Six tips for running paid advertising campaigns during lockdown

James Kiroly
By James KirolySenior Paid Media Manager
7 minutes to read

Big tech companies like Google and Facebook are stepping up to the plate and providing free support to small businesses.

Facebook has announced a grant for small businesses affected by COVID-19, and Google is dishing out free credits for Google Ads users. But if it isn’t quite business as usual, how can small businesses best use this extra budget?

What has Google announced?

The search engine giant recently announced that it would be giving away a total of $340 million to Google Ads users.

There are very few qualifying criteria, which is good news for businesses. If you use a Google Partner to run your ad account, you’ll still qualify. You also need to have had an active account from January 1st 2019. Other than that, there are no other qualifying criteria.

Google hasn’t announced how much the credit will be worth, or whether the value will differ between industries. It’s likely that the industries hardest hit like travel and hospitality will get the largest boosts.

When the credit arrives, you’ll see a notification in your ads account. It’s not clear when this will happen, Google has just said ‘over the next few months’. The credit has to be used before the end of December 2020.

What is Facebook doing?

Facebook has launched the ‘Small Business Grants Programme’ which initially looks to be more flexible than Google’s credit system. The $100 million grant is a mixture of ad credits and cash grants which can go towards paying staff and rent.

Applications aren’t open yet and its landing page doesn’t give too much away, but this will certainly be a much-needed boost for small businesses.

Facebook will give the grant to up to 30,000 eligible small businesses across the 30 countries it operates in. Its criteria is slightly more stringent than Google’s, but still very flexible.

To qualify, a business needs to:

  • Have between 2 and 50 employees
  • Been in business for over a year
  • Have experienced challenges from COVID-19. Presumably this could be along the lines of furloughing staff or cutting budgets to make room for essential costs.
  • Be in or near a location where Facebook operates. It’s not clear exactly what this means but Facebook appears to imply that the criteria for this may change based on your location.

 So with this money and credit made available, here are some tips for how you can use it on your digital advertising.

1. Focus on what you can do

If any parts of your business are running as usual, put your time and budget behind those areas.

Prioritise the products you have in stock or the ones that you have in plenty.

It’s also important that you tell consumers that it’s business as usual or if you’ve made changes to anything that could affect their decision. You don’t want a user to click on your ad (costing you money) to then realise they can’t get what they need in time, and leave the landing page.

2. Use automated bidding strategies

It’s fair to say that we’ve got no idea what’s going to happen day-to-day.

By setting up and using automated bidding strategies, you’re putting Google in control of where and how your money is spent. Just like any form of digital advertising, this is flexible and can be easily turned off at the click of a button, allowing you to quickly react to changes.

This means that it can keep up with any major market changes and will ensure you’re not wasting money. It’ll also save you time so you can turn your attention to other areas of your business.

Think of it like a safety blanket that you keep checking on every now and then.

3. Maintain a presence

You might be tempted to completely pull your budget and ‘go offline’ for a while, but maintaining a presence is important.

It will ensure you stay competitive when life returns to normal and will keep you at the forefront of consumers’ minds.

Make sure you keep bidding on your brand terms, stay active on social media, and show your customers that you’re still around, even if it does look a bit different for now.

4. If you have to pull budget, save it for later

If you find yourself in a position where you have to stop spending money on digital advertising, save the money for later.

Once business picks up again and lockdown is over, it’s very likely that the market will become competitive. If you’ve set aside the money you were going to spend, you can hit the ground running.

5. YouTube is thriving right now

Because we’ve got a lot more time on our hands, we’re resorting to doing jobs about the house that we’ve put off. As a result, we’re turning to YouTube for help.

Your free Google credit can be used on YouTube, so it’s a great avenue to explore for digital advertising.

Use Google Trends to see which popular topics are on the rise and factor this into your plan.

6. Prepare for the future

You might not be able to do much right now, but you can at least plan for the future.

Search trends data is available for different countries including China and Italy. You can use this data to research the topics or products within your industry that have seen an increase in searches as lockdown measures ease and the virus runs its course.

This will give you the insight needed to plan the next few months and figure out which areas of your business to focus on.

Similarly, now is a great opportunity to learn how to build and manage paid advertising campaigns. If you’ve never explored Google Ads, use any time you have to consider the campaigns you can run in the future. This will again help you get off to a flying start when life returns to normal.

If you’re interested in running paid media campaigns, we’re a Google Premier Partner and can help you meet your business objectives and KPIs. Get in touch to find out more.

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Articles by James Kiroly

I have over 7 years experience in the digital marketing industry. I love working with an ever-changing industry and talking about how digital influences people's purchase decisions online.