Ad Copy During COVID-19

Chelsea Norman / 4th May 2020 / Comment / PPC

How to Reframe Brand Messaging in Ad Copy During a Pandemic

As we face another recession, search and shopping behaviors are going to see major shifts in what products are being consumed and how advertising will impact buying decisions. Here we’ll discuss ways to reframe your products and messaging through ad copy during an unprecedented search environment.

Paid search analysts will see larger volumes in the upper sales funnel as research has already found sales cycles are lengthening. Being flexible with your CPA and ROI will aid closing sales over a longer period of time, Microsoft Ad Corporate VP suggests.

Shift your focus to that upper funnel by prioritizing engagement and brand recognition. My colleague Bridget, wrote about innovative approaches to small business marketing during a shelter-in-place. She explores strategies such as focusing on offerings that are useful for at-home life and leveraging/expanding your content to be educational.

It’s also a great time to start building an audience list (examples: those who abandoned cart or had 3 pageviews but didn’t convert) that you can use for remarketing later. Capture those that are choosing to consume your content so that when there’s more certainty in the economy you can get back in front of them.

But how do you get them to your site?

It’s all about the ad copy. The bait.

First, let’s set some ground rules.
Google and Microsoft have set forth strict policies to combat those trying to capitalize on a public health emergency through price gouging or manipulating click-through rate by using sensitive keywords. Search Engine Journal has provided a guide to the amended policies – read them here.
When building new ad copy during COVID-19, you’ll need to get creative and below I’ll show you how.

At-Home Product Framing

American spending is expected to decrease on discretionary items such as apparel, travel, and out-of-home entertainment. Areas where spend has increased include grocery, at-home entertainment, and you guessed it – cleaning supplies. Even if your business doesn’t fall into these categories, there are still ways to frame your product for at-home living.

Here are examples of ads that address at-home needs. Pay attention to the headlines and descriptions as you’ll see they include certainty to customers, which we’ll get into next.

Hardware Store

Book Store

Home Design


Provide Certainty and Offers

What offers can you provide that are sustainable for your business? Perhaps you have the capacity to put certain items on sale or offer free shipping. Perhaps you don’t have that capacity but can guarantee satisfaction. Provide certainty that consumers can trust your business. With longer-than-usual delivery windows from larger corporations such as Amazon, how can your company provide superior service? Call out anything you can guarantee. Are you accepting returns? Most aren’t, so if you are call it out!

Note: Google Ads has a checklist of COVID-19 campaign considerations and reminds businesses to “review shipping settings and estimated delivery time to ensure you accurately reflect current capabilities”.

Use Google Trends

Google Trends is a great tool to see what historic and real-time search trends are on Google. If you’re curious how one product might be more prosperous than another, you can compare search volume trends and make more informed decisions.

In this example, Joe’s Sporting Store wants to see which of their products he should focus on. From doing a quick search term analysis on Google Trends, Joe discovers that bikes and roller skates have increased in search volume while swimsuits and baseball bat trends have decreased.
Now Joe can make a confident decision to focus on bikes and roller skates in his campaigns because he knows there’s heightened interest.


I have not found many ads including sitelink extensions to COVID-19 information, but it is a viable option if you think your business calls for it (“essential businesses” especially). Here’s an example:


Get creative and be empathetic to your audiences needs. Consider marketing yourself in new ways. One final recommendation is to apply labels (“covid”) to your ads so that you can pause all like-content when ready.

How Wheelhouse DMG Can Help You

Wheelhouse DMG has a team of digital advertising experts with the main goal of improving ROI for their clients and creating innovative ways to approach advertising. Do you need help getting your online marketing presence established or are you a proven brand looking for someone to take over your online advertising efforts? Whatever stage your company is at, Wheelhouse has the tools and expertise to help you strategize and build a roadmap to accomplish your business goals.

By Chelsea Norman