Audience Data, Digital Advertising, Marketing, Technology, social targeting, covid, auto

How COVID-19 is changing the way we browse, share and buy.

By: Matt Palmaccio

Guest blog by Matt Palmaccio – Director of Product Marketing at ShareThis.

ShareThis has a unique ability to understand human behavior through the lens of online content consumption and engagement. Through what audiences are reading, clicking on, and sharing, we can gather signals of interest and intent that marketers and advertisers can assign meaning to their audience targeting campaigns. 

Over a four month period from January to April, we have been able to track and analyse how COVID-19 has affected the way consumers are browsing and sharing, and look to leverage this insight to predict future spend for specific buying categories. The main categories we have seen a significant increase in online content engagement are Auto, Home and Garden, and Technology.  The changes in online consumption over this time period are quite dramatic, for reasons we will dive into.  

Auto Category

It may be surprising to see that interest in auto is on the rise, because it might seem like buying a car now is something that can surely wait. But the rising consumer interest in the category may be a leading indicator of quickly rebounding demand once shelter in place orders are lifted. Overall car shopping is up 32%, while sharing content for off-road vehicles and auto accessories is up 60% and 52% respectively. 

There are several reasons likely at play here. First, there could be a whole group of buyers who had not even been considering a car before, but are now thinking of buying one thanks to fears and concerns over public transportation. If more people move out of cities, even temporarily, this could also lead to a demand for cars. 

Secondly, strong dealer incentives and low or zero percentage interest rates may be drawing attention and pulling consumers back in. And finally, as an added bonus, some of the lowest gas prices in years could even further entice buyers. 

Technology Category

As difficult as what we are going through now is, it is technology that is helping to keep us connected to our families, friends and colleagues. Browsing for desktop computers is up 55%, with laptops and notebooks up 26%. It is not surprising that consumers may be thinking about upgrading their devices or looking for ideas on how to use technology to help with working and schooling from home. 

Technology also plays an important recreational role. Searching and sharing for gaming equipment and consoles is up 43% while camera and photo equipment has increased by 31% showing us that technology is helping us to both stay connected and entertained.

Home and Garden Category

Online interest and consumption for the Home & Garden category is significantly as work, travel or other plans that have been canceled are freeing up time for us to focus on some of these home-related projects. Home improvement content consumption is up 42% and interior decorating is up 29%, while kitchen and dining is up 37%. 

Additionally, with summer months arriving in many areas, it’s the perfect time to get outdoors and work in the yard or garden. Outdoor living and patio is up 37% while pools and spa browsing is up by 15%.

Our homes are serving a much larger role in our lives right now and consumers are realizing they need or want to make improvements to their surroundings to ensure it fits with their current lifestyle. 

Looking forward

So what are we able to do with this data? Based on these very early signs of increasing consumer interest, this analysis may help us to make more informed predictions about the categories that might be ready for a rebound in spending activity once restrictions are lifted.  

Ready to activate?

Available with Eyeota, ShareThis audiences are built using real-time behavioral signals and activity of online consumers. Find out how ShareThis audiences can help you accelerate your digital campaign targeting to engage the right consumers right now and in the future; get in touch with our Audience Specialists at