With more people than ever now based at home, the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly shifted the way in which people are searching online. The online auction could now be considered more lucrative than ever, with more ad space available and more consumers actively searching online.

This, in turn, gives SMBs in particular a vast opportunity to drive additional awareness, leads and sales within a much less saturated auction.

More search volume means more reach

Search volume has not only changed but sky-rocketed, with internet usage increasing by over 70% in the UK. This essentially means paid-search ads have more ad space available, providing a great opportunity for businesses to reach larger volumes of relevant users.

Remarketing lists can populate more quickly

As a result of the large increases in search volume, remarketing lists will aggregate user data much more quickly. Retargeting qualified users with ads to encourage them back to a website is a great way to boost ROI.

The online auction has become less saturated

As a number of businesses have made the decision to come offline temporarily, the online auction has become much less saturated for a number of industries. This provides scope for SMBs in particular to gain a stronger presence within a competitive market.

The auction insights report within Google Ads provides information on who else is participating in the same auctions. Impression share (the number of impressions the ads have received divided by the estimated number of impressions they were eligible to receive) is a key metric within the report. Essentially, the higher the number, the more presence the ads have had in search.

The graph below not only indicates a clear upward trend, but also a sharp increase of over 108% when the lockdown was announced. Despite the peaks and falls, the trend remains at around 50% higher than pre-COVID.

graph showing increase in impressions post lockdown

CPC has decreased for many businesses

Cost per click (CPC) varies from business to business and is determined by a multitude of factors, such as bidding strategy, keyword competition, quality score, ad rank and even seasonality.

As the market becomes less saturated, CPC can also decrease, providing companies with opportunities to use budget in specific campaigns or experiment with additional targeting. They may be able to broaden their location targeting or advertise additional products and services that previously proved too costly.

Real-life example

A great example of this is a jewellery customer of ours, based in London. They have a tight marketing budget which has always limited their location targeting to a particular area of London. As CPCs have come down, they’ve been able to widen their location targeting to the rest of the UK which has attracted web visitors they would never have connected with before.

map showing impressions pre and post covid lockdownThe light blue dots show the additional clicks the ads received since the company has been able to widen its location targeting due to lower CPCs.

To sum up…

In the current climate, a well-optimised, data-led paid-search campaign continually adapting to emerging trends is crucial. Of course, impression share, CPC and competition will vary from each business, but if your business is able to continue to operate safely throughout the crisis, there’s an opportunity to push paid-search ads to a much wider relevant audience, who are actively engaging more than ever.