Advertising in the Time of a Pandemic
The spread of COVID-19 has taken a toll on both our daily lives and the way we do business. Continuous revenue drops force companies to revise their business strategies and re-locate budgets. During these extraordinary times, it might be necessary to explore new ways of generating revenues. We combined 1st and 3rd party statistics, trends and best practices to support you throughout the crisis!
Among other things, the pandemic had a severe impact on the Ad Tech industry, affecting buyers, publishers, users, and multiple secondary stakeholders. Advertisers were fast to respond to changes in an attempt to minimize losses and seek better ways to address new challenges. As a result, IAB has noted a 33% plunge in digital ad spend. According to the report, nearly a quarter of the interviewed buyers (24%) have responded to the current developments by pausing all their advertising spend for Q1 and Q2. The other 46% plan to adjust their spendings for the first half of this year.
With some buyers expecting Coronavirus to have a greater impact on the ad spend than the 2008-09 financial crisis, you have to stay up to date with all recent developments to carry on business as usual. To help you deal with masses of COVID-related information, we’ve plowed through numerous 3rd party materials. We combined major findings with our own analytics to provide you numbers, trends, best practices, and tips for advertising during the pandemic.
1. Adjust, Don’t Stop
Discouraging statistics and fearful behavior of fellow marketers should not cause a halt in your advertising activities. Even if operating in the industries hurt the most by the pandemic, like travel and hospitality, marketers should strive to maintain their brand awareness and media presence for the times when the world is ready to bounce back.
In fact, it might be one of the rare opportune moments when doubling down will bring greater yields. With many advertisers withdrawing from the competition, we are seeing a drop of up to 47% in CPM and CPC prices. It is ideal for other buyers to pick up the pace and access the otherwise saturated marketplace.
2. Use Relevant Messaging
Deliver value to your audiences even in the time of coronavirus by staying relevant and addressing current consumer needs. Many buyers adjust their messaging to address the pandemic and expand their mission-based and cause-related marketing efforts. The latest Harvard Business Review article has summarized actionable tips on how brands can adapt their communication in times of Corona.
In addition to messaging, don’t forget to test whether your creatives still hold up. A study by Pattern89 has reported a shift in the type of imagery used in advertising as early as March 24. For instance, imagery depicting human interaction, which many users are currently lacking due to self-distancing, declined by 27.4% in social ads. Some brands, including the mass market giant Zara, reveal their new arrivals using shots taken in the home-like settings. Additional research and A/B testing will allow you to maximize the use of visuals to make sure you get the top ROIs for your ads.
3. Adjust Advertising Tactics
In addition to “what” you communicate, the “hows” are equally important to consider. State restrictions, quarantine, self-distancing, and work from home have changed the way people use digital devices, consume information, and, in general, spend their days. Fortunately, with LiquidM flexible buying solution powerful targeting, multiple advertising channels and formats, and premium supply sources, you can easily optimize your campaigns to fit the new consumer habits and preferences.
Here are just a few things to keep in mind when setting up or adjusting your programmatic campaigns.
Be on point with your targetingYour consumers are still online, as well as new potential audiences that were forced to stop or minimize offline spendings. Investigate how their customer journeys have changed and evaluate if targeting of potential customers and re-targeting of the existing ones can be improved. Audience targeting is up by +38% since the start of the pandemic, and so we suggest to follow the trend and make use of LiquidM’s first-party targeting solutions, as well as leverage the power of integrated DMPs, to reach your audiences. In addition, you can reach your users on external inventory, using our Audience Extension functionality.
Harness the power of the best-performing formatsRewarded Video and CTV campaigns have been on the rise in the past weeks featuring eCPM rates like never before. Support the trend, our partner SSPs and Ad Exchanges send high volume inventories for both formats.
Currently, we all spend a lot more time at home using mobile devices for work, study, and entertainment. Unsurprisingly, our increased media consumption has also lead to the astonishing 60% increase in mobile game downloads over the 1st month of the Pandemic. With a lot of new in-game traffic to bid on, marketers have an unprecedented opportunity to ramp up their performance with rewarded video campaigns.
Connected TVAnother format that COVID-19 brought into the limelight is Connected TV. The 330% growth in programmatic OTT/CTV throughout 2019 was impressive enough, but the triumphant shift towards CTV became even more apparent during the last weeks due to the booming demand for video streaming services, As a result, 35% of advertisers have already increased their spending on CTV/OTT channels. Paired with the high-quality traffic from our trusted suppliers, CTV campaigns may bring engagement rates and revenues you’re currently looking for.
Revise your delivery schedulesIn addition to the increased usage of mobile devices, home confinement has also upped our media consumption throughout the day. As normal delivery times may no longer apply and you may need to time your campaign delivery differently.
Review budget settingsDue to higher media consumption, you could also be running out of your budgets early in the day. Check if you need to tweak your settings to achieve better performance.
Examine relevant categoriesWhile some categories have suffered the most from the decreased ad spend, many segments, including Productivity, Lifestyle, and Gaming, still have substantial purchasing power. It is important to know that there is no one universal outlook on the shift in the ad spend per category across suppliers and countries. Partner materials (Pubmatic, Pubnative, AdColony) report contradicting category rankings. Thus, we advise programmatic buyers to use data for relevant countries and supply types.
4. Seek Brand-Safe Advertising Environments
According to Nielsen, fear of the virus will cause media consumption to rise by nearly 60%. Similarly, IAS already reports that 87% consume more news due to the evolving Coronavirus situation. Despite the figures, many advertisers don’t want to be associated with such COVID-related publishers’ content.
We collected the best tips to help you navigate through the conflicting notions and choose the best publishers and sources to advertise against:
Vicinity to COVID-19 content is not always detrimental to brandsNews about the virus is hard to avoid and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Many publishers deliver premium content in a brand-safe environment to highly-engaged audiences. Instead of blocking it completely, consider if you can use turn it to your advantage. In many cases, it’s mainly about the context and proper fitting.
Avoid fraudulent traffic and fake newsIf there’s one thing that didn’t change due to coronavirus it’s the need to avoid fraudulent traffic. Use our black-listing feature to block any low-quality content.
Explore new supply opportunitiesOur VP of Technical Account Management, Antonis Argyris, notes that we see a turn of 180° for many of our advertisers. Marketers are exploring new countries, formats, and supply sources. You might need to append your white- and blacklists and look out for new inventories that convert better.
5. Mind the Universal Don’ts
Being tone-deaf and insensitive with coronavirus-related contentCurrently, any opportunistic behavior is likely to become an issue of ethics and bring along unwanted social criticism. It is also subject to strict supply regulations. Promotion of any pandemic-related products, i.e. facemask and sanitizers, is blocked by all major SSPs and Ad Exchanges, so we ask you to be careful touching upon the topic in your ads.
Retargeting ads for out-of-stock productsThat’s something we see a lot nowadays since supply stocks are running out faster due to spiking online shopping. Do check your capacity before running campaigns.
Refusing to changePre-pandemic practices may not be effective anymore. Rather than sticking to the old ways, advertisers need to be agile and follow the latest developments of the market. We do not know when or if things will come back to normal. But the habits and trends developed now may be adopted and stay for good even after the crisis is subdued. You might as well benefit from a head start.
We hope this overview will help you adjust your advertising strategy and make the most out of current developments. Please don’t hesitate to contact us in case you have any questions.
Our team is there to assist you during these uncertain times.
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