How brands can effectively respond to media consumption changes brought on by COVID-19.
As people around the world hunker down in their homes, either by government mandate or personal choice, the line between work and leisure has vanished. With no commute times, no early morning trips to the gym, and no clearly delineated family time, a day in the life of the average consumer has become a blended mix of work, childcare, social lives, and seeking information on the pandemic. While tensions are running high and attention spans are split, brands need to be strategic and thoughtful in their media placements to ensure neutral-to-positive consumer feelings and to maintain predetermined ROAS.
Most people have daily routines that inform their media consumption. A typical day may previously have been listening to a podcast on the treadmill, tuning into the radio on the way to work, checking social media at lunch, flipping through content during afternoon coffee break, and watching TV with the family at night. With everything now happening inside the home, including an increased usage of video for meetings, social gatherings, and streaming workouts, there is a much more fluid schedule that depends on a multi-screen environment. That leads to an increased consumption of media, especially online content (coronavirus-related news — or something to take your mind off it). Social media has become a hub for information-sharing and emotion-venting, not to mention good old humor-as-coping-mechanism, in the form of memes and more. Arguments and tensions can happen (especially in comments sections), but for many it’s a place to find community and connection and have their voice heard. So it’s a place where brands need to show up rather than shy away.
If you already have a campaign in the market, the first question to ask is if it is appropriate in light of current events. If the message is benign or better yet, hopeful or helpful, leave it in market, as brand awareness can still be gained in this climate. Instead of cutting budgets entirely, consider pulling and holding dollars. Having a reserve of spend waiting for when the virus crisis subsides gives you the flexibility to take advantage of unforeseen opportunities that may arise. Your target audience may also shift over the coming months, and leaving yourself the flexibility to adjust to that is key. The consumer of today may not be the consumer of tomorrow, and re-evaluating your targeting allows you to potentially overhaul your audience as needed.
Focusing on predetermined Key Performance Indicators is necessary in uncertain times, as they give you a north star for decision-making. Push discussions of ROI to the side with branding campaigns — the focus here is maintaining stable CPC/CPM costs and engagement, which can be viewed by site analytics such as time spent, pageviews, and bounce rates. For a direct response campaign, you are looking for stability in your ROAS and AOV, a sign that consumers are downgrading their total carts by switching to lower-priced items or simply shopping less. Impression volume on top keywords or audience targets should also hold steady. As media consumption shifts devices, looking at blended results may also be effective. For example, TV growth has increased by 15 percent in the US as anxious viewers tune in for press conferences and expert interviews as well as family programming, and engage in binge-watching to pass the time.
Source: Pew Research Center
As consumers move their lives inside, losing the clear delineation between work and play, home and out of home, their media consumption patterns are changing. By keeping the right messaging and targeting, brands can still maintain or grow their media presence right now. Recognizing that the uses for TV, social, and display have shifted right now and allocating dollars accordingly are what will prepare a brand for opportunity as the crisis subsides and life returns to a new normal.