How to adjust your PPC strategy during the Covid-19 pandemic

OSHINE TRIPURA | April 2, 2020

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The COVID-19 outbreak continues to impact the world like never before. Businesses have been hit hard, institutions have been shut down, and people are being made to stay indoors in an effort to slow down the spread of novel Coronavirus.

Nearly all businesses have been dealing with a lot of difficulties right now and the world of PPC advertising is no exception. As the world grapples with the pandemic unfolding in real-time, they turn to online searches and news to find answers to their questions.

This extreme change in people’s behavior has also impacted the change in their online search behavior. While some industries were well prepared for this shift, many are not.

Has COVID-19 affected your PPC accounts?

As of today, the COVID-19 related searches are ranking the most on Google, beating other searches related to news, weather, politics, Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

To help track these emerging searches along with other breakout searches that users are looking at, Google has released the Google Trends Coronavirus Hub to offer more insights.

For some advertisers, these new searches have drawn more visitors to their sites, bringing in new customers. For others, however, the results have not been so great.

Wordstream notes that Google search ad impressions have declined by 7% over the last week, which is not uncommon during the holidays. But advertisers certainly weren’t expecting it to happen all so suddenly.

Conversion rates have dropped by an average of 21% since the COVID-19 became an epidemic. Advertisers who acknowledge these changes need to be able to adjust their PPC strategies to keep their businesses agile during these uncertain times.

Learn more: Teesside web advertising firm makes journey into glasgow

Impact of COVID-19 on PPC advertising

Google trends shows that the COVID-19 is on top of mind for most people, especially in the early morning and late at night. Many of us who aren’t fighting the pandemic head-on, often look to some other distractions online or try to carry on with our days as usual. Advertisers can review these searches and prepare to adjust their campaigns to avoid wasting their spend online.

Industries with increased performance

Healthcare and medical

Ever since the outbreak, most of us have turned to search to protect ourselves and the community. In the wake of social distancing and a worldwide lockdown, we’re relying on Google SERP to purchase over-the-counter as well as vital medications. As a result, medical advertisers are seeing a strong spike in their sale of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies with increased ad clicks and higher conversion rates than usual.

Non-profit and charity

The non-profit organization is another sector that’s having a dramatically increased impact due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Charities, non-profits, and social enterprises are working the hardest to help communities fight the COVID-19 crisis. Since the epidemic, this sector has seen

• A 10% surge in search ad impressions
• A 23% surge in search ad conversions
• A 20% surge in search ad conversion rates

Luckily, Google’s ad grants program is working with more than 35,000 organizations to help non-profit use AdWords.

Live-streaming and on-demand media

The phrase, “Netflix and chill”, “Quarantine and chill”, couldn’t be more true and relatable right now. With people practicing social distancing at their homes, we’re consuming more entertainment than ever.

This has led to a spike in the entertainment advertisers’ conversion rates, bringing in more viewers. Safe to say it’s not a bad time for the entertainment industry, as the demand for live-streaming media has skyrocketed and seen a dramatic hike in its conversion since the last few weeks.

Learn more: How COVID-19 Has Impacted Google Ads Results for 21 Industries

Industries with mixed performance

Real Estate

According to Wordstream, there’s no significant change in the search volumes or conversion rates in the industry yet. But there could be some shifts down the road.

Consumers are more hesitant in attending open houses and more reliant on professional agents to schedule an appointment instead. Despite the +15% CPC increase in real estate listings and real estate agent searches in the last month, there has been a -25% decline in the conversion rates. Agents and brokers, however, have seen a 30% increase.

Moving and relocation services have seen an 11% increase in search volume, maintaining a stable CTR, CPR, and CPR.

Both property development and construction industries are seeing a decline in their conversion rates by -53% and -7%, as well as lower search volumes. This could lead up to a decline in real estate supply in the future.


The automotive industry appears to have taken a hit. It has shown a noticeable decline of 30% in the industry with average conversion rates over the past few weeks. Although this can’t all be due to the pandemic, advertisers are seeing a lot of shifts in searchers’ preferences in the automotive market.

Job and education

There has been an increased demand in e-learning and training due to schools and colleges being shut down for at least a couple of weeks.

Given the college application rush over and the upcoming SAT in June (yet to be canceled), prospective students’ behavior on the SERP remain the same.

There’s also an increase in paid search traffic for new career opportunities and vocational training since the last couple of weeks.

Industries that have been hit the hardest

Travel and tourism

It’s not at all surprising to see that fewer people are booking for travel these days. With business, consumers, and government avoiding unnecessary travels, advertisers are finding it hard to convert new searches on their sites.

Searches for flight cancellations, delays and restrictions are also at an all-time high, leaving ads more exposed to curious searchers.

To address this problem, advertisers should:

• Add new negatives keywords for COVID-19, advisory, and cancellation related searches.

• Promote cheaper fares and easy cancellations and adjustments for future travel.

• Suggest travel insurance to your customers to ease concerns while increasing your average sale price.

Live entertainment

Search volumes for live entertainment have also reduced by 24%, with a dip in conversion rates by 30%. The need for public safety and social distancing has caused consumers as well as performers to cancel their live shows all across the globe.

Ways to adjust your PPC strategy according to the new search volumes

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented solutions. Here are some of the ways that you can adjust your PPC strategies according to the rising challenges:

It’s important to understand what traffic your ads are getting and add new negative keywords add new negative keywords quickly to prevent your campaigns from reaching irrelevant panicked searchers.

• Closely follow COVID-19 related searches to understand how people are searching online. Leverage Google Trends to see what’s trending the most. The Google Trend Coronavirus Hub is a great place for advertisers to find out users’ priorities and search interests in response to the changing news.

• The flipside to users spending more time online is that you can easily find them while they’re browsing the web. Consider remarketing to your previous customers and website visitors, bring them back to your site and keep your brand in their minds. This way they will be more likely to convert.


While times are uncertain at the moment, it is important to keep a positive mindset and be safe. Make sure to stay in the lookout for any new disruptions caused by the COVID-19 and keep adjusting your PPC campaigns consistently.


PPG Industries

We work every day to develop and deliver the paints, coatings and materials that our customers have trusted for more than 135 years. Through dedication and creativity, we solve our customers’ biggest challenges, collaborating closely to find the right path forward. With headquarters in Pittsburgh, we operate and innovate in more than 70 countries and reported net sales of $15.4 billion in 2018. We serve customers in construction, consumer products, industrial and transportation markets and aftermarkets.


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We work every day to develop and deliver the paints, coatings and materials that our customers have trusted for more than 135 years. Through dedication and creativity, we solve our customers’ biggest challenges, collaborating closely to find the right path forward. With headquarters in Pittsburgh, we operate and innovate in more than 70 countries and reported net sales of $15.4 billion in 2018. We serve customers in construction, consumer products, industrial and transportation markets and aftermarkets.