What Do Marketers See As the Long-Term Impacts of COVID-19 on Media and Ad Investment?

October 14, 2020

Kantar COVID 19 Impact Media Ad Investment Approaches Oct2020More than six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the short-term impact it has had is quite clear. But what about the future? What sort of long-term impact do marketers think the pandemic will have on media and advertising? Here’s what a report [download page] from Kantar reveals.

Only 4% of the more than 700 senior marketers surveyed for the report believe that COVID-19 will have no long-term impact on how they approach media and advertising investment. As for the rest, some 55% say they expect to put a greater focus on campaign effectiveness.

Marketers have already reported that they are being more innovative with their approach to marketing technology and messaging as well as exploring new marketing channels. The emphasis on being more innovative and willing to try something new looks as though it will be long-term, with 53% of the marketers surveyed expecting this to be a long-lasting effect of COVID-19.

Some 53% expect to rely more on digital media to ensure greater agility. Emphasizing agility through digital media is no doubt a lesson hard-won. At the start of the pandemic, marketers were left scrambling with spend budgeted for traditional media diverted to digital or cut completely. Encouragingly, companies are finding that customers are not only open to new digital offerings, but are also placing more value on digital experiences.

On the flip-side, only one-fifth of respondents expect to invest more heavily in TV.

The impact of COVID-19 has also led marketers to consider more flexible media buying arrangements (47%), be more cautious in their future planning (35%), rely more on owned media channels (34%) and increase their focus on purpose-led marketing (33%).

The Impact on Budget Allocation

As proof that respondents are putting more stock in digital media, Kantar’s survey found that, across the globe, budgets have been shifting away from traditional media to online channels. And, while these shifts are due to COVID-19, many are expected to stick around at least into 2021.

Survey results examining budgets from a net positive perspective (% reporting positively impacted – % reporting negatively impacted) show that media budgets most negatively impacted by COVID-19 have – not surprisingly – been that of cinema ads (-84%), events sponsored by brands (-73%) and out-of-home ads (-72%). Although magazine ads and newspaper ads were already suffering a downward spiral, COVID-19 has likely exacerbated that trend, with large shares of respondents indicating that these budgets have been decreased.

In the meantime, respondents indicate that digital channels such as online video ads (+32%), social media stories ads (29%), social media news feed ads (+26%) and online display ads (+21%) have been allocated more budget due to the pandemic.

Although the traditional channels will see some improvements, marketers anticipate that next year budgets for online channels will benefit from growth. Again on a net positive basis, respondents are most enthusiastic about budgets for online video ads (+65%), social media stories ads (54%) and social media news feed ads (52%).

One channel that looks to be making a significant recovery in budget is digital out-of-home. While this channel had a noteworthy cut (-57%) due to COVID-19, a rebound (+8%) is expected in 2021. Likewise, TV ads swing from a net negative (-20%) to net positive (+20%) outlook when comparing 2021 forecasts to this year’s COVID impact.

The full report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Findings are based on a global survey of 733 senior marketers.


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