As Covid-19 gripped the world in March this year, we saw multiple brands pausing their marketing activity. During this time of uncertainty, it became more imperative than ever for marketers to prove the outcome and value of their investment in consumer and performance marketing.
As industries and businesses enter ‘the new normal’, there is optimism for economic stability despite a potential looming recession. At changing paces, advertising budgets across direct response and brand awareness are following suit. Each marketer will face diverse 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 environment around them.
The new normal
With Covid-19 changing the ‘normal way of life’, marketers along with countless others have had to adapt their approach. Media plans have shifted considerably and as marketers begin planning for 2021, strategies will differ vastly from the 2020 plan in order to prepare for 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.
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 the pandemic. 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.
Consumers expectations for brands is driving channel diversification
Channel diversification has been substantial 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 numerous channels, there is high rivalry 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 sections each year. As video allows for lots more creativity than other formats, it is not unexpected that this year, digital video will account for more than half of the display spend total for the first time. And the more pertinent the creative message can be, the more impactful it will be, meaning stronger results for brands whether that’s increasing product sales or simply building brand awareness.
Video is an clear 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.
Whilst media channels are a significant focus for marketers planning, messaging during this time should be top of any brand’s mind. A brands’ best asset is its loyal consumers. Throughout Covid-19, the better communication 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. What consumers didn’t want to see were brands exploiting the pandemic situation or referencing the situation with nothing different to say.
The power of creativeness comes to the fore again here, creativity with your message to read the context of the situation you are advertising in and the person you are advertising to. What we are seeing now from marketers is a return to the essential 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 currently comes down to whether or not the CFO sees marketing as an investment or a cost. This will be particularly interesting to see throughout Q4. Another major factor in the brand’s 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 implement and optimise cross-channel campaigns will be key for online marketers. Attribution and understanding of the impact of one channel 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, shrewd marketers will have already studied their econometrics to comprehend the channel impact of the pandemic 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 acclimatising as the world moves forward.
Daniel Clayman, VP and managing director, Northern Europe at Xandr.
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