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In January, nobody imagined that a global pandemic was possible, let alone probable. In February, whiffs of possibility held a distant air of truth. By March, entire sectors of the US economy went dark to contain the spread of a novel coronavirus. Among the many industries impacted by shutdowns and economic downturn, marketing and advertising hit a proverbial brick wall. Unless campaigns were highly relevant to COVID, the very act of promoting products or services was as taboo as talking politics at a dinner party. Agencies sat idle, watching havoc unfold like passengers on the Titanic, torn between the threat in front of them and impending mayhem lurking just below the surface. In Q1 and Q2 of 2020:

  • 89% of large advertisers delayed planned ad campaigns to avoid coming off as tone-deaf or insensitive.
  • Digital ad spending decreased by 33%.
  • Traditional media ad spending sunk by another 39%.
  • 60% of major companies cut ad budgets (NPR).

While ad revenue is down, digital advertising demand is sky-high. As the digital realm takes over a greater share of work, school, and life, the need for relevant ads will only continue to increase. For advertisers working with tighter-than-usual budgets, data and consumer accuracy has never been so crucial.

Consumer Behavior Trends: Post Covid

Trend 1: Data Usage
Compared to last year, the daily in-home data usage in the US increased by 38%.

With work-from-home arrangements and homeschooling quickly becoming the new norm, data surges are not surprising. What is surprising is that gaming consoles and connected TVs (CTV) represent the highest increase in utilization. Analytics also reveal numerous “hot spots” that, prior to COVID, went cold:

  • News Media: In search of updates on the virus, people have become more invested in local and national news outlets.
  • Video Chat Platforms: As social distancing pushes consumers to find new ways to connect, video chat platforms, like Google Duo and Hangouts are becoming more popular.
  • The Nextdoor App: Since spending more time at home, people are increasingly aware of and concerned about their immediate environments, giving rise to renewed interest in social apps like Nextdoor.

EFFECTS ON ADVERTISING: The rapid influx of data circulating the internet will elevate the need for data accuracy from crucial to mission-critical.

The more time consumers spend online, the more expectations they develop, and the greater the demand for a 1:1 marketing experience. Executing this degree of personalization is impossible without an effective and accurate methodology for identifying customers on a truly individual basis.

Trend 2: Message Sensitivity
As consumers grapple with drastic life changes, such as illness, job loss, and homeschooling, navigating sensitivities will make targeting efforts significantly more challenging for advertisers.

Inaccurate data increases the risk of sending the wrong ad to the wrong customer at the wrong time. With emotions in hyper-drive, even innocent mistakes can have lasting consequences.

Case in point—Corona beer.
At the tail-end of February, just days before the pandemic disrupted the nation, Corona launched a new product line. Their accompanying (and severely ill-timed) social media ad promoting this new product line will go down in infamy. “Corona…coming ashore soon.”

EFFECTS ON ADVERTISING: 63% of advertisers are now heavily focusing ads on mission-based and cause-related messaging (IAB).

In the beginning, most advertisers opted for the safety of heartfelt messages to connect emotionally with consumers. Like most buzzworthy narratives, sappy got old fast. With sensitivities still running high, advertisers are now tapping into the human desire for purpose. Turning an ad into a rallying cry is a powerful way to activate customers, but this still leaves an equally-important human desire underserved —the desire to feel understood.

Trend 3: Connected TVs
The utilization of connected TV (CTV) media and streaming services increased by 30% (Statista). Laptop utilization increased by 40%. Desktop utilization increased by 32%

The go-to device might have been mobile at the beginning of the lock-down, but with less reason to be mobile, consumers have grown tired of squinting at small screens, giving laptops, desktops, and connected TVs the opportunity to make a comeback.

EFFECTS ON ADVERTISING: As connected TV adoption increases, we expect to see massive growth in CTV ad volume. 

In 2019, eMarketer estimated that connected TV ad spending in the US hit nearly $7 billion. Since COVID, that figure is expected to more than double by 2023 to $14.1 billion, accounting for 4.7% of all media ad spending. With all eyes on the connected TV market, the management of multiple IDs will become increasingly problematic, placing more demand than ever on ID accuracy.

As consumers adapt to the “new normal”, where and what we advertise must change. Doing so effectively will require accurate identity resolution and multi-level verification.

Identity resolution provides a constant stream of data to dynamically validate customers as they interact in offline and online channels. Likewise, a multi-level validation process improves the accuracy of that data by confirming that the information is the same across multiple sources. Brands that implement strong identity and verification strategies gain unmatched insight into the messages that resonate best with target audiences. In turn, accurate data supports robust targeting, personalization, and addressability to optimize marketing across channels and maximize engagement.

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