COVID-19 Pivot Strategies for Marketers as Media Consumption Climbs
As more people stay home, self-isolate, and continue to act on quarantine measures, media consumption in the home is looking vastly different than what it was over a month or two ago. More specifically, on-demand video and entertainment platforms are playing a critical role in how our consumption habits are changing and will continue to evolve in the weeks and months to come.
Amidst all the chaos, Nielsen is estimating that sheltering at home could lead to a 60% increase in time spent with media. Across the board, platforms are seeing average over-the-top (OTT) viewing sessions increase (in the case of Vizio, from 19 to 34 minutes) since the first week of March. Additionally, Roku released that they are seeing consumption spikes between the hours of 12 PM and 5 PM. As more people continue to stay home, these numbers are expected to rise.
The growth is being partially fueled by more platforms and more content arriving online. For example, Disney moved up its release of Frozen 2 on Disney+ to many parents’ appreciation, and Hulu surprised viewers with an early drop of three Little Fires Everywhere episodes. Netflix’s Tiger King pulled in an audience of 34.3 million unique viewers in the U.S. during its first 10 days on the service, according to Nielsen — making it one of the most popular original shows on Netflix.
According to Wakefield Research, as of late 2019, approximately 44.7 million households in the U.S. have at least one smart TV. A smart TV, also known as a Connected TV (CTV), is a traditional television set with integrated Internet and interactive, over-the-top (OTT) features that allow users to stream music and videos, browse the Internet, and view photos straight from their living room. Many traditional cable viewers have "cut the cord" and prefer a "lean-back and enjoy" experience while they consume digital video content on their television sets. As CTV and OTT adoptions rates continue to increase year over year, brands are able to reach consumers streaming content on both the big screen in the living room and small screens with household-level precision, unmatched audience targeting, and advanced attribution for online or offline conversions.
Programmatic CTV investment projections remain positive during this crisis, with increased advertiser appetite for the control of data-driven targeting, transparency into rates, and real-time increase in supply mirroring viewership. Despite the absence of live sports in TV schedules, CTV and OTT overall ad-supported inventory is up between 30% to 50% across networks, with news seeing the greatest traction.
Platforms and Media Consumption
Both viewership and content creation rates are skyrocketing across YouTube, Twitch, as well as user-generated content platforms like TikTok.
YouTube remains one of the most widely accessed video platforms on the Internet, especially at this time, with millions of parents seeking educational resources and people around the world searching for the latest news on the coronavirus outbreak. It’s important for advertisers to understand that many partners (like YouTube) are consumer-facing and have a dual responsibility to brands and consumers, and thus, are utilizing their platforms’ reach and services to help update people on the latest developments concerning the outbreak. Now is the time to refresh your knowledge of YouTube’s advertiser-friendly content guidelines to better understand the environment and content in which ads can run on the platform.
While Twitch is generally a gamer-heavy platform, DJs and comedians have taken to the platform as another outlet to reach and entertain viewers in real-time. With increases in creator content and new games along with more viewers staying at home, this has led to a recent and direct increase in viewership by almost 10% across the world.
High-profile talent including Lebron James, Gordon Ramsey, and Emily Ratajkowski are joining the TikTok platform with refreshing, new content during shelter-in-place orders across the U.S. According to Music Business Worldwide, TikTok’s global downloads for Mar. 16-22 were up by 12%, from 25.4 million during the week starting March 9, to 28.5 million. While a key platform in reaching Gen Z audiences, the livestreaming and feed structure of the platform offers more volatility and less control of content for brands.
How Can Brands Pivot?
So, what does all of this mean for brands?
With the state of media consumption shifting week to week, many brands are looking to help consumers in these difficult times and the video and streaming landscape continues to provide opportunities to engage consumers. With these trends and shifts in consumer consumption behavior, brands need to continue to keep the following in mind:
- Leverage CTV and livestreaming as alternatives strategies. With other media channels being scaled back and prospecting efforts being minimized, reach large audiences while they consume video-based content.
- Streaming remains an opportunity to unwind and engage. As viewers look to feel-good and family-centric content, streaming offers consumers value by sponsoring genres, movies, or shows to escape the rise in news and decline in sports coverage.
- Fresh content will keep consumers engaged. Ensure a robust line-up of content and platforms in video strategies, with new shows and movies continuing to be released.
It’s hard to say what the long-term effects of this pandemic will be on the media industry. However, with the current boom in at-home media consumption across all platforms, changing consumer habits may make CTV and OTT essential solutions for brands looking to reach a desired audience based on mood, age, or time of day.
Natalee Geldert is the Director of Brand and Media Partnerships at PMG. She has over a decade’s worth of experience developing large-scale campaigns for companies like Apple, Beats by Dre, J.Crew, Madewell, Nike, KEEN, and Estee Lauder, among others. Her work has drawn acclaim, including multiple Cannes Lions, Adweek Media Plan of the Year, and more. Just as importantly, her work has delivered new prospects to the top of those brands’ respective purchase funnels. In addition to deep digital branding expertise, Natalee also draws from her early-career experience in print design when developing fully integrated campaigns.
Natalee graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BA in Creative Advertising, Fine Art and Art History, later studying International Advertising at Regent’s University London.