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Managing Search Advertising During COVID-19

November 12, 2021
May 1, 2023

Managing Search Advertising During COVID-19

Alaina Corsini

Amidst the chaos brought from this pandemic, the digital world is also in a frenzy. During this time of uncertainty, marketers everywhere have seen a transformative change with budget reallocation, campaign freezes, and changes in search trends. Learning how to weather the storm in search advertising will be vital to business success and leave you prevailing over your competitors in upcoming months.


The question of which channels to use for greatest impact is top of mind for most businesses during this uncertain time. Primary consideration for many marketers as the implications of coronavirus became clearer include proper budget reallocation to tactics that will continue a successful campaign.  Consumption on digital channels has already increased across all formats, especially time spent streaming video content as users aim to stay entertained at home.

This means keeping paid advertising as a prominent component in any digital campaign. Decreasing any search advertising spends will prolong the time to be successful once these devastating times are through. According to a survey conducted by ‘Best SEO Companies’, 1,000 marketing professionals and consumers were polled and asked about the effectiveness of SEO vs. Google Ads according to several categories. Marketers in roughly equal numbers found both SEM (90%) and SEO (87%) to be effective. Forced to choose one or the other, however, 64% said they would choose Google Ads, although in correlation with SEO, paid search advertising was deemed more effective.

This means with the current uncertainty looming over marketers, paid advertising should be a prominent component to any campaign in conjunction with other tactics. Adhering search advertising to the current pandemic is crucial as we continue to chart this unknown territory.

We live in an age when marketing success can hinge on a business’s ability to quickly react to and alter strategy around trends in real-time. The COVID-19 outbreak is no different, and it is changing consumer behavior dramatically. With an increased surge in search traffic, businesses must be ready to alter their current messaging to correlate with what is going on in the world. “It seems very obvious to update ads, but the reality is very few advertisers are doing it,” said Microsoft’s Rik van der Kooi during a live-streamed event for partner agencies.  There is a true opportunity for those that focus on messaging during this time and pivot their paid advertising strategies to adhere to the current climate.

  • Focus on assessing your brand message -  Recognize the attitude circulating within your audience base. Be sensitive to it and embrace it within your core messaging.
  • Offer acknowledgment of the situation - Include reassurance of what you’re doing to help or support & commitment to a plan that helps our societies’ collective goal in staying safe.
  • Utilize creative features on advertising platforms - With streaming a national phenomenon right now,  video deems a highly useful tactic to get in front of your intended audience. Stay engaged with your audience and offer a virtual service or product review to remain on your customer's radar.
  • Leverage new tools - Beyond standard channels like social platforms or Google ads, consider digital tools like programmatic to help you maintain brand awareness and pinpoint audience targets that you wouldn’t be able to access otherwise.
  • Consult a professional - Experienced marketers are able to gage the current increase or decrease in traffic for your specific industry. At a time when having an online presence is critical, utilizing digital strategists during the crisis is an essential step to remain competitive in the advertising world after the pandemic is over.
  • Keep communicating - As stated by Mandy Bachus from Adroll, “It’s not just ‘okay’ to keep communicating and marketing in times of crisis—it’s critical.” Given stay-at-home media consumption, consumers are doing more online research, search and shopping than ever before. Remaining transparent with your customers and updating them on the current status of your business is critical. Those organizations  who further communication with their consumers during this crisis will prevail over their competitors who are not.

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