Digital Media landscape during COVID-19.

14 May 2020 min Digital Media

As Australians are coming to terms with being physically isolated they are spending more and more time connecting through digital media. The smartest and simplest way to reach your audience during COVID-19 is through relevant messaging via your digital channels.

Messaging that talks to the changing perspectives and behaviours of your consumers will bring the most value. Global Web Index research indicates 55% of Aussies are optimistic about the future; an improvement on previous polls as the COVID-19 crisis began to take its toll on the economy. The same research shows that 27% of Australians believe we will be impacted for at least 6 months, based on guidance given by the government, yet only 7% are delaying purchases on key products such as household appliances.

Maintaining – or even increasing – your brand presence, marketing tactics and advertising spend where you can is crucial for future proofing your marketing efforts. When navigating the changing digital media landscape make sure your brand continues to deliver value while remaining agile across three key areas. This will help you maintain revenue streams throughout and after the pandemic.

The 3 key areas your COVID-19 digital strategy needs to cover

50% of Aussies believe brands should advertise as normal in the current climate. Perception and performance of brands who do, remains positive, when done right. These are the core questions that should guide your digital strategy right now across these three areas:

1. Media mix - which channels should you be spending with?

New daily routines are changing the way Australians view media. Reduced commute activity, and more time spent at home, means that Broadcast Video-On-Demand (BVOD) activity is soaring – especially so amongst older demos with 51% of ‘baby boomers’ watching more broadcast video since the pandemic (Global Web Index data).

Overall, 50% of the population are watching more streaming in general, 45% of people are devoting more time to social media channels and 15% are actively uploading content – a great time for Tik Tok to become a household name.

March saw increasing eyeballs on news related media, 40% increase in connected TV use, and more and more audio platforms being consumed as Australians explore new entertainment options. Remaining agile within media planning is more important than ever before, and despite ongoing demand in the market, less competition has resulted in a reduction in CPCs and CPMs, with Amobee reporting BVOD -11% and Facebook rates dropping 15-20% in March.

Adapt to the changing needs and behaviours that COVID-19 has provoked by using data led insights to optimise and allocate budget within your media mix.

2. Message - How have the needs of your consumer changed and how can you provide support at this challenging time? 

Sustaining brand messaging, whilst aligning to the current climate, will command consumer reassurance in both your brand and your service. Providing genuine support and empathy is critical. Depending on which industry sector your business sits in, your approach will vary. But, with increasing numbers of the population staying home throughout the lockdown Amobee insights has found that search interest has spiked across three key areas a result of the COVID-19 restrictions including:

a. Supplies and technologies for home office, improvement and schooling scenarios

Search interest for these items has soared by 1200% in recent weeks as the country adapts to this new way of operating. This provides an opportunity for associated brands to minimise impact throughout the current economic downturn.

b. Meal and grocery delivery options

Grocery panic buying and the absence of open restaurant and pub venues has led consumers to lean on grocery and meal delivery options. Uber Eats in particular have been quick to adapt to the changing conditions.

c. Gym supplies

Since lockdown measures enforced the closure of fitness centres, numerous online equipment suppliers have been selling out due to the surging demand.

Plus, the increased demand for contactless home delivery options across all of these areas and more places ecommerce at the forefront of business priorities.

3. Metrics - How should you be measuring success in the midst of COVID19? 

Remaining present is crucial, yet the metrics you benchmark performance on are likely to change based on how your business offering has had to adapt.

In addition, ensuring you have optimal foundational hygiene during COVID-19 is essential. Things like business listings across search entities, your overall user experience and the ecommerce options you provide on-site, are all key to driving the strongest return on investment - more important than ever as every dollar counts for more.

Remember to always combine hygiene with performance agility to mitigate risk.

Why is advertising during hardship more important than ever?

Henry Ford once said “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.”

Studies into the last major recession indicate that, of all media channels, ‘online’ dropped the least at just 2%, whilst multiple learnings from previous economic crises highlight strength in continued investment. McGraw-Hill research analysed 600 companies during the 1980s recession, sales of companies that were aggressive advertisers throughout, grew 256% over those who cut advertising spend.

These brands have triumphed in an economic downturn

A number of big name brands have been quick to adapt to recent changes as they unfold by:

  • Optimising tactics with an audience first approach
  • Drawing insight from consumption trends and changing behaviors

Dettol recently used Tik Tok to educate people on handwashing, gaining 9 billion views in just 4 days and quick service giant McDonald’s adapted all social and BVOD creative to reflect the new ‘contactless’ delivery and ‘everyday essentials’ offerings.

Similar brands have proven this same theory in previous economic downturns. For example, Kellogg’s notoriously doubled ad spend during the Great Depression as competitor Post pulled back. Kellogg's profits boosted 30% and they commanded their position as the market leader to this day. Plus, 2009’s recession saw Amazon sales grow 28% by maintaining their long-term strategy, pushing innovation by shifting consumer focus to Kindle products.

Three important considerations for advertisers

External influences have a direct impact on:

  • The data you receive
  • The perception of your messaging and strategy
  • The way you optimise

Changing user behaviour can skew data analysis and impact machine learning capabilities by causing irregular fluctuations.  So, it’s important to adopt an additional layer of assurance to advertising management. This will help to mitigate the impact to performance and future proof your business for success.

Aligning your KPIs according to strategic direction at this time, whatever that may be, is crucial to measuring the metrics that matter, and the output of your investment.

How struggling industries can increase their success

Industries such as travel, auto, events and hospitality are heavily impacted by lockdown measures across the globe and uncertainty around the economic situation.

We have seen many companies in the hospitality sector learn and adapt to the changing measures. For example, many pubs have turned to delivery options and transformed into bottle shops overnight.

If your business has been negatively affected by COVID-19 consider focusing on:

  • The increased eyeballs on social channels and home entertainment platforms
    They pose a strong opportunity to solidify your core proposition, drive loyalty and remain front of mind to drive future lifetime value from your media investment.
  • Tailoring your messaging to speak to your audience’s ‘new normal’ situation and needs
    Underpin your core brand values at the same time to maintain dominance in the consumer mindset. This will help to ensure you are future proofing for a post COVID-19 world.

How booming industries can stand out?

On the other hand, healthcare, fitness/wellbeing, online delivery options and entertainment platforms like gaming, streaming and podcast services are answering all the consumer calls. To ensure you stand out from your competitors, consider:

  • Reducing friction in the user journey
    This is more important than ever to drive ecommerce action or customer acquisition
  • Adjusting the placement of your targeting
    This is crucial to sustain presence whilst competition for these services is rife. For example, Out of Home messaging which would previously have dominated the commuter period for example, is now less penetrative.

    Adopting an audience-first with platforms like social or programmatic OOH offers a way to reach valuable audiences in their new routines; as they shop for healthcare and groceries, or whilst they browse the latest Tik Tok challenge.

Whilst the landscape is positive for some industries, it’s crucial to remain aware and supportive of the current climate in messaging,  making sure to focus on the needs of the audience and to not come across as opportunistic.

This article was published in Adnews.

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