Media Two Interactive

Paid Search In The Era of COVID-19

As the majority of United States consumers move indoors to flatten the curve of COVID-19, we are interested in how the pandemic affects the habits of digital consumers.

Wordstream recently published an article on COVID-19 related trends, and we felt it important to expand on a few key points. Particularly, the (presumably temporary) decline of mobile searches and the importance of search query reviews.


I. Device changes

Wordstream cites an average (-24%) decline in mobile searches from March 16 to date of publication compared to the last week of February across its client base. This trend applies to desktop as well, but to a lesser degree as searches declined an avg of (-18%).

The obvious first implication is the need to review and adjust device bid adjustments at the ad group and campaign levels to account for decreased mobile traffic. For some, this could mean an opportunity to save dollars by reducing bid modifiers. For others, perhaps this is an opportunity to be more aggressive on mobile, depending on circumstances.

But a second, perhaps less obvious implication with a decline in mobile searches relates to copy. With desktop rising in importance simply by virtue of declining less than mobile, now is the time to review and make adjustments to headline copy. Specifically, Headline 3 is shown more often on mobile devices than desktops. If your campaigns tend to use Headline 3 for a Call To Action, consider making adjustments to your ads to ensure that your Call To Action is prominently displayed when searched on desktop.


II. Search Query Reviews

Yes, yes, we know, it really is the most riveting part of managing paid search. There are several COVID-19 related negative lists available online already to get started, but, there’s simply no way to comprehensively negate all potential queries that relate to the virus but still prompt your (unrelated) ad. At Media Two, we stepped up our frequency with search query reviews starting in mid-February, especially for our clients in travel and tourism. This proactive approach saved our tourism clients valuable dollars as the pandemic moved across the US.

This game of whack-a-mole is important to protect budget as well as to ensure brand safety. If you’re not conducting search query reviews with increased frequency focused on COVID-19 and virus terms, you may be exposing your brand or products in ways you don’t intend. 

3 thoughts on “Paid Search In The Era of COVID-19”

  1. Michael Hubbard

    This is great – thanks David! Love posts that provide steps that can make anyone’s campaigns instantly better!

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