Shifting With the Times and How Brands Can Help

Shifting With the Times and How Brands Can Help

People worldwide are caring for loved ones, experiencing financial distress and making sure their families are safe and provided for.  Corporations have transitioned their workforces to the homes and apartments of millions across the globe. At the same time, marketers are tasked with ensuring the future health of their business. When thinking about brand messaging, there’s a fine line between engaging consciously and pushing an agenda. The answer isn’t to ignore the problem, but work within this new world.  

The Realities of the Current Media Landscape:

Traditional advertising channels that brands normally use to engage simply won’t reap the same reach and results due to current events.  OOH is challenged with stay at home mandates and major live TV events are being cancelled globally. As millions are getting used to this new reality within their homes and apartments, digital and internet connected devices have become the farthest reaching and most consistent avenues for reach.

Looking at the digital advertising industry holistically, we see two key changes happening:

(1)  A surge in traffic due to increased internet usage, creating more overall digital ad supply.

(2)  A decrease in ad buying demand as travel, entertainment, sports, airline, hotels, hospitality, and tourism digital spending seemingly grinds to a halt.

Major Internet service providers like Verizon are reporting huge spikes in device and internet usage thanks to home office work and social isolation. Between the weeks of 3/12 to 3/19, Verizon saw web and internet traffic climb 20%, streaming services increase 12%, and online gaming skyrocket 75%, while social media usage didn’t change compared with the prior week. (CNET).

As more inventory becomes available and fewer brands are competing to drive prices up, this creates a unique price efficiency situation within digital and programmatic ad buying channels. Bidtellect ran an analysis of the publisher inventory accessed and bought across 30+ SSPs:

From February 2020 to March 2020 alone, we’ve seen a 9.59% decrease in average impression cost. When Comparing March figures to January, that decrease jumps further to 17.1%.

Looking back at 2019 was a different story, where we saw a 15.79% increase from February to March.

Comparing March 2019 to March 2020 we see a 10.6% decrease in impression costs.

Meanwhile, comparing February 2019 to February 2020 we saw a 40.35% increase in impression costs, which can be attributed to overall increases in demand for programmatic media and shifts from 2nd price to 1st price auctions.

This means: While seasonal and monthly trends usually play a role here, there is certainly an uncharacteristic drop in cost when looking at February to March MoM & YoY – most logically due to an influx of total impressions and decrease in total demand. While digital ad investments will certainly go further today, how do marketers go about messaging in an ethical, brand-safe, and impactful way?  

How Your Messaging Can Weather the Storm

How do marketers go about messaging in an ethical, brand-safe, and impactful way? There’s a fine line between engaging consciously and coming off as insensitive or product pushing.

(1) Think of Your Employees & Brand Advocates First 
Is your brand currently helping its employees through tough situations (Kohls), helping schools (Zoom) or citizens nation-wide (AT&T/Comcast)? People today view brands as living, breathing entities, so sharing earned or owned content that demonstrates how they’re doing their part to support, inspire & help can go a long way towards building brand equity.

(2) Create Valuable Content
The internet is oversaturated with COVID-19 messaging. People are actively looking for positive and helpful content to consume and share. Can your financial product save people money to support their families? Can your B2B solution provide efficiencies for companies that are hurting right now? Distribute effective and timely digital content across Native formats, while OLV and CTV are excellent avenues to drive engagement with helpful video content.

(3) Refresh Your Creative
Ensure the tone of creative messaging and imagery is one of empathy. Are you taking into account the thoughts and struggles of the everyday American? Can you succinctly communicate how you can help them or provide value during this uncertain time?

(4) Brand Safety
Ensure brand safe and contextually relevant publisher environments.  Companies like IAS/Admantx offer natural language processing technology that has the semantic intelligence at the page URL level to understand and block undesirable contextual environments. Remember not to go too far in blocking. Almost every news site is reporting on coronavirus right now.

(5) Plan for the Future and a World Beyond COVID-19
While the health and economic impacts on individuals in countries across the world cannot be downplayed, one thing is certain: this too shall pass. eMarketer is “cautiously optimistic” in their latest COVID-19 forecast that a potential global economic downturn could also be short-lived, mitigating negative impacts on the worldwide ad market on a full-year basis.

BOTTOM LINE: The brands that will make the greatest impact and weather the storm are those that can get positive, educational, and valuable content in front of people. Content that will educate them on how they can improve their current and foreseeable financial situation, provide stability for their families, improve their business- and professional lives, positively enhance their health and mental state, and empower them to excel in these uncertain times.  

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