Is anyone else sick of the word ‘unprecedented’?

I know I am! It’s true, we are in totally unchartered waters right now and no one’s quite sure what will be waiting for us at the other end. We’ve certainly seen some quite dramatic shifts in consumer behaviour and media consumption in the last couple of weeks and with so many different reports going around, we wanted to share some of the most notable insights…

Cinema on pause

With the closure of many public spaces, the initial impact on cinemas has been huge. However, we expect to see a surge once they finally reopen and all the postponed blockbusters, including the next highly anticipated Bond film, finally come to the big screen.

Out of Home sees a slump

With fewer people out and about, Out of Home has also seen a slump. Early reports suggest an 11% dip in consumption, but I imagine the real number will be much higher. Many brands are deferring their activity to Q3/4 and availability is already looking tight, so my advice is that if you are hoping to get activity away once we’re out of this crisis, you may want to start booking that OOH campaign now! One exception to this, is supermarkets, which due to new rules in place for queuing are seeing longer dwell times than ever, making D6S a great opportunity to reach consumers.

Time to tune into radio

On the flip side, we’ve seen radio consumption grow around 17% during the last couple of weeks. This is mainly being driven by an increase in listening via connected devices (+15%), as those stuck in the house turn to radio for company, to lift their spirits or as a trusted news source.

We saw an initial hit on channels such as music streaming and podcasts which are regularly used during activities such as commuting or going to the gym. However, as people settle into new routines we have seen a turnaround on this with both channels growing again, in particular news-related podcasts, which have seen 15% growth.

Social is a lifeline

Unsurprisingly, social has seen a rise of 54% usage, with Facebook seeing a huge 50% increase in its Messenger product and a 70% increase in overall time spent on its platform. Facebook seems to be the place where people are sharing more sombre content, whereas the likes of Instagram and TikTok are seeing much more light-hearted and entertaining content. Therefore, there’s an opportunity here for brands to get involved and target users with specific content to break up their day. Twitter has also seen a rise of 23% in daily users, but is advising brands to keep messaging informational and as useful as possible.

More news than ever

Some news brands such as The Guardian, The Independent and the Evening Standard are trying to combat the further declining circulations during the crisis by changing their distribution methods. However, local press publisher, JPI, made the decision last week to halt printing of its free newspapers over distribution and delivery challenges.

Conversely, publishers are seeing a shift to reading news online (+24%) through their websites or apps, with The Guardian reporting boosted dwell time on its site. Overall, we’re consuming more news than ever.

Television takes top spot

The big winner here is TV, which has managed to reverse the declining trend (if only temporarily) of linear TV consumption, particularly amongst the younger demographic. There has been an overall increase of 46% in TV consumption in March, with news programmes not unexpectedly seeing the biggest shift. BBC News holds the gold spot for trusted news sources, with Sky News coming second, bringing in an additional 11m viewers last week! And with audiences still keen to get their cinema fix, Sky Cinema has seen a 25% hike in viewing too.

Despite the timely launch of Disney+, Sky on Demand saw a jump of 27% usage. While other broadcasters haven’t seen quite the same kind of increases for their on-demand services, YouTube has reported a surge in users searching for content focused around physical and mental wellbeing, including fitness and healthy meal videos.

At a time when lots of brands are deferring their TV campaigns to later in the year, now’s the time to take advantage of all those extra viewers and the broadcasters’ flexibility on deadlines and rates.

“But what on earth do I put on that TV ad?” I hear you say. “We haven’t got anything to promote right now! Consumers don’t want to hear from us!”…Actually, consumers do want to hear from brands right now; they crave some sort of normality in all of this craziness and trusted brand advertising is part of the fabric of this.

Where can my brand fit into this?

Consumers want brands to take the lead and act as a facilitator to help, by supporting key workers, those that are vulnerable, or to provide those in isolation with a distraction or an aid to their mental wellbeing via engaging content. Take note though: authenticity is key (as always) and messaging needs to be sensitive, relevant and meaningful to consumers who are currently experiencing a wide range of emotions and changing needs. Now is not the time for promotions and short-term sales tactics, but to show your worth as a brand.

“But of course, you’re going to say that, you’re a marketing agency!” We know that you’re under pressure, that things have changed and everything that was planned this year is up in the air. But research shows that 58% of advertising’s impact happens in the long-term, and that going dark or reducing marketing spend can be damaging to brands and difficult to reverse. There are plenty of instances of this and we’ve seen it time and time again: the brands that go against the grain, hold their nerve and spend during times of crises are the ultimate winners.

For example, Kellogg’s was the number two breakfast cereal in the USA until the Great Depression. While many other advertisers including their main competitor cut back on ad spend, Kellogg’s doubled it, which resulted in the brand becoming the market leader and remaining there ever since. Similarly, in the UK’s recession in the early 90s, McDonald’s stopped advertising and sales dropped by 28%, whereas Pizza Hut kept spending and saw sales grow by over 60%.

Remember, we are in unprecedented times (there’s that word again) but one thing’s for sure, at some point we will get back to a new normal, and when we do, it will be the brands that have been brave enough to show up that will be remembered.

Written by:

Suzi Kilka Media Account Director


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