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Coronavirus Impact on the Advertising Industry

As the Coronavirus pandemic reaches more cities across the U.S., advertisers are anxious to figure out what that means for their campaigns. MSM takes a look at the areas that are being impacted the most and how advertisers can still reach consumers throughout ongoing quarantines and lockdowns.

COVID-19 has officially hit the U.S. and is starting to impact businesses across the country, which is leaving advertisers left questioning ‘What does this mean for me?’ The answer is not as straightforward as we’d hope given the uncertainty of the virus and how it will spread throughout the country, but there are some trends we are already seeing in the U.S., and others that we can take note of from the impacts on the industry in China over the past few weeks.

Experts are forecasting significant decreases in advertising spend primarily affecting short term spending. Depending on how quickly the virus runs its course, long-term budgets could be impacted as well, but it is too early to tell at this point. The media that is being hit the hardest are out-of-home and radio tactics. As more and more companies put telecommuting procedures in place to protect their employees, less consumers are in their cars listening to the radio and seeing out-of-home. Transit is also being heavily impacted as consumers are employing social distancing and public transportation is being limited. Additionally, we are seeing unprecedented cancellations in major sporting events that drive ratings such as March Madness, the NHL, and the NBA to name a few. These events are often utilized as a tent pole for a client campaign, leaving advertisers needing to reallocate funds to try to garner impressions elsewhere.

Despite the event cancellations, and concerns around out-of-home, radio, and transit, media consumption is actually anticipated to see large increases as consumers are stuck in their homes. Advertisers, if they are able to weather the storm, have an opportunity to reach a very captive audience through video, digital, mobile, and gaming tactics. Specifically, social tactics pose a huge opportunity for clients due to anticipated increased online socializing as more people stay home, and should be considered as a way to reinvest dollars from some of the other tactics that might be cancelled or postponed. Clients should use caution when creating content, making sure to be sensitive towards the situation while remaining authentic to the brand personality. While video and digital tactics will be key over the next few weeks for some advertisers, there are some industries that will be hit harder than others.

Some industries that are expected to see immediate impacts and decreases in ad spend include Travel and Tourism, Attractions, and Education. Due to increased public concern, lockdowns, and quarantines, these industries are seeing major cancellations in events and attendance and have started to pull back their media spends. It is expected that these spends will be reinvested later in the year to help push momentum after a soft quarter. In addition, consumer packaged goods and manufacturing clients will likely see declines due to supply concerns. Industries that could benefit from the situation include e-commerce and healthcare advertisers, however they should use caution in how they position themselves.

Overall, this is still a developing situation, and its impacts will continue to be felt not only in the U.S. but globally. Advertisers should continue to monitor the impact and seek other outlets if needed, to ensure their brand is being seen and in a safe and effective way.

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