Quality And Quantity Are The Best Blend For Post-Pandemic Advertising

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By Virginie Dremeaux, FreeWheel

The easing of lockdowns is changing the environment for advertisers again. Virginie Dremeaux advocates using premium environments and experimenting with new channels, strategies and audiences.

There are positive signs advertising is already beginning to bounce back from COVID-19, with the global industry expected to return to growth next year.

Brands and advertisers are exploring how best to engage consumers whose lives and behaviours have been disrupted by the crisis and are adapting their strategies to the ‘new normal’; weighing up the most effective ways to retain or regain their share of the post-pandemic market. With in-home media consumption increasing significantly during lockdown, TV and video advertising is a key focus for brands, so should they be prioritising quality or quantity in their media plan? The answer is – of course – they should aim for a perfect balance of the two.

The halo effect of premium video

The environment in which ads appear has always been significant. Advertising isn’t just about a brand getting its message out there, it’s about telling its story in the right place, at the right time and in the right context.

In the wake of COVID-19, choosing the right environment for advertising is even more important as consumer attitudes are changing. Trust in different types of media to provide news and information is becoming more polarised, with consumers placing far more faith in news organisations than in free video sites or social media, according to a study from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

At the same time the factors influencing consumer purchasing decisions are evolving, with an Accenture study indicating a rise in conscious consumption, where consumers are more mindful of what they are buying. As Conny Braams, chief digital and marketing officer at Unilever, recently explained, “in a recession, people choose brands they know and trust for their value and values.”

By placing ads within premium video environments such as reliable news content from well-known broadcasters, brands can enjoy the halo effect of association with those environments. They can raise their profile as reliable, principled brands, and ultimately boost advertising effectiveness.

What’s more, with video consumption moving increasingly towards premium channels such as connected TV (CTV), set-top-box video-on-demand (STB VOD) and over-the-top (OTT) video streaming – in addition to traditional linear TV – consumers now expect a premium TV-like viewing experience no matter what they are watching. Publishers are responding to this expectation and are investing heavily in high quality video content.

By advertising alongside 100% premium, professionally produced, rights-managed video content, advertisers benefit from uncluttered, brand-safe environments with fully engaged audiences. As premium video becomes increasingly addressable and measurable, brands can identify audiences at scale, advertise to them and measure the impact of their campaigns, enjoying the full funnel of audience delivery.

Exploring new channels and audiences

While brands must prioritise quality, ensuring their ads appear in trusted, premium environments, that doesn’t mean they should limit scale. With COVID-19 disrupting the status quo, now is the ideal time to explore new opportunities and experiment with channels, strategies and audiences.

The pandemic has changed consumer behaviour in a multitude of ways. Many people adopted new services such as food delivery or telemedicine out of necessity, and a recent McKinsey survey reveals 40-60% intend to continue to use these services despite restrictions easing. With more time on their hands many consumers are taking up new hobbies, from cycling and running to baking and gardening, opening up keen new audiences that simply didn’t exist a few months ago. In addition, COVID-19 and the associated lockdown can be likened to a major life event which disrupts habitual patterns of behaviour, dramatically impacts purchase choices, and increases the probability of consumers trying new brands by at least 75%.

Media consumption habits are also changing. Overall media consumption has increased, with many households testing out new platforms and delivery mechanisms. Working from home has impacted daypart consumption; for instance, viewers may be tuning in to content at times of the day when they would previously have taken their lunch break or travelled to or from the office. With multiple household members at home and vying for control of the TV set, viewers may be consuming content across different devices, or second screening.

Successful advertisers will respond to these changes and recognise the need to experiment with a variety of channels to maximise their audience, measure effectiveness across these channels, and optimise campaigns accordingly to get the best results.

COVID-19 has rewritten the advertising rulebook, with significant shifts in consumer perception and behaviour meaning brands need to adapt their media plans. But as the situation improves brands should aim for a blend of quality and quantity, enjoying the halo effect of premium, trusted environments while expanding their strategies to reach new audiences across multiple channels and devices. 

Credit: WARC

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