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Digital’s Pivotal Role In Covid-19 Response

digital experience during covid-19, mother daughter in bed. The impact of COVID-19 has shaken both world markets and the media ecosystem in unprecedented ways as information-hungry consumers shift their social and buying behavior in fundamental ways. 

As brands and their media partners assess coronavirus-related impacts on their marketing and media investments, they are faced with powerful opposing forces. They must protect declining revenue while keeping their brands and services relevant. They also must balance the need to convey public health information with ways to relieve consumer tension with empathy and even entertainment.

No medium is more immediate and ready-made for this than digital. Back in 2018, digital hit a milestone when digital ad revenues surpassed 50% of total ad spending in the US for the first time. Expect that to accelerate now. Here’s why.

Digital is made for times in crisis

Digital touchpoints will grow at a steep rate as the adoption of new emerging technologies and digital platforms skyrocket during this time of at-home digital-togetherness.

  • 43% of adults are more likely to watch TV or movies on streaming services due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to Statista 
  • Digital content consumption has increased by nearly 2% day-over-day, adding nearly 30 million display opportunities every day since the outbreak in the U.S.
  • 60% increase in the amount of content watched, most coming from increased social media usage, according to Nielsen
  • Total messaging on Facebook’s platform is up by more than 50% over last month
  • 18% week-on-week uplift in TikTok downloads in the US the week of March 23 
  • 87% of marketers predict increased use of online services by consumers and 75% predict an increase in ecommerce usage during the outbreak, according to Econsultancy 

This is the time to hone media strategies and prioritize high-impact opportunities that drive value for your customers and business. The formula: be strategic in short-term actions; be tactical in how to set your brand up for long run success; and be calculating programs to meet the fluidness of the crisis.

Take fast action in the short term

Digital channels are best positioned for flexibility and agile adaptations of media plans, allowing for quick creative updates and fast bid-adjustments or budget reallocations. 

When stay-at-home mandates started rolling in across the country, T3 teams and QSR clients acted swiftly, shifting budgets from driving in-store visitation to other parts of their businesses while concurrently updating creative executions. We were able to adapt instantly because of our team’s focus and understanding of how the digital landscape aligned with clients’ overall business needs.

Protect & nurture your brand in real-time

The speed of digital allows for real-time analytics and active brand protection. Brands cannot risk to wait three weeks for a status report from traditional channel teams before making a decision in a crisis. Operate in a strategic “now” mode.

An expert from the World Health Organization put it this way: “If you need to be right before you move, you’ll never win. Perfection is the enemy of the good when it comes to emergency management. Speed trumps perfection.” That said, if you move too quickly and make a mistake, it’s important to be open and transparent about it, correcting it just as quickly.

As businesses shift to online services like ordering and delivery, we expect that new digital capabilities and increased demand for online and social interaction by customers will outlast the epidemic and become the new normal for years to come.

Apply today's learnings for the long term

With more people on their devices consuming more digital content, available advertising impression opportunities have seen an uptick by 18% week over week, allowing for brands to gain a more comprehensive view of user behavior and collect immensely valuable first-party data. 

Lessons learned during the pandemic are the start of a foundation to build lasting relationships with customers. To maximize learning, it’s critical to ensure that social data—the best pulse and glimpse into what consumers are thinking—is properly connected to other sources of digital intelligence such as website traffic and CRM systems. 

Organizations with digital transformation efforts well underway are coping much better with the crisis than those who were firmly rooted in the physical world. Brands that already operate across various digital channels (OTT, mobile, DOOH, streaming audio, etc.) will have the greatest success in navigating how to effectively and efficiently spend their dollars in the marketplace while setting themselves up for future success. 

So, what comes after the triumph of digital marketing?

Smart digital marketing strategies will have an immediate impact on the way brands influence consumers in positive, profound ways. The increase in digital behaviors will continue to help advertisers get a better handle on how their customers and communities are feeling and how to tailor messaging to those needs. The world on the other end of the current pandemic, whenever that may be, will likely be very different from the one before it. But digital marketing’s role to listen, measure, and immediately respond will be part of it.

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