Scott Hirsch on Alarming Changes to COVID-19 Ad Spending

Scott O Hirsch joins us today to discuss changing ad strategies during the COVID-19 era and what it means for marketers and small businesses moving forward.

In an unsteady COVID-19 economy, business leaders are pulling back from ad spending at levels rivaling the Great Recession in 2009. Data analytics expert Scott O Hirsch believes that there could be an even greater dip on the horizon due to a shift in consumer confidence away from Google and major search platforms.

“In April of 2020, Google ad clicks were down 20% across the board,” shared Scott Hirsch in a recent interview. “Combine that with an all-time high usage of the internet with people stuck at home, and that creates a dismal outlook for paid ads moving forward.”

Why the sudden loss of confidence in the search engine giant? Hirsch explains that even before the pandemic started, clickthrough rates were on a decline in Google Search for paid and organic rankings. For the first time since search engines were launched in the early 1990’s, less than 50% of all searches worldwide resulted in a click.

“Even though Google clicks are way down overall, it’s important to remember that online sales are way up,” added Hirsch. “This is not a trend of consumers moving away from digital spending in a COVID-19 world- it’s simply showing that shoppers aren’t using Google as much to find new online brands.”

Part of the shifting trend away from search is consumer habits of spending extended periods of time during the shut-down on social media sites and apps. Others have adapted new buying habits during the pandemic and may not be searching for the same types of goods and services. For instance, cosmetic sales have increased by over 1,000% in the last 45 days and most home essentials have also increased by triple digits. These short-term trends have sent CPC through the roof in some categories with sharp declines in others.

“We’re advising our customers to get back to what’s worked for decades; a blended marketing approach that includes email, display ads, social media, and Google, shared Hirsch. “Every brand is going to have different levels of success on different platforms and it’s critical to discover what works best for your business model.”

Does this mean to move away from digital ads on underperforming networks? Hirsch says no, especially if you’re still seeing a positive return from your ad budget. Scott does recommend diversifying to an omni channel strategy though to see what works best for your individual brand. That includes building out organic content in places your consumers are already frequenting, like social media, industry forums and review sites.

“The best advice I can give is to find where your customers are already online today,” added Hirsch. “If they’re doing their homework on a particular set of sites and forums, then you need to be proactive and build out campaigns for that specific vertical. That’s going to be your path of least resistance in a COVID-19 world and it will get you the most word of mouth.”

Scott O Hirsch is a well-known serial entrepreneur that’s built and sold multiple $100M brands through innovative digital marketing. He’s been accredited as a co-founder of email marketing and many of today’s most popular display advertising tactics.