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Hosted by Julie F Bacchini, this week’s PPCChat session was also focused on a recent Coronavirus outbreak. Experts have discussed how the PPC work being impacted, Change in strategies, Any other ways to do paid search and/or paid social advertising in this environment and more.


Q1: How is your PPC work being impacted by the economic news and/or the coronavirus this week vs. last week?


Seeing further declines in search volumes basically across the board. Most clients have seen impressions and clicks drop an additional 15-20% this past week compared to the week prior. @CJSlattery

Dependent on the client but with the closure of physical stores this week in the UK we have seen peaks in performance across some clients. However, one client who runs their own fulfillment was having record weeks but has had to close to ensure staff safety. @scright

A few clients paused, but others are increasing, so it’s break-even. Having to be flexible with work distribution across the team b/c things shifting so fast. @Mel66

We’ve had several clients return who paused last week, albeit with lower budgets. We’ve also had a lot of clients reduce spend. And still more pausers coming in. One of my clients laid off 25% of their workforce. That’s tough to hear. @nikkijumpfly

It’s getting slower than the previous week. People are now realizing this is for the long haul. Shipping and supply chains are slowing down, so pulling back almost everywhere. @360vardi

I’m pretty much feeling like I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop with what comes next because a week ago I was in the office, essentially. @amaliaefowler

Two clients are lower budgets for now. The rest are holding steady and a few want to increase the budgets as they are seeing increased sales. More time is spent communicating and making sure all teams are on the same page vs having tons more work then normal. @duanebrown

Bit of a strange one – since more extreme measures have been implemented in the UK, I’ve seen CPC’s rise in one acct – guessing now people are forced to stay at home their search activity will increase. @AzeemDigital

A bit all over the map over the past week around here. One paused frantically wanted to start a different approach, one that probably should pause more hasn’t yet… Main client is steady, thankfully. @NeptuneMoon

Email inbox is quieter. I went from having 300ish emails a day to <30 yesterday. @amaliaefowler

Another client is running as usual albeit with lower search demand, although weekend sales are up which is usually low for them. Another is in the travel space and well, you can guess how that’s going. @scright

About ⅓ of clients have been affected and are pausing/lowering budgets. Another ⅓ are about neutral, and the other ⅓ have been seeing large increases. @mitchlunceford

Things are definitely slowing down right now. Some clients have paused completely and some have declined as spend. With that being said, we’ve have a few new opportunities come through the door so I’m trying to stay optimistic. @adwordsgirl

I will say, one thing I do like is that things are cheaper. The, unfortunately, thing is people don’t seem as likely to convert. I’ve tried to take this time to look for cheap brand awareness activities rather than just conversions. @RyBen3

One of those lower budgets wants to run a sale promo and see how it goes. They are NYC based, which makes it impossible to ship orders. I asked that all touchpoints…email, site & checkout… say shipping is delayed more than normal. @duanebrown

Some highs (CPG has been flying high, same with healthcare), and some lows, a former travel client went out of business, and we are scrambling to change client messaging to not encourage foot traffic @JonKagan

We deal with a lot of eCommerce stores. A lot are getting nervous, especially about production. A lot of them have retail sales that are doing badly, so we’ve paused spend on a lot of them. @AskYisrael


Q2: Have you changed any strategy or put anything into place over this past week? How is it working?


I’ve had my team go through all ad copy, annotate analytics (so that next March 15th we aren’t like WTF HAPPENED LAST YEAR and over-report gains), and start using changelogs & Asana conversations to note anything. We’re doing SQR’s every day, and watching auto bids. @amaliaefowler

I created a few campaigns around everything but internally, I haven’t done anything. I caught the flu and have had pretty bad mental health days so I’m just trying to focus the things the need to get done. @adwordsgirl

We’re also encouraging users to move up the funnel, brand awareness. I also had a client launch amidst this time and I had to caveat that “clicks won’t always be this cheap”. @amaliaefowler

Throttled way back on automated strategies which seemed to be bumping all over the place. Saw FB’s catalog sales crash and burn ineffectiveness. @CJSlattery

As far as the agency, we are in more contact with our clients to see how their doing, trying to write/publish more content since it’s slower now. Made a list of projects for the team to work on that we were behind on. @360vardi

We’ve put news placement exclusions in place for display, and COVID19 negatives (thanks @JeremyKrantz for the list that we started with) to all accounts that it made sense to. Monitoring smart bidding. @nikkijumpfly

No huge changes to be honest, a lot of scaling back budget and reallocating to what is working. A few clients pushing sales which they usually wouldn’t be right now to capture some sales before they have to potentially scale down / pause. @scright

Well, we launched a major promo, biggest of the year on Monday, March 15th. so I guess the change in strategy is that we turned it off? Funneled $s into app, search & map campaigns, and lowered everything else. @JuliaVyse

Hammering prospecting activity. These audiences are going to be super useful in a few months’ time I feel – esp. if you are in lead gen. @AzeemDigital

We aren’t making changes willy nilly. Just for internal purposes, we are sharing account summaries more frequently, in case metrics get volatile & jump outside of ranges. @heyglenns

We manage 3+ channels on average / client. Shifting budget where we see success… some see better results on Google and others see Facebook/Instagram. We signed a new kids brand 3 weeks ago and it has been intense to get up to speed. North American stores closed. We readjusted sales and revenue numbers for 2020. Yesterday we spent time looking at how to increase site sales as parents are buying like there is no tomorrow. All those back burner and “crazy” ideas are getting approved. @duanebrown

Been shifting more budget over to display/video for more brand exposure. Some campaigns have been great and converting higher volumes w/ lower CPA’s than search. And testing turning off automated bidding strategies for the time being. @mitchlunceford

Have as many clients as possible off of automated bidding – the machines have NO idea how to handle this, as they have no context for it. Keeping a careful eye on what’s happening on social and advising clients not to be tone-deaf or seem opportunistic. @NeptuneMoon

Continued – more in contact with clients. Leaning on Google reps to also get on calls with clients. And taking advantage of the traffic for those clients who are seeing a bump in revenue from this. @nikkijumpfly

For ecom clients, we are doubling down on tests and look at only campaigns and ad groups with significant ROAS. All in all, we are maintaining a lot of the accounts instead of doing tests due to client anxiety. @AskYisrael

Our execution timelines pretty much went out the window, to expedite reaction to the markets. @JonKagan

Lots of strategic shifts – lots of moving away from automation (Roombas don’t work well in hurricanes); focusing more on a bifurcated strategy of high performers + lower-intent conversions; for clients that are really impacted, using this time to audit + position. @DigitalSamIAm

Tightened up demographics, locations, campaigns, and budget. As CPMs are dropping lower focusing in the targeting hasn’t been raising them. @zmste


Q3: Are client attitudes, questions and/or expectations changing in the midst of all this? Are any asking you to reduce fees?


They are changing – but it’s almost like a reluctant ask. They like us, for the most part, and its tough for them to ask. We’re pre-empting as much as we can where we know they are closed, etc. A lot of our clients have not communicated – and so we’re reaching out. @amaliaefowler

Clients are asking questions on the best way to deal with it. No one has asked yet to reduce fees, except of course where things are paused. @Mel66

For the clients who often don’t tell us new things, it’s a tough time, because their ads will say they are open when they’re not. So we’ve been calling and checking site updates to ensure we’re in line. @amaliaefowler

Clients are scared and looking for us for answers. They are also asking if Google will defer billing or payments. And if we can adjust our fees to help out. We are doing everything we can to help clients. @nikkijumpfly

I don’t know about fees, but a lot are getting anxious. Our MedTech companies are doing well and some of our home exercise clients are pushing for more. Depends on service/product and whether suited for isolation or climate. @AskYisrael

Their attitude is definitely changing in that they’re trying to find solutions to this issue. A few have asked for reduced fees and we’re looking into how much we can help them.@adwordsgirl

Haven’t been asked to reduce fees. Just pull back on ad budget. Questions are on impact, YoY, projections. We are providing things to them (geo analysis, dayparting etc..) @360vardi

@duanebrown last week said – we are the experts. We need to take the lead with clients and give them reassurance. @amaliaefowler

Clients generally have no idea what’s going on, and are asking us. I had one ask if I could project ROAS for next month for some new campaigns and I was like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ @CJSlattery

Clients are definitely all treating this like it is not a temporary blip, but something they need to figure out. Some are asking about switching to an hourly model for now… @NeptuneMoon

Overall I think this week clients are realizing this will be longer term rather than short term. it’s quite a realization, and we’ll all need time to take it in. @JuliaVyse

Some are reacting too quickly in my opinion, even if the numbers are still looking good. Most are looking to us for answers/recommendations. Some are on pause, some have asked for reduced fees. Each industry is reacting differently @mitchlunceford

A lot depends on warehouses and delivery partners staying open. Ecom continues as long as they can function but obviously issue is can they safely obey social distancing at work? Seems unlikely and people’s health must come first for non-essential products. @beyondcontent

Clients are scared, unsure and anxious. They want someone with a plan and positive outlook. I have accepted the situation we are in….now I just execute and keep clients aware of what we are doing as their agency. @duanebrown

One client asked to reduce fees BUT said they, CEO, is taking a 30% pay cut as is everyone on the executive team. Cutting back hours on store staff. This is we are all in this together vs just asking me to make less money while they don’t take a pay cut. @duanebrown

I’ve actually had some impressive client pivots. Food boxes, moving to making hand cleanser from skincare products, video physiotherapy appointments. I’m helping where I can. @amaliaefowler

I’m doing more at the same price for clients right now. It seems like every day is an adjustment, and performance for everybody is poor. So I’m throwing in extra hours to make those changes. I’d rather overdo right now. There’s a lot of flux. @armondhammer

In a contrasting scenario, a healthcare client has stalled everything for now and a travel discovery client is still running campaigns as usual. @bufoting

Most clients are pretty stable. Some are pulling back, others are aggressively expanding campaigns to take advantage of current ad market conditions. We’re also shifting funds toward prospecting/lower-intent audiences. @DigitalSamIAm

As someone who has been through the dot com crash & 2008 crisis, some advice… Be very careful in what you do with rates and discounts now. It can be very hard to get back to where you were with clients after the crisis has passed. (cont) @NeptuneMoon

No changes in fees, all clients are basically doing budget reallocation to later in the year. @JonKagan

Be helpful where you can, but you also have to protect YOUR business. DO NOT do the same work for just less money. Make a payment plan, reduce services, etc. Trust me on this. @NeptuneMoon


Q4: Anything else you’ve figured out that you’d like to share with the community about how to do paid search and/or paid social advertising in this environment?


I think it’s time you focus on improving their CVR on LP. If you can’t get more traffic to the site, work with getting more of the traffic that is currently getting in. @360vardi

Increase your happiness budget where possible, add some daylight bid adjustments to your work schedule, with an outdoor walk/run modifier. Reach out to your awesome #ppcchat audiences if you need someone to talk to when your conversions are down. You got this! @AzeemDigital

Nothing really groundbreaking. brand brand brand brand. and if a client thinks this is any time to talk about hoaxes, disrupting, or telling people to do unsafe things, fire that client immediately. It’s your reputation as much as theirs. @JuliaVyse

I can say that I’ve looked at data from areas like NY and it’s not materially different from places like Atlanta. @armondhammer

Be the voice of calm and reason. Clients are scared to varying degrees and might want to do some things that, put mildly, are at best ill-advised and at worst reputation killers. Protect them from themselves when they need it. @NeptuneMoon

A big thing I’ve noticed is massive shifts in audiences — lots of people are either (a) out of work or (b) no longer in-market for things they used to be in-market for. So previously stable, predictable audiences now look more like the $VIX. @DigitalSamIAm

If you have video calls with teams/clients, fress up to the 9s. It will at the very least make them smile. @360vardi

How not to do Paid in this environment is follow the crowd and make premature decisions. Had a client panic and pause almost two weeks ago, who are now live again from today as they actually started experiencing a spike in sales. Test before pausing. @scright

Run an audit on your account like it was a prospect. You might be surprised at what you’ll find. @360vardi

I can also add that if, like me, you were targeting city for B2B, you’re going to need to expand that. Same with dayparting for B2B. People are in the burbs now, and shifting hours around. @armondhammer

Which is a long-winded way of saying: most good PPC marketers are obsessively checking bid strategies, keywords, bids, etc. during this time. You should add audiences to that list. Also, check your placements for Video + Display. @DigitalSamIAm

I got an ad yesterday for a cruise while I was reading an update on COVID-19 in Italy. That seems like the equivalent of advertising “sell your wedding ring” at a funeral. @DigitalSamIAm

We’ve aimed at showing indoor value as a replacement for activities normally done elsewhere or outside. For example, one client is a home exercise equipment, so we’ve targeted gym lovers. We’ve looked into similar markets that are now defunct and targeted them. @AskYisrael

Have seen shifts with in-market audiences. I’ve also noticed that excluding “covid-19” related topics have helped. Seems like people don’t want to convert when reading covid-19 updates. Anyone seeing the same or opposite? @mitchlunceford

Don’t panic. Many clients are weirdly still business as usual. People weren’t buying for tomorrow in a lot of industries, so a 2-3 mo lag from lead to invoice is actually normal business activity. Keep an eye on things, take the time to check your assumptions. @ferkungamaboobo

It’s ok not to have all the answers. Consumer as much information as you can from SWOT POV. Knowledge and combing information from different sources is why you win. @duanebrown

Sorry, I’m so behind. Late to the game. I have been watching the usage of our products which are used exclusively by marketers. The good news is despite WFH and COVID19 people are still cranking away. This is an average number of widget edits per day on Mondays. @Wickerpedia

YouTube consumption is peaking. @JonKagan

The time is now to remember the O and T in SWOT and bring it. All the business classes and profs were right when they said the threat was from outside. @duanebrown


Q5: Is there anything we as a community could do to help you right now?


It isn’t about me, but about the industry. We need to share the message that PPC is more important than ever. It’s going to be disruptive for a while, but the learn now makes us better. We need to offer hope to clients. And be unified in that message. @armondhammer

I think more group support would be good. Instead of the usual, overly vague, generic advice, more actionable insight & tactics could be shared more to help everyone. Marketing is usually the first budget to go. So helping each other is helping the industry. @AskYisrael

Obviously whatever we can do to connect people who need work to those who need it is something I think would be valuable. IIRC @ppchero has made some attempts at this – but other than that, just being there + supporting the broader PPC Community. @DigitalSamIAm

If you see examples of companies doing things well, let’s share them with each other. We all need ideas right now to help our clients weather this. Also continuing to just be there for each other, especially as some are not used to being WFH. @NeptuneMoon

I should be teaching at #pubcon right now. One of the things I enjoy most. And seeing my friends after taking my usual winter off. I’m probably posting more reflective stuff than normal, so thanks to everyone for being a community @armondhammer

‘We all need ideas right now to help our clients whether this.’ Ideas that have a chance of improving things are warmly welcomed by clients. @heyglenns


Q6: What are you doing to stay positive these days?


This… – getting out while I can and mentally checking out of the world while I suffer physically! @AzeemDigital

Taking social media breaks. Spending more time with family (the good part about stay at home!). Playing my clarinet. Checking in with my team virtually. Some friends are having a video chat tonight – virtual hangout. @Mel66

Gathering with all my #ppcchat friends on Fridays via Zoom! Send me a DM if you’d like the link & details. @amaliaefowler

I write in a journal daily. Trying to note at least 1 positive each day. Sometimes you’ve got to think harder than others to see the bright side. @robert_brady

Video chats with my brother about gardening. I haven’t the first clue and his thumb is emerald green. long talks with him outside with flowers and trees is very therapeutic. @JuliaVyse

Been making sure to keep exercising even while I’m at home. And my daily meditation & journaling habits are also helping. And if you can, go outside even for a bit. Fresh air is important. @CJSlattery

Family time for sure. Trying to find ways I can help those who need it. We have skills that businesses could use. I’ve offered to help them switch to digital offerings (kid’s dance school) and set up online payments. Listening to music while I work. @NeptuneMoon

1. Following @HeinzMarketing advice on LI of calling 10 people a day. 2. spending more time with my kids. 3. exercise or a daily constitutional. 4. whisper to myself ‘there’s no place like home’ 3 times and hope that the nightmare will be over. @AskYisrael

I get to have lunch with my kids daily… @JonKagan

A few things. Trying to post my thoughts and feelings while limiting twitter time. Cooking as best I can. Walking the neighborhood. @armondhammer

Knowing things will turn around and the road is going to be hard keeps me focused on the positive that will come out of this. Clients will build strong web businesses and trust us more. I’m generally a positive and happy person. Plus I found a recipe to bake today. @duanebrown

Turns out cooking is fun when you’re not coming home from a 90-minute commute at 7:30 pm! @Wickerpedia

My DMs are open if anyone wants to chat on Zoom and just hang out or work through an issue with clients or internal teams (in-house or agency). I have seen a lot in 13 years and ready to help and share. @duanebrown

Painting my entire downstairs (fresh look). Going for a walk every day. Writing in chalk on my sidewalk, to hopefully make other walkers smile. Using Marco Polo (video chat app) to stay in touch with my family. @nikkijumpfly

I’ve created a #5Kadaychallenge where I either run or walk a 5K at some point in the day. It keeps me motivated. I’m a week in. We will see how long this lasts but it does a lot of good for my #mentalhealth. @RyBen3

Family time for sure. Trying to find ways I can help those who need it. We have skills that businesses could use. I’ve offered to help them switch to digital offerings (kid’s dance school) and set up online payments. Listening to music while I work. @NeptuneMoon


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