Before reading any further, if you haven’t signed up yet please visit https://www.facebook.com/business/boost/grants to sign up for updates on the Facebook Ads Small Business grant program. Facebook is taking steps to offer help to SMB’s who need to be cost-conscious right now but are having to balance the need to advertise and keep leads coming in – a pretty great opportunity you need to look into.

Google is also planning on giving SMB’s who have been active advertisers since the beginning of 2019 free ad credits. Keep an eye on your Google Ads account for the credits and stay updated on announcements from Google here.

 

Making The Right Moves

COVID-19 is creating huge challenges for families and businesses trying to do the best they can in an unprecedented situation. We are continually helping our clients make decisions that will have the most positive impact on their employees, customers, and long term viability. We’d like to share some of what we’ve learned so far that may give you some perspective on your own situation. 

While what we are collectively experiencing is a serious health, economic and cultural crisis; businesses should not pause advertising from a place of fear without a data-driven decision making process. The questions we’ve outlined below will help you make the best decisions for your business.

 

Should I pause my ads?

During times of national crisis, it’s often a reflexive response to stop advertising. It’s a complicated question, and one with no universal answer. We’re going to try to give you a quick set of questions to go through to determine if you should. Additionally, our team has been using this time to sift through information on the ad landscape right now from trusted sources we’ll be sharing below. 

 

How is your industry being affected?

While it may not feel like it, there are some industries that are going to see little or no change in their customer demand during this time; some industries may even be seeing increased sales and leads. Looking at your industry goes beyond looking at competitors to see if they’re still advertising, you should independently evaluate all environmental factors around your business. This would include competitors, local and federal government regulations/involvement, impact on adjacent/complementary verticals, technology and more. If there are no significant environmental factors impacting your industry, move on to the next step. Here is a snapshot from Wordstream on what they’ve seen so far by industry, and you can click here for a deeper dive.

 

Are your business operations continuing at a capacity that can handle advertising driven leads/sales?

If you’re Burger King, the best thing to do might be to alter your promotional and advertising strategy to serve people during their time of need in a way that is helpful and genuine. However, if you’re a manufacturer, a home services provider or an ecommerce brand you might have concerns. Many brands are decreasing, or outright pausing, advertising as we speak because labor has been reduced or put on hold; in these circumstances continuing advertising may not make sense. If operationally you’re still able to fulfill orders and inquiries, move on to the next step.

 

Do you need to reallocate your media budget?

Undoubtedly you’ll have financial issues to tackle while we all fight through this. If the funds currently being used for advertising are the only line item in your budget that can be diverted to cover these costs, then your options become more limited. Try doing a cost-benefit analysis to understand how shifting costs from advertising to another cost pool would actually impact your bottom-line, including what revenue could potentially be lost. 

Depending on your sales cycle, the impact of reducing your ad budget may not be felt until many months from now when you hope to be ramping back up. If there are no clear cost pools that need your ad budget or the cost-benefit analysis indicates the short-term shift of funds could have an overall negative impact, move on to the next step.

One other note on media budget shifts, it may be possible to avoid completely pausing ads while maintaining reach at a lower cost – we are seeing decreased costs in platforms like Facebook and Connected TV due to changes in advertiser activity and user behavior. Nielsen research finds viewers stream 61% more Connected TV during major crises. Millions of Americans will be spending more time streaming, providing a great solution for advertisers that need to follow their audience as behavior is changing.

 

Short of pausing, what changes do you need to make?

If you’ve gone through the above questions and your industry isn’t experiencing significant negative impacts, your operations are stable enough to handle your normal (or close to normal) volume of work and there are no serious costs or losses that need to be offset there may still be actions you need to take. 

Budgets may need to be shifted between channels due to how your customers have shifted their media behaviors. Here are a few changes we’ve seen already:

As you can see, people are using search less overall, but they are still engaged online. Google Display Network ad traffic is up 13% and YouTube ad traffic is up 21% since the beginning of March.

If you want to maintain your target spend levels you’ll need to monitor what’s going on in your search campaigns. Seeing a similar drop in your search volume? Try bumping up your YouTube, Facebook & Display advertising until search traffic increases.

Additionally, we recommend doing a quick scan through your current ad messaging to insure it still feels relevant with the behavior changes from COVID-19. Do your ads include calls to action encouraging people to stop in-store? Is your business still offering free estimates during this time, or has your business changed to emergency cases only? The most common question we have encountered is, “Is XYZ business still open today?” It is essential to revisit creative your business is sharing across all advertising channels. 

Another note on display advertising, if you’re running display campaigns pay special attention to your placements and consider avoiding any sites about health, news or politics to minimize your ads being placed next to coronavirus related content.

 

Keep Measuring

Finally, be sure you continue to have an accurate and thorough grasp on your key metrics as you make any changes to your current media plan. Despite using sound advice and best practices, there may be unique variables within your industry or customer base that cause unexpected results. You need to be able to determine your next set of moves after seeing results from any initial adjustments based on sound data and analytics. If the path forward doesn’t seem clear, don’t hesitate to reach out to trusted partners like Gemini for additional perspective and ideas.