Use Media Trends to Plan Your Next Move

The coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the economy have completely upended advertising. From extreme budget cuts to new consumer routines, the way in which advertising used to be planned – meticulous and thorough – has pivoted to rapid strategies baked in volatility. For marketers, the major source of change stems from reduced spending. Forecasts from eMarketer show that COVID-19 could slash as much as $3 billion from advertising budgets, forcing extreme modifications to current strategies.

Though the situation is uncertain and ever evolving, smart marketers are planning for the future, and those who aren’t up to speed will sacrifice valuable market share trying to catch up. To help plan your marketing comeback, we’ve sourced the top media trends that have, or will, be impacted by COVID-19.

Trend #1: Growth in Social Media.

COVID-19 has increased digital consumption as people spend more time at home. Business Insider expects digital consumption to increase across social media, Over the Top video and mobile gaming. Social platforms should contribute the largest increase of additional marketing dollars as these platforms have the largest reach, coupled with highly effective targeting.

Stone Ward's Take:

If your brand is still operational, we recommend you take advantage of this increased time in social usage. Be adaptive in your messaging and support real-time events that are happening, like #curbsidepickup for local restaurants or e-commerce marketing solutions that don’t require in-people interactions.

Trend #2: Technology will separate future category leaders.

A recent Marketwatch forecast predicts that if consumers continue avoiding public places, they’re likely to look for technology services to fulfill everyday needs including retail, food delivery, banking and even health care, which in turn could lead to long-lasting growth even after COVID-19 subsides.

Stone Ward's Take:

As people become more comfortable using technology to satisfy their needs, your marketing comeback should revolve around technology investment, as these platforms could be the “new normal” in which consumers engage with your brand. This could include mobile applications for ordering food, e-commerce websites for ordering goods or even a mobile application that allows telehealth services from the comfort of your couch when you have the flu.

Those who downplay the importance of technology services could stand to lose tons of market share by not adapting to newly learned consumer trends.

Trend #3: Television is said to be negatively impacted, but should it?

Studies show that television budgets are the first to be chopped with most brands redistributing those dollars toward streaming television. But, statistics show if your brand is still operational, you might consider sticking with television. Why? Because total viewing is up – by a lot. According to Comscore, daytime viewing has increased 44 percent since the start of COVID-19 and in most markets, rates remain stable – if not reduced – providing efficient cost-per-points to reach audiences.

Stone Ward's Take:

Though television typically comes with higher spot costs compared to other forms of media, it still delivers mass audience reach with the cherished sight, sound and motion that captivates all audiences alike. With increases in viewing – along with slightly reduced rates – your brand might be able to take advantage of competitors pulling back in these uncertain times, allowing for possible market share capture.

Another market comeback tactic is to start negotiating long-term deals now, which allows your brand to take advantage of lower rates due to unsold inventory, and keep those rates locked-in when the market bounces back.

Trend #4: Streaming video booms, but be careful.

Per eMarketer, streaming video services are also likely to benefit as people seek out more entertainment or news content at home. While the largest increases in usage are likely to go to dominant brands like Netflix or Hulu, video on demand services like Roku and Pluto TV could see sizable lifts as these services feature both national and local live news programming that isn’t available on most Subscription Video on Demand services.

Stone Ward's Take:

Though streaming has grown in popularity, be smart with your marketing comeback dollars. Hulu, one of the largest ad-supported streaming services, still only reaches around 25 percent of users, while commanding some of the most expensive CPMs. If you plan to allocate your dollars within steaming, utilize evening dayparting (ex: 5p-10p) to ensure your audience’s attention is fully engaged in the programming, as opposed to simply turning it on for background noise while they work at home.

While COVID-19 has created an unfavorable situation for marketers and brands, we as humans thrive in adapting to new environments. The above trends are mere snapshots of how newly adapted trends are driving marketing shifts. While different, they all conclude with one simple statement: brands that adapt quickly will become the new leaders of tomorrow. By watching trends and pivoting your marketing strategy to agile approaches, your market comeback story will be one for the record books. I look forward hearing about it.