the ads.

KEY ACTION: PAUSE OR RE-EVALUATE ANY ADS, KEYWORDS OR SHOPPING PRODUCTS BRINGING IN IRRELEVANT TRAFFIC – ALSO ADD RELEVANT MODIFIERS TO CURRENT KEYWORDS AS A COMBATANT

I hope some of the key takeaways based on searcher behaviour and client performance in the current climate has proven useful. If you have observed any interesting or odd trends in the world of PPC, please feel free to leave some comments!

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