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May 1st, 2020

COVID-19, From a Media Planner’s POV

By Andi Weinberger 

Call it isolating, social distancing or quarantine-ing—no matter what you call it, COVID-19 stay at home orders have had an unprecedented effect on our media consumption habits. 

As consumers are forced to spend more time indoors, they’re turning to various forms of media for information, connection and distraction. For the advertising industry, this means larger than ever audiences, and new ways to reach and impact them. 

But even though media consumption is up, this pandemic (combined with economic uncertainty) is having a major impact on media ad spend. In fact, ad spending is down significantly across all media channels for Q2 and is projected to remain down through the end of the year, at least. (68% expect that the pandemic will still have some impact leading into 2021)

As someone who’s primary role is overseeing media planning on behalf of our clients, I’ve been tracking the effects of this pandemic very closely over the past month and half, and thought it was time to share my insight and point of view on what’s been happening, and what lies ahead.  

Faced with uncertainty, many brands are pausing or cancelling their advertising activity altogether. We’ve been witnessing this trend firsthand for a little over a month now. But stopping or cutting media budgets can only carry on for so long without causing lasting, long-term effects for brands

Eliminating advertising for any period of time reduces the effectiveness of media even when ads go back on the air—it takes time to recoup the awareness lost from a gap in continuous airing. And, according to Nielsen’s most recent analysis, short-term decisions to go dark can put long-term revenue at risk—both incremental revenue and base sales. In fact, Nielsen’s database of long-term effect models suggests that cutting advertising for the rest of 2020 could lead to an 11% revenue decrease in 2021.

The willingness of brands and marketers to adapt and evolve is more important than ever before—those who can strategically shift their approach to changing consumer behavior now, will be ahead of the game when this pandemic comes to an end. That’s why, at PPK, we are adapting our client’s media plans in real time, and ensuring we are getting the most efficient rates, and unprecedented value on their behalf. We’re proactively reaching out on behalf of our clients who have remained on-air, and have been able to provide them with significant added value and rate reductions for doing so.

Because our team knows that amidst all of the chaos also lies opportunity—as digital and contactless interactions become synonymous with “safe”, COVID-19 has, as a result, caused shoppers across categories to adopt e-commerce at an unprecedented rate. 

In the U.S., according to Nielsen, only about 9% of Americans are brand loyal—so with supply chains disrupted, and more frequent out of stocks, it’s an unparalleled opportunity for brands to capture new buyers. Even more than usual, keeping your brand top of mind has the potential to pay off as consumer priorities and needs change as a result of this pandemic.

We don’t know if, or when, our lives will return to normal. But as we adapt our media consumption and shopping habits to manage our lives through this pandemic, it’s likely that the changes we’re making as consumers will become part of the “new normal” that emerges as the country recovers from COVID-19. And for brands, advertising will be an essential part of that recovery. 

As consumers transition into this new way of life, there are emerging patterns for how their habits have shifted. And as Nielsen points out, where there are patterns, there can be decisions. Just as people are trying to mitigate risk in their daily lives, we as advertisers have information that can help our clients adapt their strategies and mitigate risk for their businesses.

Stay safe and healthy out there! -A.

 

Article Source: 2020 The Nielsen Company (US)

About the Author
Andi Weinberger is the Associate Media Director at PPK, an independent advertising agency based in Tampa, FL that helps leading and high-growth brands accelerate the way they capture and grow their market share. She has spent nearly 10 years in the industry, and her passion lies in media planning—she thrives on understanding the category and consumer insights that drive successful media strategies.