The State of the Digital Marketing Landscape: COVID-19 (April 2020)

By Jennie Kitchin | 07 Apr 2020

During what is a challenging time for businesses across all sectors, it’s more important than ever for brands to be able to cut through any misinformation and get a clear picture of the current state of the industry. We’ve gathered some of the most important trends and insights that we’re currently seeing across the digital marketing landscape and summarised them into digestible stats.

Global customer behaviour

  • Asia has seen a 32% increase in online shopping activities across all markets and a 42% increase in home streaming from February to March 2020
  • In Hong Kong, there has been a 35% increase in online purchase spend and a 51% uplift in food delivery
  • Customer spend is down in the UK across entertainment (-17% offline, -8% online) and clothing (-23% offline, -12% online)
  • 39% of UK millennials plan to be shopping online during the pandemic, while only 24% of Gen X and 10% of baby boomers said the same
  • Customers are looking to brands for assistance rather than deals, 78% want help with their daily lives, compared to only 30% looking for offer discounts or promotions

Global ad spend

  • Global ad spend is predicted to reach £593.6 billion in 2020, an increase of 7% YoY
  • These figures are down from the previously forecast £611 billion
  • Facebook and Google are facing a potential combined loss of $44 billion in ad revenue this year
  • However, Facebook is projected to see a 23% increase in 2021, bringing it back in line with 2019 metrics

Paid and organic search

  • UK retail is seeing a large spike in searches YoY (+23.1%), but click growth is declining (+1.1% YoY)
  • Computers and consumer electricals are seeing rapid growth with a 50.8% increase in searches YoY and a 35.1% increase in clicks
  • Food and groceries are also seeing huge YoY growth in searches (+100.5%), but this is not matched in clicks (+6.5%)
  • UK organic traffic has seen increases, most notably following the Government’s work from home order, and then again post-lockdown
  • There are positive search trends emerging for consumer electronics and online goods, hygiene products, garden supplies and sportswear/loungewear
  • However, brochureware sites or those with no eCommerce functionality are seeing a downturn
  • Desktop search is on the rise, coming more in line with mobile

Social media

  • In the countries hit hardest by the pandemic, total social media messaging has increased by more than 50% in the last month
  • Voice and video calls have more than doubled on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp
  • In the UK, there are over one million members of COVID-19 Facebook groups
  • In Italy, there has been a 70% increase in time spent across social apps
  • Instagram Stories and Facebook Live video views have doubled in recent weeks

eCommerce trends

  • Revenue for fashion brands has seen a 33% decrease
  • Omnichannel revenue is now above its pre-COVID-19 benchmark, indicating that omnichannel brands have found their footing, at least in the eCommerce world
  • Essentials brands are continuing to see unprecedented growth, with a 288% revenue increase
  • Luxury brands are heading towards their first positive eCommerce revenue day since the beginning of March, mainly due to promotions and elevated spend on Facebook ads

Content and digital PR trends

  • Content trends, across all publications, have adapted to focus on coping with isolation and social distancing - how to exercise at home, how to cook nutritious meals, how to stay connected and make isolation easier, how to control anxiety levels, etc.
  • Financial content is now predominantly based around budgeting and unemployment
  • Content featuring work and education topics such as working from home, free online courses and home schooling is seeing an increase in demand
  • Many major news publications have launched sections of their online offerings to provide hubs of content relevant to readers in today’s climate, including remote working and quarantine routines
  • Lifestyle publications have also adjusted their content to embrace the work from home revolution, featuring everything from how to do your nails at home to buying ethical fashion that supports small designers
  • The travel sector has adapted content to promote travelling once restrictions are lifted, offering 'virtual tours' to different countries
  • The majority of content is moving to a digital-first offering



  7. Microsoft Advertising: Bing Internal Data of Jan 2019 – Mar 2020
  8. Facebook internal data 2020