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, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.