Consumers Clicking on Face Mask Ads 5 Times More Than Hand Sanitizer Ads During Coronavirus Crisis

In the last week it seems the United States has suddenly woken up to the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, prompting widespread shutdowns of schools and businesses, with much of the country hunkered down at home practicing so-called social distancing.

To gauge the relative popularity of products consumers are searching online in response to the coronavirus outbreak, Kantar examined the percentage of total U.S. Google clicks on product listing ads displaying for ten items related to either contagion prevention or products experiencing reported shortages in stores, from March 1st through the 15th.

 Product Listing Ads Most Clicked March

Despite pleas from the Surgeon General and other health officials, it appears consumers are still buying up face masks, which are reportedly not useful in preventing the spread of coronavirus for the average person but are in dire need by medical professionals. In the first two weeks of March, nearly 47% of all consumer clicks on the ten products we examined went to ads for face masks.

In many areas of the country this weekend, grocery shoppers were greeted by empty shelves—cleared out by shoppers fearing shortages and deprivation (one supposes). Two highly sought items thought to be in short supply are paper towels and toilet paper, the second and third most clicked items in our study. Paper towel ads claimed more than 20% of total consumer clicks on the ten products while toilet paper ads received just over 14% of clicks.

The remaining items we examined are products used to kill germs on hands and surfaces, which the medical community has stressed are among the most important actions we can take to prevent the spread of the virus.

Ads displaying for general hand sanitizer received 8.6% of total clicks while ads for Lysol brand wipes received 2.7% of clicks, followed closely by ads for general disinfectant wipes at 2.6% of clicks. Ads displaying for the brand terms Purell and Lysol each collected 1.8% of clicks, while ads for the general terms disinfectant and hand wipes each gained less than 1% of clicks.

Notably, we also monitored search ads for the keywords ‘coronavirus’, ‘Corona’ and ‘Covid-19’ (the disease caused by novel coronavirus) and found no advertising activity in either product listing ads or text ads.

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