A New Normal for Digital Media

The marketing landscape was already experiencing rapid change with increased competition on paid social and the eventual demise of tracking cookies. COVID-19 has accelerated some of these changes and quickly shifted the way brands interact with consumers. While we’re still in uncharted waters, what is certain is that the brands who are agile, flexible, and have built strong relationships with customers will fare the best.

There is limited data coming out of the US so we’re taking learnings from China and watching performance and data trends closely.

Potential Trends

  • Advertisers are shifting spend away from traditional TV to streaming and OTT (this was already happening but now at a more accelerated rate).
    • However, with brands trying to protect the bottom line, they may pocket some of that spend or shift to conversion-focused digital channels such as paid search and paid social (driving up CPMs)
  • Influencer campaigns in the travel and hospitality space are being paused or canceled. As brands shift to the most essential marketing campaigns to save the bottom line, many influencers will lose contracts
    • However – Via Digiday, people are spending more time on social platforms “Over the last two weeks, there has been a 76% increase in daily likes on Instagram posts with hashtag ad and a 22% increase in the first-quarter compared to the fourth-quarter of 2020 in Instagram campaign impressions, according to data from influencer marketing agency Obviously.” Source
    • Brands will be closely watching if they can capitalize on the increased use of social platforms via influencers – but messages will have to extremely sensitive to a changing climate
  • Demographic groups who relied heavily on in-store shopping (e.g., the elderly) will be moving to online sales; there may be an opportunity to capitalize on this audience, but competition will be stiff
  • During economic uncertainty, marketers will turn to platforms with proven ROI (Google and Facebook) and pull campaigns from channels that are:
    • Unproven
    • Easy to cancel or throttle up and down

What to Do

  • Create reporting based on the most up-to-date results
    • Comparing year over year or month over month results will not provide an accurate picture of what is going on from a digital marketing perspective
    • Build a day over day report beginning March 9th
    • Look at higher funnel metrics (e.g., engagement rates, click through rates, brand search volume) at a channel and campaign level to get a quick read on what’s working and what is not
  • Review all creative and ensure it is still relevant amid a quickly-changing consumer mindset – identify anything that is off-brand or untimely and fix it fast

How to Message

  • Focus on community building: Elijah Whaley, CMO of Chinese influencer marketing agency Parklu, says “As brands focus less on brand awareness and sales campaigns during the outbreak, community-building activities are a safe way to interact with consumers and remain front of mind. [So] when they start spending again, they are going to spend with you.” Source.
  • Build trust: “This crisis shall pass, and when the dust settles, customers will remember the brands and companies that have taken pains to build rapport and trust with consumers.” Source.

Additional Resources

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