How COVID-19 Impacted E-Commerce and Paid Search in 2020
COVID Makes E-Commerce and Digital Marketing More Important Than Ever
No one would have been able to predict the catastrophic economic turmoil that many businesses went through in 2020. Thanks to the Coronavirus, 2020 saw the closure of many brick-and-mortar buildings. Unable to transition to an e-commerce platform, these businesses were among many of the casualties of the pandemic. Yet those who were able to make the transition noticed that it brought with it many changes in how e-commerce performs, particularly where Google is concerned. Here is how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted e-commerce and paid search in 2020.
E-Commerce Grew Exponentially
Unable to perform business in their own buildings, many small businesses were forced to transition to an e-commerce service. While this meant that some merely needed to open an online store, others made the switch to a complete e-commerce business structure. Those who made the transition saw that they were able to keep their business afloat, even as spending briefly stagnated.
Yet consumers, thanks to stimulus packages, were still willing to spend their paychecks on essential and other services. Small businesses that made the switch outlived their competitors who did not adapt to the changes brought on by the pandemic.
In particular, those businesses that implemented the winning strategies to bring themselves high on a SERP saw their profits increase. Those strategies consistently revolved around:
- Digital marketing
- Social media integration
- SEO performance
- Emphasis on user experience
Google and Bing Encourage Small Business Shopping with Local Shopping Ads
Both Google and Bing did their part in bringing awareness to local businesses that offered curbside pick-up by implementing new ads. In various places, consumers were able to see local stores that offered the products they needed through curbside pick-up. Even Google Maps introduced new optimized ads to help bring awareness to local businesses.
Bing introduced visual search to their product listings. This was done in the hopes of consumers discovering products easily and making comparisons between prices and product descriptions even easier.
Social media platforms also included e-commerce. Pinterest added a Shop category that allows consumers to purchase goods based on pins. Facebook launched Shops which allows businesses to create an online storefront. Online shops are able to be integrated both on Facebook and on Instagram.
Artificial Intelligence is More Present in Ad Development and Usage
Machine learning has played a key part in the development of ads for Google. Google made a few changes for the automation of ads that emphasize the idea that artificial intelligence will continue to play an important role in ads in the future.
Some of the key areas where automation played a part are:
- Discovery feed
- Search terms visibility
Automation and machine learning for audiences have allowed advertisers to target predictive audiences more easily. Using information based on churn probability and past purchases, the data advertisers receive can help them create more impactful campaigns.
Google released Discovery ads from testing and monetized them. Spanning across Gmail, YouTube, and Discover, Google can now boast a combined audience of 2.9 billion users.
Yet Google has also made it more difficult to know what keywords are working in your company’s favor. It seems to be pushing everyone to a zero-keyword future. While they will still release information about certain keywords that see a significant amount of usage, they did not disclose what that significant number would be. This change can make it difficult for companies to know if their SEO campaign is working or not.
Lack of Ad Support for Small and Medium Businesses
Google made a misstep when it announced that it would not be supporting ad rep support for small and medium businesses. It also changed its Google Partner eligibility requirements. However, they did roll out $340 million in ad credits to small and medium businesses to help them transition to an e-commerce platform in the wake of the pandemic.
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