It’s been three weeks since W.H.O. declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic and a lot has changed. We don’t want to repeat the details of everything that has happened, but instead help you plan for the future.

Consumer Behaviour Changes by Channel


  • Search demands (and therefore CPCs) are volatile dependant on the industry of your business
  • Ecommerce is booming, health, fitness and gaming products have risen over 67% year on year
  • Amazon have pulled out of the PPC auction due to demand increases, creating opportunity for others


Organic Search:

  • Rise in ‘how to’ search queries in the UK e.g. how to…cut men’s hair (+650%), use TikTok (+350%), make flapjack (+160%)



  • Free newspapers (Metro/ES) are at risk due to transport closures but digital news is seeing a surge


  • 34% more people claim to have listened to more radio since the start of the COVID-19 crisis (Global)


  • 26% increase in daytime TV viewing amongst 16-34s (ITV)


  • Traffic is high with an increased interest in “stay home” content e.g. DIY, Baking and Local News

What is Tug’s Take?

Short Term Impact (2-4 weeks)

  • Advertisers look to shift budget from OOH, Live Events etc. to digital and online TV to build brand awareness amongst these ‘displaced’ audiences
  • Auction changes as advertisers in affected industries have pulled back, while other industries like ecommerce become more competitive
  • Daily auction changes on PPC & Paid Social require daily hands-on optimisation to ensure competitive advantage
  • Most significant increase in online searches around coronavirus, home delivery, ‘how to’ and online services
  • Higher reach on social due to more time spent on social platforms
  • Brands sharing positive stories of help, hustle and hope on social will stay top of mind and build affinity
  • Digital-only press means more display opportunities plus digital paper opportunities
  • Daytime TV sees a spike in viewership

Medium Term Impact (5-9 weeks)

  • Advertisers will adapt their PPC terms and test ‘more considerate’ messaging
  • Brands who stay ‘always on’ when a lot of brands have turned off will build valuable brand and audience engagement
  • Social channels will become more competitive as more advertisers remain on the platform after testing in the short term
  • Increased trust in news brands is expected
  • Older consumers will become more familiar with digital formats and technologies 

Long Term Impact (3 months +)

  • Search trends and consumer behaviour will return to normal dependant on industry. Travel likely to take longer
  • Costs and performance will begin to normalise as advertisers return to all platforms and optimise towards profitability againBrands who stayed positive, active and built goodwill during trying times will reap rewards
  • Brands who stayed positive, active and built goodwill during trying times will reap rewards
  • Movement towards digital publications compared to printed ones and new types of digital ads

Planning Your Marketing Activity (From Home!)

Marketers must adapt their marketing strategies to the changing times to gain SOV in the short-term to grow profitability and success in the long-term.

Here are our five key take-outs for marketers:

  1. Consider the user journey

Consider how user behaviour has changed by channel and amend your media, messaging and content strategy accordingly e.g. customers searching for ‘how to’ instructions and ‘online’ availability rather than ‘near me’ services.

Keep users updated and informed of any changes:

  • Create FAQs to address concerns (check your site search for suggestions)
  • Implement product availability schema to ensure this information is continuously updated (as close to real-time as possible)
  • Update your Google My Business to indicate reduced hours/services or changes to processes
  1. Double up your SEO efforts

Doubling your SEO efforts now will see significant ROI in the long-term once search trends begin to normalise. Take the opportunity to make technical improvements to your site and focus on creating and optimising onsite content to increase rankings.

In the short-term, with some advertisers pulling back PPC, SEO CTR and visibility will increase. Ensure that top keywords and messaging from PPC activity are shared with SEO teams.

  1. Build your brand

Higher reach across social channels, display, radio and daytime TV means they are great for branding, with increased engagement rates, there is a big opportunity to tell brand stories using video and high impact formats. 

If you are struggling to create, or are unwilling to test, new creative; then use your past ‘evergreen’ creative that you already know works.                       

  1. Engage your audience (for remarketing later)

Test and learn across social and display to get insights and learnings on formats and performance. This provides brand awareness in the short-term whilst building remarketing lists for the long-term

Encourage people to register interest for travel, shows, products etc. that will be back once we return to some form of normality. Customer data can also be used to build lookalikes for future activity.

  1. Be flexible with your media plan

Move budget from non-committed ATL plans online or to audio based on the new user journeys e.g. for a sports brand, look at Twitch rather than televised football matches to reach your young male target audience.

Focus on making flexible media plans and creative that can work across multiple mediums.

Plan For The Future

Make realistic plans and plan in more flexibility in the future so you can continue to adapt your marketing strategy with the changing times.

If you have any more questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Tug via your Client Service or Channel Director.