The Impact of COVID-19 on the Marketing Industry

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Of all the things expected to come from 2020, the coronavirus and a global lockdown was not one of them. With the pandemic’s arrival industries across the world have taken a major hit, some harder than others. The marketing industry is among the many who’ve taken a brutal beating with the current situation.

And while things might slowly but surely be returning to normal, the damage has already been done. Leaving many to wonder how big of an impact COVID-19 has had on the marketing industry. And more importantly how marketers can lessen the blow and get back on top regaining some normalcy once more.

Which are being hit the hardest?

Before the pandemic struck it was estimated that global advertising investments would grow by 7.1% in 2020. When looking at the statistics today it’s clear to see a reality painting a completely different picture. In fact, it is now estimated that the change in consumer behaviour will result in an 8.1% reduction (estimated at nearly $50 billion) of global advertising investment. Marketing mediums have all suffered but traditional marketing has been hit the hardest.

Think of TV ads, radio ads, billboards, flyers, newspapers, and print advertisements. People are not consuming these types of marketing materials the way they used to. For TV and Radio, broadcasting times play an important role in marketing and even this has changed with people not engaging the way they used to.

On normal days people listen to the radio on the way to work or the drive home. With people no longer sitting in traffic listening to the radio, advertisers need to head back to the drawing board. Research needs to be done once more to find the times when consumers prefer tuning in to their favourite radio stations. Before the outbreak, radio advertising was at 1.8% and now a few months later it has already reached a 16.2% decline.

The same change in behaviour has affected TV time in most households. Where most turn on the TV once they get back from work most nowadays head straight for the news channel to get information on the current pandemic. As a result, marketers are forced to re-strategize and think of ad placements carefully. For TV, global advertising investment was estimated to rise with 2.5% for 2020. Currently, TV advertising has dropped by 13.8%.

Billboards, flyers, newspapers, and other forms of print advertisement are not being consumed the way they used to. With many in self-isolation, trips to the shop have become less, news is watched online, and flyers have become almost redundant. The latter in fact is considered taboo as no person will currently accept a flyer from a person at the robot due to the fear of germs being spread. Billboards are still relevant but there is a need for better placing where more people can see it. Placing a billboard on a busy road or highway as per normal won’t be beneficial to anyone in the current time.

Newspaper advertisement was expected to decline this year but with a mere 5.9%. Due to the outbreak, the decline has rapidly reached 19.5%. Out-of-home advertising such as billboards and flyers were expected to grow by 5.9%, but instead, investments in this form of advertisement dropped by 21.7%.

With a quick glance at the statistics many fear that the coronavirus has brought on the death of traditional marketing. Traditional media has slowly been dying, but COVID-19 could be the last straw, especially with the rapid decline in marketing industry revenue.

Where ad spend is increasing

Marketing plays a big role in our daily lives whether you are actively aware of it or not. Due to COVID-19, many marketers have had to cancel big events, shows, and experiences, leaving them with elevated stress levels. With the inability to advertise products and services the normal way many marketers have had to start looking at alternative options to still get the job done despite current circumstances.

Digital marketing has always been part of marketing budgets but during these trying times it has become somewhat of a lifeline for the marketing industry. With people working remotely and actively limiting their traveling, marketers are dependent on digital marketing.

Most advertising is spent online for grocery specials, clothing and other necessities and luxuries. Consumers rely on social media, online searches and information relayed digitally at this time. Marketers have already increased their spending on digital marketing formats. There has been a 9.8% increase in social media marketing, 5% of online video, 2.1% in online display and 0.9% in searches. Online classifieds advertisement was set to increase with 6.8% for 2020 but has shown a 10.3% decline.

The only way to reach consumers effectively is by advertising on social media and digital platforms. Marketers are under a lot of pressure to create quality digital content that attracts consumers and appeals to their senses.

Marketing the right way

Digital marketing is currently the best and only way to effectively reach consumers across the globe. That being said, there are a number of things to keep in mind when finding ways to market your business and increase customer acquisition.

Don’t exploit the situation

COVID-19 has brought fear and uncertainty to people all around the world. Everyone is trying to survive and get through the days without giving in to this fear and uncertainty. One of the first things to keep in mind when thinking of marketing strategies is to not exploit the situation. One of the first things many marketers tend to do is buy basic necessities such as toilet paper, face masks, and hand sanitizer and resell it at ludicrous prices. It’s important to remember the essence of marketing and refrain from taking part in such activities. Don’t exploit the current situation or play on people’s fear to generate income.

Market with care

As stated above people are filled with fear and uncertainty, so find ways to create positive and uplifting marketing materials. Show consumers that you genuinely care about them, not just the business they bring. Collaborate with positive influencers and create digital marketing material that will inspire, uplift, and ease troubled minds. When people feel ‘safe’ with a brand they are more likely to trust you in the long-run. There’s nothing more valuable than building lasting relationships, especially with your consumers.

Make informed decisions

Many businesses are currently acting out of fear or in an attempt to survive. The most important thing you can do at this time is to focus and not lose sight of the big picture. Managing Director of Expedite, Kevin Fine, says it best: “To thrive and lead brands right now requires guts, grit and a winning mindset”. It’s important to let go of the survival mindset and make decisions with the right information especially if your goal is to ensure long-term success. As a marketer, it’s necessary to step up and take charge by leading brands through this time of panic.

Manage conversion declines

Digital marketing, like traditional marketing, has many factors to consider including different sites and sectors. Currently, many sectors have seen massive drops in conversions due to the impact of COVID-19 but the food, healthcare, media, and pharma industries have seen an increase. The increase in conversion for many of the news media sites came from cost charged to people reading their updated information. People want to stay informed with all current information and as such increased conversions are possible if marketing is done effectively. With a simple subscription added to news sites, they managed to relieve some of the financial losses. Sectors such as Travel, currently suffering most, have started offering massive discounts to help counteract the traffic declines on their site. While revenue has taken a massive hit in this sector, they’ve still come up with a way to market appropriately.

Keep calm and carry on

All industries are currently suffering, and marketing is among those who have been hit the hardest. The key is to understand the current situation and find a way to adjust to it. There is no telling how long it will be before things return to normal. On top of that, it might be quite some time before the marketing industry will fully recover. Traditional media might be dying but digital marketing is thriving and when used correctly it can be a powerful tool to connect with consumers. The coronavirus has brought stress and fear to many industries but there are still ways to come out on top. Read our COVID-19 Pandemic Survival Guide For Small Businesses for more tips on staying afloat in this trying time.

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