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Uplers COVID 19 Impact Digital Agency Leads Jun2020Let’s take an updated look at how marketers and consumers are dealing with this crisis. The below is a curated list of data that we’ve gathered in recent weeks, but with news about the global spread of the coronavirus and its effects on consumers and businesses changing daily, this data will continue to evolve over time.

Stay safe out there readers, and please respect all local rules and regulations.

New Research

Digital agencies are feeling the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, with two-thirds reporting they have experienced a decrease in overall revenue compared to only 16% that have seen an increase. A recent survey [download page] from Uplers found that of those who have experienced a reduction in revenue due to COVID-19, about 6 in 10 (57%) have seen a drop of at least 30%.

Decreased revenue isn’t the only issue digital agencies are contending with. Almost twice as many agencies have seen a drop in new business leads (47%) as an increase (27%). Of the nearly half of agencies that reported a decrease in leads, 3 in 5 (62%) say they have seen a loss of at least 25%.

So, what are agencies doing to alleviate the current challenges? An equal share say they are offering new services to clients (29%) or are exploring new channels for new business (29%). Others say they are prospecting in new industries (17%), bringing all things in-house (12%) or moving to outsourcing (7%).

When asked what channels agencies recommended to their clients, email was the most popular recommendation (15% share), followed by web design and development (13%), blog content (13%) and paid social (13%).

Here’s a look at more data that has been released since the last update:

Marketers

  • An adjusted forecast of global advertising investment from WARC shows that instead of growing 7.1% year-over-year, ad spend in 2020 is now expected to decline by 8.1%. Read the article here.
  • Half (51%) of the big brands surveyed by the IAB expect that total ad spend in 2020 will be less than it was in 2019. Nonetheless, many brands expect to increase their spend across digital channels, including CTV/OTT (59%), non-CTV/OTT digital video (56%), social media (56%), podcasts (52%), digital audio (45%) and paid search (40%) in the second half of 2020. Source: IAB.
  • Nielsen has found that for some of the top advertising categories in the US, creative units decreased after the pandemic was declared, as well as the share of times these categories advertised. Notably, travel advertising decreased by 60% and advertising for retail decreased by 21%. Source: Nielsen.
  • As B2B marketers turn to webinars to fill the gap left by cancelled events and decreased face-to-face contact with prospects, the number of B2B brands running webinar ads has more than doubled from 223 in January to 463 in April. Source: MediaRadar.
  • Additional data from MediaRadar shows that, during the first weeks of the pandemic, B2B IT companies had a noticeable spike in advertising before leveling out to pre-pandemic numbers. Source: MediaRadar.
  • Only 1 in 10 (11%) new product or service launches have been cancelled for 2020, with the remaining launches either proceeding as planned (41%) or being postponed until the second half of 2020 (48%). Source: Advertiser Perceptions.
  • The events industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak, with the CEIR Total Index — a measure of exhibition industry performance which takes into account net square feet of exhibit space sold, professional attendance, number of exhibiting companies and total event gross revenue — showing a record slump of 15.1% year-over-year. Read more here.
  • NetLine reports that the total demand for B2B content through their platform was up in April and May, rising 10.5% and 49.8% year-over-year, respectively. Source: NetLine.

Consumers

  • Half of US consumers say they have spent more time consuming content than before. That said, some 47% agree that they are interested in hearing or reading news that is not related to the pandemic. They are also looking to brands for hope, with 45% saying that not only do they want to be inspired by brands so they can be hopeful about the future, but that this inspiration will lead to them purchasing from these brands after the pandemic. Source: Media Frenzy Global [download page].
  • Per recent Harris Poll data, consumers are seeing some industries in a more positive light since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Six in 10 respondents say their view of the healthcare industry is more positive, while others say they feel more positive about retail (51%), small businesses (43%) and technology companies (38%). Other industries such as media, travel and hospitality and airlines have not fared as well. Source: The Harris Poll.
  • Eight in 10 (83%) C-level executives believe that retail and dining has been changed forever by the coronavirus outbreak, with more than half (56%) feeling that it’s likely shoppers will move exclusively to online shopping or buy online and pick up in-store or at the curb. Source: Cambridge Retail Advisors.
  • Although linear TV benefited from increased viewing at the start of the pandemic in mid-March, viewing in the US has come close to returning to pre-pandemic levels. This is attributed to the re-opening of the economy in the US, giving viewers something else to do beyond watching television. The drop may also be partially due to regular seasonal declines in viewership witnessed in recent years. Source: Simulmedia.
  • While Disney+ sat at the bottom of the list of Engagement Labs’ most loved brands in offline consumer conversations last year, this has changed significantly. Between the months of March and May, the new streaming format has soared to the #1 spot, followed by Amazon Prime. The most loved brand for online conversation during that same time period was Food Network, followed by Apple and Spotify. Source: Engagement Labs.
  • In addition to the increased amount of time consumers are spending with streaming video services, 3 in 5 adults with broadband service say they have increased their use of pay-TV on-demand since stay-at-home mandates went into effect. Read the article here.
  • CMOs have observed several consumer behavior changes of note during the coronavirus outbreak. A majority have seen an increased openness to new digital offerings introduced during the pandemic (85%) and an increased value placed on digital experiences (84%). Read the article here.
  • Changes in shopping behaviors that occurred because of the pandemic may already be starting to shift. In April, 72.1% of US adults (18+) reported shopping in stores less. As of June, 64.4% of adults report the same. In the meantime, shopping online has gained in popularity, with only 37.2% reporting doing so in April compared to 43.4% who shopped online in June. Source: Prosper Insights & Analytics.

Previous Research (Published 6/1/20)

CampaignMonitor Email Response Rate Trends During COVID 10 June2020In earlier updates, data showed that COVID-19-related emails were more likely to be opened than average. Indeed, newer data supports this theme, with a report from Campaign Monitor indicating that email response rates were up year-over-year in the months of March and April.

In its analysis of more than 6 million emails sent out by its global customer base, Campaign Monitor shows that open rates increased y-o-y by 4.1 percentage points in March (+23.3% relative rise) and by 3.6 points (up by 20.5%) in April, for an average open rate of 21.7% and 21.2%, respectively.

Similarly, click-through rates also increased. March saw the average click-through rate reach 2.78% (up 0.24 points) then hit 3.10% in April (up 0.63 points).

And, while the average click-to-open rate was down in March, it was up year-over-year again in April. Unsubscribe rates dropped in March and held steady in the month of April.

Perhaps due to the ever-changing guidance by many governments in March, the Government sector sent out 25% more emails during the month than the year before. Open rates for these emails averaged 41.5%, a 30% y-o-y increase.

Per the report, Media and Publishing emails enjoyed a 19% y-o-y increase in open rates and a 23% y-o-y increase in click-through rates.

Unsurprisingly, March also saw a 36% y-o-y jump in email volume from the Healthcare industry. Despite the large uptick in volume, open rates for the industry did increase, by 12% y-o-y, with click-through rates up modestly, by 2.1% y-o-y.

Below are more data points that have been released since our last update:

Marketers

  • Separate email data from Validity shows that after a peak in April, email open rates appear to be evening out and making their way back to normal – although open rates for COVID-19-related emails remain higher than average. Source: Validity [webinar].
  • More than 6 in 10 ad sellers online have been impacted by the pandemic, with CPM decreasing significantly (27%) or somewhat (35%). CPMs have declined the most for open web display (-34%) and mobile app display (-33%) and the least for advertising video-on-demand (AVOD) streaming apps (-7%) and podcasting (-6%). Source: IAB.
  • In an analysis of consumer responses to advertisements, Ace Metrix found that while typically only 12.5% of ads have scored on their Empower metric (a measurement of the positive impact of purpose-driven advertising), three-quarters of COVID-19 related ads scored on the metric. That said, as time passes, the number of COVID-19-related ads scoring on the “Exploit” metric has increased. Source: Ace Metrix.
  • Separately, Ace Metrix found that GenZ viewers (ages 16-20) were less likely to be receptive than others to COVID-19 ads. However, as a generation that prides itself on its creativity, the analysis found that more than half the ads that scored well with GenZ featured user-generated content. Source: Ace Metrix.
  • Some 94% of Americans surveyed say that empathy is important to making society work. The good news for brands is that 8 in 10 (81%) also feel that most brands have shown empathy in response to the coronavirus, with 80% saying the best way for brands to show empathy during this time is to revise the tone or style of their ads and communications. Source: Ipsos.
  • Despite the general receptiveness of consumers to coronavirus-related advertising, many do not object to a more business-as-usual approach to ads, with about half (49%) of US consumers saying they approve of brands running “normal” advertising campaigns during the pandemic. Source: GlobalWebIndex.
  • Only 3 in 10 (31%) agency leaders surveyed now say they are confident that profitable growth in 2020 will be better than last year. This is down considerably from the 82% who felt the same at the end of 2019. Read the full article here.
  • With many professionals having been sent home to work due to stay-at-home measures implemented across the globe, Fishbowl found that, of their members, more than half (55%) are working 1-10 more hours at home than they did while at the office. Indeed, 6 in 10 (59%) advertising and marketing professionals report that they are working more hours since the quarantine began. Source: Fishbowl.
  • On the B2B front, buyers are making a shift to e-commerce and self-service options with the use of mobile app purchases tripling over 2019. Ordering through a sales rep has understandably dropped in usage. Read the full article here.
  • Consumers are more likely to turn to recommendations from friends, family and social media influencers than brands during the pandemic, per a recent survey from Matter. They report that they are most likely to act on (i.e. purchase, research, spread the word or consider) posts from this group of influencers about food and beverage (51%), health and wellness (39%) and personal technology (37%). Source: Matter.

Consumers

  • With the economic insecurity brought on by the coronavirus, a majority (64%) of Americans surveyed say they are rethinking their total spending, with about 55% saying they are cutting back on spending by 10-20%. Although 6 in 10 (61%) also say they are likely to stick with brand-name products, in general, consumers are less likely to be particular about the brand they choose for certain product groups. Only about 3 in 10 say they are likely to choose brand-named makeup/skincare/cosmetic products (28%) or wine/beer (29%). Source: Survata.
  • US consumers say they have delayed purchases such as vacations/trips (61%), home devices/appliances (53%), home furnishings (49%) and car/vehicles (46%), but will prioritize them after the outbreak. Source: GlobalWebIndex.
  • Americans appear to be using their Smart Speakers more during the pandemic, with close to two-fifths (36%) of Smart Speaker owners saying they have used their devices more to listen to music and entertainment during this time. Read the full article here.
  • When it comes to shopping online, consumers appear to be using apps more often. Per data provided by RetailMeNot, there has been a 51% year-over-year (y-o-y) lift in retail app conversion rates, compared to a 2% increase on desktop. Consumers also want free shipping as an incentive, with a full 85% saying it is one of the most important factors in deciding if they will make a purchase. Source: RetailMeNot.
  • In a re-evaluation of its initial forecast from Q4 2019, eMarketer now forecasts that Facebook usage among US adult users will increase by 4.3% y-o-y in 2020, largely due to the coronavirus. This is up from the original prediction of Facebook usage dropping by 2% this year. Read the full article here.
  • New data provided by The Diffusion Group (TDG) shows a correlation between recent broadband upgrades in the US and the number of children at home during stay-at-home directives. In the month of April, only 4.1% of broadband households without children under the age of 18 upgraded their service – compared to the 20.9% of households with three or more children that upgraded theirs. Source: The Diffusion Group.

Previous Research (Published 5/18/20)

Bynder COVID 19 Impact Branding Marketing Efforts May2020

As the coronavirus crisis continues, 1 in 5 (18%) marketing professionals say that COVID-19 has had an “extreme” impact on their brand and content strategy, per a survey by Bynder of 300 marketers from various industries. Indeed, only a small fraction (6%) say that they are only making minimal or small changes to their approach in light of the pandemic.

The need for a major pivot means that developing messaging, content and campaigns in response to coronavirus is the highest brand-related priority right now for half (53%) of those surveyed. Another one-quarter (26% share) report that their biggest priority is shifting resources to infrastructure readiness and improvements in operational efficiencies.

As marketing messages developed earlier can have a markedly different perception during a time of crisis, the majority of respondents say they are somewhat concerned (52%) or very concerned (27%) about making missteps that may harm their brand image. But given all that is going on, only about one-fifth (19% share) have made it their top priority to ensure that messaging and content isn’t tone-deaf.

The COVID-19 outbreak has also had an effect on the number of campaigns that brands are going to market with. Just more than two-fifths are reducing campaigns either significantly (25%) or somewhat (17%). Fewer are choosing to increase campaigns significantly (10%), but one-quarter (25%) are somewhat doing so.

And, looking to the future, while 1 in 10 (13%) respondents believe that COVID-19 has permanently changed branding, 6 in 10 (57%) feel that the disruption from COVID-19 will have a lasting impact, but that it won’t be transformative. Another 17% are optimistic and believe that the disruption caused by COVID-19 is only short-term and that things will go back to normal soon.

In a separate yet similar study, a survey of 100 senior marketing professionals at mid-sized to large-sized brands finds that more than 6 in 10 (62%) are re-evaluating their brand position due to COVID-19. The research, conducted by Sixieme on and DiSanti Hicks also revealed that two-thirds (68%) have pulled ad campaigns as a result of the pandemic, with COVID-19 alignment (or lack thereof) being the main reason for doing so.

Below are more data points that have come out since our last update:

Marketers

  • Although three-quarters (73%) of advertisers have held back campaign launches, most (52%) are expected to resume or ramp up their advertising spending this summer. Advertisers do appear to be more cautious in their media planning. Media types such as linear TV, out-of-home and OTT/CTV, which were typically planned out about 5 months pre-COVID-19, are now only being planned up to 3 months out. Source: Advertiser Perceptions.
  • That said, Advertiser Perceptions also reports that due to the coronavirus outbreak, advertisers will allocate 33% less to the 2020 Upfront market, with two-fifths (41%) believing that TV networks will have to abandon the Upfront advance-buying model completely. Additionally, half of those surveyed agree that they can replace linear TV reach with OTT/CTV and digital video ads. Source: Advertiser Perceptions.
  • Traditional media is expected to see costs deflate due to COVID-19, with magazine (-17%), newspaper (-11.8%), radio (-9.0%) and TV (-5.9%) media costs all predicted to decrease. Source: WARC.
  • On a different note, weekly ad spend on B2B IT websites has seen an increase in the past few months, including an 58% jump between the week of March 1 and April 12. Source: MediaRadar.
  • While email communications concerning COVID-19 were high early on during the pandemic, COVID-19-themed emails as a share of all promotional emails has decreased. That said, data from Validity shows that COVID-19-related messages are currently more likely to be opened and 15% less likely to be marked as spam. Source: Validity (webinar).
  • Although previous research has shown that consumers are happy to hear from brands during the pandemic, recent research indicates that their tolerance for the topic has waned. Two in 5 global respondents (41%) say they are ready right now to hear from brands about topics other than COVID-19, as opposed to next week, next month or next year. Source: Mitto.

Consumers

  • New data from Forrester estimates that global retail sales will see an average decline of 9.6% this year, losing $2.1 trillion. US retail sales are also expected to be hit hard with a predicted 9.1% loss over 2019 (down by $321 billion). Source: Forrester.
  • US retail sales are already down, with the US Department of Commerce reporting that retail spend was down by 16.4% year-over-year in April. Source: US Department of Commerce.
  • With online grocery shopping on the rise since the outbreak, mobile e-commerce grocery spending in the US climbed to $10.2 billion in Q1 2020. This is an increase of 148% year-over-year and makes grocery the top mobile spending category for the first time. Source: Comscore.
  • Updated data from Bazaarvoice shows that online shopping activity experienced significant y-o-y growth in April for both page views (88%) and order count (96%). Source: Bazaarvoice.
  • The month of April saw traditional chain stores experiencing a 119% year-over-year increase in first time online purchases. During this same time, email signups for these merchants grew by 89% over April 2019. Source: Bluecore.
  • In a global survey, Ipsos found that more than half (55%) of consumers feel safer or more protected from the coronavirus driving their personal vehicle than any other mode of transportation. This may have a reason why about one-third (32%) of US consumers who had intended to purchase a vehicle prior to the coronavirus say they are more likely to do so once the outbreak is over. Source: Ipsos.
  • When it comes to brand consumption, some 46% of US adults report that there are brands they are spending less on and that they don’t miss, while another 44% say they are spending less on a brand that they can’t wait to begin buying more of again. Gen Z appears to be less attached to some brands than they once were, with 54% saying they realize that they don’t miss and can live without some of the brands they are buying less of right now. This is higher than the percentage of Millennials (48%), Gen X (47%) and Boomers (41%) who say the same. Source: Morning Consult.
  • Three-quarters of US consumers expect brands to personalize their journey during this time, but 61% report being disappointed with brands’ responses and 69% say that not all brands are customizing the online experience. About three-quarters (73%) also say that their current online experiences will change their future purchase behavior. Source: Kameleoon (pdf).
  • Although the distribution of print coupons fell last year, as did the number of pieces of direct mail sent out, data provided by Valassis shows that not only are more than one-third (37%) of consumers more excited to receive mail each day, nearly half (46%) say they are also more interested in deals, coupons and promotions. Source: Valassis.
  • Globally, the public’s trust in news sources has increased since January, with a record 69% of people saying they trust traditional media (up from 62% in January). Trust in search engines (64%), owned media (52%) and social media (45%) has also increased. An updated Edelman Trust Barometer also found that people trust doctors, scientists and national health officials most to tell the truth about the pandemic. The same report also indicates that trust in the Food and Beverage and the Healthcare sectors has increased during the pandemic, while the Technology sector has slipped just slightly from being the top industry in regards to consumer trust. Source: Edelman.
  • CTV streaming has increased in the US since the pandemic began. Recently, Integral Ad Science reported that 88% of US adults have access to CTV. In just two months, this has increased to 90%, with 63% now saying it is their preferred device for streaming video (up from 59%). Source: Integral Ad Science.
  • With many areas in lockdown, consumers are spending more time with certain activities. Some 42% of US adults reported that they spent more time than usual on social media since late March. They have also slept more (39%), baked more (24%) and consumed alcohol more often (16%). While these increased behaviors have been similar across age groups, when it comes to those who have played video games more often (28%), more Millennials (40%) increased their gaming than Gen X (27%) or Baby Boomers (17%). Source: YouGov.

Previous Research (Published 5/4/20)

IAB Coronavirus Impact vs Financial Crisis May2020
Stay-at-home orders may be in the process of being lifted, but the effects of this pandemic – whenever it indeed wanes – look to be long-lasting. In fact, ask advertisers and publishers and the general consensus is that the coronavirus is expected to have more of a negative impact on the economy and advertising than the financial crisis of 2008/2009. As a survey from the IAB found, in the long-term, about three-quarters those on the sell-side (76%) and buy-side (74%) believe that the coronavirus outbreak will have a more negative impact on US advertising than the financial crisis, including almost half (48% and 44%, respectively), who expect the impact to be substantially more negative.

The impact is already being felt, especially among news publishers where the majority have already had buyers ask to cancel campaigns (88%), or had advertising buys either be adjusted (88%) and requested to be paused (86%).

Unsurprisingly, traditional media is being affected most when it comes to short-term spend shifts. Of those advertising buyers (70%) that are adjusting their spend for the period March – June, traditional media is estimated to see a 39% decrease from their original annual plan, with print (38%) and linear TV (38%) seeing substantial decreases.

By comparison, digital media spend for the same time period is estimated to decrease by 33%, with the largest cuts being seen in digital audio (35%), digital display (34%) and digital video (32%).

Ad sellers project that the hardest hit brand categories for the period of March-December 2020 will be Travel & Tourism (68.8%), Brick and Mortar Retail (56.1%), Restaurants (49.3%) and Automotive (48.8%). At the same time, consumer essentials such as Cosmetic and Toiletries (4.9%), Household Products (4.9%) and Online Retail (4.9) are less likely to feel the impact.

Here’s a look at some more data that has come out since the last update:

Marketers

  • A survey from Gartner echoes the impact the coronavirus will have on advertising, with marketers reporting that budget cuts have already resulted in campaign launches being delayed (45%), altering of creative ad content (34%) and media buys being cancelled (26%). Source: Gartner.
  • The field of market research has not escaped the impact of the coronavirus, with Greenbook reporting that more than two-thirds of companies are cancelling their research due to the pandemic. While the market research professionals surveyed expressed concerns over appearing insensitive and anticipating lower than typical response rates, half (51%) believe that behavior related to specific industries or categories will change considerably once the pandemic is over. Source: Greenbook.
  • While three-quarters (75%) of consumers say their opinion of a brand is not changed if its ads appear next to coronavirus content, they are 41% more likely to engage with ads adjacent to coronavirus content on premium or recognizable news sources. They are also more likely to be fine with brands whose advertisements are adjacent to positive coronavirus content (46%) than negative coverage (32%). Source: Integral Ad Science.
  • With 4 out of the 10 “Breakthrough Ads” in Q1 2020 being related to the coronavirus, it has been found that brands that address the crisis appropriately in their advertising can have a positive impact on brand favorability. Unruly found that 12 of the 13 COVID-19 related ads analyzed were above the US norm for brand favorability. However, only half were above the US norm for brand recall. Source: Unruly.
  • Only a small number (4%) of consumers say they want brands to stop their advertising during this time. A plurality (37%) say they want advertising to make them feel safe and give them a sense of normality, while others (31%) want ads to make them feel positive. Source: Ipsos.
  • Email updates from companies about the COVID-19’s impact on operations are anecdotally maligned by consumers, and data from Iterable shows that their customer base increased its email send volume by 12.3% between February and March. Even so, these businesses have also experienced an increase in opens (21.2%) and clicks (13.7%). Source: Iterable.
  • Previous research shows that customer loyalty is often determined by how a company deals with a crisis. Case in point, GfK reports that more than 8 in 10 (83%) consumers say that the way companies conduct themselves during this crisis will impact whether they do business with them in the future. Currently, more than three-quarters (78%) agree that companies are being a “force for good,” yet about two-thirds (67%) say they have noticed companies trying to take advantage during the crisis. Source: GfK.
  • Along this same line, when front-line or vulnerable consumers such as first responders, nurses, teachers and seniors were asked how brands can help with the current crisis, two-thirds (68%) said they want brands to donate to programs that provide direct support to medical works, while 67% would like brands to donate to people who have lost wages. Another 88% report they would like brands to provide personalized offers, with 9 in 10 saying such an offer would positively impact their relationship with a brand (89%) and they would share it with others in the same profession or life stage (90%). Source: SheerID.
  • Although overall, the number of posts brands sent to social media per day in April remained the same on average as in Q1, the Media & Entertainment (+8.9) and Healthcare (+5.3) industries did boost their daily volume during that time, while others like Sports (-8.3) and Travel & Tourism (-4.4) decreased theirs. Source: Sprout Social.
  • Marketers are feeling the pressure. More than half (56%) say that managing shifting priorities or strategies is one of the main challenges at the moment, while a little more than two-fifths (42%) claim that their team currently lacks the bandwidth to quickly create new content as a consequence of these shifting priorities. Source: NewsCred/Sirkin Research.
  • Events continue to be hit hard, with a majority of event professionals reporting that they have either cancelled (87%) or postponed (66%) an event due to the current situation. While 7 in 10 say they have moved their event online, only about one-quarter (24%) say they are concerned that digital events will cannibalize face-to-face events in the future. Source: PCMA.

Consumers

  • After the threat of coronavirus clears, more than half of consumers surveyed by Valassis say they will make new shopping behaviors routine – whether those be grocery delivery (19% share), buying online and picking up in-store (16%), carrying-out from a restaurant (26%) or ordering restaurant delivery (22%). Source: Valassis.
  • From the start of the coronavirus outbreak, consumer behavior has changed. More than one-third (36%) say they have thought twice about making purchases, while the same percentage say they have stocked up on non-perishable items and water. Another one-third (33%) say they now purchasing more items online rather than going to a physical store. Source: MRI-Simmons.
  • Consumers around the world not only browsed for more goods online in April (1st-23rd) than they did for the same period last year, they also purchased more items. While categories like Business & Industrial (up 91%) and Toys & Games (up 90%) saw significant y-o-y increases in page views, they also experienced y-o-y growth in orders of 172% and 154%, respectively. However, the category which saw the greatest growth in order count was Hardware, which grew a full 342% y-o-y. Source: Bazaarvoice.
  • Total credit/debit card purchases dropped 11% y-o-y for the month of March due to a 16.2% y-o-y decrease in offline purchases for the month. Online purchases, on the other hand, have increased significantly in categories such as grocery (64.5% y-o-y) and mass/discount (62.7% y-o-y). Source: Verisk Financial/Commerce Signals.

Previous Research (Published 4/20/20)

AdPerceptions Coronavirus Growing Impact Ad Efforts Apr2020

As time progresses since the coronavirus outbreak, more advertisers are being forced to either cancel or hold back ad budgets for campaigns. In a survey [pdf] of more than 150 marketers and agencies conducted between April 1-4, 2019, almost two-thirds (64%) say they have held back a campaign from launching until later in the year due to the coronavirus, up from 49% who said the same when interviewed the week of March 17-20. Moreover, some 44% of respondents said they have cancelled a campaign completely (pre-launch), with this representing an increase of 10 percentage points from the previous survey.

There has also been a shift in thinking when it comes to how long the negative impact on budgets will last. More (43%) respondents now say that they expect the coronavirus to have a major impact on advertising spending into Q3 2020, compared to the 28% who predicted the same just two weeks earlier.

As for when they’ll resume paused or cancelled advertising, the majority (89%) of marketers surveyed say they will look to coronavirus related reasons such as relaxing of social distancing, a slowing of new cases of the virus in the US, and no new cases of the virus in the US. Until then, media buyers are adding to budgets such as paid social (64%), digital video (44%), linear cable TV (43%) and OTT/CTV (43%), while some are reallocating budgets to linear broadcast TV (38%) and e-commerce (33%).

Here is more of the latest data curated since the last update:

Marketers

  • Nine in 10 (92%) marketers report having adjusted their creative messaging since the middle of March, with 46% saying these adjustments have been substantial. Only about two-fifths (39%) say that producing new creative assets has been a challenge. Source: ANA.
  • Ad messages that address the coronavirus pandemic are resonating with consumers. Ace Metrix found that COVID-19 ads are scoring higher on Relevance (+18%), Likability (+11%) and Information (+12%) than the all-industry norm. Source: Ace Metrix.
  • Six in 10 marketers surveyed are either somewhat (32%) or highly (29%) annoyed by marketing calls or emails from companies that seem to be doing business as usual. Source: Element-R.
  • As MarketingCharts reported in the last update, ad adjacency is a concern for many advertisers. Data from GumGum has found that in examining 2 million unique pages over a 13- day period, some 62% of those pages that contained at least one COVID-related keyword were deemed safe, while the remaining 38% were marked as unsafe. Source: GumGum.
  • As live events and trade shows continue to be cancelled, more marketers are turning to webinars, and with that comes an increase in webinar advertisements. Indeed, MediaRadar reports that the number of brands running webinar ads increased by 36% between February (245) and March (332). Source: MediaRadar.
  • In fact, B2B buyers are upping their spending most on web conferencing software, per a survey from TrustRadius, with 67% of surveyed buyers reporting doing so. Collaboration tools (57%) and remote desktop tools (52%) are also seeing increased spending by a majority. By contrast, businesses are most likely to be cutting spending on marketing software (44%), per the report. Attitudes to spending have also drastically changed. Whereas 40% of B2B tech buyers surveyed on March 18th expected COVID-19 to impact their software spending by increasing it, that figure has plummeted to just 15% in the latest survey fielded April 9th. The percentage who say they’ll spend less has almost doubled in the same time period, from 18% to 31%. Source: TrustRadius.
  • Half (50.2%) of the influencers surveyed by Influence Central say they plan to create and post more video content. Influencers are also seeing a 36% increase in engagement on both Instagram and Facebook since the outbreak. Source: Influence Central.
  • The number of emails containing COVID-19 related content has decreased, dropping to 1 in 25 as of April 11, compared to 1 in 15 four weeks earlier. These emails are also 15% less likely to be marked as spam. Source: Validity [webinar].
  • Looking ahead, two-thirds of marketers believe their marketing budgets will decrease either slightly (45%) or greatly (20%), while almost 3 in 10 (27%) anticipate their budget will stay the same. That said, more than two-thirds believe their marketing goals will either increase (36%) or remain the same (32%). Source: Conductor.
  • Per a survey by FTI Consulting, 8 in 10 US consumers are paying more attention to what companies doing are during the pandemic, especially in areas such as how companies are handling employee safety and well-being (86%), if CEOs or leaders are stepping up to help other in need (82%), and how companies are treating their customers (82%). Source: FTI Consulting.
  • Generally, the majority of Americans have more trust in companies with purpose. This may matter now more than ever, as research has shown that 9 in 10 consumers say it’s important for a company they purchase from to take care of their employees even in tough times, while others say it’s important for companies to care about society (85%), contribute to society (84%) and stand for something beyond just profit (82%). Source: Morning Consult [download page].
  • LinkedIn reports that there was an increase of 2781% in engagement related to coronavirus content between the beginning of February and end of March, with one-third (33%) of posts now being coronavirus-related. Source: LinkedIn [pdf].

Consumers

  • Many consumers are spending more than on grocery items such as food items used for meal prep (56%) and staple food items (51%), while spending less than usual on clothing. Source: Gongos.
  • Along those lines, Information Resources Inc (IRI) data shows that during the week of March 15, sales of edible products on e-commerce sites in the US was 95% higher than the previous year’s average. Source: IRI [pdf].
  • BazaarVoice reports that April 2020 (partial month stats) has already seen 85% y-o-y growth in shopping activity. Source: Bazaarvoice.
  • Video-on demand transactions increased by 29.8% y-o-y in the month of March, with SVOD, in particular, seeing an increase of 53.2% between March 2019 and 2020. Source: Comscore.
  • About one-quarter (23.4%) of US consumers report listening to streaming music, radio or podcasts more frequently as a result of the coronavirus situation, with Spotify (29.5% share), Pandora (23% share) and Amazon Prime Music (19.2%) being the streaming services used most. Source: Resonate [download page].
  • The use of video and conference call platforms such as Zoom and Slack has risen, with 1 in 5 Americans saying they used this form of technology for professional use or social gatherings. Source: Consumer Technology Association.
  • Data from Shareablee indicates that Facebook (41% share) is the preferred social network for consumers to check on COVID-19 updates compared to YouTube (21% share), Twitter (19% share) and Instagram (10% share). Source: Shareablee.
  • Although half (49%) of Americans do not plan on changing their use of sharing economy services such as ride-sharing compared to before the coronavirus outbreak, men (28%) are more likely than women (23%) to say they’ll increase their use. Source: Ipsos.

Previous Research (Published 4/6/20)

AdPerceptions Coronavirus Ad Spend Shift Performance Media Mar2020

Nine in 10 (89%) advertisers say that the coronavirus pandemic has impacted their advertising efforts, with one-third (34%) reporting they have cancelled a campaign completely before it was launched and another 38% having paused advertising efforts until later in the year. But amid this disruption in advertising, research from Advertisers Perceptions shows that performance media will be getting more attention.

The survey found that two-thirds (65%) of advertisers agree that the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic will result in advertisers focusing spend on media that can show direct sales outcomes. Although a great deal of media such as display (47%), paid social (45%), digital video (43%), linear broadcast TV (41%) and linear cable TV (34%) have been paused, cancelled or pulled budget from, only about one-quarter (24%) of advertisers have pulled back the reins with paid search. Indeed, paid search is the channel for which the largest share (24%) of advertisers are retaining or even increasing budgets.

Decreased ad spend as a result of the coronavirus outbreak is expected to have the biggest impact in Q2, with optimism prevailing and more than half (57%) of advertisers feeling it will have only a minor or no impact in Q4.

Here are more recent findings on the impact coronavirus is having on businesses and consumers:

Marketers

  • Three-quarters (74%) of buy-side decision-makers believe that the coronavirus will have a more negative impact on US advertising than the financial crisis of 2008-09, with 7 in 10 saying they have either adjusted their ad spend or paused all advertising where possible until further notice. Source: IAB.
  • Ad adjacency is another issue marketers are finding a challenge. Three-fifths (61%) of markets say the coronavirus situation is changing the type of content they are comfortable advertising alongside, with half (49%) saying they would be concerned if their ad appeared near online content about the virus. Source: Integral Ad Science [download page].
  • A recent analysis from Validity found that 1 in 15 emails contain coronavirus content. Although these emails are 11% less likely to be marked as spam, they are generating an increased rate of complaints. Source. Validity.
  • On the B2B SaaS marketing front, G2, the technology marketplace, reports it has seen an unprecedented lift in many of its technology categories with the biggest increases in traffic being seen in audio-conferencing (565%), telemedicine (373%) and video conferencing (210%). Source: G2.
  • As a result of the demand for video conferencing technology, ad spend from business communications software brands more than doubled between Q4 2019 ($15 million) and Q1 2019 ($32 million), with $12 million of that latter figure occurring in March (figure reflects March 1-22). Source: MediaRadar.
  • When it comes to working from home, B2B marketers seem to be at an advantage compared to their B2C counterparts. More than half (51%) of the B2B marketers surveyed by Econsultancy and Marketing Week say they are very proficient at working from home, compared to 34% of B2C marketers who could say the same. Source: Marketing Week/Econsultancy.
  • Edelman Trust Barometer shows that consumers are putting some of the onus on brands to help fight against the pandemic, as 6 in 10 (62%) global respondents say their country will not make it through this crisis without brands playing a critical role in addressing the challenges they are facing. Source: Edelman.
  • A survey of more than 300 retailers finds that two-fifths (38%) feel the coronavirus will increase their e-commerce business, while another one-third (34%) think it will have a negative impact. Source: Digital Commerce 360 [download page].

Consumers

  • Has coronavirus news fatigue set in? After seeing a spike in conversations about the virus on social media, blogs, news sites and forums, in the past 7 days (March 27-April 2, 2020), mentions of COVID-19 have decreased by 31% across all channels from the previous period. Source: Talkwalker.
  • With consumers forced to spend more time indoors, their media consumption habits have changed. A GlobalWebIndex (GWI) survey reveals that US respondents are not only spending more time watching news coverage (43%), but also spending more time watching shows and films on streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu (42%) as well as TV on broadcast channels (42%). Source: GWI [pdf].
  • Furthermore, Morning Consult found that two-thirds (66%) of Americans are less likely to cancel their cable or satellite subscription because of the pandemic. Separately, two-fifths (38%) of adults who have subscribed to a streaming service since the beginning of the year said they did so because of the coronavirus. Source: Morning Consult.
  • American’s aren’t just consuming more TV and movie content: 58% say they are seeking out more local news than they did before the crisis. Indeed, consumers say they have listened to more local public radio (29%) as well as read local/regional newspapers (29%). Source: Horowitz Research.
  • Past research has already shown that TikTok is seeing increased adoption in the US, especially with younger users. Music Business Worldwide reports that in the week beginning March 16, downloads of the video sharing app saw an 18% week-on-week increase. Source: Music Business Worldwide (MBW).
  • Although Adobe’s Digital Economy Index shows an increase in digital shopping prior to the current crisis, it found that US e-commerce sales increased by 25% and online grocery sales doubled (growth from March 13-15 compared to March 1-11). Source: Adobe.
  • With Amazon prioritizing getting essential purchases to their customers, leaving many unable to find all (33%) or anything (32%) they need, there is a potential opportunity for D2C brands. Source: Yotpo [press release].
  • Fashion e-commerce retailers are already seeing a decrease in sales. On its lowest sales day (March 20, 2020), US online apparel sales fell 27% year-over-year. That said, website visits on that day only fell 9%. Source: Nosto Solutions [download page].
  • Some 78% of consumers surveyed from April 3-5 had cut back on shopping in stores for non-essentials, double the proportion (39%) from the March 13-15 survey period. Meanwhile, 48% reported having increased their online shopping, up from 31%. Source: ENGINE Group.

Previous Research (Published 3/23/20)

IEEE Coronavirus Trade Show Budget Reinvestments Mar2020

Marketers

  • A survey of more than 200 industrial marketers conducted by IEEE GlobalSpec found that, at the time of the survey, more than half (54%) of respondents said that the coronavirus has not impacted their tradeshow plans. (Editor’s note: here’s an example of data that is bound to change over time.) About one-quarter (26% share) of those surveyed said that while the coronavirus had not yet impacted their plans, they were evaluating their options. So, where will the money go for those marketers who say their tradeshow plans have been or will be modified? More than half say they will reinvest their budget that is set aside for tradeshows. Three in 10 (28% share) say they will divert that budget to digital advertising, while others say they will shift that money to content creation (14% share) or to the sales travel budget (13%). Source: IEEE GlobalSpec
  • Conferences represent one of the industries already experiencing reduced Google ad performance, seeing a 33% drop in performance since the end of February. Other industries that have seen ad performance decline include Travel & Tourism, Bars & Restaurants and Live Entertainment, while Nonprofits & Charities, Health & Medical, Business Management and Finance have seen an increase in volume and performance since the outbreak. Source: Wordstream.
  • For many if not most marketers, working from home is likely to become a reality. And, while a survey by Econsultancy found that there are some upsides to working remotely such as increased concentration and efficiency, senior marketers in the US (67%) and UK (71%) believe that creative collaboration suffers when works don’t share a space. Source: Econsultancy.
  • Further data from Econsultancy finds that close 6 in 10 (57%) marketers say they are delaying or reviewing the launches of products or services for the first half of 2020. Source: Econsultancy.
  • The International News Media Association (INMA) reports that almost two-thirds (62%) of its members surveyed have already seen a decrease in advertising, particularly in branded content, travel, events, programmatic and tourism. On the other hand, only 1 respondent (out of 56) said they had seen a decline in reader revenue. Source: INMA.
  • SparkPost reports that in the 30 days from mid-February, email volume in 26 industry sectors analyzed skyrocketed from about 3,600 to more than 40,000, with the average read rate at almost 24%. (We can’t help but wonder what percentage of these are corporate updates on how they are handling the virus?!) Source: SparkPost.
  • How useful are retailer emails explaining what they are doing to protect consumers and employees from the spread of the virus? More than half of US adults find them to be somewhat useful (32%) or very useful (22%). Source: YouGov.
  • eMarketer has revised its estimates for global media ad spending this year. New estimates have media spend totaling $691.7 billion, which is up 7% over 2019 and only a slight downward revision from the previous estimate of a +7.4% rise. Source eMarketer.
  • More than half (54.1%) of professionals who use the professional community app, Fishbowl, believe that the coronavirus will result in company layoffs, with advertising professionals (65.4%) the most afraid of company layoffs. Source: Fishbowl.

Consumers

  • Only one-quarter of US and UK consumers agree that they are shopping more often online (including groceries and other goods), with Millennials (39%) being the age group most likely to shop more online right now. Source: GlobalWebIndex [pdf].
  • With more people turning to social media to stay connected, Obviously reports that it has seen a 76% uptick in daily accumulated likes on #ad posts on its Instagram campaigns over the 2 weeks of publication. Engagement on TikTok also increased by 27% between February and March. Source: Obviously.
  • When it comes to mentioning coronavirus in ads, two-fifths (42%) of consumers say it is appropriate, with another 44% share saying it’s appropriate depending on the message and/or the brand. Source: Ace Metrix.
  • US consumers are turning to food delivery services and at-home meal services with Uber Eats and Blue Apron both seeing a lift in use among those worried about the coronavirus. Source: YouGov.
  • While Millennials and Baby Boomers are often framed as being in conflict with each other, there’s at least one area they have in common. As the coronavirus crisis continues, more are saying they expect to spend more money on movie and TV streaming. Between Mar 6-9, 14% of Millennials and 13% of Boomers said they expected to spend more money on these services because of the virus. By Mar 13-16, that figure had jumped to 26% and 24% respectively. Source: Morning Consult.
  • It’s not just streaming video consumption that is going up, digital site visits to government sources such as the CDC, NIH and WHO increased 425% between the first week of January to mid-March. Additionally, news site visits increased by 106 million and top retail site (Amazon, Target and Walmart) visits increased by 74 million in that same time period. Source: Comscore.

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