Between event cancellations and travel restrictions, Coronavirus (COVID-19) is disrupting many key areas of the digital industry including ad spend. While delivery and digital subscription services, along with e-commerce and gaming services, are thriving on the Coronavirus outbreak, some businesses are pulling back on their social spend as they wait and see how the situation unfolds. 

As leaders in the digital space, AdParlor is implementing strategic and innovative solutions to help brands continue to achieve their business objectives in these unprecedented times. 

How can businesses maximize their advertising dollars and retain consumers? AdParlor spoke with our industry experts to help you navigate the changes in consumer behaviour on social media platforms. Here are a few tips on how your social campaigns can continue to thrive in the ever-changing waters of the industry.

1. Switching Up Your Objective

While now may not be the time to push conversions for products/services directly impacted by COVID-19, taking a step back up the funnel promoting brand awareness or consideration is a logical step. Doing this will allow brands to continue to stay top of mind. By increasing potential net new users at the top of the funnel, and expand retargeting opportunities once the outbreak dies down.

COVID-19 Ad Spend
Facebook Ad Objectives

2. Testing New Ad Units

Have you tried Facebook Offer Ads yet? While most small to medium business may not consider this the time to start testing new ad units on Facebook, this tool could be exactly what’s needed to still promote products or services to consumers while allowing them to save it for later.

Offer Ads come with a handy feature allowing the viewer to save the offer shown in the ad for a later date. In doing this, the user opts-in to Facebook’s notification system that will send a push reminding he/she about the saved promotion. While these ads aren’t available on Instagram, they are available on the Facebook Newsfeed through website traffic or conversion campaigns.

COVID-19 Ad Spend
Example of Facebook Offer Ads

3. Updating Your Messaging

As you’ve probably all seen, updating messaging to let consumers know that your brand is not only up to date with the latest ways to stay safe but is also sympathetic to those dealing with COVID-19 is the way to go. Consumers are more likely to continue purchasing from your brand if they know what you’re doing to keep your staff, your store and your products safe. Beyond this, practicing corporate social responsibility never hurt anyone!

COVID-19 Ad Spend
Nike’s latest COVID-19 update

Messaging should focus on providing either a sense of comfort or problem solving. For example, an advertiser that sells hand soap should likely push soaps that are not harsh on your hands while still being a good option for cleaning. Another retailer that sells office supplies could lean into craft supplies if they have those as most schools are in the process of closing.

We also suggest integrating careful and creative messaging in your campaigns. While our clients do not directly mention COVID-19, their copy alludes to it in a positive way. For example, a Fortune 500 advertiser that sells hand soap is using the copy, “Spread love, not germs”.

As such, it’s important to capitalize on the sales of cleaning products where possible, but finding a balance where you don’t leave a bad taste in the customers’ mouth is key. Advertisers also have a responsibility to ensure they are meeting their customer’s best interest.

4. Be Cognizant of Where Your Customers Are

Be cognizant of where your customers are and what they are doing. If they’re working from home, then build your strategy around an online presence and tailor your messaging to suit their needs. Highlight products and services that are best suited for the household, such as free or non-contact delivery.

5. Offer Your Customers Something New To Do 

Offer your customers something new to do, whether it’s a magazine subscription, home workout equipment or a new set of cookware. Find the products that tailor to their needs.

6. Remain Authentic

Customers may not want to see ads in times of heightened panic. Stay true to your brand voice while recognizing that people have legitimate concerns. Offer solutions in a way that show compassion and care.

At a time when people are feeling isolated, pull out of areas which aren’t driving results and reinvest in online channels that can make your customers feel connected.

7. Lean Into the Ease of Online Shopping

Retailers can lean into ease of online shopping by considering waiving shipping and handling fees as consumers are less likely to leave home.

Businesses can also maximize their advertising dollars by focusing on free shipping instead of encouraging their audiences to pick up or visit them in store.

COVID-19 Ad Spend
Example of Instagram Checkout

8. Don’t Focus on the Short-Term

Some brands are focusing too heavily on the short-term, taking aggressive measures and reallocating all of Q1 ad dollars to later in the year. This can have a negative impact on momentum and audience retention.

Social media usage is peaking right now as people seek news updates and want to stay connected with loved ones. Brands that maintain a healthy online presence and use tasteful messaging (that doesn’t try to capitalize on COVID-19) will stay top of mind with consumers.

Rapid-fire Tips!

  • Focus on online ordering, building goodwill during this time, and if you have the right offering taking advantage of an expected decrease in CPMs due to both increased traffic (people are spending way more time on their phones) and decreased demand in certain categories
  • Review your block-lists across social networks if there is a concern with appearing in close proximity to negative news stories
  • With an anticipated dramatic shift in consumer behaviour, keep a close eye on Lookalike Audience performance. With underlying behaviour changing, the previous learnings that fuelled successful results might not be as effective.
  • Consider launching new audiences driven solely from new to file purchasers (extremely recent – last 5 days)
  • Promote products in your catalog that provide comfort to consumers who are spending more time at home
  • Geo-targeting and/or geo-exclusions

Changes in User Behaviour on Social

Key takeaway: Consumers seem to be spending more time on site, and while they are seeing strong engagement with COVID-19 related content, this is part of broader increase in consumption. Users are engaging with more content than normal as a direct result of increased time on site.

As you build your next campaign, take advantage of these tips and remember to update your messaging and keep your customer’s best interest in mind. As social media usage is at an all-time high right now, consider using these recommendations to help guide your campaign to success!

If you still have questions on how to scale your campaign, contact our team and see how AdParlor’s experts and tools can help.