HomeBlogUpdated Google Ads Benchmarks for Your Industry During COVID-19

Updated Google Ads Benchmarks for Your Industry During COVID-19

Author: Mark Irvine
Last Updated: May 15, 2023 | COVID-19

Every year, we update our Google Ads industry benchmarks to account for the new changes and trends that advertisers are experiencing on the largest online ad platform. Earlier this month in March, we shared a sneak preview of Google Ads industry benchmarks for 2020 and we felt great about what we had to share. Then a pandemic changed everything.

We’ve seen COVID-19 change our daily lives, our businesses, and more over the past month. Even on the Google SERP, we’ve seen COVID-19 impact Google Ads performance for several different industries over the past weeks and many advertisers are scrambling to figure out how to adjust to the new normal in a rapidly changing landscape. But what is the new “normal” in your industry? In this post, we dug into new data from the past three weeks and collected the performance for our own clients advertising across five different networks:

  • Google Search Ads
  • Bing Search Ads
  • Google Shopping Ads
  • Bing Shopping Ads
  • Google Display Ads

We analyzed this data to provide the current benchmarks of what advertisers are seeing on these PPC networks, including:

  • Average click-through rate (CTR) by industry
  • Average cost per click (CPC) by industry
  • Average conversion rate (CVR) by industry
  • Average cost per action (CPA) by industry
  • Average daily PPC advertising budget by industry

You’ll find averages across these PPC metrics for 21 industries: Arts & Entertainment, Automotive, Beauty & Personal Care, Business & Industrial, Clothing & Apparel, Computers & Consumer Electronics, Dining & Nightlife, Education, Finance, Food & Groceries, Health & Medical, Hobbies & Leisure, Home & Garden, Internet & Telecom, Legal, Nonprofits & Charities, Occasions & Gifts, Real Estate, Retailers, Sports & Fitness, and Travel & Tourism.

See our 2023 search advertising benchmarks here.

Average CTRs have increased during COVID-19

Overall, the average click-through rate on PPC ads has increased since February, especially on Google search campaigns.

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Many industries have found more impressions and clicks on the SERP since the COVID outbreak. Food & Groceries and Charities & Nonprofits have CTRs that far exceed their typical performance. Even industries that traditionally suffer from low CTRs, like Finance or Legal, are finding a strong footing on the SERP.

Higher CTRs on Travel & Tourism may be a sign of trouble, however. Increasing travel advisories and restrictions have many searchers looking to cancel their itineraries. Advertisers would be wise to exclude customers who have upcoming travel plans from their paid marketing campaigns to avoid paying for them to arrive back to their site just to cancel or postpone their plans.
As many advertisers pull back, ad auctions are slightly less competitive and PPC cost per clicks have been declining.

Navigate the changing online advertising landscape with this free small business guide to COVID-19.

Average CPCs have dropped during COVID-19

Some industries are noticing lower CPCs as ad competition becomes scarce. Notably, restaurateurs are seeing well below average CPCs on both search and display as they limit their services to take out and delivery.

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Meanwhile, many professional services (B2B, Real Estate, Legal, Health & Medical) are noticing increased competition as their marketing becomes increasingly reliant upon their digital presence as their prospective customers spend more time online and at home.

Average CVRs impacted during COVID-19

Sadly, many small businesses are unable to operate or convert new customers in the same way that they previously were. In mid-March, we saw local advertisers struggle the most and many have noticed a significantly lower CVR with their paid ads.

But many have been able to pivot and find better ways to convert customers online. For instance, restaurateurs may have fewer or no diners in their front of house, but as more turn to ordering in advance and contactless delivery, they’re converting those diners more effectively online than they were a month ago. Similarly, as fewer people are willing to visit a car dealership in person during the pandemic, many automotive advertisers have adjusted to showcase their inventory and auctions online.

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Average CPAs vary by network during COVID-19

Online advertising has changed rapidly over the past few weeks and many of the trends we’ve seen evolve over the past years have recently reversed. Suddenly, new searches are dominating the SERP, users are staying online later, and mobile traffic is decreasing.

But simultaneously, many advertisers are adjusting and finding growing traffic across networks on Bing, Google Display, and Facebook.

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Average daily budgets reduced during COVID-19

Overall, businesses of all sizes are reducing their ad budgets during this time of uncertainty. But even in the face of uncertainty, advertisers are finding success with a smaller daily budget. Particularly, those who advertise across networks can optimize their campaigns to capture the lowest hanging fruit at the lowest costs efficiently.

Technology (Computers & Consumer Electronics and Internet & Telecom) sectors have boosted their campaign spending to capture the recently growing volume online. Travel & Tourism advertisers have reduced their budget most significantly, as they hope to capture later bookings exclusively.

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What do these benchmarks mean?

The coronavirus outbreak is changing how we conduct business and go about our daily lives. As our behaviors change, so must our ad campaigns. Smart advertisers can react to these shifting norms and adjust their PPC accounts to stay agile. Stay safe and practice social distancing. While you’re stuck inside, keep an eye on your PPC accounts and the WordStream blog. We’ll be posting regularly with new data and strategies to best adjust your campaigns and copy in these rapidly changing times. For more COVID-19 resources, check out Navigating COVID-19: A Simplified Guide to Resources for SMBs.

If you’re advertising on search or social, you also may be interested in seeing similar benchmarks for:

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Data sources

This report is based on a sample of 15,759 US-based WordStream client accounts in all verticals who were advertising on Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising between March 16 and March 31. Each industry includes at minimum 150 unique active clients. Accounts not recording at least 1 click or conversion are omitted from these figures. Shopping network data is omitted in industries with low usage. Average figures are median figures to account for outliers. All currency values are posted in USD.

For more insights and data surrounding COVID-19, listen to our special COVID-19 episode of the Goal Talk Podcast with Mark Irvine.

For tips on how to audit your account post-COVID, head here.

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Meet The Author

Mark Irvine

Mark is the Director of PPC at SearchLab Digital. Previously, Mark worked at WordStream and was named the Most Influential PPC Expert of the Year by both PPC and Microsoft.


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