Michael Kalman is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of MediaCrossing Inc., a leading, award-winning digital advertising agency.
Consumers have adapted to the increasing changes in the environmental, political and economic landscape as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. As Google outlines in its Covid-19 ads playbook, we are seeing changes threefold:
Shock change: A sudden change in behavior that’s unlikely to be sustainable over time (e.g., a rise and fall in consumer search around phrases like “school districts closing” when quarantine orders were on the horizon).
Step change: A sudden change in behavior with the potential to stay (e.g., searches related to at-home workouts).
Speed-up change: An acceleration in existing behavior with the potential to stay (e.g., searches related to delivery).
A successful marketing team must accommodate all three forms of trends in their digital marketing strategy as we navigate a changing landscape. It is important to recognize the emerging trends that will have a lasting impact (step change and speed-up trends) to plan for future strategy, especially in markets with longer buying cycles.
The following are emerging trends accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic that I believe will have a lasting impact on digital marketing strategy and consumer behavior.
Investment In Dynamic Creative Technology Platforms
Personalized creative has been a growing trend in most recent years, but the cost-effectiveness has lagged. For example, an ad that showcases the specific item you viewed previously, such as a dress shoe, will outperform an ad that has a generic brand image. It is often not cost-effective to design new ads for every specific instance.
Modern dynamic creative optimization (DCO) technology allows for creative content to be automatically generated, with assets, languages and dynamic product display, without an agency having to invest in individual creative renderings.
I believe we will see an increased utility in technology that can dynamically adapt creative while decreasing the need for manual ad creation. Platforms such as Google Ads and Criteo have increased capabilities to generate dynamic creative content, cutting out the need for multiple design iterations. Leveraging machine learning in real time allows for data-driven results, cutting out the lead-time for review and production.
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the demand to produce a multitude of ads, with less capital and human power to produce them.
Accelerated Shift Of CPG Brands To E-Commerce
CPG brands that traditionally rely on brick-and-mortar distribution will need to increasingly adapt to the direct-to-consumer (DTC) environment to remain successful. This shift of CPG demand to DTC has been accelerated by stay-at-home orders across the U.S., leading to adoption by the laggard group in a traditional tech adoption life cycle.
According to Statista, as of March 2020, 5% of surveyed U.S. consumers above the age of 64 made an online purchase for the first time as a result of quarantine and social distancing. A third of consumers in this demographic said they planned to buy more from online marketplaces.
I believe this increase in DTC interest will also shift spend for these traditional brands from cable TV and print to digital marketing platforms that support website visits and app downloads.
An Exponential Increase In Digital Sales For Some Industries
Categories related to healthcare, groceries and food delivery, as well as community building (such as virtual chat software), have seen growth as consumers are integrating digital into the day-to-day experience.
Additionally, Deloitte found similar performance boosts in key categories in Q1 of 2020:
• 70% growth in DIY and home-related goods.
• 35% growth in digital sales for active apparel, learning products and toys.
• Only 10% growth for luxury and general apparel goods, a decrease from Q1 2019.
While the stay-at-home economy may change preferences, certain sectors will remain as consumers establish new buying habits and interests during this time.
Increased Investment In Attribution-Based Marketing
As budgets are adjusted, marketers will be investing in marketing services that deliver a clear path to purchase and ROI. Budgets related to media buys — in print publications, for example — will likely be adjusted as marketers need to focus on not only the transparency of attribution in marketing efforts, but also the ability to alter messaging, pause ads and dynamically update spend in a facilitated way.
As digital teams and agencies work remotely, hands-on marketing tactics such as digital performance marketing are manageable virtually, with transparent reporting and simple collaboration opportunities.
As the world changes, marketers must adapt their strategies to meet customers where they are. Now is the time to rethink your go-to-market strategy and relationship with your customers. Consider where your business falls within the “new normal” and what trends will impact your business in the long run.