The big brands keep global ad budgets in lockdown

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 23 June 2020

The world's biggest advertisers continue to be wary of spending on advertising even as lockdown restrictions are lifted in many countries.

The latest World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) COVID-19 Response Tracker shows the big brands holding back advertising spend by six months with more than 40% deferring campaign spend.

That’s the same level of deferral as the WFA’s previous data released in May. 

Global budgets are down an average 36% in the first half of the year. 

The majority (78%) now have response campaigns live, up from just 32% in March when the WFA conducted its first COVID-19 Response Tracker research.

These campaigns, while stopping brands from going dark, tend to be smaller advertising investments than originally planned.

The results for Wave III of the COVID-19 Response Tracker are based on responses from 35 major advertisers across more than eight key sectors with a cumulative total annual ad spend of $65 billion. 

covid tracker

Negative sentiment among senior marketers persists. Only 8% feel positive about the current business environment and 27% are positive about the business environment in the next six months. 

About half feel negative on both time frames with 51% not positive about the current business environment and 46% expressing the same sentiment on the six-month timeframe. 

Most are trying to maintain business as normal with their agency partners. More than half (53%) have updated scope of work agreements with their agencies to allow work to be done remotely and the same number have continued to run planned pitches.

“While the overall picture may show continued restraint when it comes to global ad spend, anecdotal evidence from our conversations with CMOs shows that major multinationals are seeing business growth in China and more broadly across APAC," says Stephan Loerke, CEO of the WFA.

"We are also hearing about rises in ad spend globally in some key sectors. We expect advertisers to remain cautious but many are preparing plans for recovery.

"A more tactical approach, where opportunities for more flexible, short-term buying become available, is likely to be key to building confidence for a return to higher levels of advertising investment." 

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