People prefer COVID-19 sensitive ads, pandemic’s effect on marketing, and the tech thriving right now

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30-second summary:

  • In order to adapt to the “new normal” 24% of people plan to delay large purchases.
  • 42% are planning to cook at home to save money over the next six months.
  • People are spending anything between 3 to 7 hours on social media in a day.
  • Adtaxi survey found that 68% of people find it helpful when ads show regard of the current scenario and 62% know that brands mean well.
  • 42% of market leaders mentioned that their marketing teams lacked the bandwidth to quickly adapt to shifting priorities and create new content.
  • As per Adobe and Fortune’s collaborative survey, cybersecurity will be a top tech priority.
  • Companies using enterprise-level planning and project management tools face comparatively lesser challenges in these taxing times. More details on what’s working and what’s not.

As toilet papers and sanitizers remain scarce and people miss elements of regular lives there’s an abundance of information that can help fill that gap. We’ve searched and served the latest, most useful pieces of insight from the marketing industry this week.

Addressing the new normal

A survey published by marketing technology company Scorpion, revealed several changes in consumer behavior that reflect an adaptation to a new way of living.

When it comes to spending, many respondents will be taking a more conservative approach with their consumption habits, including putting off medium to large purchases and services:

  • 49% plan to delay travel
  • 44% plan to delay medical or dental procedures
  • 24% plan to delay home improvements or repairs
  • 24% plan to delay large purchases
  • 12% plan to delay car repairs

Also, grocery expenditures are projected to increase for 43% of respondents, indicating that almost half of the population plans to cook at home more and save money that might have been spent on more expensive restaurant meals.

What do respondents plan to do with the money they’re conserving? Almost half (42%) indicated that they will be trying to save more during the next six months, with renters leading the charge at 47%. 

Renters generally have less in savings to handle emergencies or unforeseen expenses, which shows us that even less financially resilient segments of the general population plan on building a more robust fund to address economic challenges in the future.

In addition, with a large portion of the population either quarantined or working from home, many people are spending vast amounts of time online. The majority of respondents (55.5%) spend between 3-6 hours online, while another 29% are connected for as much as 7+ hours.

In breaking down how time is being spent online, respondents said they expect to increase their usage or consumption of the following activities:

  • Streaming services: 42.0% user increase, driven by 18-44 year olds
  • Social media usage: 33.8% user increase, driven by 18-44 year olds
  • Online shopping: 30.7% user increase, driven by 25-34 year old homeowners
  • Work/telecommuting: 25.4% user increase, driven by 25-44 year old homeowners
  • Mobile gaming: 21.1% user increase, driven by 18-24 year old male renters
  • Console gaming: 18.3% user increase, driven by 18-24 year old male homeowners
  • Virtual workouts: 14.4% user increase, driven by 35-44 year old homeowners

One particular point of interest is that while mobile online browsing (especially with young people) has been increasing over the past several years, 39.4% of 18-24 year olds (and 33.3% across all ages) expect to spend more time in front of their computers while at home.

Also, according to digital marketing agency Adtaxi’s new study of US adults, 56% of respondents report shopping online more now than ever before, and, more significantly, 53% plan to do more of their shopping online after the crisis is over. 

What are people missing the most due to the COVID-19 lockdown?

As everyone misses life as they know it and are trying to adapt to the new emerging normal, Engine Group US ran a survey on the same lines: 

  • 56% miss going to live events
  • 59% miss physically going to work
  • 86% miss seeing family members
  • 52% miss their daily commuting habits

Other key findings included:

  • 38% of people were impacted by event cancellations
  • 33% were impacted by business closures
  • 30% were impacted by mandatory work from home policies

Surprisingly, consumers appreciate brands addressing the current situation in their ads

Businesses are obviously stopping and halting their campaigns in order to maintain their cash reserves and survive, but is it the brightest idea? Adtaxi found that people want transparency and are open to ads that are addressing the COVID-19 crisis situation. Here’s what the survey discovered:

  • 45% are closely seeing ads
  • 68% find it helpful when ads show regard of the current scenario
  • 62% understand and agree that companies serving these ads have good intentions at their heart

Everything isn’t particularly doom and gloom for digital ads because 54% people reported making a purchase through an ad, 79% were prompted to take an action by a digital ad and 49% were already motivated by digital ads.

So, when did people “feel” like making a purchase?

  • 62% of respondents wanted to make a purchase that made them feel “comfortable”. 
  • 58% wanted to make a purchase that made them feel “healthy”
  • 47% wanted to make a purchase that made them feel “relaxed” 
  • 42% wanted to make a purchase that made them feel “safe and secure”

GlobalWebIndex’s research shows that globally, people are most in favour of brands responding to the outbreak by providing flexible payment terms (83%), offering free services (81%), closing non-essential stores (79%) and helping to produce essential supplies (67%). All of these scored significantly more than the 37% who think they should carry on advertising as normal.

GlobalWebIndex also found that four in ten consumers agreed that brands should continue advertising even in these times of COVID-19. The results were almost the same for the US and the rest of the globe.

emarketer report on consumers opinion of ads

COVID-19’s effect on marketing

In a survey by Sirkin and NewsCred, that spanned across Senior management (C-Level, SVP, VP), directors, and managers, the results showed a 33% rise in the need for having virtual meetings and 28% more of status updates.

Here’s more on what’s concerning the top decision-makers:

  • 42% mentioned that their marketing teams lacked the bandwidth to quickly adapt to shifting priorities and create new content
  • 40% are finding it problematic to realign their budgets and people resources
  • 38% are concerned about their customer communications

COVID-19 marketing

What are CIOs talking about?

Adobe teamed with Fortune to survey more than 200 CIOs in the U.S. in mid-March – These are the challenges CIOs talked about having:

  • 20% of organizations still face serious shortfalls in technology tools
  • Cybersecurity will be a top tech priority
  • Public cloud, infrastructure, and artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) also will receive financial boosts in many organization

Only 50% of enterprises said they use AI in one or more projects, the number for SMBs stood at 25%. CIOs noted that they use AI for IT and customer support the most. 

“We’re making AI a strategic priority at Adobe. AI implementation is difficult for many organizations because it’s still new to most businesses, and there is a shortage in talent that has a deep understanding of it,” said Adobe CIO Cynthia Stoddard.

Diversity continues to be an essential for success

For the CIOs surveyed, female team members being in direct reports are still a minority (slightly over 25%). However, female team members are better represented in both smaller organizations and healthcare organizations.

“Diversity is absolutely the table stakes to the success of any company right now, as it enables people with different perspectives to work towards the development of better products and solutions,” Stoddard.

Pivoting plans vs halting – What are marketers up to?

As per another research by Element-R Partners, LLC, 47% marketers have changed course of their activities and 17% have put a stop on their activities for the time being. 

While almost 9% are using this opportunity to revisit their plans and pivot their plans. What’s not surprising is that just 6% of people are going on with their BAU. 

COVID-19 marketing

More stats on how marketers’ BAU outreach calls and emails are being received:

  • 29% were highly annoyed
  • 32% were somewhat annoyed
  • 27% were neutral
  • 12% are indifferent

Empathetic social sharing and helpful content appear to be the best ways for marketers to connect with their customers and important people.

Tools that helped companies face lesser challenges than those that didn’t use them

Companies using enterprise-level planning and project management tools like Marketing Work Management (MWM), Marketing Resource Management (MRM), and Content Marketing Platforms (CMP) faced lesser challenges in these testing times. 

COVID-19 marketing

Marketing leaders’ optimism about growth in virtual events and web content

Sirkin’s research further shines light on how online media is and will continue to serve as a go-to place for digital consumption. Market leaders shared their foresight through these statistics:

  • 78% expect an increase in creation of virtual events
  • 72% expect a substantial increase in web content
  • 67% expect a good rise in webinars

What market leaders expect to increase:

  • 66% in social media
  • 57% in blog content
  • 50% in video production

What market leaders expect to decrease:

  • Investment in direct mail (34%)
  • Digital advertising (27%)
  • Investment in premium content (19%)

Insights from Volvo veteran Trevor Hettesheimer’s briefing

On Friday, April 17, Volvo’s Trevor Hettesheimer discussed the impact of COVID-19 on the automotive industry, during a free 30-minute briefing in partnership with ClickZ and Search Engine Watch. 

A 20 year veteran in the automotive industry — Trevor — who manages the KPI, Search, and Planning metrics at Volvo, touched on some key issues during his talk including:

  • What has been the impact of COVID-19?
  • How has this changed the industry’s short, medium and long-term marketing plan?
  • Specifically search planning, what is changing?
  • Tips for others in the automotive sector and other industries.

We particularly liked this insight from his talk, where he breaks down the retail sales phases in relation to the Chinese market:

COVID-19 marketing

We will be publishing detailed key-takeaways from Trevor’s talk next week. 

There’s no sweet spot for B2B tech spending as stats stand at extreme ends

As businesses feel the global economic crisis creep the top three software types that many businesses are chopping on spends are: 

  • Marketing software (44%)
  • IT support technology (36%)
  • Project management software (33%)

TrustRadius shared comparative stats on software spends of last 19th March survey results vs April 9th.

TrustRadius stats on software spends March vs April

Marketing departments are the most likely to see their software spend cut this quarter.

Interestingly, there are software types that are thriving in the COVID-19 environment. The top three leading software in this category are:

  • Web conferencing software (67%)
  • Collaboration tools (57%)
  • Remote desktop tools (52%)

TrustRadius stats increasing software spends



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