Should You Block Coronavirus Content?

Should You Block Coronavirus Content?

Agencies, brands, and platform analysts alike started blacklisting“coronavirus” and related keywords en masse – but is that the right move?

 

Why block coronavirus content

We get it. Coronavirus content is not positive right now. In this already nerve-wracking, dire, and uncertain time, the last thing you want is for a consumer to notice your brand’s ad next to a news story about new reported cases, the latest unemployment rate, or worse (and there is worse). And with demand-side platforms (including Bidtellect) able to block based on keyword or even sentiment (negative), it is possible to eliminate that possibility.

Coronavirus news is everywhere

But it’s a daunting task: there are probably more than 15 billion or web pages per month talking about COVID-19. It’s taken over every news site, from current events (The New York Times waved subscription pricing for coronavirus coverage) to fashion (one of Marie Claire’sheadline stories today is “Top Beauty Products to Try in Isolation”).

82% are actively seeking out Coronavirus news and content online, according to IAS, and 87% are consuming more news generally because of the evolving Coronavirus situation. “Coronavirus content” is ubiquitous and its readers are ravenous. As this pandemic continues to march across the world, citizens will continue to consume information at a rate their lives literally depend on.

And yet..The great irony of the coronavirus crisis is its driven massive growth in news consumption, but publishers are unable to monetize it. News publishers are twice as likely to be blacklisted vs. others. 98% of sell-side respondents say they are expecting a decrease in revenue in2020, according to new IAB findings.

IAB: ‘save lives’

IAB published a rallying cry: save the industry, save lives: do not block coronavirus content. “We ask all brands, agencies, ad verification firms, and other companies in the digital advertising supply chain not to block the news… Don’t block them. Don’t block them at all.” Every dollar spent on a publisher’s site enables them to continue publishing news, spreading information, and saving lives.

 

According to Bidtellect’s platform data, we have seen a 23% increase in traffic on News-related sites since the coronavirus outbreak started.

Increase in news traffic + decrease in impression costs

So here’s the current situation: coronavirus news is everywhere.Period. If you prevent your ads from appearing next to coronavirus content, where will it end up? You are severely limiting your reach and frequency, and limiting your audience potential.

According to our platform, we have seen on average a 32% increase in traffic on Business/finance-related sites we are attributing to coronavirus, a 23% increase in traffic on News-related sites, and a 27%increase in traffic on Health-related sites. Meanwhile, we’ve tracked a 17.1% decrease in average impression costs from January 2020 to March 2020. In Managed Service offerings, we saw a 33% drop in CPM from February 1 to March 31 and a 31% drop in CPC.

Overall the increase in traffic on News should indicate that this is an area advertisers should look to spend more budget and be less concerned around coronavirus-related brand safety. If you are aggressive in keyword blocks, you are likely missing out on a lot of eyeballs. With impression costs lower, it’s a “buyers market.” Hello ROI.

Does an ad next to coronavirus content really matter?

It’s normal to want to keep a brand’s ads and logos away from inappropriate content, but there’s nothing normal about today’s current global health crisis. Over half of consumers have reported some level of concern around brands advertising on COVID-19content, according to Integral Ad Science. 78% of US internet users said their view of a brand whose ad was adjacent to coronavirus coverage would be unchanged (IAS). Only a mere 16% say they are NOT likely to engage with an ad adjacent to Coronaviruscontent (Integral Ad Science).

It’s not all damaging; especially if you do your creatives right.

Many publishers provide high-quality content in a premium environment to a highly engaged audience. Instead of blanket blocking, ask yourself where you might be able to “lean in” to content that is currently online (IAS). With so much information out there, make sure to cut through the noise: communicate your message in your creatives clearly. Consider offering support, promotions, or ways to help consumers save, and even a break from the somber tone. Refresh your ad creatives to nourish and bring hope.

Don’t block coronavirus content. It will hurt your advertising efforts more than it will help.

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Charlotte Otremba is Sr. Manager of Communications and Marketing at Bidtellect.

This Week: April 3rd-April 10th

This Week: April 3rd-April 10th

Good afternoon, Bidtellectuals. Here’s the latest for the week of April3-10th. (For more on the Guinness Ad, click here.)

The CDC now recommends wearing a cloth mask at all times when visiting essential businesses like grocery stores to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Articles with tips to make at-home masks abound and some designers like Louis Vuitton are taking matters into their own hands to create and/or donate some pretty stylish ones. Apple donated 1.9 million masks to the state of New York to help healthcare professionals on the front lines.

Ok, now onto the advertising industry. The big takeaway from research and articles this week is: how brands respond to this crisis matters. According to Mediapost, there are three brand “friends” emerging: “The All About Me Friend,” “The HelpfulFriend,” and “The Friend in Need.” Can you guess which one is the most appealing? 78% of consumers believe brands should help them in their daily lives (KantarResearch). Give these two recent eMarketer podcasts a listen to understand what consumers are looking for from brands; we pulled out the key insights and stats they mention. Some takeaways: deliver content that is helpful. Be sensitive to the climate. Help others if you can. 29% of Americans have already begun using a brand due to the innovative or compassionate way they’ve responded to the COVID-19 crisis. (Edelman) Now is the time to build trust. If you need landing page tips, we recommend these.

Additionally, we recommend not blocking coronavirus content in your campaigns. Not only do IAS and eMarketer agree, IAB is imploring “all brands, agencies, adverication rms, and other companies in the digital advertising supply chain not to block the news” for the safety of the industry. News is news, and guess what? Coronavirus is the only news right now – and everyone’s consuming it.

How’s working from home going? Bidtellect’s SVP of Sales Terah Bocchi’s practical advice for working from home with kids is now on AdExchanger. And if your pets are anxious, try DogTV (yes, it’s a thing). AdExchanger also wrote that Zoom Happy Hours are taking over advertising and pitched some ideas and best practices. And they didn’t even come to our 90s karaoke one yesterday! We recommend a theme – dress up is something to look forward to.

And, finally, Happy Passover and Happy Easter everyone. In case you missed this adorable press conference video, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announced that The Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy are deemed “essential workers” and won’t stop business-as-usual; however, she stressed that they may be extra busy taking care of their own sick family members, and to not to be sad if they arrive late or don’t make it to you.

 

Don’t feel like reading? Watch here:

 

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This Week: March 27th-April 3rd

This Week: March 27th-April 3rd

Happy Friday, Bidtellectuals! We are going to try something different – a weekly update on the industry since it’s ever-evolving. 

First things first, Sales Director DJ Virtue offers messaging suggestions for brands in this new climate.  Bidtellectuals share their favorite recipes and I offer some advice to work from home.  Oh, and did you see Midwest Director of Sales Janelle Watanabe made the Chicago Tribune for her block party workouts with neighbors? What an inspiration.

This week, a record 6.6 Million Americans sought unemployment benefits (WSJ). Roughly four billion people – half of humanity – have been ordered to stay home Friday (NYT).  Between the weeks of 3/12 to 3/19, Verizon saw web and internet traffic climb 20% (CNET). Still, according to IAB, digital ad spend is down 33% and traditional media is down 39%.

In good news, sweatpants have now been declared a major fashion trend according to WWD, as sales surge. “Will I Ever Wear Pants Again?” asks The Cut. Maybe not, but here’s inspiration for “Zoom Ready Tops” from Vogue so you can look fabulous on top but comfy on the bottom (no one has to know). For some culture, SXSW announced that its entire 2020 film lineup will stream for free on Amazon Prime Video, according to AdWeek, and here’s a list of 13 uplifting documentaries coming to Netflix from the New York Times

The State of the Industry:

  • Digital ad spend is down 33% and traditional media is down 39% (IAB)
  • 24% of buy-side decision makers paused advertising spend while 46% adjusted it for the remainder of Q1 and Q2 (IAB)
  • Adjusting for the new COVID-19 impact, eMarketer expects US total media ad spending to increase by 8.7% in 2020, and US digital ad spending to rise by 16.7% over the same period. (eMarketer)
  • The majority (63%) of advertisers have already changed the messages they are touting in-market (IAB): 
    • Mission-based marketing (+42%)
    • Cause-related marketing (+41%) 
  • More than a third (35%) of advertisers are adjusting their in-market tactics (IAB):
    • Audience targeting (+38%)
    • OTT / CTV device targeting (+35%) 

Investment Shifts Across Verticals:

  • Verticals Seeing an Increase in Ad Spend (PubMatic):
    • News: 52% Increase
    • Hobbies & Interests: 31% Increase
    • Technology & Computing: 14% Increase 
  • Verticals Seeing a Decrease in Ad Spend (PubMatic): 
    • Political Ad Spending: 72% Decrease
    • Travel: 65% Decrease
    • Sports: 40% Decrease 
  • 83% of respondents within the travel and transportation industry have either freezed hiring or laid off employees.  (Candor
  • 77% of respondents within the retail industry have either freezed hiring or laid off employees  (Candor
  • Forrester has a webinar The Impact of COVID-19 on Financial Services on April 7th. 

Publishers Feel the Burn of Coronavirus Blocking:

  • “As the coronavirus pandemic continues to dominate news cycles the world over, advertisers have been quick to add terms related to the virus to their keyword blocklists to avoid any potential brand safety fallout from appearing adjacent to grisly articles. But entire news-site homepages are also inadvertently being blocked as a result — which is even interfering with inventory that was directly sold by publishers’ internal sales teams.” (Digiday)
  • “New data reveals how a major company’s COVID-19 ad keyword blocking starves the news media during a global pandemic.” High Block Rates have been reported across news sites like Business Insider and Buzzfeed News; reporting by Integral Ad Science saw 36% block rate in March on the New York Times; The Guardian saw 50% total block rate on their site in March. (Buzzfeed

Don’t feel like reading? Watch here:

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Feeling Stiff? Tips for Sore Neck and Back Relief at Home

Feeling Stiff? Tips for Sore Neck and Back Relief at Home

Has it happened to you? One day you could drop and play Twister at any moment, the next day your neck is so still you can barely look down to read your phone. Yes, with everything else going on today, neck and shoulder stiffness is a minor issue, but if your body is tense, so (likely) is your mind. If you’ve been stiff, sore, or just plain out of place since working from home and self-isolation began, try these tips for sore neck and back relief.

via GIPHY

If You Want Quick and Dirty: Try Theragun

Have you tried this devilishly good little monster? Or maybe watched one of the satisfying slow-motion video ads of it in action, tight muscles rippling outward? Ugh, well I got one for Christmas and let me tell you – worth the money. It’s percussive therapy in your hand. The industrial-grade motor reaches 60% deeper into muscle than the average massager, at 40 times a second (according to the website).

Use this bad boy on your tight traps, shoulders, and back. Grab a friend to help you, but the handle does really make it easy to maneuver around to anywhere for maximum sore neck and back relief. Bonus: right now they are having a huge sale.

For Relief While You’re Sitting: A Portable Massager

I can’t speak for how this Shiatsu back and shoulder massager works, but I did just buy it as a birthday gift, and the reviews are off the charts. Wrap this bad boy around your shoulders for neck, shoulder, and upper back relief, or around your lower back for relief on the go. It features 8 deep tissue kneading nodes, a heating option, and speed adjustments. Wear it at your at-home desk or heck – even during your Zoom meeting! No one has to know.

via GIPHY

To Develop Good Habits: Stretching

Ugh, I know. We all want a quick x, but really, if your neck, shoulder, and back muscles are still and sore, you probably need to start stretching them regularly. Simple neck rolls, arm circles, even just nodding your head are technically “stretches” that get your muscles moving and loosen them up. For some key stretches, try the ones linked here, which include a seated neck release stretch, a behind-the-back neck stretch, and more. You can do them from your chair or on the ground. Yoga With Adriene offers a great free ten-minute yoga practice for neck, shoulders, and back on YouTube.

Better Yet: Make a Standing Desk

Standing desks seem to be all the rage these days – and for good reason. Healthline offers these seven health benefits of a standing desk from lowering the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity to –you guessed it – reducing back pain. Many proponents say it boosts productivity, too. Try one of these top five standing desk converters from CNET so you can convert your at-home workspace into toa standing desk; you can also just stack your laptop on some books-boom!

To Really Dig Deep: Try a Foam Roller

Ok, this falls under the same category as stretching. No one looks forward to it, but to x a deep problem, you just gotta put in the work. Foam Rolling is a self-myofascial release (SMR) technique that can relieve tight muscles and soreness. I put my foam roller to work on the terrible knots in my upper back and shoulder area, but you can use it to target any part of your body. I lay on my back, knees bent, hands under my head, and roll on the roller under my upper back area and turned slightly to follow my trapezius muscles. If you lay on it vertically, you can feel your shoulders release. Honestly, true relief. It really gets into the knots. Try this guide to foam roller exercises or this video. I use a roller with ridges in it, but you can use a smooth one – both get the job done.

For the Stubborn Knot: Take a Ball

Similar to the foam roller technique, but for the serious stubborn knot that won’t go away. Grab any ball on hand – tennis, lacrosse, billiards? etc. and roll your back on it. If you have an exact spot on your back, roll the ball to it and hold for 90 seconds. I read this in a few places, tried it, and it actually does work. You can roll on the ground or against the wall.

For True Relaxation: Try Alexander Technique

Those in the theatre or performing arts will be familiar with Alexander Technique, but for those who are not, it’s a practice of “active rest” to relieve unnecessary tension and improve your body alignment. Lay in the semi-supine position: find a spot on the ground (flat), grab a couple of books to rest your head on at a height that is comfortable, with knees in the air and feet flat on the ground. Then take some deep breaths and actively think of each muscle or area in your body and let go of the tension. Seriously, I can feel my entire body relax when I do this. From this position, sometimes I turn my head left and right a few times and feel the gentle stretch if my neck is extra tight. The experts say doing this just ten-twenty minutes a day can work wonders for the body, and it definitely offers immediate sore neck and back relief.

Bonus: the breath work can count as meditation; try these free guided meditations from Headspace for the ultimate mind-body restoration (let’s be real, tension is as much mental as it is physical).

Bonus: Try a CBD Cream

The jury is still split as to whether or not cannabis products are true saviors or all talk, but for those who love them, but initial research shows CBD can reduce inflammation and combat anxiety. Proponentsswear by creams and gels for stress release, muscle relaxation, and overall calming effect. Apply some to your sore or still muscles and let it work their magic. The stronger the concentration, the more likely you’ll feel the effects. This is one of Bidtellectual’s favorite and CannaCraft offers great resources and products, too.

That’s it! Try these tips sore neck and back relief. Again, sometimes it takes incorporating a new practice or trying several different changes before you nd relief. Stay healthy.

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Charlotte Otremba is Sr. Manager of Communications and Marketing at Bidtellect.

Retail gains traction during coronavirus crisis thanks to e-commerce

Retail gains traction during coronavirus crisis thanks to e-commerce

The retail sector is gaining traction during the coronavirus thanks to e-commerce. More customers are turning to online shops, more entreprenuers are looking on this blog to see how they can finance their eCommerce business, and the rapid growth of online sales doesn’t look to be slowing down at any point. Empathetic brand messaging, digital advertising, and shifting to changing consumer needs will help retail grow online sales through the coronavirus crisis.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced that total U.S. retail and food sales fell 8.7 percent from the previous month. But there is light: the worst hit may be over and eCommerce continues to rise. According to experts on eMarketer’s recent podcasting Sizing Up COVID-19’s Impact on Retail, a huge portion of retail may be completely shut down, but it’s those businesses that depend completely on brick and mortar locations for sales with limited to no eCommerce initiative. In order to survive, retail brands should shift messaging to empathy and helpfulness, drive traffic to their sites, adapt shipping capabilities, and above all: don’t go dark. Be prepared to bounce back once this is all over.

 

Retail is Shifting to E-Commerce

Boost in online orders: Adobe Analytics reported a 25% boost in average U.S. daily online sales March 13-15 compared with March 1-11. In North America, the number of online orders for web-only online retailers were up 52% year over year in theUnited States and Canada for the 2 weeks of March 22 through April 4, according to an online tracker from marketing platform Emarsys and analytics platformGoodData. Revenue for web-only retailers in the U.S. and Canada was up 30% year over year for the period. This could indicate that rapid and massive e orts of retail businesses to shift their operations online as well as aggressive promotional campaigns started to pay off (“Retail sector is getting more traction“).

Use digital advertising to drive traffic to e-commerce sites: Pubmatic reported an 8% increase in ad spend in the shopping vertical and a 3% increase in style &fashion in March comparing the pre- vs. post-global impact of the coronavirus. Everyone is online: Verizon reported huge spikes in device and internet usage thanks to home office work and social isolation. Between the weeks of 3/12 to 3/19, it saw web and internet traffic climb 20% (CNET).

Slow Delivery Times, New Product Pivots – Does it matter?

It’s a good time to take risks, according to eMarketer: “‘Everyone is navigating new territory,'” Stacey Thomson, vice president of eBusiness and eCommerce at agile agency Scrum50 said. “‘Retailers can test and learn new ways to sell inventory and quickly meet new demands. It’s a forgiving time to take some risks.'”

Even Amazon is going back on its two-day delivery promise for nonessential items: “Sharp, unexpected growth in demand for Amazon is resulting in tough choices of how to manage the supply of inbound products and available last-mile delivery capacity.” (eMarketer)

Lasting brand damage? People will be pretty understanding of the changing reality, says eMarketer in their podcast “Sizing Up COVID-19’s Impact on Retail.

 

What’s Doing Well:

Online Grocery: NetElixir reported that online food sales surged 183% between Mach 1 and 25, vs. the same period last year. Millions of first-time online grocery buyers are materializing, and millions of infrequent buyers are now doing so on a weekly basis, vs. over multiple weeks or months (eMarketer).

Amazon: The top 10 US eCommerce companies-led by Amazon at 38.7%-will represent about 60% of eCommerce sales in 2020 (eMarketer), thanks in part to their online grocery delivery that is thriving during the coronavirus crisis. One example: “On Amazon, our clients in household goods and fitness are selling more than three times as much as usual” Buy Box Experts’ Thomson said. “Overall, sales are up at least 30% higher than what we would expect for this time of year.” (eMarketer)

The new “essential” items: What may have been considered nonessential are now the new necessities, including sweatpants, self-care items, and electronics to make working from home more effective. As more gyms and fitness centers close to the public, shoppers have increased their spending on at-home fitness equipment.

Online orders for products, such as kettlebells, dumbbells, and treadmills have increased 55% March 11-15 compared with March 1-10, according to Adobe Analytics.

Get creative: A number of retailers have shifted to makeshift delivery options and click and collect options. Forbes wrote about a number of small businesses like Faire, who traditionally sold candles, stationery, and beauty, but has shifted gears to more urgent inventory during the coronavirus crisis. The platform’s top-seller is no disinfectant and it’s added more household essentials like hand soap. Necessity is the mother of invention, reiterates eMarketer in their podcast.

Brand Messaging in Response to the Crisis Matters

Provide value: Think outside yourself. Let empathy and service lead your messaging, your efforts, and the next steps. According to Brit Bulla on Mediapost, three distinct types of brand messaging have emerged during the coronavirus crisis: “AllAbout Me,” Helpful,” and “The Friend in Need.” Can you guess which is the most unappealing? Sharing all of your brand’s current news and how great you’re doing isn’t appealing to customers at the moment. Empathy and offering ways to help make their lives easier is.

To put this into perspective, 83% of respondents want compassionate connection, including brand messaging that communicates empathy and support with the struggles they face, according to an Edelman Survey. 29% of Americans have already begun using a brand due to the innovative or compassionate way they’ve responded to the COVID-19 crisis. (Edelman) According to another study, 75% of respondents said that the way a brand responds to the crisis will affect future buying decisions (eMarketer).

Cater to frugal spending: We’re in the middle of an economic crisis. Chuck Grom at Gordon Haskett says it could take a couple of years for consumers to recover, he says, especially if the virus returns in the fall. He favors stores that cater to frugality. (Barrons)

Here’s what doesn’t work: Not addressing the crisis at all or continuing with thoughtless and potentially offensive messaging is damaging. 57% want brands to stop any advertising or marketing that is humorous or light-hearted. (Edelman).

The Biggest Piece of Advice: Don’t Go Dark

While sales and traffic may be down, do not go dark during the coronavirus crisis. Brands need to provide certainty and purpose. It’s important for retailers to be very responsive on social media and digital platforms, says eMarketer. And taken a step further, 84% of customers want brand social channels to facilitate a sense of community and offer support to those in need (Edelman). In times where our security is threatened, people are hardwired to seek clarity and calm, according to Econsultancy.

No crisis lasts forever. There is light at the end of this. The post-COVID-19 period will be used by many as a time of rebirth, and many will be motivated by aspirational behaviors, writes Richard Storey for Econsultancy. “The best action for brands is to forecast the emotional state and behavioral changes required of everybody to re-start…In order for a brand to be there in the positive moment of a new beginning, it needs to stay active in darker times.”

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Charlotte Otremba is Sr. Manager of Communications and Marketing at Bidtellect.