Striking a balance between promotional and socially conscious messaging can be challenging right now. We know that Google and Facebook are actively monitoring and snubbing out inappropriate ad copy that has malicious intent (and for that, we’re grateful). That said, it’s difficult not to talk about it and empathize with our audiences.

Google is running a series of weekly webinar sessions called Mobile On Air. In their first session, from May 5th, they covered “Design and Performance in Uncertain Times”. I really enjoyed the section on design principles as it has a universal approach for ad messaging. Below are tips and thoughts on how to approach your message:


Color theory and the link to psychology can help soften your ads. 

  • Try to avoid red as it is often associated with error or warning messages
    • If red is one of your brand colors, reserve it for your CTA to draw attention
  • Utilize the “calm colors” or earth tones such as blues and greens
  • Use a coherent color pallet. To attract attention use complementary colors (colors directly opposite of each other on the color wheel)


The tone of your message should be caring and calm while still illustrating your business’ authority on the matter. Messaging that is too emotional can cause audiences to lose confidence in a business’s authority. Always use credible sources and statistics when making statements and own your narrative. In Kamlyn’s article PPC in the Time of COVID she remarks that consumers respond positively to sensitive ad messaging but data suggests that the majority of consumers are not turned off by your ad messaging.

 Audiences are relying heavily on the internet right now for all of their information so having a strong and clear message takes the guesswork out of choosing the right product or service.


Best practices for messaging have not changed much. Now more than ever we should put forth great content that follows a few simple guidelines:

  • Keep it informative: Focus on information first; be brief and succinct; show actions taken to ensure health and safety
  • Keep it positive: Use simple language and focus on the actionable steps that users can take
  • Keep it accessible: Advisory information applies to everyone

Although this Google session focused primarily on the mobile experience and steps to keep your site successful, I found the core elements of the strategy universal across my paid media strategy. Moving into a new and varying situation with COVID and US reopenings will usher in variations to media strategies on a geographical level. Having a few core good intentions will help guide you through the next steps.