Facebook Ads in the Time of Coronavirus: Change your tone, stay positive, keep evergreen ads, and show how you can help

4 Ways to Change Your Facebook Ads in the Time of Coronavirus

Viralspace AI
7 min readMar 31, 2020

There’s no doubt about it: Covid-19 is affecting individuals and businesses across the world. As consumer behavior changes, so do marketing budgets and strategies. However, this is still a crucial time for businesses to invest in their brand, build relationships, and truly live their brand purpose. According to Ad Age, during the recession, brands that paused marketing had a hard time returning to normal afterwards, so it makes sense to keep investing — but maybe in a different way.

In this article, we’ll share:

  1. How marketers are being affected by Covid-19
  2. 4 ways to change your brand’s tone and actions to address the crisis
  3. How to shift your strategy in channels beyond Facebook Ads

What changes are marketers seeing on Facebook Ads?

With the exception of industries like food, healthcare, and essentials, most businesses are seeing a decline in impressions. Meanwhile, Cost Per Click varies by industry. In some industries, competitors are reducing ad spend, meaning that clicks become less expensive. In others, clicks are becoming more expensive due to changes in customer behavior. Similarly, conversions and revenue are down in most channels as well, although some industries are seeing a bounce back as the market recovers. With the upcoming economic stimulus, consumers may become more willing to purchase new products, so don’t shy away from conversion-based advertising.

As a result, we see marketers cutting their Google and Facebook Ads budgets, with most marketers cutting Google Ads more drastically than Facebook Ads, and shifting their strategies for the ads they continue to run.

How should Facebook Ad creative change in this time?

1. Change your tone to address the crisis head-on.

Consumers still want to hear from brands, but they want to hear from them in different ways. See if you can adapt your messaging to the times, which might mean scaling back on any imagery that includes a lot of outdoors or travel, or creative that involves many people interacting in-person. Don’t just continue to run your regular ads — address the crisis head-on, be empathetic, and adapt your messaging to show that your brand is human, too.

Don’t just continue to run your regular ads — address the crisis head-on, be empathetic, and adapt your messaging to show that your brand is human, too.

Here are a few industry-specific recommendations:

  • If you’re a stationery brand or anything gift-able, use messaging like “stay connected from a distance”
  • If you use a lot of outdoor imagery, focus on your indoor imagery and talk about social distancing. 437 swimwear had a great take on this, replacing their beach imagery with indoor selfies.
  • If you’re a brand that has a fun product like snacks or games, emphasize staying playful and positive
  • If you’re a restaurant, emphasize delivery
  • If you’re an outdoor- or adventure-centered brand, see if you can adapt your product to the home, like GoPro and Nike did. We love Nike’s addition of “now more than ever, we are on one team.”
  • If you have a product that assists with digital communication, tap into that, like Verizon did
  • If you’re a clothing brand, focus on your lounge/comfortable clothing talk about staying at home in your messaging.
  • No matter your industry, you can spread useful information and PSAs about social distancing, hand washing, and staying safe!

2. Don’t shy away from humor and light.

Just because these are tough times doesn’t mean that people don’t want to smile. Although you shouldn’t diverge from your typical brand messaging, if you are a brand that uses humor, you can still continue to use this, as long as you stay away from insensitive messaging and adapt your tone in the ways listed above.

3. Keep running evergreen ads that work well.

In a similar vein, you can and should continue to run your most highest-performing ads at every stage of the funnel. Make sure to audit your ads for relevancy and insensitive content, but don’t be afraid to keep them running.

However, understand that testing creative on these evergreen ads might be hard right now. It’s difficult to understand your “true north” statistics and customer responses in such an unprecedented time. Instead of focusing on incremental A/B testing, continue to run your best ads, and try totally new tactics that are specifically tailored to this environment.

Instead of focusing on incremental A/B testing, continue to run your best ads, and try totally new tactics that are specifically tailored to this environment.

Additionally, consider re-orienting success metrics. If you focus on something like pure revenue, consider changing to a metric that scales with ad spend like ROAS or CPA.

4. Show how your brand is helping.

This isn’t just about lip service. If you can, actually do something to help. Consider donating a portion of your profits to a relevant charity or donating free products to front-line healthcare workers (if your products are relevant). And of course, take care of your own employees and clients. If you’re a mission-driven brand, now is the time to really live that mission and show your customers who you are.

Here are some great examples:

  • Unilever distributed 200,000 masks to hospitals in New Jersey, where its US Headquarters are located (source). Brands like P&G and Philips are following in their footsteps, donating healthcare equipment
  • Brands large and small are converting their manufacturing plants to mask, hand sanitizer, and respirator manufacturing facilities
  • Google is offering free ad space as part of a $800MM+ budget to support small businesses
  • Large tech companies like Facebook and Microsoft continue to pay their hourly workers, even if they physically cannot do their jobs
  • Quickbooks paused its current TV ad campaign and replaced that with a campaign to donate to its Small Business Relief Fund
  • Brands like JanSport are donating free products to people in need

And yes, you can talk about these in your Facebook Ads if it makes sense: for example, you can show how purchases tie to philanthropic efforts, like Allbirds did:

Thinking Beyond Facebook Ads

  1. Invest in e-mail marketing, but do it right. Consumers are being inundated by emails from brands that they don’t have relationships with and haven’t interacted with in years. This can come off as inauthentic. Reach out to people that do have a relationship with your brand, instead.
  2. Invest in content marketing. It’s more affordable than Facebook Ads and, for some of the messaging above, it may be a more effective channel for distributing your message. Try writing helpful articles, producing entertaining videos, and pulling your best content back from the archives.
  3. If you’re a B2B company, communicate with your clients, see what they need, and help. Emphasize the value of what you bring and what you will continue to do. Try to use non-email channels, since they will probably have an overflowing inbox from all of their various tools and partners.
  4. Invest in your customers as people. Consider personally messaging your most engaged social media followers.
  5. If you’re an e-commerce company, consider site-wide sales and emphasize your discounts throughout the site (at cart, at buy box, category page, homepage). People are still buying! Emphasize when you’ll ship, instead of focusing on delays: “we’ll ship your products out in 3 days!”

Who are we, and why trust our insights?

Viralspace uses artificial intelligence to help marketers make data-driven decisions about their images and videos. Basically, we’re all about using data instead of guesswork to make creative decisions, and want to apply our expertise to help marketers adjust to the current advertising climate. To compile this report, we analyzed our proprietary data, spoke to PPC marketers, and consulted other data-driven reports, which are linked throughout this article.

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If you’re a marketer at a consumer brand (direct-to-consumer, e-commerce, or retail), we’d like to help with your Facebook Ads strategy. Request a session with our CEO for 30 minutes of free consulting here. If you’re not one of the above, we’d still love to chat and get to know you, so feel free to sign up too.

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Viralspace AI

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