Advertising in the time of Coronavirus: Week 1

Now that Australia has been through perhaps the most heightened 7 days of Coronavirus activity, we explore what effect has this had on online advertising in the last 7 days on Search Advertising and Display Based Advertising.

If you missed out on our previous discussion on The Top 3 Marketing Funnel Mistakes, click here.

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Where are we at now? 

Before we get into the topic of advertising, we would like to acknowledge these extraordinary circumstances and extend our heartfelt support to those who are going through some tough times.

In terms of how we see this situation through advertising and marketing, we see that this virus could have 3 phases

Reactionary phase – this is the early stages such as a change in consumer confidence or spending. However, this phase could possibly be longer than we expect.  

Recovery phase – this is when we start seeing some positive change in the right direction from government policies and sanctions. 

New Normal – something we all hope to see very soon but is still a far reality. Inevitably there will be a new normal but, how we see this through marketing and advertising could completely different for other industries or parts of the world. 


The real major changes have only been seen in the past 7 days. Some industries have been affected more than others, and some have been affected much earlier than most. 

Utilities, Supplies/Medical, SAAS/Remote work are some industries that have seen either a stable or uptick in impressions

Tourism & Hospitality, Ecom/Retail, B2B, Real Estate are some industries that are not performing as well in the last seven days.

One thing, however, that is relatively stable is the conversion rates as we still see those who are searching are still buying. Again, this can depend on your industry as these are still very early days.

We would recommend you hop into your accounts and look into your data to see if there have been any changes for you.  


In Display, we are seeing the opposite of search.We will soon enough see a coming tsunami of Online Traffic. How?

Self-isolation + WFM means more people are spending time online which means more inventory. However, just because inventory is up, this does not mean buyers are up. We will explore more of this in the upcoming sections. 

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What can brands do?

Do a quick audit of your creatives! Take note of your ad placements given current situations in a local market, are the creative elements appropriate and relevant?

Given what we had mentioned previously about search and display, our advice would be to keep your Bottom of Funnel or the “Decision” tier and shift your focus from Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) to Revenue. Your focus should be on campaigns that drive Revenue at volume – even if this means dropping ROAS expectations. Protect the revenue that is coming into your business and as long as it is there in your Bottom of Funnel, take it. 

Now looking at your Middle of Funnel or the “Consideration” tier, this is possibly the place where you are hurting the most right now. How come? If your customers have not made up their mind or on that path to convert, we would consider to stop chasing them and start cutting budgets in this area. 

Alternatively, if you have budgets locked in and committed but Consideration tier metrics are cliff dropping, shift the focus. At the very least re purpose your budget into an asset that you can control by growing your email lists and Audience Asset Lists.

Last but not least, at the Top of Funnel or the Awareness tier we believe now is the time to lead. Instead of cutting awareness, demonstrate your brand’s values to existing or new customers. 

Some examples from some large brands:

What you could do are contests or giveaways. Give back and get in front of people. Can you create a “work from home” pack? Spread some joy! Utilize this opportunity to build your long term Audience Asset lists.

We hope that you found our discussion valuable and that you could now apply the insights you gathered to your marketing strategy going forward. In Week 2, Chris and Adam continue their discussion on Advertising in the time of Coronavirus. Click here to read more.

Links to resources