How COVID-19 is reshaping Australian ad preferences

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 17 April 2020
Source: Wikimedia Commons.
  • A survey by Unruly shows only 4% of Australians think brands should pause ads during the pandemic
  • Almost half (48%) want ads to inform them.
  • A third (34%) want brands to make them feel happy.

Video Adtech Unruly, in a study on how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting consumer interests and behaviours, finds that time spent online has dramatically increased in Australia.

One in two Australians are spending more time on their mobile phones and connected TVs since the pandemic.

Unruly, part of Tremor International, surveyed more than 3,000 consumers globally.

In Australia, daily routines have drastically changed since the government’s lockdown, with 53% practising social distancing and 42% self-isolating. Only 5% are continuing as normal.  

Almost half of Australians (48%) want brands to be more informative, with consumers particularly looking for advertisers to share how they’re supporting staff and customers (25%).

At the same time, a fifth of consumers (20%) want brands to create funny and positive content that distracts them from what’s going on.

More than a third (34%) are looking to advertisers to make them feel happy, while a quarter (24%) want funny ads. A further 15% of Aussies want brands to provide a sense of continuity and normality.

While a lot of ad campaigns are being put on hold or are being cancelled, only 4% of Australians think brands should pause their advertising, with younger audiences (18-24s at 3%) even less in favour of a freeze on ad budgets.

Away from their digital devices, more than half of Australian consumers (54%) are spending more time cooking, while there’s also been a significant increase in the amount of time people are spending improving their homes (42%) and reading books (33%).

Other findings:

  • 35% of Australians have significantly increased the time they spend on their mobile phones, along with connected TVs (28%) and laptops (26%)
  • 72% of under-45s in Australia have increased their mobile usage significantly.
  • Unlike other countries such as the UK, the US and Singapore, Australians are more likely to tune into the news (56%) than watch TV dramas (54%) or comedies (54%);
  • 78% of 18-24s have increased the amount of time they spend watching online videos, with almost half (45%) preferring brands to communicate to them through online video;
  • More than two-thirds of under-45s in Australia (68%) have increased their social media usage, while 59% of 18-24s are spending a lot more money on home entertainment.

“The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in rapid, unprecedented changes in consumer behaviours and their preferences across Australia,” says Heath Irving, head of programmatic and partnerships, ANZ, at Unruly.

“The vast majority of consumers still want to see ads, but the key to success is in the content and the way a message is conveyed. The magnitude of these changes requires brands to be nimble in adapting their advertising strategies to maintain and grow connections with consumers, provide support and minimize disruption to performance.”


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