Best Practices

Retail & COVID-19 Impact on Digital

We asked members of our success team to gather data from our clients and make recommendations for retailers regarding COVID-19

Spend: While some of our retail clients have reduced branding and prospecting budgets by up to 25%. Many retailers have significantly increased budgets to ensure they leverage some of the opportunities we outline below. 

Performance: We have not seen any reductions in budgets related to performance. Online performance is strong and some clients are seeing significant improvements in YoY KPIs.

Recommendations: The recommendations below are based on a mixture of real data and some assumptions. If you would like to discuss these opportunities or are unsure how to implement any of them, please reach out to


Besides retail, we anticipate that many advertisers will reduce media spend. We also expect customers will consume more social media than normal, as they seek to check on friends and loved ones, and while they look for news flow on the pandemic:

  • Because of these factors, we expect to see lower CPMs and you should seek extra budget to maximize this opportunity

We expect more consumers to spend more time on your websites and apps

  • This will provide larger than normal retargeting audiences, so make sure to budget accordingly

Establish your baseline performance target and generate an automated rule to increase budgets if it’s being met. 

If you are concerned about the messaging of your branding campaigns being poorly received or inappropriate during this period, consider moving your budget down the funnel. In the lower funnel, you can respond to customer intent, customer demand, and restrict prospecting to Dynamic Ads for Broad Audiences (DABA).


Don’t hide. Customers may look to brands like yours for comfort in this stressful time.

  • Your creative should embrace the situation and offer that comfort e.g. “Stuck at home……..why not cozy up on the couch with….”

We know that consumer confidence will be negatively impacted 

  • You should highlight finance options (e.g. Klarna, Affirm, AfterPay) and benefits like ‘free shipping’ in your creative.

We anticipate increased demand for consumables from customers

  • It’s important to feature ‘hot’ products in your creative to take advantage of consumer intent
  • We expect consumers that normally prefer to buy in-store will buy online
  • Keep targeting your ‘offline’ buyers, but update your creative to online CTAs e.g. ‘free 2 day shipping’ vs. ‘buy online pick up in store’

Consumers will seek product review data to replace their own experience of ‘touching’ a product in-store before they buy

  • Include product ratings and reviews in creative where available

Consumers are concerned about low stock levels and pending inability to have product shipped to them

  • Include urgency messaging in your creative e.g. ‘45 bought today’, ‘12 left in stock’, or  ‘low stock item’

Consumers are seeking in-home comforts to replace their out-of-home activities

  • Prioritize products that meet these needs in your creative by building product sets

Consumers are worried about shipping times, delivery etc.

  • Provide assurances and confirmation in your creative e.g. ‘Currently shipping in 3 days’


It is very difficult to predict regulatory and media impact on consumer sentiment and buying behaviour

  • Setup automated rules to alert you to sudden fluctuations in performance on your media e.g. CPAs, ROAS, CPMs etc. 

Do NOT run split tests, lift tests etc. during this period of uncertainty as the results will not be indicative of ‘normal behaviour’ 

  • Only test into the tactics you are adopting in response to the current environment e.g. split test into the creative changes highlighted above 

Tag your media for abnormal data

  • This will allow you to exclude data that is likely to skew YoY data. Such as impulse purchasing of hand sanitizer, larger than normal basket sizes etc.     

Keep an eye on frequency to make sure customers are not over exposed to your ads as they consume more media than normal

Re-examine your day of week / time of day optimization to consider abnormal usage patterns as people’s lives are disrupted

  • Customers that normally consume media on the bus/train at 5pm may not be on a bus for weeks

Exceptional Circumstance Tactics

If your competitors are not as media sophisticated as you or are constrained on spending, seize the opportunity to conquest their customers.

Be ready to apply geographic exclusions in the event that you face fulfilment and delivery challenges in specific geographies.