Google Advertising Strategies During COVID-19

March 23, 2020

Digital Marketing Amelia Erskine By Bradley Hearn

The impacts of the current COVID-19 crisis continue to affect businesses across the e-commerce landscape — from brands and retailers to marketplaces, supply chains, warehouses and more. 

As our clients try to navigate the current situation, we see first-hand the many challenges that brands and retailers are facing every day. And it’s our job to help find solutions. So as we continue to work with our clients to mitigate these new e-commerce challenges, we wanted to offer some channel-specific strategies for all businesses to keep in mind. 

Below are some topical Google advertising strategies for brands and retailers. Many of the tips can also apply in non-crisis times, of course, but they should stay top of mind for advertisers in the coming weeks. 

1. Double-check your negative keywords

Search traffic data has been slightly skewed during the current crisis, as people continue to stock up on certain high-need items (check out our breakdown of current marketplace GMV trends by category here). Make sure you pay attention to your search query trends and look for non-converting terms, especially those that are seeing an increase in traffic. You may see search queries over the last week or two that you haven’t seen before. Use these as negative keywords across your search and shopping campaigns to filter out unwanted traffic.

2. Be wary of your automated bid campaigns

Automation is always a great way to increase the efficiency of your business, but you should keep a close eye on any automated digital marketing campaigns. Just as machines learn positive ways to optimise your bidding and ROI in specific campaigns, they could also learn bad habits as well. It’s a good idea to set bid caps to prevent runaway costs-per-click (CPCs).

3. Allocate your budget across devices

With much of the population shopping and working from home, device usage is changing. We could very well see an uptick in tablet usage, so be wary of budget allocation and conversion rates across your devices.

4. Consider more branding opportunities

As screen time increases at home during revised work situations and potential lockdowns, you may also want to consider more branding opportunities for your business. That could mean increasing your display budgets to build awareness across devices.  

5. Consider dayparting settings

As shopping in physical stores becomes more limited and work schedules continue to change drastically, online shopping patterns could evolve. Shoppers may browse products at different parts of the day than they used to — and maybe even later into the night. Experiment with different settings to find the right optimisation and maximum visibility for your ads.

6. Tweak your ad copy for any potential delays in fulfilment

Be transparent with your potential customers. This might hurt your click-through rates (CTRs) but it could also help you with the profitability of your campaigns.

7. Consider frequent inventory updates

With potential turnover on popular items and a change in shopping behaviors, frequent inventory updates could provide efficiency improvements that help the profitability of your paid search campaigns.

8. Suppress your back order products from feeds

Don’t allow your ads to run automatically on items for which you are low or out of stock. Suppress these from your feeds, clearly articulate your new shipping dates or segment these products to specific campaigns or product groups and pull back on ad spend.

9. Lean on custom audiences

If your conversion rates are falling, try creating a custom audience through Customer Match (using data they’ve shared with you) through search, Gmail, YouTube or Display ads. You can remarket to your customer base, create a custom audience that looks like your customers or even potentially loyalty-centric audiences.

If you have any questions or concerns about how the current COVID-19 crisis might affect your business, we’re here to help. Please reach out to your Account Manager, visit ChannelAdvisor Community or contact support@channeladvisor.com. For more industry trends, analysis and other COVID-19 resources, see our other blog posts here.