The New Face of Google Ads During Coronavirus


We’ve seen COVID-19 change our lives, our businesses, and our society over the last month. Many business owners are scrambling to know how to respond to the impact on their industry on multiple fronts – HR & personnel, services and offerings, operations restrictions, location closings, and trying to keep a steady stream of sales. Part of staying afloat through these tumultuous times is a strategic digital marketing strategy that maximizes on ad-spend and garners conversions in a survival-mode climate. In this post we’re doing a deep dive into Google Ads during coronavirus – the shifting policies, updated benchmarks to measure success, and how you, as a business owner, should respond.  

Updated Benchmarks

Overall, the average click-through rate on PPC ads has increased since February, especially on Google search campaigns. Impressions and clicks on the search engine results page (SERP) are up for several industries that normally struggle to gain traction in this arena. 

Some of these are expected, like Food & Groceries and Charities & Nonprofits. Others like Finance or Legal are also having CTRs that far exceed their usual performance. Here is a breakdown of Average Click-Through Rates for Google ads across multiple industries.



One way to stay in touch with your audience and their search habits is with Google Trends. This incredible (FREE) tool shows you relevant search data for any topic, but we’re finding the Coronavirus Trends page extremely informative as we bid on keywords for Display ads and strategize Search campaigns.


More good news if you’re running search ads – as many businesses pull back their ads in an attempt to cut spending, ad auctions are slightly less competitive and PPC cost per clicks have been declining. Check out this breakdown of average CPCs over the last few weeks.

There are new trends to navigate as new searches are dominating the SERP, users are staying online later, and mobile traffic is decreasing. Even if you find yourself working with a smaller ad budget, you can still have meaningful results running Google ads.


New Policies

Recently, Google announced, “On Google Ads we are blocking all ads capitalizing on the coronavirus, and we’ve blocked tens of thousands of ads over the last six weeks. We are also helping WHO and government organizations run PSA ads. Google Play also prohibits developers from capitalizing on sensitive events, and our long-standing content policies strictly prohibit apps that feature medical or health-related content or functionalities that are misleading or potentially harmful.”


Take caution navigating your campaigns if you’re trying to sell products or services related specifically to the pandemic. If you are running an ad for hand sanitizer and you happen to sell masks that haven’t been properly approved to protect against viruses on the same landing page — your ad will get blocked. These policies go beyond just the content of the ad and apply to the content on the pages the ad leads to. 


One hard, fast rule to play by is that only official sources — a government office or official and non-governmental organization — will be able to push out promotions and ads that include the words COVID-19 or coronavirus. 


These policies, while imperfect, should be applauded. With widespread anxiety fueling price gouging, panic buying, and the spread of misinformation, we appreciate Google’s efforts to be a place where consumers can search for the accurate information they need.


What You Should Do

While there’s no one-size-fits-all remedy to how businesses should approach Google ads during coronavirus, we’ll leave you with a word from our Lead Ad Buyer, Andrea Hunt, 


“There is no doubt that times of uncertainty cause businesses to question their ad spend. However, people are online now more than ever, and we’re seeing overall Google Ads CTR increase, especially in Search ads. In addition, because many brands are being more strategic on where they’re advertising – the competitive bid rates are progressively declining, making it a great time to invest in your company’s brand exposure.”


You’ve probably already felt pressured to reduce your ad spend if you’re in an industry that’s negatively affected by COVID-19. While that may seem sensible, it could be detrimental to your business to shut down your marketing efforts. 


We hope this information framework helps you process the tough business decisions aead of you and adapt to these challenging times. If you want an honest take on if Google ads are right for you in this season, drop us a line. We’re always here to help.