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Hosted by Julie F Bacchini, this session helped experts to look back and see how the pandemic has affected their PPC accounts, have their businesses been affected, what have they learned from the “once in a lifetime” event like Covid, and more.

Q1: How have your accounts been impacted by COVID? Does it vary by platform or industry?

Varies by industry but 90% of our clients have actually improved and increased ad spend over the past year. The only exception was travel, which was hammered early on and still hasn’t fully recovered. @gilgildner

Depends on vertical. We have off-retail clients (travel, event ticketing) who unfortunately crashed though their business fundmentals are solid. Ecomm boomed of course and CPCs were generally favorable but we’ve seen some negative trends in conv. rate. @mikeryanretail

A big lesson was how important it is to be able to adapt while sticking to our values as an agency. we found creative ways to do this, but not without a lot of shock and extra time put in. I was so proud to see how @SeerInteractive got through these times. @sonika_chandra

Gen: it definitely varies by industry. we’re doing a lot more channels, there is a lot more interest in investing in new digital channels. But overall budgets are lower and supply chain issues are still affecting some of them. @JuliaVyse

For ecomm I’ve seen increased volume as more people shopped online versus in-store. @robert_brady

Some clients were wiped out – just unable to do business – but the company I’m working for now has grown rapidly. (It’s online learning/entertainment.) @stevegibsonppc

Some of our home services / home improvement clients did better last year as users directed money to their own homes. Most saw falls – related to spend shifts, search volume, or industry shutdowns (i.e. tourism). It definitely varied. @amaliaefowler

Varies by industry. It’s mainly events clients that have taken a hit. Companies with good online presence have thrived. @TheMarketingAnu

Public sector: *cracks knuckles* so time is meaningless. After a public health order, we hustle to get new comms live asap. Grant programs need clarification, and existing programs need to manage conversation about services needed. @JuliaVyse

In general, volume has fluctuated and results as well. This has been affected both by search volume, external restrictions, and often client budgets. It varies wildly from account to account and comparing year-over-year in reporting has become a multi-step exercise! @snaptechmktg

It is kind of all over the place for my accounts and those I worked on over the past 14 months. @NeptuneMoon

Covid caused one “bum” month and then led to explosive growth as brands began to adapt how they speak to their customers and more brands began to test the #ppc waters. I will say social campaigns seem to be the “losers in the marketing mix. @navahf

Everyone: now that covid deniers and other weird convos can get out of hand VERY quickly in your comments section, moderation teams have to change their approach to managing conversations. @JuliaVyse

Certainly varied by industry on my end. When COVID first hit clients were having issues left and right. Ecomm clients couldn’t keep products in-stock and had supply chain issues. @BrettBodofsky

In the beginning, clients were slashing budgets left and right. Now brands are investing more in digital regardless of the industry (retail, healthcare, etc.) Besides investing more in ads they are improving their digital presence which helps my performance. @Anna_Sorok

All industries were affected differently – the biggest factor was how quickly companies were able to adjust & implement new processes. Some companies completely went out of business, while others thrived during the pandemic. We saw both & new companies formed. @GreenRope

I’m in the healthcare space – so yeah. Pauses on optional / non-critical procedures early on the pandemic. Returning to more normal levels – but there is still a backlog for certain things. @Galliguez

As most of my accounts are ecomm we saw a lot of accounts get a lift from covid or remain pretty stable from the demand side. However some businesses had supply issues & others had covid outbreaks that halted shipping. This made us pull back spend. @selley2134

Accounts related to home stuff (landscaping, pools, furniture) did/are doing great! Everyone else, especially car sales are having a tough time. @AlwaysThursday1

For the most part, performance for most of our accounts improved. It’s been a little weird because we’ve been having issues with health/wellness clients. @ameetkhabra

It certainly varies by industry. education and travel had some major dips in performance, home improvement and DIY spiked and saw improvement. i was so impressed with how my clients adapted their products to fit the times though! @sonika_chandra

All of them and mostly positive as clients were selling items people wants. A few SaaS clients shut down spend and a few ecom struggled. Things got more competitive last year online. @duanebrown

They have. Supply chain issues, changing business models to drive more business and develop new products with people being more home-bound over the last year. Grateful their appetite for testing remained. @AkvileDeFazio

All, some up, some down. @JonKagan

The real estate industry was impacted with a slowdown in Q1 but then we saw exponential growth because of people moving, looking for larger space. Now we are experiencing a shortage in supply… @Anna_Sorok

Q2: How has your business (agency, consultancy/freelance or in-house) been impacted by COVID?

Discosloth has been very lucky as we’re ecom focused and have a solid ongoing retainer base, so very little of our clients were affected by lockdown orders. Our revenue is up 32% YoY in 2021, and was up 13% in 2020. @gilgildner

I’ve had more business than I can take on. Had to turn down a lot of opportunities since my current clients were doing so well. It’s been a great blessing. @robert_brady

Transitioning to remote work as the rule vs the exception has made work/life balance tough. Workaholism is real – and there’s been no shortage of work. @navahf

I went from being s/e to being an employee. Though one could argue how much of that was covid-related and how much of it was just that the right opportunity came along. @stevegibsonppc

All positive beyond the challenges of hiring and growing. Doubled revenue year over year and who knows what this year will be. @duanebrown

I now share my office with my 2nd grader and a puppy, so that’s been an adjustment! Figuring out the right level of work with all of the other things on the plate took some time. @NeptuneMoon

Our in-house team had a hard pivot from appointment campaigns as mentioned before to COVID educational campaigns where needed. A lot of messaging to triage people to the right place. @Galliguez

Remote work. For me personally, that meant a lot more work, a lot less fun, more difficult to perform management tasks for the team. Some people love the remote stuff but it’s not for me. @selley2134

It is agency life, never overly positive, never overly negative. @JonKagan

We basically doubled our business in team in a year so COVID, in this case, was a blessing. It helped a lot of businesses started to realize that they needed to be online! @ameetkhabra

We’ve definitely built stronger client relationships. On a personal note, while watching other agencies in town lay off 20 – 30% of their staff, I’m incredibly glad and grateful that my team stayed paid and intact all year. @amaliaefowler

Our team was already multi office with most meetings held online… so while going remote was an adjustment – it didn’t slow us much at all. Just more kids and pets photobombing meetings. @Galliguez

It ended up being a great year – hired a content marketer/writer, saw an influx in consulting clients, and brought on more brands to work with. Grateful for the outcome of an uncertain year. @AkvileDeFazio

Part 2… I will also say I have never worked harder in my life then 2020. Long hours and 6 days weeks to make sure each client come out the other side and grew. We got extremely lucky as an agency and no one on our team takes that for granted. @duanebrown

It’s been an adventure – we definitely saw some hits in Q2 (lots of event + hospitality clients), but we picked up a bunch of DTC, B2B + Commerce clients (see, no “e”) later in the year // this year, so we’re back to hiring. @DigitalSamIAm

I have some survivors guilt but… it was generally favorable! Month 1 was scary as hell but we grew a ton, not just financially but in terms of culture & processes too. A year later, wow. I have to remember how lucky we were though and be grateful for that! @mikeryanretail

Cont.: While our success was earned, there were others who struggled so much by no fault of their own @mikeryanretail

The biggest shift was going fully remote, which we still are. We were lucky that we were set up for remote work before it became mandatory; all things considered, it was a smooth transition. I think some of the team wouldn’t mind working from home forever! @snaptechmktg

Thankfully we kept most of our clients. In terms of WFH, it was hard to work from a shoebox NYC apartment but we found our way. @Anna_Sorok

Q3: What has surprised you the most, relative to COVID impacts, over the last year in PPC?

I’ve been enormously impressed by the resilience of many business owners who really got screwed by lockdown – while getting very little help from the government. Their willingness to keep going despite that is admirable. @stevegibsonppc

The timing of changes by the ad networks. Last year (and this year) feel like a rollercoaster of profit and panic. I think if we had more stability in data, we’d be able to “enjoy” the success that many were able to harvest out of 2020. (t) @navahf

I am actually surprised CPC did not increase as much as I suspected it would, especially in competitive ecomm niches. @gilgildner

The varied impact on businesses. Some of our smaller clients who I thought would go under, pivoted and created amazing new things. The human resiliency and what that created.. Also, how some clients who could have been successful opted not to try something new. @amaliaefowler

I was actually surprised at how quickly performance went back to “normal”! @sonika_chandra

How many clients were willing to give up branding efforts to reallocate to DR as a way to survive. @JonKagan

Not sure it’s surprising. But Google & other platforms made a lot of huge changes while we were also trying to deal with covid changes & life changes. Would have been nice if maybe they delayed some of those changes to let us catch our breath. @selley2134

Huge spike in telehealth searches early on. But I was surprised how fast it tailed off. Still higher than pre-pandemic probably… but I would have expected higher demand to last longer. @Galliguez

I would say two things: (1) the sheer incompetence of some agencies to adapt (i.e. using the same strategies as before COVID, no changes to campaigns despite craziness, etc.) and (2) the resilience and ingenuity of other marketers who cared about their clients. @DigitalSamIAm

The way we’ve banded together – maybe more than ever, as a community. I just feel that there is more outspoken-ness about issues we’re having, successes and most importantly the support when those outpouring happens. or is that just me? @TheMarketingAnu

What surprised us the most was the varying impact on CPC. What continues to surprise us is in some auctions last year where Amazon was dominating, they still haven’t fully returned (although we are bracing those clients for the day they do) @snaptechmktg

This should not surprise me, but… Platforms using COVID as an excuse for even worse customer service and support after a few months in. Seriously, the digital ad biz is booming. Put some effort into support, especially w/ so many new advertisers. @NeptuneMoon

Exactly what @sonika_chandra. I’m surprised by how fast things got back to normal. I was also surprised by how quickly @Optmyzr put together that COVID-19 PPC Analysis Tool. It was super useful! @BrettBodofsky

What surprised us the most is the way companies were able to quickly adapt, but also the companies who had an unwillingness to adapt quickly or learn. @GreenRope

Some said the slow down would happen. We are not seeing that… at least for our client mix. Maybe some of these habits build over the last year will stick. Flip side, some people are just stupid AF. Won’t believe science and what is right in their face. No words. @duanebrown

What surprised me the most was how little smart bidding was actually affected by the big data disruption. From my research less than 40% of campaigns had to reset. (Would have to look it up to be sure about the 40) I expected anything “smart” to be broken. @soanders

Q4: How do you think PPC and your accounts will be impacted as we begin to emerge from the full pandemic phase of COVID?

This can go so many ways. Regions are really rolling out ‘normalcy’ at different times. Some of my companies are in locations that are massively affected still but serving populations that are almost back to where things were. I think it will be interesting. @amaliaefowler

I think at this point it has more to do with the state of the larger economy and how much helicopter money will be dropped. I think a lot of the lockdown-era problems have been priced into the market already, so who knows? @gilgildner

Again, I think this depends on the industry. I see the travel industry skyrocketing in the next few months, retail and DIY may slow down a bit as life reopens. just speculation. @sonika_chandra

Honestly, I don’t think negatively. I think pricing will slow down as we migrate back to a heavier mobile side, as desktop has had its glory in the sun for a few. @JonKagan

I am expecting to see growth and people putting more funds into paid media ads. I just hope it is done intuitively instead of just the – “ooo, people are out again & our competitors have raised their funds so let’s just do the same”. do it strategically! @TheMarketingAnu

Some accounts will be throttled… as we have already backlog demand for some procedures delayed from the pandemic that we will be working through. @Galliguez

Probably four primary axes this revolves on – and where you’ll see material shifts in campaign performance. IMO, smart marketers will be figuring out how to adjust audience + creative splits to these now. @DigitalSamIAm

Local #PPC folks rejoice! In all seriousness, I think we’re about to see HUGE spikes in aspirational industries (travel, fitness, etc) as well as enhancements to ad formats that revolve around building first-party data sets. @navahf

It’s also going to be dependent on industry. We will continue to see supply-chain issues for lumber, plastics, etc. @amaliaefowler

I don’t expect there to be much impact on my clients. Maybe a slight dip for a week or two as there may be a push to buy in-store but I think people realized how good and easy buying online can be. @selley2134

I am very interested to see what will stick post pandemic and what will revert. Will people want to be anywhere but home? Or will they enjoy more time home & w/ family still? What will people want to purchase in person again vs. online or curbside? @NeptuneMoon

As big players ramp their budgets back up and platforms make changes that prioritize larger advertisers, it’s likely to become even tougher for low volume or low budget clients. @snaptechmktg

Combine the above with the cookieless world we’re entering. While things will ramp up, we’ll also be able to see less. @snaptechmktg

Some Ecomm clients that could keep products in stock during COVID times thrived because demand went up as people were quarantining & not doing that in-person shopping. People returning to in-person shopping could surely impact ecomm clients. @BrettBodofsky

We will throttle some campaigns where we have established backlogs due to the pandemic. @Galliguez

Good question! I think it’ll vary by industry but my guess is that retailers are going to see a bit of a decline in online sales whereas tourism is going to be see explosive growth. @ameetkhabra

The first is political (oh yay controversy!) – we’ve seen a significant fragment deny logic, reason + science for over a year. To think that they’ll suddenly flip a switch when it comes to products/services seems….far-fetched. @DigitalSamIAm

With iOS14 roll out… so much is up in the air. If people keep buying online and minus a slow summer which is normal. I think we will still see growth over last year. Buying online is better then some thought it would be. @duanebrown

Some Ecomm clients that could keep products in stock during COVID times thrived because demand went up as people were quarantining & not doing that in-person shopping. People returning to in-person shopping could surely impact ecomm clients. @BrettBodofsky

My favourite two words. It Depends. @amaliaefowler

The second is related – regional + geographic. I’m especially interested in vaccination rates by region, b/c I think that’s a good barometer for how susceptible that area will be to future variants + outbreaks. More outbreaks = more volatility in demand. @DigitalSamIAm

The “emerging” might be a lot less than most people expect. But, alternatively, there could be a period of large-scale socialising. Good for society, but not good for online learning companies like the one I work for. Either way, it’s short-term. @stevegibsonppc

I think as the economy starts to open back up to a full scale, we will see targeted campaigns for the businesses formed during the pandemic & for those companies looking to gain back what they lost. @GreenRope

I think everyone is in for a good summer, especially as I dive deeper into what some of the truly brilliant minds on marketing Twitter have to say and keep learning from them. @AlwaysThursday1

The third is economic – we’ve seen markedly different buying behaviors from Top-10% HHI Target Audiences vs. Lower-50% HHIs. Throw in that higher income audiences tend to be more educated, more resilient to change and more adaptable… @DigitalSamIAm

Measurement is the challenge. Valid historical comparisons can be like defusing a bomb and combined with the changes rolling out to tracking now and in the future. It’s gonna be lively! @mikeryanretail

I still think this will be a huge trend to watch as well… call it whiplash or whatever you like. It might not have hit yet but it will. @mikeryanretail

Q5: What have you learned having gone through over a year of a “once in a lifetime” level event like COVID?

Expect the unexpected and there’s never a bad time to nurture community engagement. Ooo…and that its a great time to simulate outdoor ads online. @TheMarketingAnu

I am more than my work and my clients (though I love them dearly) are not the beginning or end of my worth/happiness. Being able to gain that clarity gave me more efficiency because I wasn’t tied up in the stress of letting folks down. (t) @navahf

That I need to stop thinking these things are going to be once in a lifetime and have a consistent plan b ready to go. @JonKagan

This is more personal but I got to know my son more / in a different way (1-yr old at the time). Before COVID I was working & commuting all the time, just saw him a few hours a week. It was like polaroids of him growing up. Now I get to REALLY see him grow up. @mikeryanretail

That our team is really strong and adaptable, and honestly awesome. We’ve definitely made the best out of a not-so-great situation. @snaptechmktg

In terms of #ppc specific insights: 1. Account structure can no longer save bad creative (ads or landing pages). Humans expect brands to be human. 2. Bidding strategies are inevitable, but that’s not always a bad thing. @navahf

Our generation keeps getting once in a life time: – 9/11 – 2 recessions – pandemic I am already planning for the next one… because it will be here before the next decade. @duanebrown

Personally I have learned how much I love being home and the control it gives me over my life, professionally and with ppc I have learned the social responsibility our industry can leverage #ppcchat (look at me forgetting hashtag) @runnerkik

Honestly I don’t know that I will fully appreciate the lessons until its over. I can tell you that I am ridiculously grateful for this community and my online friends. I’ve certainly connected more this year. And cried to @duanebrown more than once. @amaliaefowler

I also have a post-it on my desk now that says “The most important parts of your life have nothing to do with work” – because when work is all you’re doing its certainly all consuming. @amaliaefowler

That “this has always worked so it should also work now” should be printed out and taped to the inside lid of every office trash can. Also, that I’m glad I bought a house with a patio that faces the sunset. @AlwaysThursday1

I learned a lot about people. I think it tended to show some true colors that maybe people had hidden before. I also learned a lot more about how I work best and how to set myself up for success. @selley2134

There are always those who experience good fortune even when there is massive hardship happening – and that is ok. Needs shift during difficult times and some companies will be in a position to meet those needs and will really thrive. Others will struggle. @NeptuneMoon

But until then, those individuals (who skew younger) are likely golden geese for brands that can appeal to their desire for prestige, status + novelty. Meme culture is here to stay – so you have to know how to identify + message to that audience. @DigitalSamIAm

Individual relationships still matter. And I’ve missed face-to-face interaction. @robert_brady

Learned a lot cross functionally. I have a ton of respect for our PR and operations teams. Crisis management is one thing – but it feels like hospitals and the like have been on alert 24-7 for over a year now. I get updated numbers twice a day. Huge team effort. @Galliguez

Be prepared for the unexpected & when the unexpected happens, buckle down & come up with a plan to quickly adjust. Do not be afraid to fail, be afraid to not try. @GreenRope

I’ve learned that I LOVE remote work & can remain just as efficient at home as in the office. COVID has also further cemented how important proper account structure is. I wouldn’t have been able to make the rapid changes I needed to if it wasn’t for a good structure. @BrettBodofsky

Something really refreshing. I realized that I could really work for anyone anywhere in the world and that a business can perfectly well function like that. (when that business is in digital marketing anyway) @soanders

I’ve learned that although I can push myself to work and do more for our clients, I probably shouldn’t. If I’m not good to myself, I’m not going to be good to my team or our clients. @ameetkhabra

Q6: Are there things that have been going in or came into place over these last 14 months that you’d like to see stick around?

The remarkable shift to Ecommerce But admittedly, that’s selfish. @PPCKirk

I’m ok with all the public services (like my city/county) finally upgrading to online portals. They’re always like 20 years behind. I hate going to the DMV! @gilgildner

Honestly, I think we’ve seen significant productivity gains as we’ve had team members working from home. There’s a ton of research on this, but simply allowing people to be head-down and focused, without constant disruption, is worth its weight in gold. @DigitalSamIAm

@PPCKirk‘s marketing songs. @amaliaefowler

Audience targeting, recognizing the customer journey that can be done vastly online with less offline and increasing CPCs are gonna be here to stay. @runnerkik

The sense of community and collaboration, honestly! I would also like to see businesses continue to pay attention to and invest in digital. @amaliaefowler

I know I mentioned the struggle with work life balance, but I really hope remote working stays. It enables a wider talent pool and more efficient overhead costs for companies. Also, I don’t hate the content that’s been coming out from Disney. @navahf

I think the increase in empathy for the people we work with, clients, coworkers, random strangers on the internet was a very beautiful thing that came out of the last 14 months. I hope that sticks around! @sonika_chandra

From a client standpoint, we had a year when a decade happened from an online commerce standpoint (I hate “eCommerce” b/c it’s all just commerce + I think it’s stupid that brands silo it). The challenge is now integrating online + offline together. @DigitalSamIAm

Brands realizing most big agencies are not the best. They can equal or even better work from smaller shops. Brands trying to run an efficient and effective business. Cut the fat that doesn’t add value. Spend more time with people and offline… when not buying. @duanebrown

Companies realizing that time in office does NOT equal productivity. Let individuals modify their schedules and get their work done on their terms. And that we sped up adoption of online adoption for many areas that were way behind (i.e. government). @robert_brady

1: and I think there’s something (performance marketers are going to shoot me, but (1) w/e and (2) article coming soon) good that’s come from iOS14.5: that we might finally have the impetus we need for brands to start investing in MMMs + building good data workflows. @DigitalSamIAm

Remote / Hybrid options are likely to stay – but additional team building will be needed to keep everyone connected in lieu of serendipitous water cooler collisions and impromptu lunches. @Galliguez

Continued: I hope audiences gain relevance and stay effective as well as the high cpcs so much as quality moves with high cpcs while I don’t want to pay more if paying more means less junk I’m ok with it. @runnerkik

Not directly related to PPC but… reduced capacity in restaurants. @snaptechmktg

On a personal level, I LOVE curbside pickup, especially for groceries. Professionally, I hope increased flexibility sticks around – though it does not impact me directly as I am my own boss and have worked from home for over 20 years. @NeptuneMoon

Virtual backgrounds but more importantly that people have come to understand the value of social connection. @soanders

It forced clients in some cases to pay more attention and get more creative. Before covid I had numerous clients that would skip every monthly meeting or not respond to emails or not want to test things. During covid they had to pay a lot more attention. @selley2134

I’d like to see agencies continue to allow for remote work. It’s no secret that PPC practitioners can drive great results regardless of their physical location. @BrettBodofsky

Remote work and the flexibility. Someone told me digital marketers have to be on 24/7 and I was like – no we don’t. @amaliaefowler

I would say community, my bonds with people became quite a bit stronger over this last year and I would like to see that continue. @ameetkhabra

Same here!! as well more empathy from working from home situations. the daily grind of work commute is draining and usually made me start the day in a bad mood. @TheMarketingAnu

Every company that “added increased cleaning measures” to their showrooms shouldn’t necessarily ditch those measures. Professionally, I love seeing the people that dove deeper into their creative side and realized that they have talent. Keep that shit up! @AlwaysThursday1

3: also, as the amount of data we have changes, I think audience understanding becomes increasingly important. Building robust, detailed, well-researched personas becomes increasingly important. That’s been clear through COVID. It’s only getting more important. @DigitalSamIAm

Really enjoying the video chats (not sarcasm). I feel it better connects remote teams. @JonKagan

Saw more benchmarking and data sharing. I got into that myself! It’s been positive for the industry. @mikeryanretail

Definitely remote work and flexibility but people need to understand that standard work hours still apply. @Anna_Sorok

Q7: Are there things that have been going in or came into place over these last 14 months that you’d like to see go away?

The time that I spend on Twitter increased significantly which meant that I was consuming a lot more information so my mental health really took a massive hit. I would like to see my Twitter usage go down. @ameetkhabra

I want the platforms to stop using the pandemic as an excuse for delayed/ineffective support. @JonKagan

I think I used the word “Zoombie” earlier today. Need I say more? @soanders

It feels like we live in a world of good and evil (each side thinks they’re good and the other is evil). Humans are meant to exist in the gray and the sooner we can all work from the same set of data, the better. Search terms would be nice too ^_^ @navahf

Can Google and Facebook just not for like 6 months so we can all catch up? @amaliaefowler

Not every call needs to include video. In fact, most really don’t. I’d like to return to more phone calls rather than zooms. @NeptuneMoonThis – just this! @TheMArketingAnu

I want to ambiguously described theories on the cookie-less future to be OVER. Just be clear already on how we will be impacted as advertisers! @runnerkik

I may be in the minority on this one but I cant wait to return to an office. I think flexibility is key b/c everyone works differently but brainstorms w/o zoom, asking questions w/o slack, meetings where people are engaged all make for better work in a team. @selley2134

White people and anyone else who is still acting like it’s 2019. This shit is real and people are dying from the pandemic, cops and the racist system that has been built. Take your head out of your ass and open your eyes & mind. @duanebrown

Seriously some of you good white people need to still sit down and spill that tea with the shitty white people… because those shitty white people are not listening to us or the science.@duanebrown

I would like the anti science and anti data faction and hateful parts of society to fade as well. @runnerkik

We all gained more time flex… but it was definitely all hands on deck for an extended period of time. The burnout is real. Not gonna lie – 2020 beat me down pretty hard. Prioritizing more self-care in 2021. @Galliguez

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