It’s been about a week since the President declared a national emergency for the coronavirus. The situation is changing each day and how it is affecting our business, friend and family interactions. From washing our hands to sheltering in place, this new normal has not likely come to fruition just yet. But I am hopeful that we will come together as a community to help each other, even if from a distance.
These are unprecedented times and even the smartest bunch don’t have all the answers—I certainly don’t—but when it comes to our clients’ marketing budgets, we must know what is best in any given day. Pandemic or not. We have been receiving several questions related to the efficacy of our advertisers’ campaigns messaging during this time. I’ll share some our collective and candid thoughts on how our clients can stay top of mind while addressing what is in front of us.
Video has become an important channel in our clients’ campaigns and has become even more so as the days and weeks progress. This is particularly true as more people are glued to their screens during their quarantines. Unfortunately, our out-of-home partners such as our mall and gym digital OOH placements have been paused and monies shifted. Streaming time, specifically on Connected TV, has significantly increased within the last week—with subscription video on demand contributing to this growth.
Video offers brands a means to stay in front of your target audience for purposes of public service announcements such as this example from Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Florida.
Video plays an important role in boosting Paid/Organic Search activity, a tactic that drives action from our consumers. And while we have not yet seen a massive negative impact on Search traffic for our advertisers’ campaigns, we can safely assume that our consumers’ minds are mostly elsewhere and searching for ‘coronavirus’ terms. And no, at the time of this writing, hospital systems are not able to bid on coronavirus search terms as it would violate Google’s policy. This is to help mitigate bad actors who bid on these terms causing the spreading of misinformation. Some are looking to change this in order to get relevant messaging about how people are to handle their own COVID-19 experiences within their community. I feel that this would still be an irrelevant search experience—something that Google would dock advertisers with low quality scores and higher CPCs anyway. Paired with extremely high volumes of searching could lead to budget wasted; unless of course your purpose is to genuinely guide people towards the help they need. The very thing Google is attempting to have a watchful eye.
If you are not in healthcare, and you’re open for business, say so. No need for the marketing fluff, just a straight response with your message. Consumers will appreciate transparency and candor in a media frenzy that isn’t always as transparent. It also doesn’t hurt to have a product that people want, and give families some sense of normalcy, even if they’re forced to stay home.
Another way to stay the course with your advertising is to shift funds towards other channels such as Native. For those that know mediate.ly’s stance on using native, we recommend that you promote thought leadership content that is consumable and shareable as this is most valuable to people. Leave ads with strong calls-to-action for traditional display and paid search.
But for now, I am hopeful that our business communities will continue to do the right thing by keeping consumers in the know, keep non-essential employees from coming into the office, and generate an overall feeling of hope. As much as the news media will be top of mind on our screens, consumers wish to see some sense of normalcy even if their new normal is working from their basement office.
Stay safe. Keep your distance for now. And we’ll meet for coffee—in person—again soon.