Marketing & Media Trends during a Pandemic


As individuals, governments and companies respond and adjust to the current Coronavirus pandemic, several things are happening that impact on marketing and advertising. We are sharing the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic that is being reflecting in trends we’re seeing across our client roster and media platforms.

Here are some highlights.

  • We’re seeing ad inventory increase 16+% and anticipate that number to continue; it’s upward trend as more consumers are staying home and spending an incredible amount of time on devices whether that’s mobile, tablet, desktop or streaming.

  • Beyond that, streaming video continues to cement itself as a stronger medium with a dramatic lift in available ad calls but due to the increase in supply we’re seeing a significant reduction in CPMs as demand is currently outpacing supply. Average CTV bids have dropped by 30+%: 

  • Secondly, as at-risk advertisers look to pull budgets to preserve cash the advertisers who stay through this not only are going to gather a larger SOV but pricing will be affected in a positive way, below is a graph that shows in real-time how much of a cliff bid requests have fallen off. Less competition + more inventory = more efficient media buys for anyone sticking to the plan:

Display ads:

Video ads:

  • Clients who rapidly revise or update their messaging and creative to address the effects the pandemic has on their brand or service will win. Speed to market with repositioning using programmatic channels will be a competitive advantage to brands.

  • We recommend clients repurpose their OOH and Radio budgets to online channels where they will massively benefit by the media cost efficiency from the migration of attention from traditional out-of-home to online channels.

  • Many vendors will struggle with operational execution from the “new normal” of a work-from-home environment, while our team will continue executing at a high-level with no disruption.

Media Impacts, Trends and Opportunities

  • People’s media consumption habits and online behavior are adjusting to this extraordinary and unique world event. With that, we anticipate campaign performance will not follow a “normal” trend over the next few months. Digital media allows us a visual into consumer’s changing habits and we continue to be proactive in adjusting campaign optimizations to follow trends and performance.

  • During this unique time, we expect campaign performance may not follow a typical trend. We recognize performance changes are in part a result of consumer online behavior in response to COVID-19. Every campaign is different and we are monitoring each closely to determine if campaign shifts may be recommended in the coming month(s). In many cases, this will not warrant major optimization changes and it may be too soon to react based on atypical March performance data.

  • Clients should consider repurposing their OOH and Radio media strategies, which are suffering as more Americans stay at home, to online channels where they will benefit by the media cost efficiency from the migration of attention from traditional out-of-home to online channels.

  • Brands are being advised to reduce or reallocate media expenditures versus postponing or canceling. Reducing versus canceling will minimize brand awareness disruption and mitigate ramping back up when the crisis averts. This is incredibly important with SEM, so keeping a base investment running is important. In some cases, such as healthcare, we’re seeing our healthcare brands’ impression share in SEM spike more than 5% as their competitors cancel.

  • As some brands cancel, available ad inventories are increasing by 16+% and it’s anticipated that number will continue to grow. CPMs are also reducing.

  • As many at-risk advertisers such as hospitality/travel/tourism and restaurants pull budgets to preserve cash, advertisers who stay, such as healthcare, are going to gather a larger SOV at more competitive pricing.

  • Accelerated growth in streaming services and in-home entertainment, particularly CTV/OTT.

  • s people look to quarantine themselves from the virus, they’re spending more time at home.

  • They’re streaming, of course, and there’s more options than ever with Disney+, Apple TV Plus and soon-to-launch services Peacock, HBO Max and Quibi.

  • Netflix has been a standout so far. Its 61 million U.S. subscribers seem to be watching, and investing, in the service.

  • Netflix will bring in more than 7.5 million new streaming subscribers worldwide in the first quarter.

Marketing Messaging

  • Clients will win who rapidly revise or update their messaging and creative to address the effects the pandemic has on their brand or service. Speed-to-market with repositioning using programmatic channels will be a competitive advantage to most brands.

Tailwinds and Headwinds for certain verticals

  1. Categories seeing opportunities:

  • Specific financial services, such as refinancing as the prime lending rate has dropped. We are also seeing financial institutions revising messaging to promote small business loans to help owners weather the storm.

  • Teleconference companies like Zoom with more employees and students working from home

  • Supermarkets, warehouse clubs and drug chains, particularly with recruitment for hiring stocking personnel

  • Liquor, as more Americans stay home

  • Micro-distilleries converting the alcohol in spirits to produce hand sanitizers

  • Delivery services

  • Education - online learning/higher ed are adapting to online courses and offering more flexibility for non-traditional students and those considering continuing education.

  • We’re seeing a change in messaging toward online learning for current and new students, especially now as high school seniors re-think their college choices for Fall 2020.

  • Educators predict many high school seniors will now re-consider moving away to college and explore local community colleges and online classes

  • Parents are actively searching online and through their social media networks for homeschooling material

  • Entertainment and gaming – app downloads, movies, streaming online

  • Health CPG items: sanitizer, thermometers, cleaning products

  • Healthcare ramps up telemedicine offerings

  • Many health care providers always offered 24/7 virtual care to members and are ramping up their offerings, and others are jumping in now.

  • Some have added COVID-19 screening questions to their “Treat Me Now” feature in apps, and will route data to a providers based on answers.

  • One west coast healthcare facility has seen an 82% increase in video visits, and 30% of its members sought out virtual care in March, lessening the burden on hospitals treating those with more urgent needs.

  • B2B Events and Trade Shows

  • B2B categories space that rely most heavily on tradeshows and networking will need to rely more heavily on digital marketing, and adapt to education and training via web conferencing

  • Architects, specifiers, code officials and engineers who rely on credits will migrate to online courses

  • If those who sell to customers normally rely on meeting people face-to-face, the industry will see a shift, even post-pandemic.

  • Businesses are quickly creating new websites, launching eCommerce, and better adopting social media.

  • Eventually meetings and conferences may be back up and running, but it’s an opportunity window for these companies to see the value in digital marketing ROI and make this a more substantial part of their future sales and marketing efforts. (Destinations, industry meetings and conventions business, technology companies, manufacturing, construction, outdoor products)

  • Outdoor Recreation - we are seeing trends in search of increased search queries around outdoor activities - hiking, parks, etc. Because of social distancing and non-essential businesses close, there’s a growing trend in people getting out into nature for exercise and fresh air.

  • Home – The Home Depot and Lowe’s are poised to gain in easy DIY categories, such as paint, as homeowners have more time on their hands.

2. Categories facing headwinds:

  • The Travel/Tourism and Hospitality verticals are some of the largest hit, but Destination Marketing Organizations will be pulling all the stops to bring business back to their stakeholders – hoteliers, restaurants, attractions – as soon as we can see or even begin to predict timing on when COVID-19 will subside domestically.

  • The industry’s current messaging moves to “Postpone! Don’t Cancel!”

  • B2B associations, trade shows and events

  • Restaurants, specifically fine dining are struggling – We have seen an uptick in some restaurants promoting their carryout and delivery services in an effort to not lose all sales.

  • Recreation

  • Gyms and Health Clubs

  • Sporting Events

  • Movie Theaters

If you're struggling to adjust and maintain a new footing during this unique time, we'd be glad to assist!


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