The Impact Of Coronavirus On Digital Marketing

The Coronavirus continues to dominate headlines in Asia since January 2020. I decided to analyze the effects of the virus on digital marketing — particularly on neighboring markets such as Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan — with a focus on paid search, looking at topics such as audience search query and advertising trends as well as recommended actions to take.

1. Audience Search Query Trends

Across four markets, big spikes in search interest are seen for the keyword “coronavirus” in the searcher’s respective language. Google Trends shows the searches reach as high as 100 across all markets — an increase that began in the third week of January 2020 and peaked in the last week of the same month.

2. Advertising Trends

The increase in interest around the keyword “coronavirus” created an opportunity for businesses in the medical vertical offering related services, so let’s look at the search engine results pages for the keyword query across search engines in Asia.

In Japan, advertisers are present on Google Ads but not on Yahoo Japan Sponsored Search. One possible reason is the advertising guidelines of the search engines. Advertisers could run ads in Yahoo Japan, they were not present when I searched. This may be due to budget limits.

It’s also important to know that the audience is interested in simply understanding more about the coronavirus.

Some who search on the keyword may not be potential customers. In this case, we need to optimize keyword match types and negatives accordingly to gain the highest return on advertising spend.

Businesses in the related vertical that do not consider Coronavirus to be a a significant opportunity need to carefully monitor daily spend because broad-match keywords may trigger incremental traffic potentially from the search query term.

For example, for South Korea, an advertiser was found on Naver — the most commonly used search engine in the region — when I conducted a search, but the site does not seem to be related specifically to Coronavirus.

At this stage, advertisers were not found on Google in Hong Kong and Taiwan, which has the largest market share in these two markets. As is the case with Yahoo Japan, mentioned above, this could be the result of budget limitations.

Advertisers do not appear to be making the most of the opportunity. This could be due to the lack of medical solutions provided for this virus.

3. Recommended Actions

Businesses that are interested in taking full advantage of this opportunity should:

  •  Regularly review search query reports, make a list of search queries that are only consuming cost but not leading to the fulfillment of the objective, and make a judgment on whether to pause the keywords, add negatives etc..
  • Optimize bids to ensure the performing keywords have sufficient impression share for solid presence in order to continue to drive results.
Businesses that are not interested in making the most of this opportunity should:
  • Review search query reports regularly to ensure that unwanted traffic is not being driven to the site. If this is taking place, add related keywords as negatives.
  • Pay careful attention if campaigns cover a variety of topics because your target is the general mass audience.
Since medical solutions to this virus can further shift and impact the search demands, businesses should:
  • Monitor the news regarding the virus on a regular basis to understand the potential demands.

Recently, search interest for the keyword “mask” has drastically risen in Japan and South Korea as a result from information that masks are an important factor in protecting people from the virus. The increase in search interest is not as high in Taiwan and Hong Kong for the same keyword, which could be because masks were already used as part of their daily necessities.

Online marketing to benefit

The major advantage of digital marketing, besides the fact that it does not require face-to-face interaction, is that it is measurable. Marketers can quite easily obtain a good picture of their spending return on investment (ROI), and of which activities generate the highest number of quality leads and at what expense.

Assuming that many marketers will have some extra free time, especially those who will have to go into home isolation, they are advised to use it to review their online marketing strategy and redefine their marketing messages.

Review your marketing strategy

Marketing executives often complain that they have no time to update their websites because of their work overload. Well, this is exactly the time to revisit the corporate site and make sure that your company is well presented.

This is also the time to reset goals for your marketing campaigns and take an in-depth look into the performance of past efforts. A close look will for sure indicate that there is real need to refresh much of the marketing materials produced in the past.

This is a great opportunity to fine-tune the following features of your company’s visibility and promotion strategy:

  • Website content – Ensuring that it contains the right marketing messages with the right call for action.
  • SEO – Checking your current website organic search rankings and optimizing them for search engines to improve the quality and quantity of your web traffic
  • Content marketing – Using this opportunity to generate ideas for new blog posts and to start writing the next newsletter for your customers
  • Press releases and articles – Thinking of topics you can inform the media and your clients about and writing professional articles
  • Marketing materials – Preparing presentations, brochures and other marketing materials
    Social media engagement – Strategizing how you can improve social media engagement and writing new case studies, white papers and professional articles. Increasing the number of webinars you hold
  • Video – Drafting the storyline for your next video
    Strengthening your focus on web marketing will enable you to maintain normality in these crazy days and will give you a competitive edge over competitors who are slow to react.

Hopefully, the whole crisis will end soon, but no matter how long it takes strengthening you online marketing efforts will minimize the risk and improve your overall position.