Daniel Clayman
Daniel Clayman 23 October 2020

How Marketers Can Prepare During The Changing Times of Covid-19

As Covid-19 took hold in March this year, we saw many brands press pause on marketing activity. In a time of uncertainty, it became more imperative than ever for marketers to prove the outcome and value of their investment in consumer affinity and performance marketing.

Now, with industries and local businesses entering ‘the new normal’, there is hope for economic stability despite a potential looming recession. At varying paces, advertising budgets across direct response and brand awareness are following suit. Each marketer will face different challenges along the way, but each shares a common goal, to reach both new and existing target consumers. Now it is more important than ever for marketers to reflect and adapt to the everchanging environment around them.

The New Normal

With the pandemic changing the ‘normal way of life’ marketers along with many others have had to adapt their approach to take on this new challenge. Media plans have shifted significantly and as marketers begin planning for 2021 this approach will differ vastly from the 2020 plan in order to prepare against a second wave. In a recent e-marketer report, results suggested that most UK senior marketing decision-makers will focus on resilience post-pandemic but digital transformation will also be a key consideration[1].

It will be important for marketers to look at which trends are driving growth and ensure they focus on this strategy to get the best possible return in 2021 and bounce back from Covid-19. Whilst marketers are calling into question whether digital OOH is still a viable option, video is booming and should be at the forefront of any advertising plan.

Consumer Expectations For Brands is Driving Channel Diversification

Channel diversification has been significant within the digital advertising space over the past couple of years, and video is determinedly increasing its market share over traditional display.

With consumers spending more time online, but across multiple channels, there is high competition for marketers to secure the best consumer reach. Consumers are expecting unique and creative advertising experiences online, as a result, brands are investing more money in their creative departments each year.  As video allows for far more creativity than other formats, it is not surprising that this year, digital video will account for more than half of the display spend total for the first time[2]. And the more relevant the creative message can be, the more impactful it will be, meaning better results for brands whether that’s increasing product sales or simply building brand awareness.

Video is an obvious choice of focus for brands as 2021 approaches given digital is less likely to be affected by a resurgence of the pandemic. In fact according to reports by ViMob, a creative technology platform that partners with social sites, social media advertising is already rebounding as consumers have turned to categories such as gaming that has offset declining sectors such as travel.

The Right Message at The Right Time And The Right Environment Increases Relevance

Whilst media channels are an important focus for marketers planning, messaging during this time should be front and centre of any brand’s mind. A brands’ best asset is its loyal consumers. Throughout the pandemic, the better interaction they have been able to have with their customers, the better retention and future plans they'll be able to have for re-engaging once these consumers are back in a spending mindset.

It was key for brands to consider the right message to consumer.  In the Covid-19 Barometer created by Kantar in March what consumers really wanted to hear from brands during the crisis was how they can help them. 77% of the 25,00 people surveyed said that the top comms strategy during this time was for the brand to highlight how it can be helpful in the new normal[3].  What consumers didn’t want to see were brands exploiting the Covid-19 situation or referencing the situation with nothing different to say.

The power of creativity comes to the fore again here, creativity with your message to read the context of the environment you are advertising in and the person you are advertising to.  What we are seeing now from marketers is a return to the fundamental values of our industry, reaching the right person, with engaging content to increase brand awareness and establish brand loyalty.

Measurement And Attribution Are Key to Marketers’ Next Steps

A lot of brands’ decision-making at the moment comes down to whether or not the CFO sees marketing as an investment or a cost. This will be particularly interesting to see as we enter Q4. Another major factor in the brand approach to these times is the type of consumer reaction they seek – direct response or brand awareness – and the channels they employ.

Digital first brands are likely to increase marketing activity faster than those that are not. Through the power of technology, brands are able to achieve ‘moment marketing,’ maintaining relevance to their customer as well as allowing for better measurement and flexibility around KPIs, allowing CMOs to track ROI more easily.

Understanding how to execute and optimise cross-channel campaigns will be key for online marketers. Attribution and understanding of the impact of one channel on and over another is critical and it will be through the expertise and experience of the right technology partners, machine learning capabilities and data access that will enable marketers to understand the impact and value of a diversified approach to channels. In fact, savvy marketers will have already studied their econometrics to understand the channel impact of Covid-19 and resulting downstream effects on marketing activity and sales.

Covid-19 has been a major shock to the world and whilst brands have overcome many challenges, it will be key for them to continue adapting as the world moves forward.

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