More PPC advertisers pause campaigns amid coronavirus upheaval

For many marketers, last week was a tipping point as the U.S. grappled will coronavirus measures.

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“It’s surprising how fast things have changed in just a couple of days,” said Brad Geddes co-founder of PPC management tool Adalysis in an email Friday.

“We’ve seen a LOT of campaigns suddenly paused. Everything from travel (even travel agents who are often booking trips 6 months to one year in advance) to car dealerships, event venues, restaurants, etc.,” said Geddes. “If you have to leave the house to engage in the service, it just seems like it’s not converting right now.”

Travel “tip of the spear”

As U.S. communities suddenly began to take drastic measures to slow the spread of coronavirus, many marketers saw search and conversion behavoirs shift just as swiftly. The travel industry is the “tip of the spear” — a leading indicator of where things could be heading for other sectors — as MediaRadar put it. Data released by the media intelligence platform Monday indicates the travel sector swiftly put the brakes on media. A comparison of the first two weeks of March vs. February, shows a contraction of 62% in digital media spend by the travel sector. “Many firms have stopped spending altogether while they assess and develop their plans,” said Todd Krizelman, CEO of MediaRadar.

“I work in the higher ed field, CPCs have been plummetting along with search volume the past 7 days. Many competitors have pulled out entirely. We’ve just been watching CPCs, impressions, and daily spend drop for days now,” a Reddit user posted in a thread on the impact of coronavirus on CPCs.

“I would say most clients are noticing a definite drop in leads and a general decrease in buying interest,” Tim Jenson of Clix Marketing said Friday. He said the company he mentioned the last time we spoke a week ago is continuing to try to spend more on digital in an attempt to make up for lost leads from tradeshows that have been canceled, however, volume and interest just might not be there now.

Not all doom and gloom

It’s unwise to make sweeping generalizations, of course. Many sectors and businesses will see skyrocketing demand during this time — anything related to online learning and conferencing, for example.

“Healthcare is flat, if not pushing up a little bit in volume. CPG is up. QSR is down negligibly. So net-net, we aren’t seeing any substantial changes to demand on [the] DTC side. On B2B, we are seeing no decline in Bing; Google is seeing a small drop, but nothing of major alarm at the moment,” Jon Kagan, VP of search at Marc USA, said in a note Friday afternoon.

Several others we spoke with either said they haven’t seen dramatic changes yet or that it’s too early to see trends. We will continue to monitor and report on the effects of the coronavirus on PPC marketing in the coming days and weeks.

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About the author

Ginny Marvin
Ginny Marvin was Third Door Media’s former Editor-in-Chief (October 2018 to December 2020), running the day-to-day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin wrote about paid digital advertising and analytics news and trends for Search Engine Land, MarTech and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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