The quick, alarming sweep of the financial hardship from COVID-19 has been felt by everyone. Since many local and state government orders have forced physical businesses to temporarily close, many online retailers are seeing a decline in their usual click and conversion traffic. However, that’s not the case for all verticals.

The pandemic that has so many on edge is causing panic. However, there are some valuable vantage points that businesses should keep in mind before putting a halt on, or slowing down digital marketing campaigns.

If your competitor is still paying for advertising, perhaps you should too.

It is important to keep in mind that, sooner or later, the financial hardship caused by COVID-19 will end. In fact, we may soon be on the horizon of people and businesses getting back to their normal routine. The last thing any business wants is for a potential consumer to only remember the name of their competitor when things go back to normal. Campaigns that drive brand awareness initiatives such as Non-Branded Search are highly beneficial right now as searchers are still searching. Brands should aim to be present where customers are in the digital marketing space, especially for those raising their hand for goods and services through Search.

Is Paid Search Traffic Really Declining?

More than ever, it is important to be proactive in marketing efforts by closing the gap between visibility and reach to consumers. While many marketers speculate that the impact of the Coronavirus means a decline in search traffic across the board, statistics show otherwise. According to Neil Patel, finance, food, healthcare, media and pharmacy verticals are seeing a surge in traffic in the last few weeks. While it may feel like life and consumer needs have completely come to a halt, several industries are seeing unprecedented growth. Industries such as telecommunications, online grocery delivery services, in-home Fitness, video conferencing programs, and cloud operations are just a few products and services that consumers are predicted to utilize more as we are all staying at home. In fact, Zoom Communications has seen share price increase 130% since the beginning of the year according to Telecoms. The data shows that within the first few days of March, store visits plummeted 24%, which directly prompted users to find services and products online according to Wordstream.

traffic changes due to covid per industry

(Source: Neil Patel)

Food Service & Restaurant Search Trends

If your business model involves in-person interaction, such as restaurant and food services, consider changing the messaging of your content to advocate for more consumer interaction in a different way. While restaurants are closed, many in the foodservice industry are still offering curbside pickup, takeout, and delivery orders. Even if your business has to remain completely closed, consider creating ads with specific messaging so that prospective customers know their request will be received in a timely manner and they can expect to hear from you soon to get needed information regardless of your brick and mortar store hours.

Restaurants that do not have order pickup or delivery services should consider plans on how to partner with other organizations such as grocery stores in order to maintain some profit. Grocery Stores, like HEB have partnered with several restaurants in South Texas to sell local restaurant food items. Both Paid Search ad copy and display creative can be adjusted to reflect such changes.

Since more and more gathering events are being cancelled, advertisements on platforms like Connected TV are more powerful than ever. Consumers are binge watching more television than ever before, it is important to get the right ads delivered to them so they can exercise their buying power now or in the future. Data from Google Trends suggests that we’ve seen a steady rise in searches around “to go food” beginning in mid-March.

to go food interest

(Source: Google Trends)

Healthcare & Medical Supplies Search Trends

It is evident why we are seeing a tremendous increase in traffic for the healthcare industry. Paid Search is seeing a 24% increase in medical supplies conversion rates, while the pharmaceutical industry is seeing a 47% increase in conversion rates according to Wordstream. Doctors are in demand and the need for medical supplies has increased to compensate for those impacted by COVID-19. It is safe to anticipate searches in the medical field to continue to climb as medical professionals and supplies will continue to be in demand well into the time where a vaccine can be distributed.

Financial & Banking Service Search Trends

Financial organizations are seeing an uptick in searches and at a more efficient rate.  With the turbulence in the economy, people are looking to be smarter with their money and make wise financial decisions. The need to talk to financial advisors and make strategic moves is a key motivator. Additionally, the added financial strain of COVID-19 has encouraged some individuals to tap into cash advances or payday loan resources.

financial search ad performance since covid-19

(Source: WordStream)

Paid Search COVID-19 Messaging

When crafting specific messaging during this time, keep in mind that ad copy that contains the words, “coronavirus or COVID-19” may get flagged for sensitive content Additionally, Google’s policy review team is slower to approve than normal due to COVID-19. It is important to craft your ad copy messaging to be sensitive to searchers while avoiding the words, COVID-19 and Coronavirus as those run against Google Ad policy.

Ad copy that lets customers know your specific service offerings that meet their keyword-qualified needs during this time are highly beneficial. Clients in the restaurant industry should have ads that clearly display food delivery services are available and so on.

Google Ads Help suggests that it’s important to consider the tone of your content, as well as creative assets for Display campaigns. For example, images of large gatherings of people may not be appropriate during this time.

When launching new ad copy, be mindful that Google’s Policy team is seeing some delays around approving ad copy. If you are implementing a new version of creative or ad copy be advised that there may be possible delays in approval. To get an accurate prediction on approval timeframes, reach out to Google Support or your dedicated Google representative so that you can set and adjust launch dates accordingly.


As usually with digital marketing, COVID-19’s evolving impact on the digital marketing landscape makes it essential to stay up to date with the latest developments. While we all hope that the health and financial impact of the Coronavirus ends soon, we have to be proactive and agile with strategies in the meantime.

As for your specific campaign and strategy, we encourage you to revitalize your campaigns with the future in mind. At some point, we will see normalcy in search trends, and now is the time to build the new foundation for success when normalcy comes. Stay informed and read more of AVX’s analysis on the impact of COVID-19 on current marketing trends.

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