Believe it or not, the Coronavirus pandemic has improved conditions for many advertisers — specifically, eCommerce advertising.

Searching for Online Products in the U.S. StatisticContrary to what may seem like common sense, some industries experienced a “pandemic boom.” We recently revealed the sudden resurgence of live broadcast television, which had previously been in decline thanks to the media consumer’s new sweetheart: online streaming. And while U.S. citizens are easing out of their homes as stay-at-home orders lift, many eCommerce businesses have seen a lift in sales as many consumers continue to rely on online shopping for their personal safety.

In addition to the booming sales of essential goods, the uptick in non-essential sales during the pandemic has boosted confidence for many brands. According to MediaRadar, non-essential categories that experienced surges during the pandemic include:

  • Electronics and appliances: Best Buy reported increased demand for office products and freezers.
  • Clothing: Working at home meant investing in more comfortable work attire such as loungewear.
  • Alcohol: Beverage retailers who offered shipping or home delivery experienced a substantial uptick in both new and existing customers.

Why eCommerce? Why Now?

Amazon and other major eCommerce sites, such as and Zulily, were early action-takers during the pandemic and aggressively increased their eCommerce advertising spending by more than 100% in March 2020. Walmart and Target have joined the fray, and every site is vying to be the source for nonessential products.

As a whole, the eCommerce industry went from an average of $4.8 million dollars spent to $11 million between Feb. 17 and March 9. J.P. Morgan has advised the purchase of eCommerce stocks.

Many businesses, from mom-and-pop retail shops to direct-to-consumer products and services, can benefit by including an eCommerce marketplace. If your business doesn’t already have an eCommerce component, doing so can provide a lot of financial security and scalability in and out of the pandemic error.

Think out of the box when considering which of your products can be sold online.

For instance, gyms and fitness studios — who use the traditional brick-and-mortar fitness industry model — were forced to pivot in response to the safety and health concerns of their members. Planet Fitness and Orangetheory temporarily suspended membership fees and offered free in-home, trainer-led workouts live on social media.

However, other fitness centers completely shifted their business model by offering in-studio products for consumers at home. SoulCycle’s studio bikes are now available for pre-order, and they will begin to offer on-demand classes for their members while their locations are closed globally.

If your business can pivot to include an eCommerce product or service, here are four ways to benefit from advertising in this space:

1. Advertising in Major Online Marketplaces Like Amazon

Amazon is still one of the best digital venues for product sales, as well as product discovery through search. EMarketer forecasts that 85% of U.S. internet users (246.4 million people) will search online for products in 2020. As consumer search behaviors change, it’s critical to note that about 49% of product searches originally start on Amazon.

Starting Points for Online Shopping Among U.S. Internet Users Graph

2. TraDigital Advertising Tactics

Just because these uncertain times require creative thinking, doesn’t mean it’s time to abandon the old tried-and-true advertising strategies. Reliable "TraDigital options still include pairing today’s digital ad formats, such as social media and programmatic advertising, with:

  • Video: OTT, CTV, VOD, addressable, linear, cable and more
  • Audio: Network radio, streaming and podcasts
  • Print: Direct mail, newspapers and magazines
  • OOH: Billboards, aerials, street furniture and more

3. Investing in Sponsorship & Influencer Partnerships

Social media influencers occasionally receive flack, but the power of the organic social media star should not be underestimated. Over 80% of consumers discover products via social media, which is up from 58% in 2017.

Instagram saw the largest recent growth in consumer relevance; 48% of consumers discover products here, up from 18% two years ago. Facebook was up from 52% in 2017 to 70% in 2019, and Pinterest went up from 22% to 28%.

There is a catch. Only 5 to 10% of eCommerce referral traffic is from social media. This is because the purchasing funnel is nonlinear. These consumers develop consideration for the product at that moment. However, since they’re not directly led to a sales page, they’re less likely to close on the purchase. This is where influencers and micro-influencers come in.

By sponsoring social media micro-influencers, you’re able to include a link to your product and require brand-specific advertising.

According to a recent IRi report, social mentions for food and beverage brands have increased by a whopping 892% in May compared to pre-pandemic levels. This includes an uptick in mentions for alcohol, frozen foods and meats due to social media influencers sponsoring CPG products, which is viewed by multitudes of followers.

4. Solidifying Your eCommerce Marketing Strategy

When moving to eCommerce, it’s important to know the ins and outs. It’s also important to develop an eCommerce marketing strategy before you create your store, digitize your products and start advertising. You should consider elements such as:

  • SEO
  • Product page development
  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Video marketing
  • Post-purchase follow-ups
  • Local marketing (even with eCommerce, buyers look to support local businesses)

Maximize Your Media Dollars

In the constantly evolving digital world, you need a smart media strategy to keep pace. MBI is a full-service media planning and buying agency that efficiently develops an advertising strategy to achieve your business goals. Connect with a smart media strategist to learn more about eCommerce advertising opportunities.