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COVID-19 insights & trends (June 23 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.

Coping with quarantine fatigue as states begin reopening

The world continues to grapple with the realities brought forward by COVID-19. While some nations like New Zealand have declared they’ve eliminated the virus from their borders, others are trending in the opposite direction. Perhaps most notably is the United States, who recently made up nearly half of the World Health Organization’s record daily high of 150,000 new global coronavirus cases.
 
This resurgence in new COVID-19 cases comes as many are feeling the effects of what is now being dubbed quarantine fatigue. In other words, research shows that more people are venturing out of their houses, often in contradiction to stay-at-home orders. These actions can exasperate the varied guidance given on a state-by-state basis. As a result, there is a correlation between states with more lax restrictions and the number of new daily cases. At the moment, there is roughly an even split between states trending up or down, with new daily cases rising in 23 states. Given the inevitability of having to cope with these virus repercussions for some time to come, we continue to see elevated level of search activity related to education and the prevention of COVID-19.  Specifically, individuals are researching symptoms and underlying health conditions that would make them more susceptible to the virus. The positive trend here is that these searches have spurred a major uptick in interest related to lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking or losing weight. Compared to 2019, we’ve seen a 97% lift in related searches, with 3% of those also containing the term COVID-19.
 
It’s promising to see individuals using this time to improve their lifestyle habits, however, no matter how healthy someone is, it’s still important to practice safe social distancing guidelines. Let’s use the latest data as a reminder that it takes a collective effort to keep the spread of the virus down to a minimum – so let’s keep at it.
 
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How COVID-19 has impacted personal finances

By this point it’s quite clear that individuals’ daily habits have changed drastically in the wake of COVID-19 and the imposed stay-at-home orders. As a result, we’ve seen unusually high consumption of goods related to things like do-it-yourself (DIY) projects or bread baking. These shopping trends often focus of what individuals are spending their money on during quarantine rather that how much they are spending. To analyze the latter, we’ll dive into consumer spending habits and how it’s affecting individuals’ personal savings.
 
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in the U.S., personal income has increased by 10.5% in April and was coupled with a decrease of 13.6% in consumer spending. Both these figures are the largest changes on record. With income up and spending down, it created a staggering rise in the rate of personal savings, which is up 33%. To put it in perspective, this number had not exceeded 9% at any point in the previous 5 years. In some cases, these extra funds are being used to pay down credit card balances, which collectively went down by nearly 60 billion dollars in April alone.
 
Even though the boost in income is largely a result of government relief and stimulus checks, it still creates an opportunity for individuals to put their extra funds to work. There’s been a cascading effect where we’re now seeing an increase in search volume for things like high-yield savings accounts. As consumers look for financial products and services, now is a good time for companies to connect with this group of potential customers. Lately, we’ve seen both banks and aggregators entering this space and costs per click (CPCs) for paid ads have yet to rebound to pre-COVID-19 level, so clicks are still coming at a discounted rate. To help achieve the best results for your search campaigns, it’s important to be able to act fast while still being conservative enough to handle the uncertainty that the future holds.
 
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Search trend & behavior changes during COVID-19

Automotive

Financial Services

Health & Wellness

Tech & Telco

Travel


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.