Market Update 4.7.20: Media Econ Update, Network TV…nope, Podcasts…down?

April 7, 2020

We’re now into week four of stay-at-home, the virus continues to wreak havoc on our hospital supply chain, and advertisers are still left wondering what’s in play and what’s not. I continue to be alarmed that the greatest economy on the planet has such incredibly fragile systems for healthcare. But we the people are truly amazing. 

I have to give a special shout-out to the moms and dads. I am in awe of you. My children are older, although my younger one, who’s almost 20, has been with us everyday for a month, and my oldest 22 year old is bunkered down at his college in Ashland, WI even though it closed a couple of weeks ago. (We’ve always known he’s a survivalist, Eagle Scout.) But you folks with younger ones at home, balancing them (literally!) with work and other obligations, you are truly heroes through all of this. 


As far as the marketing and advertising world goes, it’s a moving target. We continue to see positive gains in terms of pricing and consumer conversions across social media, connected TV, and streaming audio. Obviously, OOH advertising is dead for now (although you may want to begin negotiating now for post-COVID-19 placements). 

Here is an interesting trend. This is a screen shot from a recent client campaign that shows the dramatic increase in our win-rate against a variety of programmatic channels over the past few weeks. What this means is that, in an auction based environment, our lower bids are winning at a much higher rate than prior to the crisis. This means there is much less competition and/or more supply than demand.



But what to do about it? I just have a hard time recommending to clients advertising on network TV for a couple of reasons. First, brand associations to the pandemic. People are flocking to TV for news on the virus. They’re not looking for good news. I mean, they are in general, but they don’t expect to discover it in the short term on TV.  Second, I still don’t like committing money to insertion orders. I like connected TV better where our commitments can be more flexible.

With 55% of the American population using social as their primary information source and news websites not far behind TV, I like the flexible models of advertising on those platforms, along with CPMs that are more reasonable. PLUS — and this is the most important reason of all — we can use audience segment data to target users vs. the blast model of network television.



In one of the more interesting bits of research coming out of the pandemic, podcast listening is down. You might think otherwise, yes? All that time quarantined? Well, it’s hard to pay attention to podcasts when kids are running about and a Zoom meeting is going on. We’re learning that podcasts are perhaps listened to more on a morning run or commute to work. Fewer of those behaviors are occurring right now. The decrease in podcast listenership is one of those consumer behavior driven outcomes you only learn from the data. 

Here’s some great data:

As well as…


I don’t know when this is all going to end. I know there are temptations to have it end quicker than not, but viruses have no consciousness and therefore do not decide when they’re done. And they don’t care whether you’re rich or poor, what religious background you come from or don’t, and whether you want to believe science or listen to politicians. 

But people matter. Staying home matters. Adhering to basic community standards of health matter. I know these restrictions seem un-American. But again, the virus doesn’t care.

We care. We hope you stay healthy. Stay home. But go for walks. Get outside when it clears up today! I’m going to smoke ribs like it’s SUMMER. 

Our best,