We're living in an unprecedented situation, and no one knows how it's all going to play out, how long it's going to take to resolve, and what the full impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will be.
The human impacts are almost too terrible to contemplate, and the economic impacts will be huge. But in amongst this, many businesses are still operating, and are still looking to maintain their revenue, in some capacity, in order to minimize the impacts of the largest global shutdown in history.
And while you absolutely do not want to be opportunistic, there are significant opportunities within the current market as a result of the shutdowns which could facilitate brand building and engagement during the crisis. There are additional considerations to keep in mind with your messaging, with respect to the situation more broadly. But right now, for those that can operate, there are some big potential gaps that could facilitate greater reach, and even growth, depending on your approach.
The first element to consider is that there are a lot fewer advertisers currently in the market. The Interactive Advertising Bureau says that one in four media buyers and brands have paused all advertising for the first half of 2020, while Facebook has reported that 89% of advertisers have taken action with their budgets in response to COVID-19 - "with 45% saying they have adjusted media type usage or shifted budget among media types".
With so many businesses impacted, that makes sense - many are either unable to operate, or are working to simply maintain their operations, as opposed to spending on outreach. But that also means that there's a lot less competition in the market, and a lot fewer ads in the various digital ad auctions.
As an indicator, data from Gupta Media shows that Facebook's CPM recently dropped below $2 for the first time in the company's history.
It costs less than ever right now to reach larger audiences - and reach them you can, because at the same time, digital media usage is at an all-time high.
According to Facebook, users are spending more time on-platform amid the COVID-19 lockdowns, while Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter and LinkedIn have all also reported significant usage increases. Overall YouTube channel traffic is also up 15% on average - and while the majority of that interest is focused on COVID-19 news and updates, people are spending more time online as a way to stay connected with the outside world, as they currently have no other outlet.
Usage is up, advertiser competition is down. For those that are able, now could be a great time to push branding campaigns and increase awareness.
Of course, there is a need to maintain awareness of the societal impacts of the shutdowns, and how that then influences consumer behavior. Millions of people are out of work and struggling, so it may not feel like the best time to be promoting your products. But increased connectivity has enabled many people to continue working from home despite the lockdowns, and most are supportive and understanding of the need for businesses to continue to advertise.
In fact, according to a recent study by Kantar, 92% of people think that businesses should continue to advertise during the COVID-19 outbreak, while previous studies have shown that brands which maintain their ad budgets during economic downturns tend to come out better off on the other side.
Again, this is relative to your individual situation, and there are many that have been significantly impacted by the crisis, in many ways. But the indicators show that there are opportunities present, and studies suggest that businesses who can take advantage of such, should do so.
It's impossible to know the right approach to take here - no one has ever operated in this situation before. But it is worth considering where your business is placed, and what potential opportunities may exist for your consideration, in order to minimize the broader impacts of COVID-19, both for your own business and the economy at large.
No one wants to be operating in this situation, but the more we can collectively do to support each other, and the businesses in our communities, the better off we'll be in the longer term.
Maybe, there are ways you can utilize these trends to help.