Nielsen: How marketers should be dealing with the coronavirus

By Jenni Gilbert | 1 April 2020
With the impact of cancelled competitions and closed stadiums, broadcasters need to find a way to replace this content

Consumers homebound by the pandemic are having an immediate impact on brands, according to analysis by Nielsen.

Matt O'Grady, Nielsen global commercial president, has released research,  Key Questions All Marketers Should Be Asking, on the rise in TV media consumption and falling advertising volumes.

The paper includes a look at TV viewing time spent across 24 countries and advertising spend across Europe; how the pullback on advertising spend will cut expenses in the short term but will affect a brand’s resilience.

"How can businesses support their brands and make money in such uncharted waters?" O'Grady says. "We know that TV has always been a great way for businesses to build brand loyalty.

"Marketers now have to reduce spending while continuing to engage buyers. This is all happening so quickly against the backdrop of two key global - and not surprising - trends."

Media consumption is increasing

According to Nielsen, being homebound could lead to almost a 60% increase in the amount of video content watched globally.

As each country is at a different stage of responding to COVID-19, TV engagement is varied.

One thing is consistent: Time spent per viewer watching news and entertainment is going up as the spread of COVID-19 worsens and isolation becomes the best solution to reducing the spread.

To make use of longer periods of TV engagement, O'Grady says marketers should be asking themselves:

  • How can I adjust content to reach new audiences? By building new strategies to reach local areas, different demographic splits and new interests, marketers can hold the attention of consumers longer.
  • Has the concept of the primetime daypart changed? With people applying social distancing, is primetime still in the evenings after dinner? As viewing times shift, content needs to be considerate of a flexible primetime period and the verifying types of content consumers are hungry for.
  • Sport is one of the most engaged types of content on TV. With the impact of cancelled competitions and closed stadiums, broadcasters need to find a way to replace this sorely missed content. NASCAR, for example, has taken the bull by the horns and started hosting virtual races with live, professional racers -- with the first event attracting significant engagement. Testing historical sports content, other applications for esports and potentially offering home workouts could also be new ways to engage the homebound audience. 

Falling advertising volumes

Italy is the epicentre of the pandemic within Europe. Understanding the impact it has had on their advertising volumes helps foreshadow the fate for many markets a few weeks behind.

According to Nielsen Ad Intel, for the TV advertising volumes data released so far (January 2019 - 8 March 2019 vs the same period for 2020), Italy saw a 5% fall in the volume of ads - entertainment (-42%) and transport and tourism (-67%t) sectors took a large hit.

The UK is starting to follow, with 3% fewer ads than last year. Belgium and the Netherlands have seen small increases (4.2% and 4.5% respectively).

India, however, was different. In the first week of the lockdown, advertising volumes rose 13%.

Social advertising (+147%), food and beverage (+36 %) and banking and finance investment (+47%) drove the advertising volume increases.

However, these volume increases did not result in a similar rise in advertising revenue.


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