Continuing to advertise during lockdown: how is the world adapting?
Stopping communication is not an option in the face of the health crisis. So brands and purchasing decision-makers are reinventing themselves and changing their approach. More power to those who can catch the spirit of the times by delivering meaningful messages on powerful media. What about digital audio?
COVID-19: what impact for advertisers and the purchasing sectors?
The IAB surveyed media planners at the end of March to find out what effects the pandemic was having on advertising spending. Unsurprisingly, 49% of planned campaigns have been postponed indefinitely (until later in the year). However, 48% are opting for a different medium or a redistribution of budgets to more relevant media.
PubMatic (California) has been monitoring the impact of coronavirus on digital advertising spending since the beginning of the crisis. The sectors most negatively impacted are politics (US election campaign), travel, sport and science. The boom sectors are, firstly, information (52%), followed by hobbies (31%), IT (14%), education (13%), health and fitness (9%), then shopping (8%) and pets (8%).
Hugues Rey, CEO of Havas Media Belgium, says a change of approach is needed: “Advertising is a (paying) guest of the media. And in these very unusual times, the simplified equation IMPACT = FREQUENCY X POWER needs to be seriously qualified by fundamental factors: the legitimacy of the chosen channel and the meaning it brings to advertising communication.”
Digital audio remains a key link during lockdown
The communication media that are currently bearing the brunt are those that involve travel – Out of Home and digital OOH, as well as analogue FM/AM radio. The outdoor advertising sector is under particular pressure, especially in Germany where Ströer has had to revise its 2020 forecast and announce an inevitable impact on the dividend for its investors.
So who are the winners? Display ads online, on social networks, as well as digital audio and online video, says Scott Stewart, President of VMC Media Canada: “Media consumption is down in live sports, OOH and film, but up everywhere else.” Advertisers are taking advantage of “responsive, fast-moving creative media, especially radio and digital,” says Sarah Thompson, CSO of Mindshare Canada.
Proximity is in demand and radio fulfils this role. From 12 March to 3 April, ads were produced by the National Association of Broadcasters to deliver consistent messages to different local communities (local television and radio, analogue and digital). 175,034 slots were booked, at a cost of over $42.8 million. In Great Britain, Global was pleased to report a 15% gain in daily reach and up to 9% more listening time in March alone. Also in the United Kingdom, LBC gained 43% in reach and 17% in listening time during the same period. These are historic gains.
Pure players such as Deezer are also reporting an 11% increase in radio listening for the news channels available on its platform. Likewise, podcasting seems to be a promising channel: 323% more listeners are listening to podcasts dedicated to children, 110% more to sports-related podcasts and 16,757% more to yoga or meditation podcasts.
What advice is there for advertisers during the coronavirus crisis?
“It’s a bad time to push for conversions, but it’s an ideal time to take a step back up the funnel and promote brand awareness and consideration,” says AdParlor (Canada). This is a strategy that “will expand retargeting opportunities once the epidemic dies down.”
Another tip is to be aware of where consumers are and what they are doing, to “tailor the message to their needs by creating perfectly customized offers.” In-depth analysis from Jim Nail, marketing analyst at Forrester, says: “Advertisers are turning to messages that capture the present moment, with a calm, more contemplative tone, focused on family, friends and loved ones.”
How are advertisers communicating in times of COVID-19?
The Ads of the World site lists a collection of messages perfectly adapted to the crisis situation, as these three examples show. In the Netherlands, the Flower Council has chosen the visual impact of a carpet of flowers of hope, transformed into a hashtag on social networks: #LetHopeBloom. In France, Burger King has closed its restaurants and is delivering an illustrated recipe for its Whopper during quarantine. Finally, in Spain, IKEA is tying in the hashtag #StayHome to people’s attachment to their homes.
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