Market Update 3.20.20: Avails increasing, ecommerce conversions up, stay-at-home cautions, first-party data, empathetic creative

March 20, 2020

And thus ends the first full week in the “new now.” Remote work teams, a never-ending barrage of news updates, and, professionally speaking, a constant evolution/devolution of the media landscape. 

For the foreseeable future, we will be providing regular market updates on what’s happening in the world of digital media as brands shut down many traditional channels like out-of-home and event marketing and move towards digital-only media operations. This migration is going to change financial, creative, and data planning, and we feel it is our responsibility to share with you what we’re seeing as it happens. We are making rapid changes and adjustments to client budgets, the channels in which to market, and creative executions to respond to ever-changing consumer needs and behaviors.

 

CURRENT TRENDS, INSIGHTS & RECOMMENDATIONS

As I mentioned earlier this week in the initial briefing, we are determined to help you stabilize your businesses in whatever way we can, bringing about continuity and comfort in the process. And, yes, revenues. We hope these briefings are helpful to provide you the context you need to make ongoing decisions.

Media prices are stable or dropping in some cases but availability of inventory is increasing exponentially as people flood online. 

Over the past week, the number of people flooding the Internet has caused win-rates in programmatic advertising to increase substantially. Prices seem to be stabilizing; however, in many channels, it’s a buyer’s market, especially for awareness channels like connected TV. There simply aren’t enough dollars in the market to fit the supply. This is a unique opportunity for brands who typically do not invest in brand awareness to consider it now.

REAL stay-at-home brands are flourishing and brands are pivoting in that direction.

Brands are quickly pivoting to understand how they play in a stay-at-home economy and life. But we have a word of caution on that. What value do they truly bring? What real joy do they offer a jittery audience? Are they genuine? For brands that are truly stay-at-home, like conferencing technology, gaming, home furnishings, and others, they are able to insert themselves into the zeitgeist naturally and are benefitting from these unparalleled and entirely unique times. For those who aren’t, people will see through it and judge accordingly.

E-commerce conversion rates are increasing

Over this past week, our clients have seen a welcome increase in ecommerce conversion rates. While unemployment rates are increasing, people are continuing to spend money on themselves. We have seen everything from entertainment to home goods sales increasing. We don’t know how long this trend will continue, but for now, it appears to be on the incline.

Growing importance of growing first-party data

While growing sales and revenue are critical at this time, we are recommending that clients use this economic environment to use media dollars to grow their first-party data, namely email addresses, mobile IDs, and other unique identifiers. As prices increase or when media environments possibly become more unstable and less predictable, brands will need to depend more and more upon their first-party data to attract new revenue and customers. Using first-party data to apply look-alike models back out into the third-party marketplace will become increasingly important and economically prudent. 

Creative must lead with empathy.

Now is not the time to simply repurpose existing creative if that creative may be construed as tone deaf to the struggles we are all enduring. At the same time, we recognize that budgets do not allow for large scale creative operations. Social channels in particular can flex more easily and at a lower cost towards empathetic creative iterations. It’s OK to be raw and real at this time. It’s OK to be humorous (as long as your gag is truly funny)! Your brand should be as approachable and human as possible to connect with the hearts and minds of an emotionally exhausted consumer.

 

Finally, we are thinking so much about all of you, as you settle into a new normal, your home offices, and juggling homebound families. If there is anything we can do to alleviate your anxieties, please let us know.

Andrew Eklund, CEO

Ciceron