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How Corona Virus-19 Has Impacted Google Ads Results for 21 Industries [Data]

COVID-19 has
evolved into a global event impacting public health as well as the economy.
These are uncertain times, and we don’t have all the answers, but what we do
know now is that small businesses have felt sudden changes in their campaign performance as a
result of this worldwide pandemic.

We’ve seen that global events often impact PPC performance, and COVID-19 is no exception. As
businesses change their operations, people stay in their homes more, and the
world reacts to a pandemic unfolding in real time—they turn to online search
and news for answers to their questions and solutions to their new needs. For
some advertisers, these new searchers are driving new audiences to find their
way to advertisers’ sites, and some are becoming new customers. For others, the
results aren’t as great, and the strategies will need to shift.
At Word Stream,
we’re looking across tens of thousands of advertisers to understand the impact
of COVID-19 on PPC advertising. In this article, we’ll examine several
industries that have noticed serious changes to their Google Ads accounts over
recent days and weeks as COVID-19 has spread and interrupted normal life and
business.
In the United
States, Google’ see a riches have shifted, but largely remained constant. But in the past week,
we’ve noticed Google search ad impressions begin to decrease modestly—7% below
average. That’s not uncommon, particularly during holiday weeks, but it was
certainly not expected by many advertisers.
What
is uncommon is how searchers are behaving. As they flock to the SERP, we’re
seeing that searchers might be looking for something entirely different and so the clicks aren’t worth your PPC ad spend. Others are more hesitant to
convert today. Since COVID-19 became epidemic in the United States three weeks
ago, we’ve seen conversion rates drop by an average of 21%.

Here are seven
industries seeing an increased volume, seven with mixed performance, and seven
industries hit the hardest.

7
industries with increased volume/performance during COVID-19

Some businesses are
experiencing increases across metrics during the time of this pandemic.

Non-profits
and charities

In times of crisis,
we often see the best in people, and that’s even true on the Google SERP. As
COVID-19 has spread, non-profits and charities have seen:

  • A 10% increase in search ad impressions.
  • A 23% increase in search ad conversions.
  • A 20% increase in search ad conversion rate.

Health
and medical

Unsurprisingly,
many of us are turning to search for information on how to protect ourselves
and our communities. As users turn to the stores and the SERP to purchase
everything from over-the-counter painkillers to vital medication, many
advertisers are seeing increased ease in selling their products online, with ad
clicks and conversion rates both significantly higher than usual.

Business
management

  • As people prepare for remote working, office
    supplies became a sudden breakout industry. Searches for office supplies
    increased 90%, paid search ad clicks increased 35%, and search conversion
    rates increased 41%
  • As traditional retail has shifted focus to
    operating online, packing and shipping supplies more than doubled their search
    ad conversions (up 123%) and search ad conversion rate (up 107%).

Finance

The markets may be
performing poorly, but it looks like now more than ever searchers are looking
for experienced help. In an industry that normally has some of the most expensive keywords and a high cost per click, we’re seeing CPCs fall and
relieve some pressure from a normally competitive industry. Many are also
noticing increased CTRs and CVRs, as well.

 Beauty
and personal care

Many fast-moving
consumer goods (FMCG) have been in high demand the past few weeks. People are
searching for products like soap and hand sanitizer, as well as seeking more
self-care in these hard times. We’re noticing a 41% increase in searches for
beauty and personal care. Many of these verticals are seeing business boom on
the SERP with lower CPCs and much higher CVRs.

Category Change in search CPC Change in search CVR
Beauty & Personal Care -14% +6%
Skin Care -3% +21%
Spa Care -20% +41%

On-demand
media

As many of us
practice social distancing, we’re consuming more entertainment at home. While
most entertainment advertisers are picking up the increased demand and driving
a few extra conversions, on-demand media has skyrocketed and doubled its
conversions in the past few weeks.

 Greetings,
gifts, and flowers

Social distancing
is a lonely experience, and it’s difficult to maintain our connections for what
may be weeks or months apart. Small gestures can mean even more throughout the
COVID-19 pandemic, and advertisers who are wise enough to advertise on Google
are seeing some great results. Over the past three weeks, since the coronavirus
escalated in the US:

  • Searches for cards and greetings have seen a 15%
    increase in conversion rate.
  • Searches for gift baskets have seen a 30% increase
    in conversion rate.
  • Searches for floral arrangements have seen a 43%
    increase in conversion rate.

7
industries with mixed PPC performance during COVID-19

We’re closely
watching some industries with potential to see big changes or shifts in coming
weeks.

Real
estate

Borrowing rates
remain low, and the housing market is currently holding. On the SERP, search
traffic remains relatively stable, as well—with little change to search volume,
CPC, or conversion rates. But some important shifts could have some important
industry consequences down the road.

  • Property development and construction industries
    both are seeing declining conversion rates (-53% and -7%, respectively)
    and lower search volume. A slow down in these fields could trigger reduced
    real estate supply in the future.
  • Both real estate listings and real estate agent
    searches have seen some increased cost per click (+15% in the past month).
    However, real estate listings have seen a -25% decrease in conversion
    rates while real estate agents and brokers have observed a 30% increase.
    As consumers become more hesitant to attend an open house, more will rely
    on a professional agent to schedule an appointment instead.
  • Moving and relocation services have seen a 11%
    increase in search volume while maintaining a healthy CTR, CPC, and CVR.

Home
improvement

March is often a
seasonal lull for Home Improvement projects naturally, so we shouldn’t be
surprised to see that Home Improvement searches have been slowly declining for
the past few weeks. The next few weeks will be a litmus test for the industry.

On one hand,
Americans spending more time stuck in their homes could inspire new home
projects and an excuse to get off the couch. On the other hand, economic
uncertainty may discourage discretionary spending.

To date, average
conversion rates remain steady but vary wildly.

Home
furniture

Much like home
improvement, things are unexpectedly consistent on these big-ticket items.
Search volume, CPCs, and conversion rates have all stayed within +/-2% over the
past weeks.

Smaller ticket
items like home appliances and bedding and linens have seen search upticks and
light conversion boosts (+7% and +12%, respectively), which may be a good sign
for consumer confidence.

Automotive

The automotive
industry is showing some stress on the SERP—with a noticeable 30% drop in the
industry average conversion rate over the past few weeks.

A
30% drop is never good, but it’s hard to attribute all that to COVID-19.
Mid-March isn’t exactly car-buying season to begin with, but we’re seeing
searchers shift their preferences within the automotive space.

Category Average Change in Search Conversion Rate since COVID-19
Vehicle Dealers -42%
Vehicle Auctions +5%
Vehicle Parts & Accessories -28%
Vehicle Repair & Maintenance +44%
Vehicle Window Tinting +79%

Retail

Some would predict
ecommerce to soar with traditional retail having reducing hours and operations.
But while some families are turning to ecommerce to replace brick-and-mortar
purchases, others are unsure of their future income. This instability is
impacting user’s conversion rates on from search ads—with retail conversion
rates having fallen 14%.

The good news?
Large retailers, including Amazon, are pulling back their budgets on Google
Ads and consequently, a 9% decrease in CPC on Google have evened out most
retailer’s ROAS.

 Ironically,
wholesalers and liquidators seem to be noticing an opposite trend, with a 14%
increase in CPCs but a 9% increase in conversion rates.

Jobs
and education

Schools and
colleges around the country are closed for several weeks, prompting a forced
rise in earnings
and training. Although the classroom has changed, there’s yet to be
short-term changes to the performance of higher education advertisers. With the
college application rush over and the June SAT yet to be cancelled, prospective
students haven’t changed their behavior on the SERP.

There’s modest
increase in paid search traffic for new careers and vocational training (+10%
and +8%, respectively) in the past weeks, but that’s largely aspirational for
the moment, as conversion numbers haven’t shifted noticeably.

Legal
services

The legal industry
is seeing some minor shifts on the SERP, with modest (under 5%) to search
volumes and conversion rates. Luckily, this is offset by a similar decline in
the cost per click—keeping search conversions and CPAs mostly steady.

However, we’re
seeing more of these conversions arrive in the form of phone calls instead of
website submissions. And, unfortunately, over 30% of these calls are
unanswered. If COVID-19 is impacting your firm’s operations or hours, be sure
to:

  • Update your campaigns dayparting to reflect
    your current hours.
  • If you’re working remotely, make sure your
    website, your call
    only ads, and your ad’s call
    extensions reflect the best number to reach your team.
  • Track your phone calls from PPC using keyword level tracking.
  • Ensure that your Google
    My Business account is up to date to reflect your firm’s current
    operations. Create a post to ensure prospective searchers that your firm
    is still active during this crisis.

7
industries hit the hardest so far

The biggest concern
during COVID-19 is undoubtedly public health. Unfortunately, this has put some
industries at risk, and those working in these industries are particularly impacted—on
and off the SERP.

Travel
and tourism

With businesses,
governments, and consumers avoiding unnecessary travel at all costs, it
shouldn’t surprise anyone that fewer people are looking to book travel today.
As a result, many travel advertisers are struggling to convert new searchers on
their site.

To compound the
issue for these advertisers, searches for flight cancellations, delays, and
restrictions are at an all-time high, making their ads more exposed to curious
searchers.

To mitigate some of
this disruption, be sure to:

  • Add new negatives keywords for COVID-19,
    advisory, and cancellation related searches.
  • Promote cheaper fares and easy cancellations and
    adjustments for future travel.
  • Suggest travel insurance to your customers to
    ease concerns while increasing your average sale price.

Bars
and restaurants

With many
communities closing dine-in restaurants and bars, these small businesses will
be hit hard during our time in social isolation. While many are learning to
shift to delivery and take-out services, they’re already hard-pressed finding
success on the SERP this past week.

Category Change in search ad impressions Change in search CVR
Restaurants -18% -59%
Bars & Nightclubs -26% -57%

Live
entertainment

Public safety and
strict limits on group size have performers and venues cancelling shows across
the globe. As a result, search volume for live entertainment has reduced by 24% and conversion rates have fallen 30%.

Conferences

I know too well
that many large conferences have either cancelled, postponed their events until
the fall, or are attempting to host a virtual event in place. Unfortunately,
many businesses rely on event marketing to fill their marketing funnel so these
event cancellations will have ripple effects to other businesses, as well.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak at the end of February, event marketers have
noticed a 33% reduction in conversions as more events continue to cancel.

Sports
and fitness

Major sports
leagues and rec leagues alike are cancelled for the foreseeable future. As many
communities increase their social distancing efforts, many more gyms are due to
close and those that are open will see fewer new members walk through the door.
All said, many verticals tied to sports and fitness are seeing strong declines
to their conversion rate.

A notable exception
is that sports programs (online and offline) and sports camps have gained
significant uplift in the past few weeks as many begin to plan to get out of
the house.

Building
and construction

A sudden economic
downturn and worksites being closed puts an unexpected damper in the building
and construction industry. As future projects begin to stall or get delayed,
prospective clients are becoming less likely to convert, as well. Recent timing
is poor, as seasonal advertising costs in the industry are already beginning to
rise.

Industrial
and manufacturing

As manufacturing
operations are slowed, we’re seeing PPC campaigns for manufacturing and
industrial goods are also impacted. Cost per click have increased 5% and
conversion rates in the industry have decreased modestly, but advertisers are
hurting from a 13% decrease in search traffic.

We’re all in for
change over the next few months—both online and offline. Stay safe, healthy,
and practice social distancing. While you’re stuck inside, keep an eye on your
PPC accounts and the WordStream blog. As we see new trends emerge and
strategies to keep your account’s performance healthy, we’ll be posting
regularly.

Data
sources

This report is
based on a sample of 15,759 US-based WordStream client accounts in all
verticals who were advertising on Google’s Search throughout 2020 thus
far. Each industry includes at minimum 30 unique active clients. For indexing
purposes, we’ve evaluated weekly account performance since February 24th
against the prior six-week average.




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