The award for the most disruptive company of  2020 goes to...coronavirus. COVID-19 has shaken up life as we know it. Major industry events have been canceled, companies are losing significant revenue, and consumers are panicking. The future of the global economy is uncertain. 

There has been much speculation about how this pandemic will affect the digital ecosystem. Online publishers have already indicated that COVID-19 is starting to impact revenue. If you're a digital marketer, what can you expect to happen over the next few months? 

Cancellation of Conferences 

Companies rely on industry conferences to generate new accounts and grow existing products. The majority of a standard marketing budget is reserved for industry conferences and trade shows. 

We can see how grave the situation is by looking at figures published by PredictHQ. This data intelligence company indicates that in February 2020 alone, there was a 500% surge in cancellations. The same company predicts that the total loss will be billions of dollars. 

Considering that companies allocate the majority of their marketing budget to trade shows, they're going to have to come up with a plan. Since these events are canceled, this year will witness a more substantial investment in web marketing. 

It's advised that these professionals review and optimize their online marketing strategy.  

A W for E-Commerce 

If people stay at home, it means that brick-and-mortar stores are going to suffer. It also means that people will turn to online shopping. 50% of Chinese and 31% of Italian customers report that they've been using eCommerce more frequently.

Other countries such as Vietnam, India, and Russia are also seeing a turn to eCommerce. This will likely have a significant impact on digital marketers. The focus will be on competing for the business of consumers who otherwise wouldn't frequent online shops. 

While digital services may end up with a growing audience, nothing is guaranteed. It's important to note that it will most likely affect e-comm new product line releases and supply chains. 

Online Entertainment 

One industry that may benefit from all of this is online entertainment. It seems that way as the global population is stuck inside and looking for ways to socialize and squash boredom. This seems like good news for gaming and online streaming platforms like Netflix. 

According to Steam, the global PC gaming platform attracted 20.3 million players on the 15th of March, a historical record. The popular game, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, also reached a record high of simultaneous players on that same date. 

How COVID-19 Will Impact Digital Marketing Budgets 

It's hard to predict the impact the coronavirus will have on search and digital marketing. If the consumer or B2B demand continues to decline at this rate, it'll impact digital marketing. 

We can expect that there will be fewer searches for specific categories, such as hotels and airlines. This will impact SEO, paid search, and online display advertising.

Understandably so, Hospitality, events, and travel industries are going to be looking for ways to cut spending. These industries are likely to have ad-spending levels that are much lower, especially during the first half of this year.

That said, there are strong arguments that say there's a silver lining. Reduced online spending could potentially create opportunities, especially if competitors are scaling back. 

Digital marketing can be critical in stimulating and maintaining demand, which is vital in a downturn. According to this SEO agency London, seasoned digital marketers will be able to adapt. 

Online marketing professionals should be able to identify trends and use them to enhance branding. In this sense, it may be smart for companies to increase their focus on SEO and analytics. 

Confronting An Uncertain Future 

COVID-19 has brought a general sense of uncertainty to our world. While digital marketing could be driven by the fact that more people are staying at home, it's wise to remain skeptical. Any recession could ultimately hurt e-commerce, and market decisions will be dictated by fear and confusion. 

In an unclear environment, hope remains. There are opportunities to be seized, especially for companies that operate remotely and mostly online. We're extremely grateful to be working as digital marketers, and not in industries that rely on face-to-face interaction to survive.