Adjusting messaging and In-Market tactics during Covid-19 crisis

Week 3 of Covid-19 shut-down.
By now most companies worldwide have sent their employees to work safely from home and deal with the impact on business.

By now, most companies have established a ‘crisis-work-routine’ and can face the direct economic challenges of this crisis.

By week 3 the advertising industry gets a glimpse of the crisis’ impact on Digital Marketing and started dealing with the rapid changes in terms of messaging and changes of in-market tactics.

The iab stated in a conducted report questioning media buyers, media planners and brands that the industry is facing a loss of 33% in digital ad spend as well as a minus of 39% in traditional media spendings.

But: 63% of advertisers are adjusting their messaging and are increasing or reshaping:
1. Mission-based marketing (+42%)
2. Cause-related marketing (+41%)
3. In-market tactics (+35%)
4. Audience targeting (+38%)

Mission-Based Marketing and Cause-Related Marketing

Non-Profit organizations and support-network-platforms are on their rise at the moment, all focusing on helping and supporting the community, hospitals, neighborhood etc. during difficult times. Word of mouth is part of the fast-spread, but not the single outreach approach: some of these spendings are going into Digital Marketing.

Also, as more people are now working from home, tools and platforms supporting home-office work are booming these days – a clear case of Cause-Related change which also leads to re-shaping of messaging and digital strategy amongst players such as Slack, Zoom and others.
Performance agency Incubeta stated in an article that home office suppliers run online campaigns that “perform amazingly” as office-based workers have switched to working from home”. Also fitness equipment is doing well now that people can no longer go to the gym.
Brands are adjusting their digital campaigns at this time of crisis and it highly depends on the sector they trade in. Some see performance results going vertical, while others are forced to pull back completely.

Re-Shaping Messaging

Re-Shaping messaging during a crisis is a critical path to walk. There is a thin line in communication between ‘Caring’ and ‘Abusing’. The meaning of quality content and purpose has never been more important than during these days. Re-Shaping Messaging is happening while companies shift focus. Take McDonalds as an example: in many countries, they were forced to close down restaurants but bonded with discount supermarket Aldi for bodyleasing employees during intense times and heavy demand on the local food discounters:

KFC, Grab, McDonalds take another approach in Asia, pointing out to stand united with their immediate competitors during time of crisis with this advertisement:

Another example of a quick change in Messaging can be pulled from Beiersdorf. Beiersdorf announced mid of March to ramp up productions of medical-grade disinfectants within its European production network to support the society’s collective fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Only ten days later, they not only had production lines ready but use their beauty brand ‘Nivea’ with appealing product design and re-shaped messages in digital Marketing.

70% of buyers adjusted or paused their ad spend in Q2

KFC, McDonalds, Beiersdorf, all these brands are perfect examples of adjusting their messages and re-invest, while pausing ad campaigns they ran before the crisis. The iab states that in the US 70% of all media spendings are either being adjusted or paused. The abrupt change caused an immediate drop amongst digital media agencies, but experts believe that at least part of the media spending budget will be re-invested into new campaigns to follow.

Increasing audience and device targeting

Another strategy for media buyers and brands these days is to re-considering their audience and devices they are targeting. While some countries even pulled print media to a stop (e.g. in Iran), actual print is less likely being bought these days and publishers notice a big shift towards digital e-papers and e-magazines. Print is currently being estimated with a decline of 43% stated by iab survey. Channels that will suffer the most is traditional OOH as footfall of walking-by audience in the cities is missing.

The big shift occurs towards digital, mobile and social media: more than 42% will consider making advertising tactical changes as a result of Coronavirus.

Knowing where the audience reads and which information on platforms and apps is being trusted is more crucial than ever before. All advertising companies that have had a focus on audience targeting and device targeting will benefit now.

Stability, Trust and Focus

Adello has been affected by all shifts in ad spending as much as other players in the market over the last three weeks. Whilst adjusting to changes in operating business is one part, the key part these days is continuously building trust, providing stability to our media partners and keeping the focus.

Trust that has been built for many years with a stable network to our industry partners. Like the advertising example of KFC mentioned above, trust is what builds the stability for the future and we would like to share with the advertising industry where others set focus, identify opportunities and judge critical aspects.

We interviewed top entrepreneurs and opinion-leaders in the digital and media industry regarding opportunities to set a positive signal in these times. They share their own and very personal view on market shift and changes. Over the next few weeks we’ll put their perspectives on new digital opportunities in times of crisis into the spotlight. Crisis might be a good time to align, focus, develop and innovate businesses. Let’s support each other and keep overall focus!

Prof. Dr. Harley Krohmer

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