COVID-19 symptoms in the Advertising sphere

The advertising industry has evolved its focus from mass marketing through print ads, to personalization through the data points. These data points help to identify the behaviour patterns of consumers, and thus, to form content accordingly. These patterns are dynamic, and the advertisers adapt to the same through continuous analysis and research. However, what if the behaviour patterns start to change overnight?

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As the COVID-19 has turned the world around, it has managed to change the behaviour of people drastically in no time.

In a place like India, where there’s always been space for one more person, COVID-19 has changed the scenario. The crowded nation is turning its back to more than just people. The queues outside restaurants, bus stands, malls, airports, and all, have come to an end, but the question is — will the necessity of today be the reality of tomorrow? How will these changing behaviour patterns impact advertising?

As per the data from McKinsey & Company in a recent study, the majority of the Indians believe their new routines due to COVID-19 are a play of 2–3 months, and soon they’d get back to their regular habits. However, these beliefs are changing as we move forward. Among the many things COVID-19 has taken a toll on, income is a major one, barring the few. Indians are optimistic regarding the economy, but at the same time, they believe they need to reduce their spending.

Where will the spending reductions take place, and will that have an impact on advertising?

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In order to stay safe, people are searching for means to connect without having to leave their homes. While the brick-and-mortar companies are empty, people have found their comfort in being online. Even to get the groceries, Indians prefer to order online or have them delivered home by the Kirana stores.

Outdoor Advertising

As people are in their homes 24 hours, outdoor advertising seems like a pointless idea. However, students from Miami Ad School launched the “Netflix spoiler billboards” pictures (with real spoilers, but not billboards) to spoil people’s favourite Netflix shows if they went out. The intent behind the act was to encourage people to stay home and binge-watch series, and it went viral over the internet within no time.

Cancelling of sports matches and other events has again affected marketers. Post COVID-19, people might still hesitate to go to crowded places like stadiums; thus, the marketers will have to decide and invest accordingly. Another possible aspect is the change in the infrastructure of retail and restaurants, which might provide relief in terms of safety for people. However, the per-person reach would still decrease as fewer people would be accommodated, considering the social distancing, leading to higher advertising costs as compared to before.

The Kirana store owners could be the new “influencers” for businesses. Advertising through vehicles could be done by reaching out to these stores as there is increased home-delivery for everything, especially necessities, and they’d visit home-to-home to provide the same. A deal could be made with them that would benefit the trio — businesses, Kirana stores, and consumers in this hard time. After all, the Kirana store workers are the only guests awaited these days.

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Print Advertising

Print media is having a hard time during the pandemic. The fear of germs passing from hand to hand has led people to stop taking newspapers, flyers, and magazines.

Even after trying to convince the readers to not worry about the germs, as they won’t spread through reading newspapers, fear has maintained its impact.

The Print media has realized that they need their one hand to be present online.

However, print media is usually believed to be authentic as compared to online mediums, where it’s easy to spread fake news. Thus, print media might soon regain its lost voice.

Broadcast Advertising

The home-entertainment has become the new mode of enjoyment, leading to increased viewers and hours on television. Channels like Doordarshan have found a closer space in homes. This is a fair opportunity for advertisers to make the best use of broadcast advertising.

At the same time, online streaming platforms have become the new boredom-killer. Universal shifted its theatrical releases to streaming. Will these platforms eliminate theatres in the long-run? As we know, the streaming platforms don’t show ads, will another space for advertisements get eliminated?

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Digital Advertising

Nothing has forced people to go digital as fast as COVID-19. From ordering to learning, everything is being done online. We’re reading news, shopping, learning new skills, working from home, taking online classes and lectures, conducting video conferences and meet-ups, texting, and so on, ultimately making the world more digitized. While the most popular content is videos, movies, live TV, the format of advertising could be adapted similarly. We are playing video games, using social media, watching e-sports, using apps for everything more than ever before. This has provided an opportunity for advertisers to use mobile-friendly marketing and share engaging content.

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However, one will have to be careful with the context and approach. Advertisers will have to look if they need to push their goods currently or not. This is one of the reasons why Google faced a downfall as its biggest advertiser, Amazon, decided to stop recommending and advertising products using Google.

Few strategies that could be adopted by advertisers are:

  • Instead of advertising like before, relate to the pandemic in order to provide relevant content and grab attention.
  • Share tips that provide assurance to the audience in order to decrease panic.
  • Show appreciation and support to other businesses.
  • Share informative content or tutorial videos depending on the business, as more people are learning new skills online.
  • Use pandemic-related hashtags like #quarantinetips #stayhome #weareinthistogether #letsbeatCOVID19.
  • Use light humour, while the majority of the channels are full of stressful and panic-creating information, create space for relief.
  • Be creative, start campaigns to engage the idle audience at homes.
  • Go live on social media networks, engage with the audience, even if it’s just about knowing how they’re doing and feeling.
  • Make content that could be shared with a click — as videos are the most popular format of content right now, share short videos.
  • Don’t do heavy advertising, go for light and relatable, and boost the morale of the audience.

The world has realized the need to be digital and will consider the same post-COVID-19. The hangover won’t leave soon even after we get through the pandemic. At least, businesses might get out with a stronger number of digital followers.

Lastly, stay safe.

Writer | Artist | Marketer