In just a matter of days, the threat of COVID-19 and the nation-wide call for “social distancing” has completely changed the daily life of Americans and by proxy, our media habits. According to Nielsen, TV viewership goes up as much as 60% when consumers stay home during disruptive events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, or, in this case, an unprecedented world-wide pandemic. Additionally, the economic effects are already sending shockwaves through the advertising ecosystem. Market-based ad rates like programmatic digital and social media are plummeting as advertisers pull back their advertising dollars to conserve their funds for the uncertain future. So what does this mean for brands? Opportunity.
Now that Americans are being asked to stay at home and cancel all of their activities, they have more time than ever to dedicate to consume and pay attention to content, particularly online. Brands, if you’re sitting on longer form content, now is the time to release it. While this is still a time of uncertainty, it is a time that consumers are looking for positive and uplifting stories to get us through these dark times. They may not be purchasing from you in the coming weeks with all of the economic uncertainty out there, but they sure will remember that you were there when they needed a good laugh. Brands should also strongly consider the new reality we’re living in and make sure their current messaging resonates with the reality consumers are facing today.
TV and Streaming Setup to Thrive
2020 has already been named the year of the Streaming Wars with more programmers releasing their offerings throughout the year. Social Distancing will only accelerate that already heated battle. Disney+ even released Frozen II three months early to capture the very attentive and content-hungry audience and of course, drive some new subscriptions. Across the board, streaming services are offering extended free trial periods to lure in new viewers. Guess what that means for brands? More impressions. Lots of them. We’re going to see a huge opening of opportunity for advertisers to expand their reach on OTT platforms, and likely an even stronger foothold of streaming services over cable for the coming months and years to come. Now that live sports are on hiatus, cable has lost one of its top-selling points. Streaming services now have the advantage in programming over cable.
Advertising Market Softening
There is an unprecedented amount of uncertainty on Wall Street, which already is showing up in the advertising marketplace as well. It’s no secret that COVID-19 will have effects on businesses long-term and advertising is usually one of the first cuts businesses make to conserve cash. That being said, for brands that are strongly positioned to weather this storm, there is a great opportunity to enter the advertising marketplace to get inventory at cheaper rates, reach a more engaged audience, and invest in their brand’s future. During the 2008 financial crisis, the automotive and banking industries basically vanished from the advertising marketplace overnight. This presented an unprecedented opportunity for advertisers in other categories to go in and buy premium inventory at affordable rates, as a national TV buyer at the time it was a very exciting time to bring these ideas to my clients. I suspect the same opportunities will arise in the coming weeks and months as the effects of COVID-19 continue to unfold.
There is lots of opportunity for brands in this time of uncertainty and rapidly changing habits, and there has never been a more exciting time for brands to break out and really make some positive inroads with consumers.