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The Impact of COVID-19 on the Digital Advertising Industry

The COVID-19 outbreak is having a big impact on several industries and digital advertising is not an exception. With the coronavirus pandemic, business owners are assessing their marketing efforts and wondering if it’s the best time to run online ads. 

While it’s undeniable that the current advertising landscape poses a challenge to agencies all around the world, it’s also true that there is a big opportunity out there. 

Businesses in many verticals can still experience great results with digital advertising, as long as they make sure that their campaigns are delivering value for those who need to stay at home. 

To understand how businesses and agencies can succeed, we interviewed Mike Vossen, our Product Expert for Digital Ads. Mike has over a decade of experience in traditional and digital advertising and he’s a part of our Marketing Services team at Vendasta. 

Interview

What’s the impact of COVID-19 on the digital advertising industry?

It’s been a point of reflection for a lot of businesses and I like to think of it as housekeeping. Advertisers all around the world are stopping to assess their advertising efforts and determine if it’s really driving value. What can be cut with minimal impact? What could be detrimental to cut? Fortunately, the impact on our current book of campaigns was not nearly as strong as we expected. Many businesses are pivoting their campaigns to address the needs of today's consumers.

Do you think that showing proof of performance and being able to speak to the metrics is becoming even more important now?

It’s definitely more important than ever. We need to take a hard look at what pieces of our advertising efforts or business strategy drive attributable value today. I think we’ll see a long-term industry shift that will change how businesses position themselves for the way people make buying decisions today and in the future. You need to understand your audience, take a look at the metrics, and see what is driving value. 

You talk to Vendasta partners every day. How are agencies dealing with this situation?

Everyone’s case is a little different. For some people, there are really good opportunities to increase ad spend and certain clients are even seeing an increase in sales at a reduced cost. I have a guy selling VoIP phone systems and the demand for remote work is skyrocketing right now, which is really good for him. On the flipside, some verticals are reassessing some of their marketing efforts. For example, auto dealers are seeing more demand for repair and maintenance than car sales. It’s all about evaluating which components of the business still offer value to clients.  

What if the business relies on foot traffic and doesn't have anything valuable to offer right now?

Then you have to think about what ways you can influence or steer the narrative to adjust to the current situation. Maybe there is an opportunity to promote educational content. For example, if you’re a dentist, you can talk about three tips for oral hygiene instead of selling dental appointments. Sometimes it can be better to pause the campaign and redirect your efforts to online reputation management, social media, and SEO. 

Awareness, engagement, and conversion are some of the most common campaign objectives. Where should businesses focus for now?

I strongly recommend to focus less on conversions and build campaigns to drive awareness and engagement. We’re seeing a lot more audiences out there because people have more time. There is also a lack of competition because many advertisers are pausing their campaigns. So people are more engaged, but they’re converting less. I like to think of it as a browsing audience, which is not a bad thing, but requires different messaging for the campaign. 

It sounds like it’s not the best time to push products and services. How can businesses adjust their campaign message?

Based on the data we’re seeing, the campaigns should be less about selling and more about educating customers and showing them what makes your business different. We know that we have this audience that is at home, practicing social distancing, and they’re getting sick of the news about coronavirus. If we have a business running a campaign that we can’t pivot to still deliver leads, we try to focus on educational, valuable content. What can you provide your audience at home that is not conversion-focused, but will make their lives better? Position yourself as an expert. When things go back to normal, people will remember you.

How should agencies position their digital advertising services? 

I think it’s important to be helpful. For some clients, it may be better to focus on other marketing efforts. For others, it’s just a matter of adjusting the message and goals of their campaigns. Going back to my analogy about housekeeping tasks, it’s also a good time to see if the business’ website is properly set up to track audiences and have better data. Overall, you just need to determine what is going to provide the most value. 

Current Advertising Trends

We took a look at our book of campaigns and noticed a few trends, however these numbers are subject to change in the next few weeks.

Facebook

  • Based on the last 30 days across all verticals we are seeing a drop in online conversions (form fills, purchases, appointment bookings)
  • Steady decline in average CPM & CPC (~40%)
  • Audience reach, engagement (shares/reactions/comments), and overall performance improved
  • Certain actions like add to cart saw a substantial increase, while online purchases fell

Search

  • Overall search volume is slightly up, our average daily impression share included
  • No noticeable increase in clicks or performance of ads
  • Search volume throughout the day appears to have a multimodal distribution

Display
*Limited data set to analyze*

  • Impressions and clicks saw a strong improvement
  • Overall on-site actions and visits plummeted

Video

  • Total impressions, completed views, clicks and their associate % rates (CTR/VVR) improved
  • Average CPV saw a marginal increase

How Vendasta Can Help

At Vendasta, we have a team of digital advertising experts that can build, manage, and optimize campaigns for your clients. Our platform allows you to resell our services under your brand and it’s perfect for agencies that need tools to scale. If you want to know more about our platform and services, click here to book a demo with a sales rep.

About the Author

Filled to the brim with talent, Vendasta's Marketing Team is always looking for ways to create thought-provoking content, eye-catching media and data reports with numbers crunched so hard they have six packs.

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