Protecting branded keywords, evaluating ad types, spend and placement — how businesses are battling the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this month, we learned that the recent outbreak of COVID-19 has caused consumers to drastically increase their online shopping activity. Data showed that online grocery orders grew exponentially for American shoppers, with most still turning to Amazon to reliably accept payment and deliver shipments for desired items. 

Amazon, however, could not keep up with demand. In mid-March, the company announced it would prioritize medical supplies, household staples, and other high-demand products — baby items, pet supplies, beauty and personal care goods — to its warehouses until April 5th. This was primarily due to a kink in supply chains from Asia where the coronavirus hit first.

Like Amazon, many retailers have faced challenges keeping products in stock and getting them to customers in normal delivery windows. As a result, a shift in strategy from fulfillment to awareness has taken place as brands become more focused on remaining top of mind and protecting market share.

Based on the chart below, 46 per cent of nearly 1,500 Americans surveyed stated that they search by brand or by a specific name or model number when shopping online. Considering the current spike in online retail site traffic, this suggests that the average cost per click (aCPC) for branded keywords will increase as more competitors jockey for position within retail categories. Therefore, it is critical for businesses to protect all of its branded keywords, at all costs.

Which of the following BEST represents how you search for products online?
A key factor to consider when evaluating advertising strategies is the type of ads that resonate with shoppers right now. Being sensitive to the fact that many people are facing hardship is paramount. But the level of attention from customers and their patience to digest content is much different than before the pandemic began.

Data shows animated ads and video ads are surprisingly performing neck and neck since February 1st, with both trailing static ads in effectiveness among respondents of the study. Video ads have been gaining steam over the past two years with the 2020 projection expected to be upwards of $37B in spending, according to Statista (excluding Amazon’s Video in Sponsored Brands and its OTT offering).

Which of the following advertisements are you MOST likely to click on?
In regards to ad spend, businesses in the Consumer-Packaged Goods (CPG) and Consumer Electronics categories have exhibited the greatest increase. This is no surprise considering items like pet food, vitamins/supplements, mice, keyboards, monitors, wireless headsets and earbuds fall under Amazon’s “essential” products list and did not experience an interruption in shipping.

Brands with essential products were also spared from an interruption in cash flow, allowing them to spend significantly more on top of funnel, non-branded search terms and double-down on protecting their own branded search terms. This has produced a boost in awareness and consideration among customers.

Meanwhile, there has been a decline in ad spend for brands whose products are not considered essential. Their sales volumes have plummeted, which makes it hard to justify launching new campaigns. However, with production in China returning to normal the focus has shifted to restoring global demand.

And that could be the toughest challenge of all for retailers to overcome.

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