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COVID-19 insights & trends (July 8 edition)

As consumers remain home, search has grown in increasing importance. It helps brands stay connected with consumers and highlights new and emerging behavior trends.
Our goal is to continue to provide you with new and updated trends on a regular basis as you adjust to the ongoing changes in search behavior.

Ecommerce continues to grow and is seeing greater efficiencies

As we enter the latter half of 2020, we’ve now been collectively dealing with the coronavirus for most of the year. In the early days, we looked at new and emerging trends in the way individuals shopped, worked and went about their daily lives from the confines of their home. Fast forward to today and we can now look at what trends have sustained during this time, and what that means to consumers and marketers alike.

One trend that we’ve seen emerge and now sustain is the rise in ecommerce, which within the first couple months of quarantine was up 30% in the U.S. compared to the year prior. This surge in digital shopping has also been helping new brands get a foothold in the marketplace. According to a recent IAB study, 7 in 10 online shoppers have tried a new brand during quarantine. To sum up these two trends, people are shopping more online and are also more willing to try new brands. For online retailers, these two factors create a positive environment for accelerated growth and increased sales. To further amplify this opportunity, digital marketing campaigns in the retail space are seeing major efficiencies. Since stay at home orders were put in place, shopping clicks have gone up by as much as 60%, while CPCs (costs per click) have decreased by as much as 30% compared to the same period last year. This trend of shopping efficiency for both metrics has not only sustained but improved since the beginning of quarantine, with some of the best figures coming from the latest available data in May.  

While many advertisers are taking advantage of the unusually good ecommerce conditions, there are some subcategories of retail that are not seeing all the same benefits. For example, apparel clicks are actually down year over year. Now if you think this is because everyone is working in their pajamas all day, then you’re absolutely correct. To add some validity to this statement, let’s back it up in data. When looking at click trends for the first half of the year compared to last, we’ve seen clicks for dress shoes fall off by 48% while, on the other hand—or in this case foot, clicks for slippers have gone up by an impressive 50%. Beyond footwear, we’re seeing similar trends elsewhere. People are not buying swimwear, which is down 35%, but they are buying underwear, which is up 52%. To contextualize and illustrate these trends, the odds are good that next time you’re on a conference call, someone on the line will be sporting some fresh undies and fuzzy slippers – but for everyone’s sake, let’s just hope they’ve turned the video off.

While the last description is a tongue-in-cheek visual of online shopping trends, the opportunities for ecommerce retailers are no joke. To help you get the most of your digital advertising dollars, we’ll share some top recommendations.
  1. Stay up to date on retail consumer and marketing trends, as they can shift quickly in our current environment. You can always find the latest data and trends at
  2. Keep budgets high. Your search marketing dollars are stretching further right now across most ecommerce categories, so take advantage while you can.
  3. Keep bids competitive. CPCs are lower right now but it’s still important to keep your bids at a competitive level so you can be visible when your customers are searching for you.

Source: COVID-19 impact to shopping categories (U.S.) NEW

Search trend & behavior changes during COVID-19


Health & Wellness


Tech & Telco


For these and many other weekly-updated insights, please bookmark our COVID-19 insights and resources for advertisers hub and subscribe to the Microsoft Advertising Insider newsletter to receive blog updates automatically. If you’d prefer to listen instead, follow our Insights with Microsoft podcast series on AppleGoogle and Spotify. Curious about strategies and recommendations? Read our digital advertiser’s guide to COVID-19. For insights on Marketing with Purpose, which explores building loyalty and creating business value through an expanded view on trust paved with empathy, inclusivity and knowing your brand’s purpose, bookmark our curated hub.