The Impact Of Coronavirus On Digital Marketing In Asia

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, February 12, 2020

The Coronavirus continues to dominate headlines in Asia since January 2020. I decided to analyze the effects of the virus on digital marketing in Asia -- particularly on neighboring markets such as Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan -- with a focus on paid search, looking at topics such as audience search query and advertising trends as well as recommended actions to take.

1.  Audience Search Query Trends

Across four markets, big spikes in search interest are seen for the keyword "coronavirus" in the searcher’s respective language. Google Trends shows the searches reach as high as 100 across all markets -- an increase that began in the third week of January 2020 and peaked in the last week of the same month.

2.  Advertising Trends

The increase in interest around the keyword "coronavirus" created an opportunity for businesses in the medical vertical offering related services, so let’s look at the search engine results pages for the keyword query across search engines in Asia.

In Japan, advertisers are present on Google Ads but not on Yahoo Japan Sponsored Search. One possible reason is the advertising guidelines of the search engines. Advertisers could run ads in Yahoo Japan, they were not present when I searched. This may be due to budget limits.

It’s also important to know that the audience is interested in simply understanding more about the coronavirus.

Some who search on the keyword may not be potential customers. In this case, we need to optimize keyword match types and negatives accordingly to gain the highest return on advertising spend.

Businesses in the related vertical that do not consider Coronavirus to be a a significant opportunity need to carefully monitor daily spend because broad-match keywords may trigger incremental traffic potentially from the search query term.

For example, for South Korea, an advertiser was found on Naver -- the most commonly used search engine in the region -- when I conducted a search, but the site does not seem to be related specifically to Coronavirus.

At this stage, advertisers were not found on Google in Hong Kong and Taiwan, which has the largest market share in these two markets. As is the case with Yahoo Japan, mentioned above, this could be the result of budget limitations.

Advertisers do not appear to be making the most of the opportunity. This could be due to the lack of medical solutions provided for this virus.

3.  Recommended Actions

Businesses that are interested in taking full advantage of this opportunity should:

--  Regularly review search query reports, make a list of search queries that are only consuming cost but not leading to the fulfillment of the objective, and make a judgment on whether to pause the keywords, add negatives etc..

--  Optimize bids to ensure the performing keywords have sufficient impression share for solid presence in order to continue to drive results.

Businesses that are not interested in making the most of this opportunity should:

--  Review search query reports regularly to ensure that unwanted traffic is not being driven to the site. If this is taking place, add related keywords as negatives.

--  Pay careful attention if campaigns cover a variety of topics because your target is the general mass audience.   

Since medical solutions to this virus can further shift and impact the search demands, businesses should:

--  Monitor the news regarding the virus on a regular basis to understand the potential demands.

Recently, search interest for the keyword "mask" has drastically risen in Japan and South Korea as a result from information that masks are an important factor in protecting people from the virus. The increase in search interest is not as high in Taiwan and Hong Kong for the same keyword, which could be because masks were already used as part of their daily necessities.

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