PPC Town Hall Recap: 14 Insights PPC Managers Should Be Aware Of During COVID-19

by Moe McLeod | Updated Nov 9, 2021

Here we go again! A number of thought leaders in the PPC community came together in this Town Hall to share insights on the current landscape. The focus of this town hall was Bidding Strategies During Dynamic Times.

If you did not see my last Town Hall recap, I am happy to say I walked away with a number of insights and experienced the same supportive sentiment. These meetings are a great example of professionals coming together to share information and strategies to help support one another through these uncharted times.

Each time I have attended one of these virtual events I have been surprised by the volume of actionable takeaways I can apply to my campaigns. In the video below, I have highlighted the top 14 takeaways gathered from the panel. If you are a PPC manager, I know you will find at least 4 helpful insights that you can apply to your campaigns.  You can either watch the video or scan through the summary outlined below the video. 

Lastly, a special thank you to Fred Vallaeys and the Optmyzr team for coordinating  these events as well as the panelists for this town hall which included:

Fred Vallaeys - CEO, Optmyzr
Emi Wayner - Platform Partner Lead, Google
Peter Oliveira - Partner Development Analyst, Google
Susan Wenograd - CMO, Aimclear
Martin Röttgerding - Head of SEA, Bloofusion

TownHall Summary

(Additional notes & summary below)

PPC Town Hall #4
Bid Management During Turbulent Times

Watch Full Webinar - Replay Link on YouTube

  • The main topic of discussion in this episode is 'Bid Management in Turbulent Times.'
  • Fred talked about PPC bid management in dynamic markets (such as the one we're currently experiencing).
    • Going deeper on the ad auction and how bid management works in a time like this
    • Conversions are different
    • Search volume is different
    • Search behavior is different
    • What does it all mean when we still have to hit our conversion goals
  • There were 2 Googlers that shared what they're seeing in the market and how advertisers can respond for the best results. 
  • Susan and Martin spoke from an agency perspective  about bidding, as well as other strategies they've deployed since the crisis started.

Top Takeaways & Highlights

Top Takeaways:
1.) COVID-19 Dashboards

2.) Industry W-O-W Changes In Spending

  • Automotive is up over 40% W-O-W in spending
    • Pushing incentives (90 day no payments, low interest rates, etc.)
    • Putting ad dollars behind it to promote
  • CPG (consumer goods) up over 50% spending W-O-W
  • Travel up by 13% spending W-O-W BUT down 80% M-O-M
    • Travel was obviously hard hit, but they’re figuring out something to try and come back
  • Some companies reduced spend because selling out
    • supply-chain issues
    • logistics issues
    • Some eCommerce in CPG
    • Some services (cleaning services)

3.) Industries Hard Hit Are Spending Money On Ads

  • Like Auto, Travel
  • These industries understand that consumers aren’t necessarily spending yet (no immediate ROI) — but they want to keep their message out there
  • Forced shift to online business
    • Auto, CPG (Best Buy) buy online and pickup curbside
  • As companies are adapting, they want to keep the message in front of their customers
    • Like travel, can’t yet, but keep the consumer dreaming once they can again

4.) Paid Media Spending and Costs

  • Spend projections eMarketer made in March of where they thought the market was going to get hit the hardest based on a survey of agencies and marketing professionals
  • Was predicted that Display and Paid Social would get hit the hardest
  • While Search was predicted to retain the highest budgets


  • Search has actually taken a bigger hit than speculated
    • Besides companies pulling back on ad spending, marketplaces has slashed spending on Search
      • Amazon being a main marketplace that pulled back on search ads
  • Facebook/Instagram Ads did take a huge drop as predicted
    • Costs are way down as well (especially FB, with IG trending back up)
  • Article here - https://www.searchenginejournal.com/paid-media-performance-covid-19/360914/
5.) People Working From Home - Ad Opportunities
  • Has impacted the type of search queries
    • Large increase of people looking for hardware/equipment to work from home
    • And services & technology to work from home
  • TVs and Game Console
    • More time on mobile 50%
    • Gaming console 48%
    • Smart speakers up by 44%
    • Streaming up by 40%
    • TV is up by 30%

6.) CoronaVirus Script

  • Free script comparing 2 periods of time in performance pre-coronavirus (e.g. February compared to now)
  • Clicks and conversions by: 
    • Device
    • Weekday
    • Hour of day
    • Conversions by device
    • Conversions by weekday
    • Conversions hour of day
    • A way to look at accounts you're managing, versus relying on industry averages
    • Script makes charts
    • Not about volume, but percentage changes
    • Weekday and hour of day can help you look at are user behavior (e.g. staying up later)
    • Can make adjustments based on this data

7.) Google Performance Planner
Performance Planner’s forecasts are refreshed daily and based on the last 7-10 days, adjusted for seasonality. Your forecasts will take into account any impact of market changes during this time frame.

  • Using Performance Planner, you can:
    • See forecasts for your campaigns.
    • Explore outcomes by adjusting campaign settings.
    • Understand opportunities in seasonal periods.
    • Manage budgets across accounts and campaigns.
  • Peter of Google recommends using the tool even with turbulent swings in market
  • Can’t look as far ahead, but do monthly plans
  • It is working with the most up-to-date data
  • Recommends checking in on the planner weekly
  • To see what the impact is of shifting CPA, ROAS or Manual bids

8.) Automated Bidding vs Manual Bidding (per Google)

NOTE: We are no longer in transition phase, as we are fully in the sheltered-in order and people are working from home

Automated bidding:

  • Peter of Google still recommends automated bidding strategy during volatile times
    • To get all of the advantages of auction-time signals
    • Takes into account any changes you make on goals, targeting ,etc.
    • You are given the ability to filter out low or no conversion auctions
    • Even with low volume
    • Google is able to not only work aggregated data, and with up-to-date data, which means it can transition to changes pretty well
  • Manual bidding:
    • Have full control
    • Can watch the news and industry and make adjustments that Google may not understand
  • Recommendations:
    • If manual bidding, consider transitioning to Target CPA or Target ROAS
    • So instead of worrying about manual CPC bidding and focus on CPA/ROAS
    • Use performance planner to forecast and monitor so you can be armed with info to make adjustments
  • Reasons To Not Use Smart Bidding:
    • If have low volume and low conversions, smart bidding might not have enough data, use manual or ECPC
    • If you have info that Google would not know that will have massive effect on conversions rate (e.g. inventory levels)

9.) Campaign Segmentation:

  • Don’t generally recommend hyper-specific campaigns if goals are the same, but during turbulent times maybe good to break out (e.g. geo, profitability)
  • If seeing discrepancy in automated bidding, go ahead and break into own campaign with goal of combining again after things settle
  • When need to optimize based on different products that have different inventory or demand level
  • Branded, high-intent, medium-intent, low-intent, etc.

10) Portfolio Bid Strategy:

  • An automated, goal-driven bid strategy that groups together multiple campaigns, ad groups, and keywords.
  • Best when want to treat everything the same and get the most efficiency
  • Not necessarily the best for eCommerce or complicated campaigns that should be segmented
  • But Google suggests for most small businesses or services industries

11.) Best Bid Strategy

  • Target CPA or Target ROAS
    • Efficiency-based strategy that targets ROI-goals
    • To maintain control
  • Max Conversion or Max Conversion Value
    • To get volume
  • Surprisingly, some agencies have seen Max Clicks have seen success lately for volume (could be good for branding)
    • With CPC’s going down across the board Google can take full advantage to get more volume
    • Make sure to lower budget as well or as needed
    • But keep in mind, might get lots of volume, but not necessarily conversions

12.) Leverage Low CPM on Paid Social For Retargeting

  • $2-3 average CPM on paid social is great
  • Could be great for TOFU and video engagement traffic
  • Remarketing can do well while people are at home

13.) Ad Extensions
(Sitelinks, callouts)

  • People are searching more than previously, to make sure businesses are open
  • Make sure to leverage site extensions as users are searching and want to know if you’re open
  • Don’t make them click through to your site for info that can be provided through a site extension

14.) Continue To Look At Long-Term Strategy

  • Although we’ve had to make shifts and adjustments, we cannot forget the long-term plan
  • You have an audience and there’s an opportunity to gain new audience members
Topics:AdvertisingBusiness Resources

Need More Leads? Get the Blueprint

Subscribe for HubSpot Hacks and B2B Process Tips