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  • November 6, 2020
  • By Tina Wilson, executive vice president of media analytics and marketing effectiveness, Nielsen

4 Best Practices for Advertisers and Marketers in Disruptive Times

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The coronavirus outbreak has prompted advertisers and marketers across all industries to reevaluate their traditional selling techniques within the context of tightened budgets and a radically changing media landscape. These considerations may make advertising in the current climate feel increasingly complicated, but that doesn’t mean companies should stop their efforts altogether and wait until the market stabilizes to promote their brand. Rather, continuing to invest in advertising in order to maintain—if not increase—their brand’s share of the market can propel them toward future growth.

With many brands making drastic cuts to their marketing spending, now is the time for those who remain steadfast and strategic to shine. Here are the best practices for advertisers and marketers devising and executing COVID-19-conscious advertising strategies to succeed during these disruptive times:

1. Don’t stop advertising altogether.

Business disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak are presenting financial hardships to brands and buyers alike. With decreased revenue, companies may feel inclined to trim their advertising budgets in an attempt to save capital, but this move has the potential to harm rather than help organizations down the road. Because it takes, on average, at least a year for brands to realize 47 percent of their marketing efforts, making advertising cuts now can severely impact future sales, according to Nielsen research. Further, pausing advertising during the pandemic risks a brand’s messaging resonating less with audiences once it is once again broadcasted. Now is not the time for advertisers and marketers to spend less, but rather smarter.

2. Update your messaging.

Due to the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, few brands will be able to continue promoting the same ads they did prior to the pandemic’s tumultuous media landscape. Given the variety of hardships plaguing consumers around the world, marketers need to reassess their messaging and be conscious of how their messaging reads in a larger world context, and that the cadence of its promotion does not conflict with or offend more sensitive situations.

One consideration advertisers and marketers should take as they reevaluate their campaigns is whether their ads should explicitly address COVID-19. Whereas a few months ago there was an initial surge in mentions, audiences may also be experiencing media fatigue as the pandemic wears on, meaning an advertisement slotted for weeks from now may not have the same impact it would have at the start of this crisis. Because of this, brands need to assess and understand their potential value in adding their voice to conversations surrounding COVID-19 and anticipate how it will be received, and build out their messaging accordingly.

3. Take advantage of changing habits in media consumption.

By and large, citizens around the world are still finding themselves working from home these days, and as a result, how they are engaging with media is dramatically changing. In general, overall media consumption is increasing, presenting brands ample opportunities to connect with consumers. Further, individuals aren’t just spending more time on their regular platforms; three-fourths of U.S. consumers are broadening their media options with streaming subscriptions and TV-connected devices. Strategic advertisers and marketers will recognize changes in media consumption within their target markets and adjust their tactics to meet prospects where they are concentrated. And with some companies making the decision to cut their advertising spend during this period, those brands who move forward with their media placements may stand out even more to audiences thanks to thinning competition in these spaces.

4. Leverage analytics.

Even with discounted deals on media placements and the promise of increased audiences, brands still need data to confirm that their new investments are yielding positive results. Especially if they are working with tightened marketing budgets, advertisers and marketers need to ensure every dollar is being used effectively to produce the maximum return. As such, brands need detailed insight into their marketing performance.

With an analytics program that can zero in on the impact of marketing as well as non-marketing factors on their campaigns, brands can quickly identify and correct areas where their messaging doesn't appear to be working, as well as foresee potential disruptions to inventory, supply chain, and consumer confidence. Such a data-driven approach maximizes resources by avoiding wasted spend on unproductive investments. Analytics tools are also tremendously valuable to brands in moments of stability, as having the right data, methodology, insights, and activation can lead to, on average, a 7x return on the cost of the program providing them, according to Nielsen research. 

While the ongoing pandemic may be presenting a multitude of challenges to advertisers and marketers, there is also a realm of possibilities open to those who navigate the changing media landscape strategically. Instead of shying away from advertising for the time being—which has the power to severely stunt business growth down the line—brands should be proactive in identifying and securing new and diverse opportunities for raising brand awareness and winning audience favor. Equipped with the proper tools for sourcing the industry insights needed to effectively guide these efforts, brands can use this period to position themselves for a future of success.

Tina Wilson is executive vice president of media analytics and marketing effectiveness in the US. A 25-year Nielsen veteran, Tina leads teams that are the epicenter of media consulting, leveraging Nielsen’s world-class data assets to inform clients’ decisioning on reaching audiences, acquiring and distributing content, and understanding media outcomes. Wilson has held progressive leadership roles at Nielsen in the United States, Canada, and Europe and is an active member of the Marketing Advisory Board at PLNU, a Steering Committee member for the World Economic Forum’s Media, Entertainment and Culture initiative, and a Member of Paley’s LA Board of Governors.

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