Google Ads Platform & the Pandemic: What you Need to Know

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly all areas of business, including digital advertising platforms like Google Ads. While some businesses are reducing ad spend to adapt to changes in demand, others are aggressively investing in digital advertising to supplement their website traffic and lead generation. Advertisers must consider how Google Ads is reacting to the pandemic as well. Changes to ad policies, support for small and medium-sized businesses, and campaign management guidelines have all been rolled out over the previous weeks.

Can I Promote My Products & Services Via Google Ads During This Crisis?

In short, it depends. If your business is not promoting products or services related to the coronavirus disease, your ad approvals should remain unchanged. Your campaigns will likely be affected by changes in the advertising ecosystem, including higher or lower than expected CPC’s, changes in click-through-rates, or abnormal conversion rates, and you should create a plan to react to these changes accordingly. However, if your ads and landing pages are unrelated to COVID-19, you will be unaffected by the latest policy changes. So, what about businesses promoting products or services that are related to the coronavirus pandemic?

Google Ads Policy Updates Related to Coronavirus

Google is taking measures to ensure advertisers do not abuse the Google Ads platform during this pandemic. This includes prohibiting any ads and offers that lack sensitivity to the pandemic or try to capitalize on it. Google Ads took a strict approach in early 2020, broadly disapproving any advertising mentioning coronavirus or COVID-19 in ads or landing pages under their “sensitive events policy”.

More recently, Google has allowed certain advertisers to serve coronavirus related ads, while still enforcing a restriction on the advertising of personal protective equipment. According to Google, “We are currently allowing ads from government organizations, healthcare providers, non-governmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations, verified election ads advertisers and managed private sector accounts with a history of policy compliance who want to get relevant information out to the public.”

This policy change allows more advertisers to promote products & services related to COVID-19. Google recommends sensitivity when using the words “protection”, “prevention”, or “virus”, and to consider the appropriateness of images and videos that show large gatherings of people. We can expect that ad disapproval’s will be more likely where these guidelines are not followed. Ads that look to capitalize on the health crisis are likely to be disapproved, so be sure to consider the tone of your messaging and focus on the benefits of your products or service, rather than emphasizing the pandemic.

$340 Million In Google Ads Credits for SMBs

Google is offering small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) $340 million in ad credits to support them during the global pandemic. Eligible SMB’s will include those who have spent budget with an existing Google Ads account in ten out of twelve months of 2019, and in January and/or February of this year. This includes SMB’s who have advertised through an agency or third-party that manages the accounts on behalf of the business. These credits will start to be applied to future ad spend (not billed/invoiced past spend), starting in late May. If you are an eligible customer for these ad credits, you will receive a notification and will see the ad credit applied within your Google Ads account. These credits can vary based on past Google Ads spend and the country and currency where the account is set up. Credits must be used by the end of the year, December 31, 2020. Read more about Google Ads credits for SMB’s here.

Campaign Management During the Pandemic

During this pandemic, Google has emphasized evaluation of your messaging to ensure context and tone are sensitive to the global health crisis, but there are more specific campaign management techniques that you should consider as well. Google Ads campaign managers know that there are many levers to pull when it comes to campaign optimization. Before making changes, conduct an in-depth analysis to review the areas of your campaigns that have been impacted the most. Below are a few recommendations that may be helpful in this time.

Adjust Bid Strategies

Changes in consumer demand and ad auction competition have caused average costs-per-click and costs-per-conversion to vary in many industries. It is important to evaluate these trends in your campaign to adjust accordingly. Keep a close eye on your own average CPC, as well as the estimated first page, top of page, and first position bids for your targeted keywords. Increase or decrease your keyword bids to keep them in a range that is profitable for your business. For advertisers using automated bidding strategies, Google’s machine learning will begin to adjust to these changes automatically. If your costs per click or conversion are creeping up too high, add or adjust your Maximum CPC bid limit and or Target CPA to control costs. Consider changing to manual CPC bidding as well to retain more control over your campaign.

Review Location Targeting

Location targeting should be reviewed closely during this time as well. Due to the economic impact of differing governmental policies across nations and states, it may make sense to change the location targeting you currently have in place. Ensure you are reviewing not only the Geographic report, but also the User Locations report to evaluate performance by location. Depending on your specific industry, product, or service, it may make sense to increase or decrease focus in certain areas. Analyze the data in Google Ad’s location reports to help guide these decisions.

Realign Your Focus

In many cases, pausing campaigns, ad groups, ads, or keywords will make sense. It is important to review all enabled ads to communicate any changes to out of stock products, suspended services, or differing hours. Consider updating or pausing areas of your campaigns where necessary. If cutting costs is a priority, focus on only top performing ad groups and keywords, allowing your daily budget to be spent fully on the most effective aspects of your Google Ads account. If you are operating on a reduced budget, apply strategies to make the most out of a limited by budget campaign.

As we all navigate this difficult time together, use this information to make the most of your Google Ads campaigns. Focus on following all of Google’s policies while optimizing your campaigns and be sure to look out for potential ad credits if you are an eligible advertiser. For additional support with your Google Advertising, learn more about Nowspeed’s pay-per-click advertising services.

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