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How is Coronavirus Affecting Google Ads?

Today I want to talk about the coronavirus and the effect that it’s having on businesses and more specifically on Google ads. 

I am definitely not an expert on the virus itself or how it’s spreading, anything like that. I’m in an area where there have been very few cases. I don’t think there been any in my city. I don’t know anyone who’s caught the virus. I certainly don’t know anyone who’s died. 

Now I know that kind of stuff is going on. It’s horrible, and it seems like it’s still escalating. But what I’m seeing as the bigger effect, at least right now, is the effect that this is having on business. 

Obviously, businesses are shutting down. People are staying at home. They’re not spending money on certain things. They’re spending more money on other things. So my interest is in what effect this whole crazy situation is having on business. And that’s what I’m going to talk about today. 

So I wanted to get a lot of different perspectives and different feedback on this topic. So I posted a question in my Google Ads Strategy Group (on Facebook), and asked people to comment about the effects the coronavirus panic is having on their Google Ads campaigns. 

If you are a business owner that depends in whole or in part on Google ads, or if you are an agency that runs Google ads for your clients, I think this is going to be really valuable for you, especially if things are not going so well for you. 

There are other cases where things aren’t going really well for people, and certain types of businesses are doing really well right now. 

If you’re in a business where you’re just getting pounded right now, then you may need to pivot–especially if you aren’t prepared for this. If you don’t have the means to just hunker down for a few months, and not have any revenue coming in, now is the time to think about pivoting and thinking about:

  • What else you can be doing?
  • What else could you offer customers?
  • What other types of clients could you help right now?

This should be a very valuable episode. I got a lot of feedback from a lot of people talking about the effects that the coronavirus is having on their Google Ads campaigns, both good and bad. 

So I’m going to go down the post. If you want to add anything or join the discussion, you can go to my Google Ads Strategy group on Facebook and search for “Coronavirus”, and you should find my question and then you’ll be able to see everyone’s comments on that. 


Dorde: “I.T. and web hosting is bad, getting clicks without selling.” 

Vladimir: “Volume is down slightly for now from ads. However, all channels including organic are also down. About a 35% decrease, and that’s with sporting goods.” 

Grant: “Refinancing is good, new records.” 

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense with the Fed cutting the interest rates to nothing, basically, now would be a really good time to refinance. – Kyle

Nick: “Limo services and air transportation, multiple clients have 100% pausing their campaigns.” (and Dale replied to that and said “ditto”) 

Yeah, that’s obviously an industry that’s getting hurt really bad right now. Nobody’s even thinking about traveling at the moment. So that one makes a lot of sense. – Kyle

David: “Legal in LA just shut down.” 

Mark: “I’m seeing a general drop in clicks and conversion rates in everything from e-commerce clothing stores, to lead generation for national training companies. I’m not seeing any positives, although I’m also not seeing utter devastation as of yet.” 

David:  “I have an alternative health supplement pseudo cure-all shopping campaign doing amazing. And I convinced my renovation guy to let me run a safe room/above ground safe room ad group, and it’s getting impressions and clicks.” 

So I really liked that. David is thinking outside the box right now, and thinking of clients that maybe the client itself needs to pivot and he’s coming up with ideas of what they can do. Really good to hear that that is being done. I think everyone should be thinking about that right now. If you have clients that are being hurt by this, what else could they be doing? Maybe they need to pivot and maybe you can help them with that and play more of a consultative role in that pivot. -Kyle

Kyle P.: “Bee sales are down significantly.”

Jason: “Serious decrease in impressions for HVAC, home inspection, electrical and plumbing.” 

Jonathan: “B2B (business to business) SaaS (Software as a service) down. Other B2B products or normal, personal consumer goods slightly down, supplements way up. I’ve heard the dental local lead gen is way down, but I don’t have one of those. So I can’t confirm.” 

I can confirm that. I’ve heard from some people I work with that their dental clients have asked to put their ads on pause basically because the businesses are closed down.Kyle

Dean: “Business to consumer necessity products are up, and business to business is down.”

Bruno: “Things are down: personal trainers, gyms, and car dealers.“ 

Ricardo: “Dentistry, real estate travel, it’s all down.” 

Kay: “Not affected clients yet. But I can’t get new accounts and ads approved. They’re stuck in review, going on day four.”

(And Jason commented on that and said, “I’m on day nine.”)

Yeah, I actually just noticed in the Google Ads dashboard today that they’ve added a little alert in the upper right, telling us that things are going to take longer to get approved because of the effect that this is having on their support staff. So keep that in mind. If you are trying to pivot and trying to get something new going, it might take a while, unfortunately, if Google’s not able to approve your ads right away.Kyle

Vijay: Not a big change in impressions and clicks but a drastic decrease in leads in the USA salons and spa, athletic training and real estate. 

Greg: Seeing a surge in European display traffic, potentially from people on quarantine at their homes. 

Yeah, that’s really interesting. And I think it’s not just people quarantined at their home that are on the internet, it’s because people are on the internet looking at the news. Me personally, I never go to any news sites. But I’ve been going to different news websites, and these websites typically run Google ads. So they’re getting a lot of impressions from me that never happened otherwise. So that does make a lot of sense. I’d be curious to know, Greg, if you’re looking at the placements of that traffic, if it is coming from a lot of news websites.Kyle

Mark: “I sell to schools, Lego type product – Qubits Toy – we are at a standstill right now but I imagine home gym equipment is doing well.” 

Yeah, that’s a tough one. And I wonder if there’s any type of pivot there I don’t know if you only sell to schools or what, but that makes sense that schools aren’t going to be buying or really doing much of anything when students are not there. Even the schools that are switching to online classes now, that’s consuming everyone’s time. No one has time to go buy new products for their schools.Kyle

Liam: “Decrease in clicks, spend, and impressions in the home and garden sector in the UK. Seeing the same over on direct and organic etc at the moment too.”

Sava: “On most of the accounts, even private clinics I’m managing, I’ve noticed a huge drop in impressions and clicks. People are afraid at this particular moment and focused on the basics, necessary food, disinfection at the same time. One huge FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) online store is having a peak these days. But logically they sell basic goods like water and toilet paper and they bring it to your home. Unfortunately, this will have a huge impact on our accounts.” 

Ishaq: “I’m working in the tourism industry in Dubai. Most clients were from China. All Chinese are banned to travel here and the residents are also afraid to go out. Two days ago I paused all the campaigns because there was no booking. And now waiting for a good time.” 

Yeah, that that one makes a lot of sense for people who are in that situation, where you’re basically completely having to shut down your business, if you’re able to weather that storm and wait it out (because obviously things are going to get back to normal at some point) I’d say now is really the time to double down on your business and putting out content and doing things that are going to attract those customers at a later time when people are ready to start traveling and doing things again. So hopefully, no one’s just sitting around, reading the news and doing nothing else. There are things you can be doing. Even if it’s not going to pay off right now, there are things you can do that are going to pay off long term, especially if you have the time right now to do things that maybe otherwise you wouldn’t have because you’re busy running your business or you’re busy running your ad accounts.Kyle

Giorgos:  “eCommerce in Greece: impressions are down by 70%.” 

Ross: “We have seen a genuine impact in the UK. We had an email from an office supply business asking to pause, saying their business may now cease trading. Likewise, we have commercial cleaning companies that are getting hammered. However, everyone’s cost per click has gone up by nearly 20% across the board.” 

So that’s interesting. I haven’t seen a cost per click increase. So I guess I can’t really comment on that. But that’s what Ross had to say.Kyle

Alex:  We are working exclusively in the event industry and probably 80% of spring events were postponed. 

So a great impact. Yep. That’s a tough one. –  Kyle

Andrea:  eCommerce in food is selling more than before. 

Absolutely. My wife and I usually order baby formula from Amazon. We have a specific brand we order. We placed an order a few days ago. They canceled it, saying they’re not shipping anything right now. We were able to go find the manufacturer and order it directly from their website. So I think things like that are going on. Especially with Amazon pretty much not shipping a whole lot, there are opportunities for smaller websites to come in. We’re probably not going to order that formula from Amazon again. It was actually cheaper on the brand’s website. -Kyle

Campbell: “Golf travel conversions are down 66% for us.” 

Vicky: “Online wool shop cost per click gone from 11 cents to 18 cents, but the cost per conversion dropped from 3 to just 2. I’m busier than I’ve ever been.” 

Good for you Vicki. Some people are doing well with what’s going on. An online wool shop is something I never would have thought of. -Kyle

Bernhard: “Gardening explodes. Conversion Rate boosts on consumer goods.”

Philip: “Recruitment, real estate, and some investment are affected. But eCommerce is doing very well at the moment as people are stocking up on goods.”

Morgan-Jon: “All my hospitality clients have asked to stop” spend” and pause all. The UAE has put heavy restrictions on all nightclubs bars etc. Event clients too as all events have been banned, not looking so great. Law consultancy, construction and maintenance clients so far are not affected.”

Yoni: “I have a client, a wholesale in fruits and vegetables. Normally he delivers to companies and businesses. Now he sees a potential, and delivers because of Corona to customers too. The campaign went live three hours ago and we already got a lot of conversions.” 

Really great example there of a business that is pivoting. And who knows, that might work out long term even after this whole thing is over, that Fruit and Vegetable business might continue their direct to consumer and might have a lot of success with that. So in some cases, there is a silver lining here. Some businesses are pivoting, those pivots might actually become an entirely new revenue stream for them going forward. -Kyle

Jake: “New accounts are gaining momentum even more slowly, due to lower search volume.” 

Tony: “Supplier to events, the ads are suspended. 

(And Alex says: Me too.)

I assume that means suspended by the client, not suspended by Google. But yeah, and anyone dealing with events right now is definitely having a tough time. -Kyle 

Alex: “Event shelters suspended ads two weeks ago. Every prospect is saying all events canceled, not buying now.” 

Ummi: “Events, big drop in website traffic due to uncertainty around travel bans and crowd bans. Until these lift, people won’t buy tickets.”

Jacob: Roofing is off the cliff, impressions and clicks are down. Insulation is holding so far. Retail stores, it’s a ghost town so everything is paused. Mechanics are holding” (Alberta Canada)

So those are the comments I got. I myself learned a lot going through those. Hopefully, this was valuable to you. And if you are struggling right now, hopefully that can give you some ideas of maybe a direction you could go in with your business.

If you’re doing great right now, good for you. People need help. If you’re doing good, it’s because people need your help with something. So there’s no shame and taking advantage of this and being able to serve more people. 

So if you have a product or service that is in high demand right now, good for you, keep doing it. 

I’ll end it right here. Again, if you want to join in the discussion, go to the Google Ads Strategy group on Facebook. I’ll also put this video on YouTube, you can find this video on my YouTube channel: Kyle Sulerud. You can leave a comment there. I’d love to hear more of these and hear the effects that this is having and how people are responding.