I hesitate to use the cliché, but you know that hindsight is twenty twenty. However I’m sure that I speak for the rest of the business community when I say that we are ready to see the year 2020 receding in the rear view mirror at the speed of light.
This is because global advertising expenditure this year was projected to grow at a healthy 7.4 percent according to the World Advertising Research Center (WARC). But that was before Coronavirus invaded our party without a face mask and sneezed on our banquet.
In response, the World Health Organization dutifully cancelled our elaborate dinner plans and sent us home until further notice. That was in March when we thought that the globe had caught a nasty flu which would typically pass after seven days max.
Ignoring the truth is like eating unwashed rice; as you hungrily chew your food the facts turn up like stones that crack your teeth. The fact is that the media analysts, of which I am one, should stick to their staple diet and avoid making predictions about the health sector.
A study that we carried out a few years ago showed that advertising expenditure trends follow the national economic growth patterns. We looked at the correlation over a ten-year period and found that the economy’s performance was mirrored by the ad industry a year later.
The treasury’s recently revised projection about the economy will have an impact on advertising expenditure. The Cabinet Secretary now says that the economy will contract by three percent in 2020, down from the anticipated growth of six percent. However, the inordinate circumstances that we find ourselves in dictate that the changes to media spend will not wait a year, but instead many players will react immediately.
The WHO guidelines for managing Coronavirus has created behavioral changes that have significant impact on marketing communications. These instructions include cancelling public events, social distancing and working from home.
However, for the travel, hospitality and sports sectors working from home is akin to staging Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor for a deaf audience. Before you could say Jack Robinson, experiential marketing and sponsorship budgets were slashed with wanton abandon. Without tightly packed bums-on-seats the impact of these marketing activities dwindle into the sound of silence.
It would naturally follow that the audience ratings for both outdoor and radio would plummet because of the stay at home recommendations and travel restrictions which have seen a drastic reduction in city traffic. Rush hour was literally cancelled and the favorite drive time announcers were replaced by TV anchors and vloggers.
One man’s beef is another’s poison and as the eyeballs have shifted from outdoor and radio, they have found sanctuary in TV and the internet. The worlds populations convulsively clung to their screens as they witnessed what was deemed to be the Armageddon as foretold in the Book of Revelations.
It appears that this is not the time for the sky to fall on our heads. However, collective judgement predicts that the audience ratings for TV and the internet have skyrocketed and reached interstellar heights. The world eventually realized that this was a doomsday false alarm and viewing patterns were ready to return to normal. That was until Minnesota staged an unsponsored reality TV version of Law & Order.
And in a double rebound, we believe that the TV and internet ratings have inexplicably shot out of the milky way into the next galaxy as if never to return. Without live sports for over three months, this news content has proven to be more captivating than 12 rounds of boxing between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, complete with many more views.
Also, with sports missing from live TV, fans have moved to the internet, YouTube and streaming services to watch past events. Luckily, they don’t have to fight for the remote control anymore as the other members of the household use their own devices to watch DIY and how-to content; and the kids pretend to pay attention to their online classes.
The changes in media consumption habits will certainly guide ad spend. However, due to the annual budgeting cycle of top ad buyers, we expect to see the realignment next year. The smaller and more nimble companies have the opportunity to take advantage of the changes right away.
When life gets back to normal, people go back to work, children return to school and rush hour resumes, it is predicted that the viewing patterns will not settle quite as they were before. Keep track of the next rounds of audience measurement and make the bold moves in your budget to take advantage of the new reality.