How to Ramp Up Social Ads After a COVID-19 Pause

Riikka Söderlund Apr 24 2020 3 PM | 4 min read

Businesses are trying to understand what ramping back up will look like for their industries and markets once lockdown restrictions around the world start to ease. Facebook has now unfrozen the in-store advertising objective, giving social advertisers the option to start driving traffic to stores again. At the same time, countries like Germany and Denmark have begun opening small stores to the public.

Business is set to resume - but its form will be very different across the world’s markets, regions, and industries. We see social advertising playing a pivotal role for brands as they ramp up operations and marketing activities - here’s what you should consider when planning upcoming campaigns.

Set the Campaign Launch Dates by Listening to the Signals

Advertisers should already have campaigns running to capture demand when it begins to rise; however, it makes no sense to spend ad dollars if the audience is not ready to buy. Some brands are trying to solve this puzzle by combining Google search data with social signals to predict when advertising ramp-up should begin. 

Ecommerce brands, in particular, have taken this one step further by modeling consumer purchase behavior from their platforms. When consumers start planning to purchase items to use outside of lockdown, advertisers can start thinking about when campaigns can resume. Note that each market and industry is different, so it is worth staying on your toes and listening to these signals daily, to get the timing right. And, even then, it might be a choppy road with demand picking up and then withering down again as consumer sentiment fluctuates.

Your Customer Base May Now Look Very Different

We strongly advise social advertisers to think about whether their customer data is still an accurate model of what’s happening online. Firstly, there are more people online - including entirely new groups of people - exhibiting behaviors driven by unique circumstances. Your customer base might have shifted entirely, or you may only be talking to a small portion of the available online audience. 

Retargeting may also be problematic, as pixel data may be skewed. Different factors than before may drive consumer behavior over the lockdown period. As an example, high numbers of web visits may be attributable to customer service queries instead of funnel acquisitions. Thus, you need to consider whether retargeted ads would work for you. Another thing to think about - less effective pixels may accelerate the move towards cookieless browsing and advertising.

Upper Funnel Reach Campaigns to Help Rebuild Your Audience

Instead of reactivating and retargeting old customers based on past behaviors, some brands are planning to use awareness and reach campaigns to generate new insights and drive new customers into upper funnel conversions. 

Increased social engagement and CPM prices around 30% lower than usual are encouraging some retail brands to run regional reach campaigns around stores to capture new customer bases on a location-by-location basis. A slow ramp up with constant testing and iterations is key for brands as they rebuild their customer data.

Get the Message Right

With outdoor advertising currently mainly limited to public service announcements and statements of support for front line workers, social advertisers have an opportunity to claim a larger share of the budget going forward. The challenge will be to help brands communicate current, informative, and accurate messages across different regions and markets as they resume commerce under very different restrictions.

For bricks and mortar locations, we can take a look at the grocery brands that have remained active throughout lockdown. Any campaign designed to promote foot traffic should communicate how returning customers can have a safe, enjoyable experience when visiting. 

With consumer demand set to remain unpredictable for some time, switching to a simplified online supply chain and service delivery where possible will mean advertisers can quicker react to changing consumer preferences. The situation has led APAC e-commerce platforms to provide extensive coaching and consultation for vendors pivoting operations online.


Even though consumer demand is highly unpredictable, consumers have continued to make purchases throughout lockdown - just from different parts of a brand’s inventory. When campaigns pause, brands become silent - giving competitors the opportunity to speak to customers. The ability to rapidly scale campaigns (in both directions) and promote high-demand products and services online will give brands the ability to meet consumer needs going forward.

We’ll continue to monitor the situation closely and share everything relevant and useful we learn with you. You can visit our COVID-19 Insights Hub for more information and if you have any questions, contact your Customer Success Manager or send us a message at and we'll be in touch!

   Creative Testing Playbook Finding the Winning Creative Concepts CHECK IT NOW
Riikka Söderlund

Read Next