A new report from WARC predicts that the value of global advertising trade will decline by 8.1% – or $49.6bn – this year, to a total of $562.9bn. This comes only months after a pre-outbreak forecast of 7.1% growth, which it made in late January. As such, the absolute downgrade equates to $96.4bn. WARC’s latest Global Ad Trends report focuses on the impact of COVID-19 on global ad investment. It summarizes the latest ad spend projections by market, media and product vertical from WARC Data, and provides insights and commentary from industry experts.
1. This year’s downturn will be softer than in 2009, when the ad market fell by 12.7% ($60.5bn). This is for a number of reasons, including the U.S. presidential elections, stronger-than expected first quarter results, and a more established online sector – particularly within e-commerce.
2. Almost all product sectors will record a decline in ad investment this year. The most severe falls will be recorded among travel & tourism (-31.2%), leisure & entertainment (-28.7%), financial services (-18.2%), retail (-15.2%) and automotive (-11.4%).
3. Traditional media will fare far worse than online. Investment is set to fall by 16.3% – $51.4bn – this year, with declines recorded across cinema (-31.6%), OOH (-21.7%), print (-20.1%), radio (-16.2%) and TV (-13.8%).
4. Internet advertising is set to record mild growth this year (+0.6%) at a global level. However, a number of key markets will witness a fall. Social media (+9.8%), online video (+5.0%) and search (+0.9%) are all still expected to grow, though online classified – particularly recruitment – is set to fall (-10.3%).
5. A recovery is forecast for 2021, at +4.9%. This will still leave the value of global ad trade $21.9bn lower than its 2019 peak. Ad investment would need to rise 3.7% in 2022 to fully complete the recovery
WARC notes that any brands are currently assessing what the world will look like as lockdowns are lifted and consumers tentatively return to a “new normal.” They predict that, while advertising will recover from this shock (with global growth of 4.9% next year), it is certain that we will feel the economic impact of Covid-19 on the global economy for a generation.
Covid-19 has affected everyone and everything. Health, work, relationships, education, dining, shipping, and shopping … every aspect of our lives has been impacted. And, according to Accenture research, this impact will leave an indelible mark on consumer behavior, particularly when it comes to how and with whom people spend their money.
In its report, “How COVID-19 will permanently change consumer behavior,” Accenture points out that the pandemic is reshaping industries in real time, “rapidly accelerating long-term underlying trends in the space of mere weeks.” And consumers are struggling to figure out how to shift many activities to digital alternatives.
Though some businesses are beginning to resume offline operations, many are holding off. And even when health officials and governments give the green light, many consumers will be hesitant to resume business as usual. But even more significantly, this experience will have accelerated and transformed many consumer behaviors.
Accenture has defined five new types of consumers, based upon the way in which they are responding to the crisis.
The Worrier (21%)
The Individualist (33%)
The Rationalist (39%)
The Activist (8%)
The Indifferent (11%)
Because consumer response to the pandemic varies widely, Accenture says that “the days of one-size-fits-all marketing are over.” Thus, companies will need to understand how different segments of their consumer base are reacting and develop customized and personalized marketing strategies for each type of consumer.
According to Accenture, the virus has accelerated three long-term trends:
1. The ever-increasing focus on health
Brands should heed this change and make it a priority to support healthy lifestyles for consumers, shoppers and employees. Having a “health strategy” will be a strategic differentiator in the foreseeable future.
2. A rise in conscious consumption
Consumers are more mindful of what they’re buying. They are striving to limit food waste, shop more cost-consciously, and buy sustainable options. Brands will need to make this a key part of their offerings (for example, by exploring new business models and caring for their own employees).
3. Growing love for local
The desire to shop local is reflected in both the products consumer buy (for example, locally sourced, artisanal) and the way they shop (for example, supporting community stores). Companies will need to explore ways to connect locally. This might be through highlighting local provenance, customizing for local needs or engaging in locally relevant ways.
Undoubtedly, ecommerce adoption has been one of the clearest trends accelerated by the pandemic. Accenture found that one in five consumers who ordered their last groceries online did so for the first time—but for consumers aged 56 years and above, this was one in three. The trend toward digital commerce is expected to continue even once businesses reopen. Consumers report that the proportion of instances they shop online will increase from 32% to 37% after the outbreak, illustrating the clear need for a substantial increased investment in this channel.
Time well spent
Many people will continue to work from home and travel less for the foreseeable future. Thus, offerings that keep them connected and improve their home-based experiences will be highly valuable. As parents and educators look toward the possibility of remote education becoming part of the standard curriculum, technological and informational tools that facilitate remote learning will be highly appealing.
Leisure pastimes have also significantly shifted. Accenture believes that the changes will cause long-lasting, or even permanent effects. According to the report, more than half (61%) plan to continue watching more news after the outbreak, while 55% will prioritize more time with the family. Entertainment, learning, and DIY have also seen a rise.
Covid-19 is a health and economic crisis that has a sustainable impact on consumer attitudes, behaviors, and purchasing habits. Companies need to pay close attention to their consumers’ evolving expectations and changing behavior in order to effectively serve them, and market to them.