A look at current and expected trends in PPC amidst the global virus outbreak.

Nearly all businesses have been impacted in some way by the coronavirus and the PPC world is no exception. Unless your business is lucky enough to be selling hand sanitizer, face masks, toilet paper, or even vodka…the impact on your PPC account is likely not positive.

With that, let’s take a look at some trends we have already started to see in PPC and what we can expect to see over the next few weeks and months.

Virus Search Trends

While we’ve seen global epidemics in previous years, none have caught as much attention as Coronavirus has.  Swine Flu and Zika Virus outbreaks caused ripples worldwide in 2009 and 2016, but caused little impact across the search world. Ebola, which had a 40% death rate, saw a sudden spike in interest in 2014. However, Coronavirus, which has a substantially lower death rate of 2%, has seen a shockingly rapid and large increase in search interest.

Previous epidemic search interest trends
Previous Epidemic Search Interest Trends

While we are arguably at the peak of interest in the virus, we are likely to continue to see high levels of interest over the coming weeks – rather than rapid decreases in interest as we saw with the other epidemics. These interest levels are likely to vary by location, depending on where the virus spreads next.  Be on the lookout for tremors in performance, even after when it looks like the worst has passed.

News Effects on Performance

These tremors and even overall interest levels are largely impacted by the media, particularly in the travel industry. Below is a graph of day over day Google Search performance since the beginning of January for a client in the travel industry. Overlaid on the chart, are release dates of major news headlines on COVID-19.

coronavirus news headlines and performance correlation
Coronavirus News & Performance Correlation

This view of performance gives us some interesting insight into the impact of coronavirus in PPC for some of the highest-impacted industries.  You can see from the graph, that most of the large dips in conversion volume and revenue occurred on the day, or day following, a major development in the spread of COVID-19.

This trend is likely to continue. While the market will eventually bounce back as the virus spread slows and travel restrictions are lifted, we are likely to see decreases in performance each time a breaking news headline hits the media – particularly in the particular market featured in the news.

Cleaning Product Performance Increases

On the flip side, we have seen some positive effects of the virus. For example, search interest has increased dramatically for cleaning and protective products, see below:

Cleaning product search interest trends
Cleaning Product Search Interest Trends

Only a small portion of advertisers will likely benefit from this, so if you are one of them – congratulations, you are surviving the coronavirus!

Google Shopping

Ecommerce retail advertisers, rejoice! There is also good news for you. Governments and health agencies are encouraging the public to take extra precautions and even isolate themselves to prevent either spreading the virus or contracting it. With this, people are opting to stay home more than usual, avoiding stores and public spaces. However, they still need their everyday products and some way to fill their time at home – so online shopping it is! Google Shopping, along with any Ecommerce Search campaigns, are likely to see an increase in volume over the next few weeks and even months.

Keyword Volume Increases

This may be the most obvious of the trends, but coronavirus terms are likely to be infiltrating your search queries. While your account may have nothing to do with coronavirus or any terms related to it, you should double and triple check your search queries for anything out of place.

Don’t think that just because you aren’t seeing any virus terms come through that your account may not be impacted. For example, if you are advertising in the travel industry or for an event you may see an increase in branded searches – but these searches could contain qualifiers such as “cancellations” and “refunds” – so look carefully!

And while you are doing it, just be thankful you don’t advertise for Corona (the beer).