Long-Held Advertising Norms have been Upended in the First Five Months of 2020. What’s Next?

We’ve seen shifts in consumer behavior with more people staying home, major advertisers pulling back, an emphasis on essential goods and services, and an increasing sense of a local community that we’re all excited to re-engage with when the time is right.

As consumers continue to stay home, engagement is shifting away from OOH (out-of-home), traditional TV and event marketing. Since consumers are spending more time online and on larger screens – tablets, laptops, desktops in home offices – consider the increasing importance of OTT (over-the-top) streaming digital video/connected TV, digital video, podcasts and email. 

Make sure advertising and marketing messages are relevant in today’s climate. Take a look at your marketing stack and your forward-looking plans – are automated email drip campaigns that were planned pre-COVID-19 still relevant and timely?

Consider this trend: Amazon pulled back entirely from Google Ad spending toward the end of March 2020. In the back half of 2019, Amazon garnered nearly 80% of impression share on Google Shopping in their key product areas. That void means sharply reduced CPCs (cost-per-click) and increased visibility at a fraction of previous costs. That doesn’t mean Amazon won’t regain prominence in the Google Shopping network that it was arguably funding, but it does mean a short-term opportunity for a fortunate few.

Also worth noting is that Microsoft’s paid search program has seen unprecedented gains to nearly 40% market share, up from under 20% in 2017. They far outweigh Google’s share on desktops and laptops with 71% impression share. And with lower CPC overall, their services are worth considering for many product sets.  

It’s not all bad news for print and broadcast. While a lack of foot traffic hurts newsstand sales and the suspension of live sports has caused many big brands to pull back, cost-conscious advertisers are seeing new opportunities to focus on conversion-based marketing and direct-to-consumer lead generation. On the print side, there are a variety of subscription-based marketing tools – custom cover wraps and paid subscriptions – that could get your message into new hands at a critical time.

Declining CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) and increased availability may position advertisers to get more bang for their marketing budget for at least the remainder of 2020. Whether this is to highlight your new and adjusted business models, help move inventory that has a limited shelf life or just to stay engaged with your customer base until things return to “normal,” consider keeping the meter running on digital ad spend. Focus on topical and timely, relatable and sensitive. That doesn’t mean just piano music and vaguely reassuring messages. It calls for transparency about the state of your business.

Further reading:

Merkle’s Q1 2020 Digital Marketing Report Reveals Initial COVID-19 Impacts on Search, Social, and Display Ad Spend Across Major Platforms

COVID-19 Represents The Biggest Challenge To Media Advertising Expenditures Ever

Facebook Ad Rates Fall as Coronavirus Undermines Spending

Report: Facebook’s ad rates dip as pandemic curbs demand

Best practices for digital marketing during the coronavirus crisis