Brands are being too cautious with advertising during the pandemic

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 25 March 2020

Social distancing, quarantining and staying home will have a significant effect on media consumption, which could rise up to 60%, according to research by Nielsen.

The change gives content creators, networks, studios, media agencies, advertisers and brands significantly more opportunity to engage with consumers because of the clear correlation between time at home and media consumption.

But many haven't used that opportunity. One finding from the research is that, in areas where the coronvirus first hit, a majority of advertisers pulled back on campaigns.

"This was likely a misstep, as the increased media time was likely the new 'prime' time to brand build and interact with an
engaged audience -- albeit with the right tone and product/service offerings," says Nielsen.

"Certain sectors, such as health care brands, gaming companies and e-commerce operators, did lean in with disproportionate and opportunistic ad spending but the shift wasn’t widely adopted enough to encompass the depth and breadth of consumer interests or needs as the situation intensified.

“The knee-jerk reaction from advertisers at a time of crisis is typically to pull back or defer spends.

"However, COVID-19 is characterised by a situation where increased time at home means expanded media time and heightened consumer attention.

“For brands looking to authentically connect with the consumer during this difficult time and offer a solution, this is a time to lean in.”

The impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is widespread and will likely shape business and consumer behaviour for months to come, according to Nielsen in a white paper, The Impact of COVID-19 on Media Consumption Across North Asia

Nielsen says the increased TV time might warrant an adjustment to programming schedules or to programming itself.

And from an advertising perspective, brands and agencies will likely need to both adjust which products are being marketed, as well as the tone in which they’re delivering they’re messages, says Nielsen.

For insight, Nielsen turned to North Asia, including many of the countries, regions and territories first affected by the COVID-19 outbreak: Chinese Mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. 

The region was one of the first to feel the effects of social distancing and quarantining.

"We hope the insights from the early days of the global pandemic can help businesses anticipate and respond to market needs and consumer behaviour amid times of significant disruption," says Nielsen. 

Findings from the Nielsen research: 


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