Managing Paid Search in a Crisis
COVID-19 is presenting new challenges to search marketers. Performance volatility can recall Cyber Weekend, but with additional uncertainty around the overall economic environment, its impact on consumer behavior, and potential inventory issues as a result of supply chain disruptions.
We hope everyone is tucked away safe and quickly adapting to remote work (not without its own challenges!). Here are four considerations to help you better navigate this turbulent SEM environment.
1. Understand Your Customer Demographic
As always, it pays to know your demographic. Retailers with older customer bases may be among the hardest hit, as stock market volatility will have a disproportionate effect on users with a fixed income. While the economic impact will ultimately be felt more widely, expect more acute effects among this cohort; adjust forecasts and bids accordingly.
2. Be Aware of Looming Inventory Issues
Shortages may arise as governmental intervention impacts globalized supply chains. The risk of disruption increases with the longevity of this health crisis. Stay in close communication about potential inventory depletion; if an item is highly likely to sell out, there may be little reason to pay for search traffic. Bank the ad spend for a future date or re-allocate to SKUs that need support. It’s best to be aware of these issues ahead of time, as gradual bid draw-downs can be more efficient than rapid adjustments.
3. Pay Close Attention to Changing Auction Dynamics
While your competitors will be subject to similar consumer demand issues, their supply chains and available inventory may look drastically different. In some cases, you may see routine competitors disappear from auctions entirely, at least in the near term. This can be a significant opportunity, but it can also lead to large, unanticipated increases in paid traffic that strain the PPC budget if left unchecked. Monitoring your Auction Insights reports is the best way to stay on top of these developments.
4. Review Your Use of Automation
Conversion volume will decrease for many advertisers, especially as the impact of business closures on wages are thrown into sharper relief. While this will vary across verticals, all advertisers should be preparing for this eventuality. Advertisers should review their current use of bid automation or Google Smart Bidding solutions. Many of these tools are designed to function optimally at certain conversion thresholds; as conversion volume wanes, campaign consolidation may be in order.
The impact of COVID-19 will vary significantly across verticals and advertisers. Whether you’re forced to scale back — or well-positioned to ride a wave of increased interest in your product offering — the next several weeks will be a volatile period for SEM. Navigating this volatility efficiently will be a key challenge for advertisers. Heightened awareness of the changing competitive landscape and developing inventory issues, as well as a highly adaptive bid management approach can help advertisers better serve their business goals and come out on the other side of this crisis positioned for success.
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