There’s no denying that the Coronavirus outbreak has impacted individuals and organizations across every sector. Since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, there has been an increased effort to prevent the spread of the virus with a slew of immediate precautions, which included cancelling large scale events like basketball games, Coachella, and even the 2020 Summer Olympics. While the promotion of social distancing and event cancellations is intended to impact the trajectory of new Coronavirus cases, its uncertainty also has businesses on edge. Companies are reacting by cutting their marketing spend. While this is a very natural reaction, now is not the time to halt all marketing and acquisition efforts.
Now, more than ever, brands need to get smart about their budgets and evaluate the channels that will allow them to endure and grow during this time. It's challenging for everyone —there’s no doubt about that— but the horizon remains wide open for marketing, it just requires a little extra focus, effort, and creativity.
To help guide where you should consider shifting your budget, we’ve created a high-level assessment of the channels that will see changes, what that means for your marketing budget and business, and how you can act now to accomplish your goals and reach your bottom line.
Here’s What We Know for Sure:
Since Coronavirus was declared a pandemic, here’s what we know for sure:
- 46% of American businesses have implemented a work-from-home policy.
- Facebook services are expecting new records in usage almost every single day, but there has also been a decrease in ad spend.
- Adweek reported significant spikes in traffic for social websites, including Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, and YouTube.
- Steam, a global PC gaming platform, has reached a new concurrent online user record of 20 million.
- Music streaming has dropped 7.6% in the week restaurants and bars across the nation closed.
What does this mean for you? With more people working from home and social distancing, these numbers indicate that the digital landscape is steadily increasing.
What Part of my Budget Should I Consider Reallocating?
If you’re currently running any of these advertisements, you may want to consider reallocating them elsewhere:
Out-of-Home and Radio Advertisements
Currently, the CDC is recommending avoiding large public places and gatherings, prompting some cities to have a “shelter in place” plan. Due to this, many workplaces have moved to a virtual workforce. As both out-of-home and radio ads are well suited for commuters, it may be worthwhile to reallocate your budget for these areas elsewhere for now.
Experiential marketing includes event sponsorships, trade show participation, and community events. Given the circumstances, a lot of these events have been cancelled, postponed, or turned into virtual events. We don’t recommend attending or hosting a large gathering at this time, but you can cut your losses and reallocate your budget elsewhere.
Linear TV Advertisements
Linear TV refers to the traditional way of watching tv where a person tunes into a specific channel to watch a scheduled broadcast. While Linear TV and advertisements took a hit when sporting events were canceled or postponed, television may actually benefit from people staying home. However, it’s likely that consumers will shift to Connected TV (CTV), also known as streaming services, such as Hulu, Roku, and Apple TV.
If we were you, we’d recommend shifting your budgets to CTV or Over-the-Top (OTT) channels to cater to the significant spikes we’re seeing in this area. More on this later.
What Channels Should I Reallocate my Budget to?
If you’re advertising on any of the channels listed above, we recommend making the switch to the following channels. Here’s why:
Streaming Channel Advertisements
Streaming services (CTV and OTT channels) have been rapidly garnering subscribers in the last few years and are projected to grow even more with people spending more time at home. Right now alone, it’s predicted that Coronavirus isolation will spike streaming by 60% (You can see how streaming services have fared during other crises compared to COVID-19 here).
Streaming services are a great place to advertise as they allow brands and advertisers to get in front of consumers with targeting capabilities that are unavailable through Linear TV buys. If you already have quality resources in this space, you should consider expanding into this channel.
PC and Mobile Game Advertising
PC and mobile gaming are more popular than ever right now. As of March 15, 2020 global PC streaming platform, Steam, reached a new concurrent user record of 20 million users. Their big spike in users is attributed to people staying home due to Coronavirus. Showing banner ads, pop ups, reward ads, or in-game billboard ads are a few of the ways you can use the popularity of online gaming to your advantage.
If your customer base has an affinity for tech and is between 18 and 40 years old, this might be an innovative space for you to place your ads. Some verticals that might fall into this category include car insurance companies, automotive companies, companies that produce electronic devices like computers or cell phones, entertainment companies, such as TicketMaster, gaming event hosts, or Hulu, and quick service and food delivery services, like DoorDash, Pizza Hut, or Chipotle.
Display and Social Advertising
Traffic across social channels is increasing consistently right now as more and more people stay home and connect with each other through these platforms. Currently, we’re seeing Facebook ad spend take a hit as small businesses, restaurants, travel, and retail companies have pulled their ad spend due to Coronavirus. We’re also seeing a rise in Coronavirus-related advertisements right now. A lot of consumers think it’s unsuitable for a brand to advertise adjacent to Coronavirus content, especially in the food and beverage, travel, and finance verticals. While this is not good for these industries, the lack of ads also allows social advertising to become a less-saturated market. If you’re in the health, government, or education spaces, however, your advertisements are better received among consumers when it’s aligned with COVID-19 content.
Although the food and beverage ads aren’t faring well near Coronavirus ads, there has been a spike in demand for curbside pickup and delivery services that more and more brands are quickly adopting. Brands that are new to this space should incorporate high impact display opportunities that are available through Facebook, Google Ads, and Programmatic buys to drive awareness for these services.
During this time, podcasting is maintaining its popularity on a global scale. For example, podcast giant, Acast, recorded its biggest weekend for listeners. In just one day, their listeners increased by 7%. While sports-related podcasts are down about 2% in listeners, other genres like education, entertainment, science and medicine, and health are all up 10%.
We’re gonna be honest – this one’s up in the air right now. While people are home and are looking for things to do, they may be deterred to interact with mail due to germs and spreading of the virus. While there isn’t any current data to sway us in either direction, it’s still a channel that has a possibility of success if you think outside the box.
As we all navigate through these uncertain times, there’s no reason to completely stop ad spending for your services. The key to being successful is to remain flexible and get creative with where you place your ads. We believe that brands who act quickly and decisively today will come out stronger after the storm by using these tactics.
If you have any questions on what kind of strategy to take, contact us. Our paid media experts are ready to help figure out your situation in any way we can.
Written by Brendan McInerney