The COVID-19 outbreak is having a big impact on several industries and digital advertising is not an exception. With the coronavirus pandemic, business owners are assessing their marketing efforts and wondering if it’s the best time to run online ads.  

Businesses in many verticals can still experience great results with digital advertising, as long as they make sure that their campaigns are delivering value for those who need to stay at home. 

To better understand how businesses and agencies can succeed, we’ve interviewed our Founder and Chief Strategist, Chris Beckwith-Taylor, who has over a decade of experience in traditional and digital advertising and is an essential part of our marketing services team.

What’s the impact of COVID-19 on the digital advertising industry?

It’s been a point of reflection for a lot of businesses and we like to think of it as housekeeping. Advertisers all around the world are stopping to assess their advertising efforts and determine if it’s really driving value. What can be cut with minimal impact? What could be detrimental to cut? Fortunately, the impact on our current book of campaigns was not nearly as strong as we expected. Many businesses are pivoting their campaigns to address the needs of today’s consumers.

Do you think that showing proof of performance and being able to speak to the metrics is becoming even more important now?

It’s definitely more important than ever. We need to take a hard look at what pieces of our advertising efforts or business strategy drive attributable value today. We think we’ll see a long-term industry shift that will change how businesses position themselves for the way people make buying decisions today and in the future. You need to understand your audience, take a look at the metrics, and see what is driving value.

What if the business relies on foot traffic and doesn’t have anything valuable to offer right now?

Then you have to think about what ways you can influence or steer the narrative to adjust to the current situation. Maybe there is an opportunity to promote educational content. For example, if you’re a dentist, you can talk about three tips for oral hygiene instead of selling dental appointments. Sometimes it can be better to pause the campaign and redirect your efforts to online reputation management, social media, and SEO.

Awareness, engagement, and conversion are some of the most common campaign objectives. Where should businesses focus for now?

We strongly recommend to focus less on conversions and build campaigns to drive awareness and engagement. We’re seeing a lot more audiences out there because people have more time. There is also a lack of competition because many advertisers are pausing their campaigns. So people are more engaged, but they’re converting less. We like to think of it as a browsing audience, which is not a bad thing but requires different messaging for the campaign.

It sounds like it’s not the best time to push products and services. How can businesses adjust their campaign message?

Based on the data we’re seeing, the campaigns should be less about selling and more about educating customers and showing them what makes your business different. We know that we have this audience that is at home, practicing social distancing, and they’re getting sick of the news about coronavirus. If we have a business running a campaign that we can’t pivot to still deliver leads, we try to focus on educational, valuable content. What can you provide your audience at home that is not conversion-focused, but will make their lives better? Position yourself as an expert. When things go back to normal, people will remember you.

How should businesses position their digital advertising services?

We think it’s important to be helpful. For some clients, it may be better to focus on other marketing efforts. For others, it’s just a matter of adjusting the message and goals of their campaigns. It’s also a good time to see if the business’ website is properly set up to track audiences and have better data. Overall, you just need to determine what is going to provide the most value.