Lockdown effect: No rules of social distancing apply here

By: |
May 3, 2020 1:40 AM

Social media use surges; average time spent on platforms like Facebook and Instagram up by over 60%.

As per the report, before the lockdown, on February 5, the users on an average spent 41.4 minutes on Facebook, but after the lockdown on March 29, they were active for 66.9 minutes on the platform. As per the report, before the lockdown, on February 5, the users on an average spent 41.4 minutes on Facebook, but after the lockdown on March 29, they were active for 66.9 minutes on the platform.

Even when we were not forced by a lockdown and a deadly virus to remain physically distant from friends and family, social media was a popular way to remain in touch. Now, it is the only way, barring phone calls.

Data also points likewise. A recent report by data intelligence firm KalaGato shows that the average time spent on Facebook and Instagram went up by 62%, while TikTok saw a 44% surge, LinkedIn a rise of 27% and the time spent on Twitter increased by 34% between February 5 and March 29.

As per the report, before the lockdown, on February 5, the users on an average spent 41.4 minutes on Facebook, but after the lockdown on March 29, they were active for 66.9 minutes on the platform. The average time being spent on TikTok for the same dates went up from 39.5 minutes to 56.9 minutes and on Instagram, up from 21.8 minutes to 35.4 minutes.

However, while the time spent on social networking platforms has gone up substantially, advertising spends on these platforms have come down drastically, as several brands have scaled down advertising.

“Advertising is a very basic function of sales and since most companies cannot sell at this point in time or there are no products to sell, spends have come down,” says Shamsuddin Jasani, group MD, Isobar, south Asia.

Personal care startup Mamaearth says it is only advertising baby care products in its portfolio, which comes under the essentials category, and has scaled down the monthly ad budget by 25%. “We are able to deliver products to only 50-60% of our pin codes, as it is time to cut costs,” says Varun Alagh, co-founder and CEO, Mamaearth.

The head of a digital agency shares that several of its clients have stopped advertising on social media for the next three months.

As a result of the fall in advertising volumes on these social networking platforms, there is more ad inventory available, which has brought down ad rates severely.

Bikash Chowdhury, chief marketing officer of Glance, a lock screen content platform, says as the organic reach has gone up on social media, the available impressions on these platforms have also increased and, therefore, cost per mille or CPM on these platforms have come down. “We are running some of our campaigns at 30-40% lower cost as compared to the pre-lockdown period,” he adds.

CPM is the cost a brand pays for one thousand views or clicks of an advertisement on digital media. According to experts, most of the ad buys on social media are biddable media, which means the marketers place a bid for placement of ads, keywords, etc. Hence with the fall in volumes, the bids are lower and CPMs have come down. According to analysts, earlier, while a brand would have to pay, say, Rs 100-110 per CPM for a beauty audience on Instagram, this has now come down to Rs 30-35.

The nature of advertisers on these mediums has also changed during the lockdown. Most companies from retail, automotive, e-commerce and consumer durables have stopped advertising in the weeks following lockdown. Meanwhile, brands that have more essential products or a massive digital presence are pushing their ads on social media. “Insurance companies, online gaming apps and online learning apps are some examples. A lot of online apps are, in fact, spending more money than before,” says Tushar Khakhar, first executive at AGENCY09.

But will the situation get better once the lockdown is over? Industry watchers think it might, but not to the extent it was before the lockdown. Jasani of Isobar predicts that spends will start coming back once the e-commerce companies restart their operations.

“Before Covid-19, the expectation was that digital media would grow at about 30% in terms of ad spends this year, over 2019. Now, there might be a 15-13% drop and it will grow at a mere 15-18% in the current year,” he adds.

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