PPC during Covid- 19
Over the last couple of years, Google has been pushing its users to utilize “smart bidding”. A bidding mechanism that is based on machine learning and AI capabilities. It seemed to work great, until the world was faced with COVID-19 during 2020.
Which is what drove major changes in PPC and the “smart bidding” targeting abilities. They are based on trends, search history and user’s active keyword searches.
Let’s look at the changes and the best practices to handle complex and less complex PPC during COVID-19 pandemic.
With many businesses being shut down via free will or mandate, we have a lesser number of active advertisers. For the most part, that drove a lower CPC across the board. It affected all the other PPC KPIs accordingly.
For those remaining in the game, from across various industries, we saw a natural growth in impressions, clicks, lower CPA and better impression share.
However, this may not be the case for highly competitive industries or essential businesses that boosted their PPC budgets or remained highly relevant.
For those, we note a more competitive environment that raised the overall PPC costs by about 15-20%.
SMART BIDDING GOT MESSED UP
Since many of Google Ads automated bidding options are AI based, major shifts in user search patterns and online behavior due to COVID-19 affected the PPC algorithm. It caused the bidding strategies to be less effective.
From here, PPC account managers need to spend more time and to conduct data analysis more frequently. They need to measure the exposure and apply adjustments accordingly.
What worked for a week or two, could (and had) stopped working, so greater attention, and constant testing, were required.
MANUAL CPC ADJUSTMENTS TO STAY SAFE
We note major shifts in CPC for those PPC campaigns who kept using the same “smart bidding” strategy, especially those using CPA and Maximize Conversion strategies. The simple, yet time consuming solution, was applying a manual bidding strategy to gain as much control as possible, until things would stabilize.
However, what also has been seen is quick recovery of the automated bidding abilities, mostly for Maximize Clicks, and this has been a favorite strategy during the uncertain times.
As always, manual CPC adjustments consume a lot of time, yet they do provide the greatest level of control, especially when the algorithm acts wonky.
FORWARD-THINKING PPC STRATEGY
Uncertainty drives caution. That usually leads to brands cutting their advertising budgets or efforts, sometimes completely. However, every challenge also entails opportunities, especially for those brands who are likely to reopen their gates sooner than others.
With less competitors, the PPC operational costs are likely to be lower and one could get a better bang for his buck. In addition, it might also be a good time to increase the brand awareness, and even grow the online sales.
From an agency perspective, this could be a great opportunity to engage with existing clients and encourage them to actually grow.
REOPENING OF ECONOMY AND PPC DURING COVID 19
It’s very important to stay informed. It will help you predict or anticipate the reopening of certain types of businesses.
As marketers, this will help us plan the strategy and be ready to launch updated campaigns on time. Additionally, this could be a great opportunity to fine-tune the brand’s messaging and make sure it’s not tone-deaf. Communicate trust signals to clients so that they are aware the brand is in tune with the reality and is acting accordingly.
From the PPC standpoint, the COVID-19 period is perfect timing to go over the ads, create new ones, in various lengths and messages, and update the display creatives.
The client should allocate sufficient ad-spend towards PPC. If that the ad-spend has been dropped, make sure to adjust the strategy accordingly.
GOLDEN AGE OF ECOMMERCE
The eCommerce industry has seen best times during COVID-10, as many folks had no other way of getting goods and supplies.
For some of our eCommerce clients that ran PPC and PLA campaigns, the months of COVID-19 were the strongest months they’ve seen in years. Sales went through the roof – and at a lower CPA.
Infront also took the time to educate some of its selected clients about the importance of eCommerce. We assisted shifting some of their business online with simple and easy to use eCommerce websites.
FAST PPC CHECKLIST FOR MAJOR ECONOMY SHIFTS
With the experience we have accumulated during COVID-19, here are some practical tips for better PPC management during major economical shifts or slowdowns:
- Bidding strategy testing (at least every 4 weeks)
- Creating fresh and up to date ads
- Using relevant and current messaging in ads
- Optimizing the schedule
- Optimizing audience targeting
- Communicating trust
- Consider dropping bids
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