Brands are cautiously but progressively starting to confide in marketing again and agencies are seen preparing for ideas and media plans for this new quarter
By Swati Nathani
With employees working from home and some industries pausing operations, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound global impact. Overnight, business strategies and leadership were put to test as authorities announced lockdown as the only means to flatten the curve. Millions of people across the globe had to start working from home to keep the operations afloat.
Every industry and vertical experienced the impact of the COVID crisis and the ad and marketing industry is no exception. Some took to the wait and watch approach, and others decided to pause the ad spending and utilise it more judiciously in the coming months. A recent report by the Interactive Advertising Bureau also indicates a similar trend. As per the report, “almost 24% media buyers, planners and brands paused ad spending until the Q2. While 46% indicated they would adjust their ad spending across the same period”.
The epidemic may have curtailed the ad spends in the short term, but it will make companies charter into unexplored areas of ads and marketing in the near future. Even during the lockdown, many businesses tried to reach their audience using the online ad and marketing tools. The post-COVID consumer is indoor and available on online mediums, making a paradigm shift in marketing strategy a must for businesses, big and small.
A shift in the advertising budget from traditional marketing like print and ATL to digital and mobile marketing is inevitable. It is the means to reach the end-user who is consuming content primarily on the smartphone, laptop, or TV. In a recent BARC data, the viewership of Indian new channels increased by 57% and advertisements in the news grew by 21%. Similarly, the ad spends on news and social chatting platforms, music, streaming TV, and games is increasing in the current period.
During these times, we also witnessed a sharp rise in unprecedented ways of digital communication. A sharp rise in Livecasting content for B2C brands, and Webinars for B2B brands led into ways that were never earlier a part of marketing strategies. Many brands moved their communication from their regular themes to themes which talked about care, ease and inspiration. Many brands were seen pivoting the business and supply chains to suit consumption in this period, which was aptly communicated through their social media channels. While brands may not carry forward all these trends, some of these trends will remain a part of their strategies for a long time.
The ad and marketing spend of companies is already shifting from the offline to the online space. Paid search is emerging as a great option for companies for its cost-effectiveness and ability to adjust campaigns as and when needed. It is proving beneficial for both B2B and B2C segments. Paid search enables companies to track the conversion, level of engagement, click-through rate and track the ROI of a campaign to make adjustments. It is a flexible tool and a perfect one for this volatile market.
With the unlocking process initiated by the authorities, the stalled operations are resuming, and India and the global economies are treading on the road to recovery. Several studies and research also highlight that by the end of Q2, businesses that have paused their ad and marketing spend will relook at the strategy and step towards the new age internet business. COVID-19 and its challenges, will change the way businesses function and operate, connect, and advertise. Digital advertising and mobile marketing will be the new age marketing mandates that will drive businesses and integrate them into the Industrial Revolution 4.0.
Right now, the ad and marketing industry is all set to help the brands make their comeback into the markets. Brands are cautiously but progressively starting to confide in marketing again and agencies are seen preparing for ideas and media plans for this new quarter. The media houses have been in touch with the clients throughout the season with insights on media consumption trends and now, they are also ready with plans to help the brands win their confidence back.
Usually, such pandemics and recessions slow businesses and their growth. However, the coronavirus pandemic is forcing every conglomerate to rethink and re-strategize. It is time for businesses to manoeuvre into a new direction and use new-age and technological advancements to their advantage. There has been steady growth in mobile advertising and CTV platforms. The mobile gaming, influencer marketing and social platforms are also benefitting with increased engagement and revenues. It is time to change the approach and embrace the new ad and marketing tools to optimise this crisis and carve a niche.
2020 has changed things for marketers and brands in a way no one could have imagined. The brands that were traditional marketing oriented are also now moving progressively towards digital. Many companies adopted digital ways of working overnight. As the markets unlock, while we cannot predict many things, one thing is for sure that Digital is the way ahead – whether marketing or mode of work. The hope of the entire industry put together is, that we forget the disastrous Q1 performance and more than cover up for it in the upcoming quarters.
The author is co-founder and chief business officer, Team Pumpkin