Where does media planning go from here?

Chances are you, like many others, had to make tough business decisions in order to navigate the changing tides caused by COVID-19. You likely had to reorganize teams, pivot production, and even pull back on advertising and marketing efforts. But as society and businesses start to determine how they can safely re-engage the public, it is time to develop your own action plan for re-starting traffic and/or sales to your business.

The truth is, the way forward is not as simple as flipping a  switch. Behaviors and spending habits have changed and will continue to be impacted for the foreseeable future. People are cautious about re-entering into the public, and traffic won’t automatically return as restrictions ease. 

We’re also entering a time where spending has taken a back seat to saving. The United States government's Bureau of Economic Analysis reporting the savings rate surged to 13.1% in March -- up from 8% in February.

So where do you go from here? How does a brand reemerge into a changed marketplace and connect with their consumers amidst all this change? One word – balance. 

First, take cues from Federal/State/Local governments on their reopening plans. This will ensure that your advertising and planned operation protocols are in-step with other things your consumers are hearing and expecting.

Next, don’t rush back to pre-COVID media spending levels. Since consumers are not going to rush back to spending, neither should you. Instead, take the analytical approach. Measure everything; try to correlate tactics with their impact on your business. Use business data to help you predict your next move. And, focus on month over month, because year-over-year is now out the window and should not drive your decisions. 

Now, let’s talk about advertising and media.

The two biggest considerations here are your messaging (what you say and how you say it) as well as what media channels you use to where you say it.

Any pointers for messaging in this environment?

Don’t be afraid to communicate. Research shows rather than rejecting brands who advertise during this time, consumers can actually get a sense of normalcy from it.
- Be careful of tone and tact. Don’t make light of COVID or depict situations unrealistic in our new reality, but feel free to entertain. People will welcome it.
- Save your COVID response for your website. At this point, we have received a message from nearly every company we know about their COVID response or precautions taken. It’s expected you have a plan for your business. Don’t waste money talking about yours. If you want to mention it, do so only to tell consumers where to find information.

What should my media approach be right now?

Media consumption has shifted to devices easily accessible at home, like TV, mobile devices and desktop or laptop computers. As daily commuting routines have been impacted, channels like radio and outdoor have lost their audience. While we expect this to hold short-term, media consumption patterns will shift again as routines begin to return to return to normal.

Focus on digital channels for now.
- Maintain flexibility by using digital media tactics. Digital allows you toggle spending on and off in as little as 24-48 hours, depending on your contracts, where the longer out-clauses for traditional tactics require you commit to plans weeks out. 
- Use Advanced TV to maintain a presence on the big screen (and other screens). People are not only consuming more video content, they are adopting more video platforms to find more content to consume such as expanding beyond their main platform like a YouTube TV, Hulu or Amazon Prime into lesser known platforms such as Roku and Pluto.tv.
- Lean into digital analytics to help you know what’s working and allow you to track and trend return on ad spend. 

Invest now with mid-lower purchase funnel traffic driving tactics, and then build into other channels from there. 

- Paid search, paid social and display require minimal production and can easily toggle on/off as needed. 
- Paid social, specifically, has many targeting and optimization levers you can utilize to help make your business more visible and, in turn, drive traffic. 

Don’t fall for a good deal just because it is a good deal.
- First and foremost, do what is right for your business and invest at a pace that makes sense for you. There will be fire sales. Don’t fall for a deal that restricts your flexibility. But, perhaps the environment affords you the chance to test a digital tactic always wanted to try.  

So as you continue to navigate through the next phase of your business, don’t be afraid to get out there and communicate. Just make sure you practice balance – be cautious and data-informed as you decide what to say, where to say it, and how much to invest.