What Covid-19 Impact On Digital Marketing

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is today at the center of all concerns and speculations as the epidemic has tragically spread its web across the Globe. A health disaster but also a real financial virus for businesses, COVID-19 is now tending to temporarily paralyze the global economy.

March 2020 in USA, and after a dreaded transition to stage 3 of the contingency plan, all sectors are impacted and advertisers are suffering the full brunt of this real tsunami in digital marketing, trying to maintain their growth while waiting for a return to the normal.

Which verticals are the most affected? What recommendations to maintain your activity during this period of crisis? Through the learning of the advertisers we support, Ad’s up offers you an overview of devices, data, strategies, and advice to understand and better understand these coming weeks.

The first crisis of this magnitude in USA, advertisers have been facing since the end of February an evolution in traffic and conversions flirting with the two extremes depending on the sector. It is also surprising to note the speed of the phenomenon, the situation changing the context, and the figures daily. In the most impacted sectors (events, restaurants, travel and tourism), we observe a drop in conversion, sales, and transaction rates, with CPCs also degraded according to the verticals, for traffic which remains more or less iso.

Others (drive, catering in delivery, hygiene product, global health player, or general e-merchant) are welcoming a spectacular increase in traffic with very strong conversion rates and demand from Internet users, reduced to confinement, very present. The continued activity of the logistics and delivery platforms will also play a crucial role in the pursuit of this growth.

Google side, the statisticians of “Loop Capital Markets”, indicated that the Giant should expect to record a decrease of at least 20% of advertising revenues compared to N-1 for the most impacted sectors. As for Facebook, the drop in budgets already observed in recent weeks in the travel, retail, and entertainment sectors should represent a negative impact of up to 45% on their overall revenues.

Under confinement and with the obligation to reduce our trips to the strict minimum, it is the players in online entertainment such as distance learning, music, gaming or streaming platforms that benefit from the traffic cut from closed stores to the web, within the increase of around 20% since early 2020.

While many advertisers have chosen to cut their campaigns after announcing the closure of stores and the difficulties encountered in terms of conversions, the Corona virus can also represent a real opportunity to reinvent themselves and develop consumers’ digital uses. Indeed, the issue around which brands must now reorient their strategy is to find new systems and experiences to compensate for the loss of turnover through the forced digitization of their audiences.

It is therefore time for reflection in order to stand out and remain visible on the market, as well as to prepare for the post-crisis recovery strategy which should be especially ambitious, depending on the degree of impact on your sector.

Trends Observed Among Advertisers

TRAVEL: -20.8%

The tourism arrives in pole position among the most affected sectors . At issue: the closure of borders, the confinement of populations in several countries, closed holiday complexes and bitter travelers who have no other choice but to cancel their trips for lack of means to get there. Contentsquare recorded a decrease in the conversion rate of around 8.5% , while overall purchases on travel and tourism sites were at -20.8% .

When traditional hotel sites are doing a little better with slightly lower conversion rates (-0.7%), the number of transactions drops by around 9%. Hardest hit, the sites of transport, travel, and French theme parks which suffer an unprecedented drop as the high season approaches by -19.8%.

For our part, our players in tourism (transport, camping, holiday village, and group travel) are well aware of this drop in overall conversion on their site coming from almost all channels, the SEA not yet being fully prescribed with notoriety and generic campaigns always active to try to make a difference.

If the budgets are reassessed at -20, -30% in USA, it is our advertisers with campaigns in Italy who are currently suffering the most with mandatory reductions of -70 to -80% of their advertising budget overall. It is interesting to note that regardless of the typology of brands in this vertical if conversion rates drop, traffic remains almost iso compared to N-1.

RETAIL: -13%

Retail is one of the other hard-hit sectors, with a 25.7% increase in time spent looking for articles online at the start of the phenomenon. If retailers, particularly in the fashion and luxury sectors, were doing honorably at the start (+ 7% conversion rate), the trend has been reversed in recent days with traffic still increasing by + 6% but conv rates which drop to almost -15%. As for strengthening the immune system through sport, the French do not seem to particularly believe in it because retailers specializing in sports equipment are in free fall, approaching -13%.

For our retail advertisers, they are facing the closure of stores, having only digital to make a difference, while absorbing the problems of logistics, deliveries, and imports of goods sometimes coming from China or Italy. There is an average decrease in budgets of around 40%, with noto and red thread campaigns still active for the moment.


While today consuming in supermarkets is more of a KohLanta test than traditional shopping, we can not surprisingly observe absolutely positive statistics for mass distribution players and general e-merchants (Rakuten, Cdiscount, Amazon,…).

Because who says confinement also means more time surfing the net ( + 45% time spent ), when conversion rates benefit from an increase of around + 20%. A trend that should increase in the coming weeks, provided that the logistics centers and delivery players obviously continue to maintain their activity as much as possible.

Among our advertisers, we, therefore, see predictably no reduction in spending on campaigns, and even an increase in budgets for some. Example for an e-retailer specializing in garden equipment products which recorded a 40% increase in its transactions last weekend, surely explained by the desire of the French to continue to have fun and enjoy their garden – for the lucky ones – even during confinement.

HEALTH: + 27%

Unsurprisingly, the healthcare sector as a whole is seeing a predictable increase of + 27% in conversions. There are pharmacies here, but also e-shops specializing in health products (survival kit, mask, hydroalcoholic gel, disinfectants, etc.) and also para pharmacies.

Their site visits benefited from an increase of + 10% and it is interesting to note that although these were shorter ( -23% of navigation time ), the number of conversions increased by + 27%. Internet users, therefore, seem to have very intentional profiles with a specific product search in mind.

In the advertisers that we support, some have medical practices abroad and if the traffic on their site is currently very strong in France, it has unfortunately been necessary to cut the campaigns in other countries (Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, Greece) because of the border blockade.

For our clients in the field of medical insurance, some have increased their budget by 90% in view of the increase in traffic on the site. Finally, our advertisers of telecommunication of doctors from a smartphone, undergo such a demand (+ 150%) that the campaigns have been reduced to a minimum to succeed in managing the demand in terms of available doctors.

By Nicki Jenns

Nicki Jenns is an internet entrepreneur and world news expert, motivational speaker and author. She is passionate about the impact of health and family issues.