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In digital advertising, things are always changing. We’re used to adapting to changes in channels, tactics, and algorithms as they come — but no one in digital marketing was prepared for the changes a global pandemic would bring.
Right now, coronavirus is changing not just how we interact daily, but how advertisers are thinking about their audiences and digital budgets. Many have paused their advertising efforts until the crisis settles, while others are making changes to their channel mix and audience targeting.
Let’s take a closer look at how digital advertisers are responding to coronavirus.
Before the spread of coronavirus, global media spend was projected to reach $712 billion in 2020. Now, it’s only slated to hit $691 billion. With so much uncertainty in the world and in the marketplace, many advertisers feel now is a prudent time to pause spending and evaluate their next steps.
Digital advertising has quickly become less expensive in the age of coronavirus. Traffic is surging on Facebook, but cost-per-impression has dropped. For brands with valuable content to share during this time, digital advertising is an excellent value. But for many, it’s hard to know what to say right now.
The key to spending on digital advertising and sharing content during this time is understanding relevance.
If your brand offers something that can help people manage social isolation or health concerns, it’s worth continuing to invest in digital advertising, organic social media, and email marketing throughout the pandemic. But if your brand isn’t accessible to customers right now, like those in the hospitality or travel industries, it may be best to pause your digital marketing and focus your strategy on communicating with your audiences for the post-pandemic return to business. Regardless of what you sell, it’s best to be careful with your messaging and avoid hard sales pitches.
Social distancing has resulted in an overnight uptick in digital video streaming and social media use. When Italy first went into nationwide lockdown in February, live streaming across YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, and Mixer grew by more than 66%. While numbers aren’t in yet, streaming habits in the U.S. are likely to mirror this.
Brands that haven’t traditionally focused their advertising budget on social media may want to reconsider their digital strategies during the pandemic. For some brands, Instagram likes on ad posts have risen as much as 77% since the coronavirus shelter-in-place orders began, and TikTok video engagement has increased by more than 27%.
Overall, this isolation presents a good opportunity for brands that advertise on digital platforms. Your audience is stuck at home and may be looking to engage with interesting content. If your messages are still relevant during the pandemic, you can continue to advertise without making too many costly changes.
A great example of this style of content comes from the national fast-food chain Burger King. Their latest campaign is instructions on how to build a ‘Quarantine Whopper’ that you can make at home. This kind of ingenuity keeps their brand top-of-mind and encourages fans to engage from the safety of their own homes.
There has never been a better time for brands to take a stand and invest financially in the common good. Coronavirus is a threat to us all — and those who can help, should.
Despite revenue hits caused by coronavirus, digital ad giants like Google and Facebook have committed to giving back to others impacted by the pandemic. Google has donated more than $900 million so far in grants to fight against the spread of coronavirus, and Facebook has launched a $100 million grant program to help small businesses temporarily shuttered as a result of the pandemic.
If your brand is in a position to help give back during the pandemic, finding ways to do so can generate brand goodwill and make a meaningful difference for struggling people and families in your community and beyond. Alternately, if your brand has been negatively affected by coronavirus, there are an increasing number of grants to apply for that may help mitigate the impact.
Another brand that is stepping up to the plate is the popular graphic tees and clothing retailer Homage. Partnering with a number of different Columbus, Ohio businesses and nonprofits, Homage designed a shirt that required a donation on Indiegogo with the goal of feeding 20,000 members of their community. Coupled with a social campaign, this fundraiser has already raised over $155K the cause.
Unfortunately, coronavirus is not going away anytime soon. Many of us may be practicing social distancing for months, and the digital advertising landscape may, in some ways, change forever.
Now is a wise time for your brand to take a step back and consider your audience, your channels, your spending, your strategy — and what it all means in the wake of this pandemic. Find out where your audience is now, and what they want from a brand like yours. Help if you can, and take a pause if you can’t.
No matter how or why the digital ad landscape changes, the heart of advertising will stay the same. Understanding your audience and communicating with them in relevant ways (which sometimes means not communicating) will always be the key to success, even during a pandemic.