Tag Archive: advertising

  1. TikTok: would a US ban spell the end for the video-sharing platform?

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    You’d think that an app best known for dance crazes and lip-sync comedy would be about as apolitical as they come – but you’d be wrong.

    TikTok caught up in US-China tensions

    TikTok, the short-form video sharing social network, has been caught up in the increasingly tense relationship between the US and China, with President Trump considering a nationwide ban of the app. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese organisation which is thought to be the most valuable private company in the world. Many lawmakers across the world are concerned about the security of user data and risks around potential foreign interference. India banned TikTok (and 58 other Chinese apps) at the beginning of this month, saying they posed a ‘threat to sovereignty and integrity’, while Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that his government is ‘having a good look’ at the platform. It should be noted that all three countries with ongoing concerns about TikTok have difficult relationships with China.

    TikTok is hugely popular with the critical younger audience

    TikTok was formed in late 2018 as a result of a merger between two other big Chinese apps – Musical.ly, an app for lip-sync music videos, and Douyin, a short-form video platform. It has since grown enormously, reaching the 2 billion download milestone in April this year, making it the most downloaded non-gaming app ever – surpassing even Facebook and WhatsApp. It was downloaded 315 million times in the quarter that ended on March 31st, the highest number of downloads for any app in a quarter. This is a reflection of its huge popularity as the world went into lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, and consumers sought light-hearted entertainment and engagement. TikTok’s userbase skews very young: 65.3% of its users in the US are under 29, and 31% of 13-18-year-olds in the UK used the app during lockdown. This youthful, highly engaged audience is a huge lure for advertisers: TikTok is on track to earn $500m in ad revenue in the US alone this year.

    Security concerns

    However, it’s not all been smooth sailing for the social platform. The current and threatened bans aren’t the first problems it has encountered. TikTok was fined $5.7m in 2019 by the US Federal Trade Commission for illegally collecting personal information from children under the age of 13; as part of the agreement it was also required to delete all videos and data relating to under-13s, something which it is now alleged it failed to do. Just last month, TikTok was one of 53 apps that Apple security researchers flagged were regularly seeking access to a handset’s clipboard. These security breaches have made many uneasy: some government entities in the US have banned staff from using the TikTok app on government-issued phones, while Amazon told employees to delete the app – although it rescinded the instruction later that day.

    TikTok will remain popular with advertisers

    Some advertising industry figures are wondering aloud whether the threat of a ban will affect advertisers’ attitudes towards the platform, ultimately making that $500m ad revenue target harder to achieve. The general consensus seems to be that it will not. TikTok’s core appeal is its huge, youthful audience: the ability to reach them on a meaningful level is critical for many advertisers. What’s more, it may well benefit from the Facebook boycott. Many brands who normally spend most of their social dollars on Facebook and have chosen to pause their spend with the tech giant in the support of the #StopHateForProfit campaign will be looking to spend their social budgets elsewhere. TikTok’s young audience and recent launches – its self-serve ad platform and TikTok for Business – will make it an attractive alternative. The self-serve ad platform, which allows advertisers to buy and manage ad campaigns directly and access creative tools, flexible budgets and performance targeting could lure small and medium businesses in particular – Facebook’s core revenue driver. TikTok has also pledged $100m in ad credits for small businesses suffering as a result of lockdown.

    There will always be an appetite for platforms with a youthful audience

    The future is uncertain for TikTok, and its success undoubtedly hinges on the US government’s decision. However, no matter which way the decision goes, TikTok’s very existence and its enormous success show that there is a huge appetite for platforms that appeal to a young audience. If they fall, then the space that they leave will no doubt be filled rapidly.

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  2. Why now is the right time for an intensive marketing campaign

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    The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on economies across the world, forcing consumers inside and closing down huge swathes of society and business, including retail, hospitality and travel. The advertising industry has been hit hard, with many brands having to pull or adapt their marketing campaigns and slash their budgets. However, many countries are starting to show signs of recovery, while media prices are still down. Could this be the perfect time for advertisers to reassert themselves?

    Media pricing is low

    As we reported in the special coronavirus update to our inflation report, the forced changes in consumer behaviour during the lockdown led to significant changes in media pricing. OOH, Print and Radio were more obvious victims, suffering significant deflation globally; however, TV also became deflationary thanks to increased eyeballs teamed with many brands pausing their activity. Even Digital inflation was lower than forecast at the beginning of the year: high demand led to overall inflation, but several major markets saw deflation in digital channels due to huge inventory increases combined with decreased demand. The result? Huge savings to be made for advertisers who continue their marketing campaigns.

    As countries emerge from lockdown, signs of economic recovery are encouraging

    Over the last few weeks, countries around the world have started to emerge from lockdown, with the retail, hospitality and travel sectors being opened up, albeit with restrictions in place. Governments are providing stimuli to kick-start spending, and there are indications that these measures are working. Italy saw a 24% surge in retail sales after lockdown lifted, while retail sales in both Germany and the Netherlands in May rose above pre-pandemic levels.

    Promising signs from China

    There are also promising signs from markets who are further along the coronavirus ‘curve’, particularly China. The Chinese economy continues to recover after the government lifted strict lockdown measures and ramped up investment. Four data points in particular show encouraging signs that this key market is recovering: the services PMI jumped to 58.4 in June, from 55.0 in May, which points towards rapid month-on-month recovery; nonmanufacturing activity jumped to a seven-month high in June; the official manufacturing PMI reached a three-month high, and manufacturing activity reached a six-month high. These indicators have raised hopes that China will make a full recovery later this year. Of course, the ramifications are felt across the world: Wall Street stocks rose sharply on 6th July as positive sentiment from China allowed investors to hope that the Chinese recovery would drive demand for foreign goods.

    Hope for a single-hit scenario

    The OECD has made predictions for global economic recovery based on two scenarios. The first is a double-hit scenario which would see a second wave of infections before the end of the year. The second would see the second wave of infections avoided. Given economic and industrial indicators, and with continued controls in place, we should be cautiously hopeful that the latter scenario will be the case.

    The time to restart your advertising is now

    Brands should take hope from the Chinese recovery. In markets where the pandemic has been largely well managed, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Although the pandemic has caused huge suffering both personally and economically, many people who have not lost their jobs have saved a significant amount of money as they have not been able to travel, eat out or go shopping. Furthermore, it’s likely that many of them will be eager to spend the money they’ve saved following months of boredom at home. Teamed with the fact that media pricing is so low, now is a great time for advertisers to invest in an intensive marketing campaign so that their brands are top of mind as consumers start spending again. There will undoubtedly be a first-mover advantage for brands seeking to increase their share of voice, and to obtain the best value media pricing.

    Look out for ECI Media Management’s upcoming whitepaper on how to harness reduced media pricing and ensure that you capitalize on the deals to be had. At ECI Media Management, we can help you to navigate the rapidly changing media landscape so you can drive higher media value. Contact us to discover how:

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  3. TV in the time of coronavirus

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    Around a third of the world’s population has had their freedom of movement limited to a lesser or greater extent – these restrictions include recommended or mandatory social distancing, school closures and orders to work from home if at all possible. For the billions of people now spending the vast majority of their time at home, TV has become the primary source of entertainment and connection with the outside world. It is a trusted source of information and distraction, and even acts a social glue: it’s one of few things that we still have in common that isn’t the battle against the covid-19.

    TV is an industry that has seen huge change over the last few years: the pandemic will accelerate that change and, in some cases, even reshape it.

    People are watching more TV than ever

    It’s no surprise that TV viewing figures across the world have increased dramatically over the last few months. In the two-week period to March 29th, overall usage of TV among viewers aged 18-49 in the US increased by 25% year on year, compared to the same period in 2019. Streaming video on demand (SVOD) services have enjoyed similar gains: Netflix subscriptions are reportedly up 27%, Hulu’s are up 16% and Amazon’s 21% (according to NBC). In the UK, TV viewing grew by 17% year on year in the week commencing March 16th – and that was a week before lockdown restrictions were implemented. Meanwhile, Statista found that 43% of US adults are now more likely to watch movies from a streaming service, while 40% of adults are more likely to watch TV online.

    Primetime has shifted earlier as viewers turn to TV to alleviate boredom throughout the day. According to Conviva, daytime viewing jumped by nearly 40% in the week of 17th-23rd March, versus the week of 3rd to 9th March.

    A profound effect on advertisers

    Of course, the impact of coronavirus on brands has been profound: many are seeing decreased sales with customers unable to leave the house, and with financial concerns of their own affecting purchasing decisions. With decreased revenue, many advertisers have pulled back some of their advertising spend – American travel advertisers, for example, cut their spend by 50% in the first two weeks of March: that cut is likely to have increased significantly as more travel restrictions have been implemented in late March and in April.

    Advertisers are redirecting linear TV spend

    Sport is an incredibly important advertising opportunity for many brands, reaching as it does many hard-to-reach consumers, including young men. The fact that pretty much all live sports events have been cancelled or postponed for the next few months has left gaping holes in media plans and TV network revenues and has made premium audiences harder to reach. Advertisers are redirecting linear investment, particularly investment which had been targeted at sort, to other inventory controlled by the TV networks including digital inventory, as the latter attempt to make up for lost reach and hang on to ad revenue. However, brands are also increasingly redirecting linear TV spend to the streaming platforms, accelerating a trend that was already worrying the linear TV networks. It’s interesting to note that the streaming networks are unlikely to enjoy the same level of spend by advertiser as the linear TV networks do: ads on streaming platforms can be targeted to specific audience segments, allowing the advertisers to spend less money.

    With increased pressure on their bottom lines, particularly in light of an imminent recession, some brands may be tempted to remove their spend from TV and streaming altogether in favour of Google or Amazon, which are more likely to lead directly to product sales.

    Coronavirus will impact on all players in the TV industry

    The entire TV and streaming industry will be affected, but it’s likely that TV networks will suffer more than the streaming platforms, thanks in part to their reliance on live sport. Although TV viewing figures are up dramatically, this increased supply is being met with lower demand from advertisers, which is causing prices to decrease. Interestingly, when US network NBCUniversal announced that its viewing figures had increased sharply, it also shared that it would be cutting back on some of its advertising inventory in order to improve viewer experience. This is a laudable effort to stop prices plummeting, and is a trend we expect to see across the TV industry as a whole over the next months and years.

    A triple whammy of factors leading to a loss in ad revenue

    The loss of ad revenue will be a key implication of the coronavirus pandemic for the TV industry. The triple whammy of advertisers looking to make savings in their marketing budgets, a lack of live sports and the pause in production of new content leading to holes in programming, the outlook is fairly bleak, particularly for the traditional TV networks. The streaming services may fare better at least in the short term as advertisers shift their budgets to them from the traditional networks, but they will be equally affected by a lack of content down the line.

    The surge in subscriptions may be temporary

    While it seems so far that the lockdown has led to a surge in subscriptions, particularly for the streaming networks as mentioned above, the upward trend isn’t reliable. The coronavirus pandemic has caused huge increases in unemployment across the world: twinned with worries about a global recession, consumers may well be looking for ways to tighten their belts, and they might be willing to forego their streaming subscriptions, particularly when the lockdown is over and financial concerns kick in.

    Sports fans will resubscribe – but to which service?

    Whether or not they are concerned about money, sports fans in the US may also consider cancelling their pay-TV subscriptions while there is no live sport. They are likely to re-subscribe when sport returns, but could be tempted by the flexibility and lower prices of services such as YouTube and Hulu: this will be a true test of the theory that it is live sport that keeps people tethered to traditional TV.

    A lasting impact on traditional TV and the streaming platforms

    The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated and reshaped a transformation that was already happening to the TV and streaming industries. Some of the effects of the virus will undoubtedly be temporary – sport will return and advertisers will pay to reach the people that watch them – other effects, such as the shift towards the streaming platforms, will be more permanent.

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  4. How will the coronavirus pandemic affect the advertising industry?

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    The alarming spread of coronavirus across the world has transformed society, business, politics and life itself beyond recognition in just a few short weeks. In an attempt to stem the spread of the virus or at least ‘flatten the curve’, governments have implemented measures never seen before. At least a quarter of the world’s population is living in lock down, with severely limited freedom of movement. Consumer behaviour has been forced to change: no longer able to partake in previously quotidian activities such as going to the cinema and out to restaurants, people are turning to media platforms to keep them entertained and informed. This is having an immediate, direct impact on advertisers and indeed the advertising industry as a whole.

    Media consumption has transformed

    With so many people forced to stay at home, the media they consume and how they consume it has undergone a huge transformation The reach of cinema and OOH has declined dramatically; while some thought that radio might follow suit with fewer people driving to work, it has in fact enjoyed a boost. However, podcast downloads have suffered. Of course, TV, digital and social reach has skyrocketed, with their ability to offer entertainment, information and comfort at home.

    The SVOD platforms will be one of the few sectors to benefit

    The video streaming platforms will be one of the very few sectors that will benefit from the coronavirus. Data analysts have predicted that Netflix’s year-on-year subscription growth in the US and Canada will reach more than double previous estimates, rising by 3.8% compared to original estimates of 1.6%. Of course, Netflix now has competition. AppleTV+ launched in November and Disney+, having launched in the US and Canada at the end of 2019, expanded into the UK and Ireland last week, and will roll out in other key European markets in this month. NBC Universal’s Peacock and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max will roll out in the next few months. It seems likely that they will all benefit from the world spending the spring, and possibly beyond, on their sofas. This will be exacerbated by the cancellation of sporting events, with advertisers likely to redirect sponsorship dollars away from traditional TV and into the streaming platforms (where advertising is available) to make up for lost reach.

    Conversely, it seems that the timing is not so good for Quibi, the new streaming platform which focuses on short-form video content for consumers on the go. After all, very few people are on the go at the moment, and people at home for weeks on end are more likely to want something longer and more engrossing.

    Reduced consumer activity will hit most sectors hard

    Unfortunately, most organisations are likely to feel a negative impact. Reduced consumer activity and possibly worries about money in the medium term will impact on sectors as diverse as travel, technology and entertainment. Already many major advertisers have reduced or even halted activity altogether, including Airbnb and Coca-Cola, as well as a slew of travel and tourism brands. Those who haven’t cancelled their advertising spend have moved quickly to change their messaging and their creative and geographical strategies. Many brands have chosen to change their messaging to show support for health services and frontline workers, while imagery of human interaction has declined by 27.4% in social ads. We will see more changes as advertisers seek to adapt to the ‘new normal’, and general anxiety and nervousness around advertising in general.

    With people cooking the majority of their own meals at home, one sector that isn’t suffering is food retail. Supermarkets should take advantage of lower costs to ramp up their advertising in a carefully considered and effective manner. Interestingly, however, is the increased tendency to use local retailers, with people doing what they can to shop as close to home as possible. It will be fascinating to observe whether these behaviours last when life returns to ‘normal’.

    The tech giants and media agencies will feel the strain

    It seems counter-intuitive in a time when consumers will spend much more time online, particularly on social media, but tech giants Google and Facebook are also unlikely to be left unscathed by coronavirus. Analysts predict that Google will see a 15% drop in travel ad revenue in Q1 of 2020, and a 20% drop in Q2. Meanwhile, 30-45% of Facebook’s ad revenue comes from the travel, retail, CPG and entertainment industries, all of which are likely to spend less on advertising in the coming months. It’s not all bad though: it seems likely that many advertisers will seek to move much of their offline spend – particularly from OOH and cinema – into digital.

    Media agencies are likely feeling the strain and this will only become more apparent, not only because of reduced ad spend, but because it’s likely that brands will start to bring services and capabilities in-house as part of their cost-saving efforts.

    What does all this mean for the cost of advertising?

    Back in what feels like another era – the beginning of February – we at ECI Media Management released our annual Inflation Report, providing our forecasts for media inflation in 2020. We noted that coronavirus could affect global travel and local consumption, but no one could have anticipated the epoch-defining effect the virus would have on our modern way of life. And that means, of course, that media pricing will change dramatically in 2020.

    We expect to see hugely increased screen time – likely a double-digit increase, and even higher for news, health and learning websites. As the amount of inventory expands and advertisers limit their spending thanks to pressures on their business, we should expect prices to drop significantly: publishers are already feeling the strain, particularly as brands blacklist many of the terms associated with coronavirus.

    An opportunity for contextual marketing

    With prices dropping and a huge increase in digital reach, there is an opportunity to create highly cost-efficient brand building campaigns. Many brands and third-party ad tech firms have blacklisted keywords relating to coronavirus and covid-19 in order to maintain brand safety; budget previously earmarked for this activity could be pivoted to contextual marketing, which we believe will become a powerful tool in the marketer’s toolbox with the death of the cookie.

    Agility is the key to navigating this crisis

    2020 has swiftly and unexpectedly turned into a year of dramatic change for absolutely everyone, from individual people to entire industries and economies. As we all attempt to navigate these changes from our home offices, one thing is clear: we must remain informed and ready to respond to rapidly changing circumstances. Agility, as is so often the case, will be crucial.

    ECI Media Management has produced a list of ten steps that advertisers can take to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on their media performance – you can find it here. Please don’t hesitate to contact us on if there is anything you would like to discuss concerning your media activity.

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