Pandemic Habits: Unexpected opportunities for digital advertisers

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 27 April 2020

The pandemic has created unexpected opportunities for digital advertisers, according to a study by creative agency We Are Social and Hootsuite, a global player in social media management.

The Digital 2020: April Global Statshot Report, written by Simon Kemp, shows that the cost of digital advertising appears to have gone down at the same time that audiences are more likely to engage with adverts.

The report, however, acknowledges that most marketers are likely battling with downward pressure on their ad budgets as a result of ongoing economic woes

“These trends suggest that – if you’re able to secure budget – the current opportunities offered by digital advertising may be particularly compelling, especially compared to pre-pandemic performance,” writes Kemp.

Kemp cites reports over recent weeks on “significant” downward pressure on the cost of digital advertising.

The Wall Street Journal and Digiday cite various sources who report that the cost of advertising impressions on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have dropped by 15% to 20% between February and March.

“An article in the New York Times suggests that drops may have been even more precipitous, with one source reporting a fall of between 35% and 50%t in the cost of Facebook ad impressions,” says Kemp.

Facebook says it “doesn’t monetise many of the services where we’re seeing increased engagement”.

And it’s seen a “weakening in our ads business” in countries taking aggressive action to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Research from GlobalWebIndex shows that more than (51%) of consumers approve of brands continuing to advertise as normal despite the coronavirus crisis.

These findings are supported by research from Kantar, which found that only 8% of people believe that companies should stop advertising.

And almost two-thirds (64%) think it’s acceptable for brands to continue with commercial messaging.

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However, Kemp says brands should be careful how they approach advertising during the crisis.

Research from Edelman found that one in three consumers have already “punished” brands that they perceived to have responded badly.

“Above all, brands need to demonstrate empathy, compassion, and sensitivity,” says Kemp.

“This is a time to think about how your company and its products can genuinely help others in their time of need. The emphasis should be solving problems, not selling products.”

“This could be about producing products and services that actively help to address current issues, such as Burberry making personal protective equipment for frontline medical practitioners, or LVMH converting its fragrance factories to produce hand sanitiser for French hospitals.

“However, something as simple as creating content that helps everyday people to achieve their own objectives can also add meaningful value.”

GlobalWebIndex finds that tutorials and how-to videos are among the top content that consumers want during the COVID-19 crisis.

“However, brands should be very careful when it comes to the use of humour,” says Kemp.

“While GlobalWebIndex finds that people are craving more ‘funny’ content, this finding likely focuses on dedicated entertainment formats such as TV shows, and Edelman finds that 57%t of consumers think brands should stop marketing activities that might be considered as ‘humorous or too lighthearted in tone’ while the pandemic continues.”

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