Marketing trends

The impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on digital marketing

"Fortune favors the brave... and the prepared” - Chris Reitermann, Chief Executive, Asia and Greater China, Ogilvy

By now, Coronavirus is already a part of our daily life and unfortunately, it is supposedly not going anywhere anytime soon. As marketers, just like everyone else, we need to start learning how to get through it - and how we can find ourselves post-pandemic.

The first step to do that is understanding the current situation and the changes happening in the digital marketing industry. What are the main shifts?

Introduction - The digital marketing industry in 2020 before the pandemic

What does the digital industry look like in 2020?


  • 2.05 bln people will shop online in 2020 - 7% increase YoY
  • Extremely competitive landscape - CPAs can reach as high as US$143 for display and US$116 for search in industries such as education or B2B
  • In 2019 social media ad spending surpassed print ad spend (Zenith Media) 
  • Mobile advertising will account for 30.5% of global ad spend in 2020 - an increase of almost 60% from 2017 - and reach over 200% od desktop ad spend 
  • Consumers are truly mobile-first - brands can reach them regardless of where they are

average-cost-per-actionCoronavirus came to change the landscape irreversibly. There are almost 300k people infected all over the world and the pandemics are affecting every industry - negatively or positively, depending on how they are related to the current needs. Such a phenomenon is impacting how we go about digital marketing as consumers’ needs and priorities have totally shifted. What are the major impacts?

Economic impact on consumers 

COVID-19 has caused people to exhibit different purchasing behaviors. Instead of hunting for clothing sales or attractive gym memberships, consumers all over the world turn to emergency purchases, home purchases, feel-good consumption and e-commerce (Ogilvy). These behaviors cannot be neglected for the simple reason that they will not end soon without having influence on the future.

As people experience a new situation that lasts for a significant amount of time, they get used to functioning in new ways - making different purchases based on new priorities. The longer it takes, the more they get used to the new reality which just some time ago was supposed to be only temporary. It will almost surely result in irreversible changes and create a new permanent reality.

Changes in organic traffic - which industries are affected most?

traffic-growth-decline-covid19There is basically no industry that is not affected by the coronavirus - however, the numbers look very different for particular fields. The graph below shows traffic growth or decline caused by the pandemics in the given industries.

Businesses that suffer the most are travel-related, but a decrease in traffic can be observed across most of the fields. At the same time, media, healthcare, food and finance are booming though. One thing is sure - affected companies’ struggles will not end when the virus disappears but will last at least a year longer.

Changes in conversions by industry

conversion-growth-decline-covid19From a conversion point of view, similarly, most of the industries are experiencing a decrease. For simple reasons discussed by Maslov years ago, food is the most visible exception. Also, healthcare sees an increase in conversion (well, logically) and the media is thriving as people are overwhelmed with fake news and actively seek trustful sources that they are willing to pay for. Have a look at the graph below to analyse these and other fields.


In just 3 months, the coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed the business landscape all over the world. Companies in all industries are experiencing either unexpected drops in traffic and conversions or sudden boom and success of their offerings. Understanding the recent economic changes and shifts in consumer behavior is essential for brands in order to redesign their marketing strategies and successfully recover from the crisis when it ends. 

What’s next?

We have put together tactics that brands should apply both now, during the pandemic, and after the outbreak ends to stay in touch with their audiences in the difficult time, do something good for the economy and society, and keep business moving forward - or at least maintain it. 

Are you interested in learning how to:

  • Reallocate your brand’s marketing budget during the crisis
  • Lengthen your reduced financial resources 
  • Connect with the audience and understand new consumer behaviors
  • Make your brand matter during and after the outbreak.

Here is our next article “How can your brand survive the outbreak and gain competitive advantage” and if you don't want to miss any future articles, remember to subscribe to our blog using the form below!

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