If famous American vaudeville comedian W.C. Fields was alive today and recited what he was quoted as saying some 90 years ago, “I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure,” he likely could be referring to the future of PPC, or pay per click.

PPC fell sharply the first few weeks after the pandemic was declared, with both keyword searches and conversion rates plummeting. This caused many marketers to wonder about PPC in the coming weeks and months, if not years.

But with stay at home orders in place, more and more consumers sought refuge online where they could search for and purchase needed commodities and PPC began recovering in mid-April. By late May, Forbes reported that internet usage was up 70%.

Although PPC is reviving, consumer reliance on digital platforms has escalated and evolved, so brands must be prepared to adjust to satisfy their needs. Here are some tips.

Search Terms

COVID-19 was disruptive and caused many consumers to panic. The panic was fueled in part by conflicting information and news reports. Regularly scheduled reviews of search terms should be performed. One key is in understanding the traffic a brand’s ads is getting and adjusting the PPC campaign for volume and new search terms.

Keywords

Identify and remove any new negative keywords in the brand’s site and social media platforms, particularly any that may have roots to or are associated with COVID-19. If necessary, invest in a keyword tool that can help find these negative keywords. Achieving this before they trend will minimize the angst of stressed out searchers.

Google Trends

As long as the potential for another wave of COVID-19 hangs over the country and reports of the same continue to be disseminated, many consumers will harbor fear and uncertainty. It’s important to monitor and understand consumer search interests and priorities during these times. Visit Google Trends Coronavirus Hub regularly to recognize and observe how people are searching online about COVID-19.

Adjust

The PPC areas most negatively affected by the pandemic were tablets and mobile devices. For the first six weeks after the pandemic was declared, weekly mobile traffic was down 24%, tablets19%. Until that trend changes, it may be time to consider Google’s fully automated seasonality bidding strategies. However, the downside is that the brand hands over full control over individual keyword bids to Google.

Ad Schedule Performance

The pandemic not only drove more people to the internet but also altered online habits for many. Brands that advertise on Google should regularly check their campaign performance by day and time within Google Ads to see if there have been any changes and shifts in consumer visiting habits. While employing and monitoring Google Ads, it would also be valuable to determine if there have been any shifts or patterns in the best days and times for conversions, impressions and cost per action in the brand’s ads.

Looking Ahead

As reported earlier, the pandemic increased the potential online market for most brands. Recognizing the changes in the marketplace and consumers, adapting and adjusting to both, and leveraging the available tools to best meet those needs offer a bright ray of optimism for marketers.

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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.