How the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Is Affecting Businesses & Marketers

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, we know you are trying to understand how this will impact your business and your digital advertising plans. The reality is that the vast majority of businesses across all industries have, or will, likely face challenges due to closings, cancellations, and increased demand for certain products. We want to be proactive in helping you navigate this uniquely difficult time.

Using Social Media to Communicate

Businesses are reacting by proceeding with transparent communication, ensuring customers are aware of company closures, product backorders and other critical information. Businesses should utilize their social media platforms appropriately to provide frequent updates.

Suggestions include:

  • Updating hours of operation if they have been, or will be, impacted in any way.
  • Provide a short update in the business description that lets customers know if any changes to the normal business routine have been made.
  • Use posts to get special messaging out, whether it concerns products or closures.
  • Monitor customer comments to respond to any questions or concerns.

If customers are looking to get information regarding your company during this time, Google My Business is likely the first place they’ll look. Even if nothing has changed in your day-to-day proceedings, take a few minutes to double check that the information on your listing is correct.

How are Google and Facebook responding to COVID-19?

In addition to making it easier for people to learn more about symptoms, vaccine information, and travel advisories, Google is removing any content on YouTube that claims to prevent the coronavirus in place of seeking medical treatment, and is also blocking all ads capitalizing on the coronavirus. Similarly, Facebook is blocking anyone running ads to exploit the situation.

During times of public uncertainty, the spreading of misinformation is inevitable. It is crucial that news updates from businesses to consumers are carefully reviewed. Two of the largest digital advertising platforms, Facebook and Google, are doing what they can to ensure user safety.

Both platforms are monitoring advertisers so that all of their offerings are being used appropriately. Rob Leathern, Director of Product Management at Facebook, recently stated, “Our teams are monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely and will make necessary updates to our policies if we see people trying to exploit this public health emergency.”

Reaching your audience

For businesses, there is a heightened importance on reaching the correct audience. With users constantly online to monitor news updates, there is a unique opportunity to put together an effective digital strategy.

According to a new Gartner Report released on March 13, 2020, time spent online in China is up 20% since quarantines began.  “A significant boost may also occur in the West as people increasingly confine themselves to their homes.  Western brands must prepare for increases in internet time and greater customer expectations of digital platforms and online response times.”

Consider these solutions:

  • Video – More people are staying inside as the concept of “social distancing” takes hold. This inevitably leads to increased video consumption for news and entertainment purposes. Utilizing OTT and YouTube marketing will help you connect with your audience while they consume video content.  
  • Device ID – If you’re looking to reach a specific audience with unparalleled accuracy, device ID can be a viable solution. Advertise to consumers based on foot traffic data from the as recent as 5 days, or as far back as 6 months. This is a good option because it can help take into account a user’s behavior in response to recent developments.
  • Search – When users search for services in your industry, it’s important to get your business in front of them. Search marketing helps your audience discover your business when they’re most in need of your goods or services.

Historical Trends and Data

The Coronavirus situation might be uncharted territory, but there is historical data that shows advertising during times of crisis is important to a brand’s long-term success.

Although many examples focus on financial crises and not pandemics, the current market environment suggests we’re undoubtedly in the midst of widespread economic difficulty. Studies during the recessions in 1985, 1990-91 and 2001 showed sales for companies that remained aggressive during the recession enjoyed sales that were 2.5x the average of all other businesses.

When companies continue advertising during a crisis situation, they convey a sense of stability to consumers. If businesses scale back during these same periods of time, they begin to lose their position in the public’s mind. Consequently, those who maintain their advertising efforts often capture customers of another brand.

To read the specific examples of this theory, read the article from Forbes here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bradadgate/2019/09/05/when-a-recession-comes-dont-stop-advertising/

Moving Forward

At Hubbard Interactive, we are always here to support your business in good times and challenging times. We understand that the concern for public health and safety is the #1 priority for the foreseeable future. With that being said, we also recognize that businesses are still operating and relying on advertising to impact sales and maintain brand awareness. We are in constant communication with our Google and Facebook representatives and will be monitoring how any impending changes might affect campaign performance.

As always, our goal is to cater to our clients’ changing needs and help them achieve their desired business results. Please reach out to your Hubbard Interactive contact with any questions.