On Jan. 31, US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar II, declared a public health emergency in response to the outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Consistent with the latest news from the CDC (as of this writing on March 11), which states, “This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation,” many US businesses and digital marketers have already seen the impact of the COVID-19 on paid search planning and execution.
First and foremost on marketers’ minds, and in the minds of our clients, is the health and safety of our employees, our respective clients, and the international community at large. If you are sick, self-isolate, or work from home, if possible.. The CDC recommends that you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Use common sense and good judgment when traveling, both domestically and internationally, and fact-check the source of any information you find online about the coronavirus – the CDC is at the forefront of information dissemination for this virus in the US.
In an age when marketing success can hinge on a business’s ability to quickly react to and pivot strategy around Internet trends in real time, the COVID-19 outbreak is changing consumer behavior. Just as CEOs are adjusting business travel policies and IT professionals are preparing networks for an influx of work-from-home traffic, marketing teams are also preparing for changes.
International disruptions in the daily operations of people and businesses have already had resounding effects on search engine marketing (SEM) planning and execution across multiple industries. From search volume fluctuations to supply chain interruptions, our SEM teams have had conversations with clients about how to pivot strategy to ensure businesses are doing everything they can to protect the health and wellness of their employees and of those in their supply or manufacturing chains, while also supporting their customers.
The first thing that some search teams may notice is an increase in search traffic around certain products or services. For example, an increase in searches for “face masks.”
Some initial precautions SEM teams can take to ward off any unwarranted increases in search traffic are:
- Set up automated reporting dashboards to review traffic and spend at a glance.
- Add “coronavirus”, “virus,” and “covid-19” as phrase-match negatives to your accounts.
- Google is blocking ads capitalizing on the coronavirus, so the negative keywords shouldn’t be necessary, but are a safeguard nonetheless.
- Consider applying negative bid modifiers to heavily affected geographies, depending on product or service availability.
- Monitor search query reports closely, especially for broad and phrase match keywords.
Increased search traffic
One of our clients saw increased search traffic on zinc-related products, led by a viral message from a noted pathologist that was being shared on social media platforms, which led people to believe these products would protect users against the coronavirus (that claim …read more
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