Report: Marketers See Google Search Ad Spend Slow as a Result of COVID-19 Pandemic

As marketers turn to paid search to reach out to more customers and prospects, new research indicates that they have seen a downturn in recent months, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Merkle recently published its “Digital Marketing Report” for the first quarter of 2020, and statistics showed that Google search ad spend, in particular, grew just 11% year-over-year in Q1 2020. This was a drop from 16% growth recorded in Q4 2019, and the weakest growth the authors of the report have seen over eight years.


Average cost-per-click growth also decelerated between Q4 and Q1, coming in two points lower at a slightly over 4%. Spend and click growth dropped sharply in the second half of March 2020, in part due to the recent pandemic, according to the authors of the report.

Marketers Challenged by Recent Pandemic

Marketers also expect to have more difficulty achieving their annual objectives as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, according to previous research.

Conductor recently published “The Impact of COVID-19 on Marketing” report, and statistics showed that the majority of marketers (47%) believe it will be “more difficult” for them to achieve their annual marketing goals because of the pandemic. Only 7% said there would likely be “no impact.”

Despite these challenges, marketers are prepared to invest in channels that may yield more ROI amidst the current climate. For instance, about 34% of respondents said that they will increase their investment in low-cost channels, such as SEO, if there is a global recession.

In general, most marketers (63%) believe that SEO will become more important during this time period.

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