US media buyers see the coronavirus as bigger threat to advertising than the GFC

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 3 April 2020

Ad spend fell for two years in a row after the GFC in 2008.

And most (74%) buy-side decision-makers in the US now think the coronavirus will have a bigger impact on advertising than the that global financial crisis.

The IAB in the US surveyed 400 media buyers, planners and brands to get an indication of ad spend and messaging strategies during the crisis.

The US data shows 70% of buyers have already adjusted or paused their planned ad spend, while 16% are still determining what action to take.


In Australia, the IAB is conducting its own local ad spend study. The results are expected in a week or so.

"We recognise that we are still in the early days of the COVID-19 crisis and that things are changing rapidly," says IAB Australia.

"Many IAB members and people in the industry are looking to IAB Australia to provide a barometer on how agencies and advertisers are feeling in terms of media investments currently in play and plans for the next 3-6 months."

Analysts at eMarketer say the ad channels most likely to take a hit are display, social media and digital video, with linear broadcast TV not far behind.

According to the US data, near term digital ad spend is down 33% and traditional media is down 39%.

The majority (63%) of advertisers have already changed the messages, increasing: Mission-based marketing (+42%); Cause-related marketing (+41%)'.

More than a third (35%) of advertisers are adjusting their in-market tactics and are increasing: Audience targeting (+38%) OTT /CTV device targeting (+35%)

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