2020 has been a year unlike any other. Amid two challenges—a global pandemic and national protests—brands have navigated uncharted territory.
While many industries have been hit hard, others have surprisingly seen business increase (i.e. skincare and golf products). There aren’t too many certainties this year, which makes forecasting, planning and executing new strategies difficult.
To help advertisers gain clarity, MediaRadar’s CEO Todd Krizelman, Michael King from MediaMath’s Business Development and VP of Growth of AudienceX Lauren Hutton sat down to discuss media changes and what brands can do to drive growth in Q3.
Want to watch the entire panel? See below:
Q3 is a time for experimentation
When COVID-19 first hit, advertising spend dropped immediately. It was particularly rough for channels connected to live events—including linear TV, with the loss of live sports.
Of the dollars that remained in ad budgets, spend primarily shifted to digital (OTT being a big beneficiary), and something interesting happened. Internet consumption increased across the board 35%, but advertisers cut back spending.
King explains that the biggest shift in the media landscape was a change with CTV supply and demand.
“Right at the beginning there was a huge halt,” he explained. “With that pull back, there were fewer advertisers in the CTV channel, but then there was this huge viewership. So, supply and demand were totally on opposites, which caused CPMs drastically to drop.”
How did marketers respond? Those with the budget took advantage of the low prices and expanded into OTT and CTV or doubled down on previous efforts.
Some industries that MediaMath saw do this were Internet security companies and Uber Eats.
“Brands are now tipping their toes in channels they would’ve never been able to afford,” said King. “Now people get to play with CTV, which is historically very expensive, and see if that’s a channel that actually drives outcomes for them.”
In addition to the format changes, there is also an evolution in the categories who are spending. Krizelman says there has been a lot of trial and error among those who can experiment with messaging.
Here at MediaRadar, we’ve seen experimentation among brands who aren’t typical spenders this time of year. Toys shot up at the beginning of shelter-in-place and blue light glasses have had a sustained increase in ad spend.
In the last couple weeks, we’ve seen the pendulum swing back (to linear tv) and the calendar is being put back together. But brands can still experiment with new strategies in creative and how they approach data.
Messaging needs to go through new iterations
Initially, every brand seemed to be putting out some message around the theme of “in these trying times,” or “we’re all in this together—apart.”
Now, sending out this overused message could penalize your brand. People have adjusted to the pandemic, and don’t want to be constantly reminded that this year is difficult.
Some industries have done a good job at experimenting with new creative. The auto industry, in particular, has gone through roughly five cycles of creative iterations. Other brands responded quickly to the national protests.
“Large brands for the first time ever took a step forward into what is a generally very politicized issue and made a stand,” explained Hutton. She further explained that even though messaging is a sensitive and scary topic for brands, it is too risky to be tone-deaf or silent.
We live in a call-out culture where consumers “want measurable instances” where brands are matching the message, says Hutton. Corporations can’t afford to have creative that says one thing, but practices another.
Hutton also reminds advertisers that creating new messaging doesn’t have to be mysterious guesswork. There are tools like Amazon’s Mturk or focus group research to gather data on consumer perception of an ad prelaunch.
She says that 56% of consumers say they are very interested in understanding a brand’s COVID initiatives and roughly half of consumers perceive brands to genuinely care about the community.
There is more to be gained by being genuine about what your brand believes and what it is doing for good than what could be lost by being silent.
But remember that consumers will experience frequency fatigue, especially now that they are consuming media more. Ensure that your audience isn’t being bombarded by ads, explained Hutton, because even if your messaging is great, too much of a good thing can still make consumers sick of you.
Use data to react in real time, but don’t get stuck in it
“Before, we would base things off quarter to quarter, or even month to month. Now, it’s week by week,” according to King. Investing in programmatic will give you hints on where things are going and enhance your efficiency.
King recommended setting up frameworks, sequential messaging and seeing where consumers are converting and dropping off.
While data can help you make the best decisions, he urged brands to not get “too stuck” on the data and audience segmentations.
Hutton reminded brands that the consumer journey isn’t linear—but digital lets you look at the user better and make a seamless omnichannel experience.
She also said that during this time, it’s important to understand your product’s place in a pandemic market. If you had stringent KPIs in the past, be realistic about your product within this pandemic.
People may simply not be buying your product (i.e. lipstick) when they are working at home and wearing a mask in public. All your past data and goals won’t be as realistic during this time, so be aware of your consumer and your product.
Companies who are aware of their customers, their own business and those who are willing to try new things—whether that’s new channels, new messaging, or new ways to approach goals and data—will be most capable of driving growth in Q3. Change is not easy, but businesses have to keep up with the changing lives of consumers in order to offer value during this pandemic.
For more updates like this, stay tuned. Subscribe to our blog for more updates on coronavirus and its mark on the economy.