Companies need to be dynamic in their approach to digital advertising right now.

The average consumer behavior has radically changed in a way we’ve never seen before. People are increasing their news consumption in hopes of retaining accurate Coronavirus coverage on a local, national and international scale. Newspaper websites are experiencing extremely high traffic since the outbreak. In particular, digital news subscriptions have grown significantly; A study of 200 publishers revealed that total circulation grew by 3.3% with their highest digital retention rate at 96% between February 24 to March 23. Also, 56% of U.S. digital video viewers are watching more live news coverage via social media.

People are also finding ways to escape the negativity — and they are turning to binge-watching digital video. Streaming’s share of total TV rose to 23%, compared to 14% last year. There’s no doubt that pay-TV is steadily declining while the rise of OTT attracts more viewers. However, companies like Netflix, Universal and Disney are releasing content all at once in hopes of winning the streaming wars while consumers are no longer out and about. During the week of March 16, audiences spent the most time with these digital video platforms:

  1. Netflix: 45.4 billion minutes
  2. YouTube: 31.6 billion minutes
  3. Hulu: 15.8 billion minutes

Audiences have largely craved entertainment, information and human connection during their time in isolation. Search engines and social media have played large roles in delivering these experiences. According to SEJ, audiences are searching for guidance and flocking to health and wellness sites, recipe pages and eCommerce marketplaces that sell essential goods. Inquiries such as “toilet paper near me” have become the new normal.

Facebook reports that total messaging has increased by 50% in the last month for both Messenger and WhatsApp. “Zoom” has also become a household name as video and voice chat escalates. Facebook and Instagram stories have increased engagement among regular users since stories provide consumers with a more intimate, timely way to connect with friends, family and brands. As the growth of the pandemic conversation escalates, Twitter serves as one of the best platforms for breaking news and commentary — and their recent boost in users proves this. Twitter’s daily active users (DAUs) rose by 23% compared to Q1 2019.

In an effort to stay healthy by staying home, consumers are also proactively shopping online to get what they need shipped right to their door. The long-term effect on shopping habits may be unclear, but many retailers can still market to self-isolating consumers. Everyone will eventually need or want to buy more than their basic necessities.

According to MediaRadar, categories already seeing surges in non-essential shopping include:

  • Electronics and appliances: Best Buy reports an increased demand for office products and freezers
  • Clothing: Working at home means investing in more comfortable work attire such as loungewear
  • Alcohol: Beverage retailers who offer shipping or home delivery are experiencing a substantial uptick in both new and existing customers

From endless social media scrolling to online gaming, people are digesting more digital content from the comfort of their homes. This is leading to a major shift in device usage.

A recent GWI survey found:

  • Mobile reigns supreme across every generation. While people are not technically mobile during quarantine, consumers claim that they are spending more time with smartphones and mobile devices above tablets, laptops and PCs. However, marketers should implement a mix of ad formats — not solely mobile-focused campaigns.
  • Smart home devices are on the rise. This includes smart TVs, speakers, appliances, security systems and more. 10% of consumers noticed an increase in smart speaker usage due to the pandemic. As many live TV events are delayed, this audience will increase the amount of time streaming content via connected, or smart, TV.
  • Consumers are also turning to video games as a form of escapism. 1 out of 5 of those quarantined claimed that they will increase their time spent gaming, including games hosted on smartphones, PCs and consoles. Keep sponsorship budgets in mind while esports are booming amidst the many cancellations of live sporting events.

Overall, people are altering their daily routines and spending more time online with social media, advanced TV and other forms of digital media. As media consumption shifts, companies need to weigh their options in digital advertising.

Before you adjust your media spend, here are some recommendations from our media team:

  • It is vitally important to take a fresh look at all areas of your business and assess the impact. Clarify exactly where the crisis is affecting your company. Today, it may seem like you are conducting business in an alternate reality. Be sure to objectively evaluate solid data and quantifiable elements of your business, such as timelines, supply chain disruptions or access to contractors. Your findings should lead you to the best ways of meeting your obligations and managing your customers’ expectations during the crisis.
  • Seek to understand how your audiences’ use of both time and personal resources have modified. Your target market will remain the same, but their needs have ultimately changed. Shift your media mix to focus on digital tactics in order to boost brand awareness.
  • Streamline your processes — especially your website — and break down any barriers to purchasing your product or service online. Tailoring your message is also equally important in attracting new customers and maintaining customer loyalty. Consumers do not appreciate tone-deaf messaging. Overall, it’s key to implement ways you can conduct business and communicate with your customers in line with today’s social and economic conditions.

MBI’s media strategists are prepared to guide you through re-evaluating your short- and long-term goals. Contact our team if you have questions on your current or future media needs. Be safe, be smart and be healthy!