TV or not TV?

That is the question – should brands still be advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic? Like most industries, advertising faces an uncertain time right now. There are a few different responses we are observing: some advertisers are shifting their media budgets between channels, while others are postponing campaigns, or in certain categories, cancelling planned activity altogether.

Our daily lives are changing beyond recognition with the impact of Covid-19, and we are adapting to a new, and evolving way of life – with working from home, home-schooling, video calls, livestreaming and virtual social activities from quizzes to fitness classes becoming the norm. Zoom has never been so popular! With so many of us confined to our homes for the majority of the day, we are seeing huge shifts in media consumption across the UK, so as you would expect, there is a primary change to ‘at home’ channels. It’s no surprise that Digital, TV, VOD and radio are enjoying huge audience surges at this time.

TV has taken on a bigger significance in people’s lives, as people tune into the daily Government briefings, seeking the latest news, information and analysis. Since the lockdown came into place, we’ve seen shifts in how viewers are consuming TV content. Due to more time at home, and a higher dependence on TV for news coverage – live viewing increases have outpaced recorded & VOD. Latest stats from ThinkBox show that TV viewing in the last week saw a 18% increase year-on-year, with ABC1 adults continuing to see the highest uplift for the third week in a row. Sky TV reports that younger audiences have had the biggest jump in week on week viewing, while Sky Cinema has enjoyed a 34% increase in viewing. A wealth of stats are being released from the TV stations on a weekly basis – all reporting significant increases across all audiences and dayparts. Viewing is up throughout the day with the biggest leap in the ‘Coffee Break’ (9.25-11:59) time period, while many shows are enjoying their largest ever audience figures – TV is certainly in good health at this time.

Neilson predicted that VOD viewing would increase by 60% because of Covid-19 isolation, not surprising as we seek out entertainment and escapism by binge-watching our favourite dramas, entertainment & films. Already ITV Hub has seen an +39% increase in consumption hours, while latest All4 analysis shows that the average streams for the past four days are up almost 30%.

What about radio – now we don’t have our daily commute? Radio Centre insights show that 77% of audiences in the UK say they see radio as a trusted source of national news. The same study also found that 60% of listeners turn to radio to keep informed during emergency situations.  Latest research has shown that since the start of the COVID-19 national lockdown, 38% of commercial radio listeners have been tuning in for an extra hour and 45 minutes each day. Those who are newly working from home due to the lockdown are in fact driving increased radio listening the most – 45% now listen to more radio, for an average of two additional hours each day.

Unsurprisingly, social media is also benefiting with the constant appetite for news and information; together with the need for entertainment and distraction. Facebook and WhatsApp are gaining the most audience – 33% said they are using Facebook more than usual and 28% are spending more time on WhatsApp.

News brands are still benefiting, with 32% of all consumers saying they are reading online or offline newspaper content more often, with 29% of 18 – 24 year-olds, and 31% of 25 – 34 year olds say they are consuming more news brands.

Of all traditional media platforms, outdoor has undoubtedly been hit hard by the Coronvirus outbreak, as people are simply no longer out and about to the same extent – except for our essential visits to Grocery retailers, convenience stores & pharmacies; so advertising outside these locations remains a viable option during lockdown. Some brands however, have been using OOH for community messaging and to show their support for our valued NHS workers.

When planning media activity during this time of flux, it is important we understand how each platform’s reach and frequency has changed, and how our own lives are changing; so we can adapt our media strategy, plans and brand behaviour to fit the “new normal” – whatever that may become!

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