COVID-19 on digital

COVID-19 on digital – The Trends, The Facts & The Winners

Having worked in search for over 13 years I’ve felt the pressures of a global recession, the emergence of a boom time and now a pandemic. Arguably we are only just starting to see the pressures of a pandemic on digital budgets and user behaviour, but here are some really interesting trends and some rather surprising winners out of the current situation.

Toilet roll, toilet roll & more toilet roll who would have thought this would be the most in-demand commodity in retail stores over the last couple of weeks and online demand was no different.

So how did toilet roll perform in terms of actual search numbers? On average there are 9,900 searches a month for toilet roll across Google in the UK, which if I’m honest already feels like a lot of searches for a fairly non-descript category. In the month of March, it’s estimated that we Brits searched for toilet roll 188,100 times. That’s a lifetime high in the history of toilet rolls online, with more than a years worth of searches in 30 days!! Whatever our personal views on stockpiling, for online retailers March was a boom period in the midst of a pandemic. We will have to wait a little longer to see what actual numbers online retailers publish but if it’s anything like the performance of some offline retail stores we should expect some staggering numbers.

So once households had their cupboards brimming, we saw demand move towards alleviating boredom at home. Here we experienced a huge surge in the online gaming category – Foxy Bingo increased their search demand by +160% with Tombola (+90%) and Ladbrokes (+60%) each feeling the benefit of people looking for at-home entertainment.

For many of us who are lucky enough to be able to continue working from home, there have been a few companies who have helped make this possible. I’ve personally had more Zoom meetings in the last week than I would have in a year and they unsurprisingly have benefited in search demand. They’ve seen an increase in search traffic of +200% whilst Microsoft teams has seen an increase of +350%. Interesting terms like how do you use Skype on a laptop has seen +1800% increase in demand!

So in summary, we are currently seeing some incredible demand across many online retailers whilst sadly some others are going through what feels like a demand blackout. Digital budgets now more than ever will need to be distributed to ensure all retailers and online businesses can where possible pivot to meet this new demand and for the retailers who are struggling it’s about what you can do now to ensure your search campaign is in good shape for when the demand comes back!

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