GroupM Sees Paid Search, SEO Performance Improving

In an unexpected move, GroupM sees demand for SEO rapidly increasing in the coming months as brands begin working more closely with agency teams. The agency is tracking cost per clicks and conversion rates for key advertising trends, ranging from SEO to paid search for consumer product goods, ecommerce, and retail. 

Ed Foster, VP, managing partner and global head of search at GroupM, sees new, larger SEO assignments on the way. In an email to Search Marketing Daily, he points to several trends and how brands have begun to issue SEO requests for proposals. He believes many brands will turn toward SEO to gain efficiencies, similar to the way they did following the downturn in 2008.

Despite job losses and temporary store closures, some consumers are not affected financially from COVID-19, so they are shopping online for deals -- especially in the high-end goods category, which he says is something search teams should consider when designing ad copy and extensions. 

Brands with paid-search and ecommerce campaigns that once drove consumers to offline stores are experiencing normal to improved performance online.

In terms of hoarding or stocking up -- whatever consumers like to call it when buying eight packages of toilet tissue and 10 bottles of disinfectant -- GroupM data pulled last weekend shows consumer product goods (CPGs) companies using paid search to reach consumers are performing well.

It also suggests click-to-sales conversion rates rose as much as 15%. Related cost per clicks have remained flat and in some cases declined, which the agency believes is due to some competitors pulling their search budget.

There is less demand on specific product searches like “dry shampoo” and more on broader search keywords like “shampoo,” which GroupM attributed to issues in stocking products.

Consumers, for now, are prepared to buy substitute products, but it’s not clear whether that will last when stockpiles resume.

The data suggests the performance increase is due to offline sales shifting online, but analysts are wary that consumers could also be stockpiling, which is something they are monitoring.

The type of the CPG item also impacts demand. In the United States, impressions for facial cosmetics goods fell between 3% and 5%. GroupM expects this category to resume in the next week or two based on similar trends in Italy and China.

On the other end of the spectrum, a coffee brand in EMEA has seen a 600% increase in sales, with CPCs falling 20%.

Retailers also see an increase in performance, with some increasing budgets. Click to sales conversion rates rose as much as 20%. Some clients are experiencing dips in CPC by up to 10%, also most likely due to reduced competition in auctions.

The work-from-home mandate is spurring sales of office supplies and sportswear, followed by luxury brands. Luxury is experiencing an increase in return on ad spend, sales volume and revenue.

Pharma, on the other hand, has seen very little change for brands marketing goods that are unrelated to COVID-19.

One client that developed a test for COVID-19 is experiencing a 10% increase in CTR, and a 25% decrease in CPC. This brand is rapidly sourcing an additional budget for search.

Coronavirus-related searches have increased more than 320% since January.

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