Ciceron Briefing 5.9.20: Imagine Life without the Internet Right Now

May 9, 2020

Welcome to our new readers! We’ve decided to expand communications of this briefing to a wider audience, largely due to the positive feedback we’ve been getting from all of you. So, thank you, and I’m glad to know that you’re finding some value and insights that you can put to use to bring some continuity, growth, and comfort to your organizations and teams.

I’m just old enough and just young enough to appreciate the absolute monumental heavy lifting the Internet has had to endure during this crisis. At 51, I’m young enough to be a fully realized digital dude (hell, GenX invented most of the web, OK???), and just old enough to remember when none of it existed. I’m perfectly sandwiched. Most of us Xers break into nervous laughter at how truly thankful we are that cell phones with cameras didn’t exist when we were in college. Our memories of being perfectly intelligent, beautiful, and delicious are all fully intact. I mean, look at that pic circa 1990. Irresistible! (In my mind.)

Even so, I think we still take the Internet a little too for granted. This thing is saving us. The Internet’s value is only now being fully appreciated. Post 9/11, we were all able to essentially continue working the same as always, just with a tremendous amount of existential anxiety and dread. The crash of 2008 was purely economic, so survival was about the hustle. This upheaval (I can’t even find the right word to describe it) is all about connectivity. How do we stay connected, productive, and inventors of “temporary normals” to see our ways to the other side?

Imagine any of this without the Internet. We’d be doomed. Not just economically, but on a personal level. How many of you have had to teach your parents or grandparents how to use Zoom? But it’s not about Zoom. It’s about whether or not you literally have a relationship with your loved ones or don’t. Using Zoom or FaceTime is a choice between staying connected on some human level or living in utter isolation.

Imagine any of this without ecommerce. In 1996, within the year of starting Ciceron, I launched, an ecommerce website for independent record labels and artists. I did so not only because of my love for music and what the web could do for it (our tagline was “Free The Music”) but also because I needed to convince my Ciceron clients that people would actually put their credit cards online. Seems almost unimaginable now, but once again, I’m old enough to remember when buying stuff online was considered dangerous. Can you imagine our economy right now without ecommerce? I can name several clients who would no longer exist right now as a result of the coronavirus without ecommerce. So, thank you for putting your credit cards online.

Imagine any of this without broadband. This one is a bit loaded because there are still millions of Americans without proper access to broadband. The Internet is now proven to be critical infrastructure, and it must be treated that way. Broadband has allowed us to have nearly HD level Zoom meetings and streaming conferences. Broadband is the backbone of your streaming news, Netflix, and connected TVs. Without broadband, none of this happens. Without broadband, we’re on dial-up waiting for AOL to load off a damn floppy disc.

Imagine any of this without digital advertising. I mean, it’s pretty incredibly real right now, isn’t it? As you’ll see below from the IAB, it’s what’s working and it’s what’s keeping commerce flowing. The whole ecosystem is stacked. Broadband brings in the content and the connections, ecommerce provides the transactional backbone, and advertising makes the introduction to brands. Of course, this has been the case for years, but never before has it been when the whole makes up the entirety of brand experience. We’re going to learn so much during this time. I can’t predict (yet) what sticks for the long haul vs. where we revert back to, but I know that for right now, digital marketing and advertising is the connective tissue that enables us to have any sense of normalcy at all.



IAB April Trends Report (DOWNLOAD)

As I just mentioned, the IAB has updated their April advertising numbers from March, and some formats are increasing ad spend while others continue to see declines. Unfortunately, traditional media continues this downward trend. I will say, however, that we are seeing an increase in “miles traveled” per week, so it’s possible that digital OOH advertising may be one of the first “traditional” channels to make a comeback. Linear TV has seen the least amount of decline in the traditional media set (yet still dramatic), but I have a theory that this may be based upon upfront commitments or other contracted terms. Digital, as you can imagine, saw a decrease in spend from January but not as dramatic and its rise is also faster.

Financial Services Industry Trends (LINK)

Julie’s research from last week really hit a chord with our financial clients. I want to link to it again here because I believe there are consumer behavior trends that apply to brands outside of financial services as well.

Is Connected TV the best buy in digital?

If you believe the numbers from eMarketer, then perhaps so. Connected TV has experienced the greatest drop in CPMs but an increase in advertising revenue. There’s only one way to look at that: low CPMs mean a great buy! And remember, for the vast majority of consumers, there’s no difference to them between a linear buy and a programmatic one. For advertisers, it’s all about using your data to target audiences with high impact creative using a flexible financial model. It’s about as good as it gets. 



I am open and available to answer or address any pressing questions you have for future blog posts. Email me. I want to know what you’re concerned about, and we’re happy to dig in, find the research, and provide a point of view. We’re on the front lines of all of this, so we may be seeing glimmers of hope, of opportunity, and advancement ahead of more traditional news sources. We’re more than happy to help. 

Our best,