Adjusting Digital Media Strategies in a Changing Business Climate

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John Lostaglio
John Lostaglio



We've all been experiencing recent lifestyle changes in 2020 — both personally and professionally.

For marketers, the resulting shift in business landscape has required us to review our previous strategies and make adjustments that will allow our clients to continue thriving in the wake of unforeseen circumstances.

The good news is that current challenges can translate into tremendous opportunity if we can find an effective way to continue reaching our audiences.

While each business is different and there are many factors to consider, understanding current media trends is an important step in adjusting your approach to advertising.

Here, we're going to explore whether or not you should be advertising at all, where you should focus your advertising efforts, and shifting paid priorities in 2020.

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Should you be advertising in 2020?

The big question a lot of advertisers are asking themselves – "Should I be advertising right now?" — has a wide range of answers that vary depending on your circumstance.

The airline and hospitality industries are facing serious challenges at the moment, but at the same time this changing business climate presents unique opportunities for brands focused on other verticals.

While job security and unemployment has become an unfortunate reality for many, there are also a significant number of consumers who are benefiting from increased disposable incomes due to cancelled events and forced lifestyle changes.

For ecommerce brands, this can translate into increased sales from both new and existing customers. This can be a very lucrative time to promote your brand and convey your value proposition.

For the healthcare and education verticals, now is the ideal opportunity to increase your brand awareness and create a positive sentiment around your brand. Show your support for the community as a whole and explain how you can be part of the solution.

While it's easy to highlight verticals that sit on the two ends of the spectrum, most brands are going to fall somewhere in between these examples.

As consumers begin adapting to their recent lifestyle changes, it's important that brands develop an advertising plan that shifts along with this consumer behavior.

Where should you advertise?

If your business is in a space that warrants digital investment, let's consider how to make best use of your budget.

CTV/OTT Inventory

Digiday describes Over-The-Top (OTT) as video that's delivered "via the internet, without requiring users to subscribe to a traditional cable or satellite pay-TV service" — i.e. Netflix, HBO Go, etc.

Connected TV (CTV) refers to the device where the video is streamed from (Smart TV, Roku, Chromecast, etc.).

As society continues to spend more time indoors, we can expect an increase in TV consumption to continue as a trend. But what does this mean for advertisers?

This translates into an increase in available CTV/OTT inventory, lowering the barrier to entry on a media channel that was poised to grow even before the recent shift in consumption patterns.

Does your brand have video assets readily available? Do you have marketing campaigns focused on branding, awareness, reach or other upper funnel objectives? If so, now is a great time to assess adding CTV/OTT inventory to your media mix.

We're seeing home improvement and B2B businesses taking advantage of this influx of ad inventory by incorporating OTT into its awareness budget. For brands focused on entertainment or CPG, investment in this area is further increasing. For information related to your brand, reach out to your agency or a media vendor offering OTT solutions.

Premium Inventory

Within the programmatic ecosystem, private marketplace (PMP) deals are available. These deals include specific ad inventory that is available from a publisher's website. There are many options available from a wide range of well-known websites and publications.

In the programmatic world, 'premium inventory' is often a hot topic of discussion — namely the finite amount of premium inventory available and the demand typically associated with it.

However, the recent increase in digital consumption – especially content centered around news and current events – has translated to a greater amount of premium inventory being available.

In certain instances, CPMs have decreased by as much as 15% of the normal clearing price. As advertisers continue pulling back budgets and publishers struggle to meet fill rates, this is a trend that could continue well into Q2.

If you're in the programmatic space, increase your focus on PMP deals and pay attention to contextual relevancy more than ever. Take advantage of increased supply and lower demand by increasing your focus on premium publisher inventory.

The easiest way to leverage PMP deals is by purchasing media through a demand side platform, or DSP. This can be done on both a self-serve or managed service capacity, or you can use a media vendor.

Be sure to reach out to your agency for a POV; your choice of DSP/vendor and the level of service required is dependent on your business/brand, budget level, and long-term objectives.

Search Volume & CPCs

When shifting focus to paid search, the changing business climate has also impacted search terms, volume, and CPCs. Paid search has always offered an incredible opportunity to drive sales and grow your business, so as the digital landscape changes it's important to continue effectively managing your strategy and budget to maximize results.

Within the healthcare vertical, we've seen CPCs on certain keywords increase by as much as 10X in recent weeks. Ecommerce and D2C brands are also experiencing spikes in CPCs. As a result, the value of these keywords relative to your brand have shifted.

To continue growing your business and maximizing results, it's important to update your bid strategy and keyword optimizations to match current trends.

Consider reducing investment on campaigns focused on products or services that are in lower demand. While now might not be the best time to implement a keyword expansion strategy, it's important to maintain a focus on areas of high demand for your business.

CPCs may be higher than normal, but continuing to focus on the most profitable areas of your business remain as essential as ever.

An effective approach within the healthcare vertical could involve capping bids for keyword categories that drive the highest CPCs. Remaining budget can be shifted to other categories where you can increase your impression share.

Efficiencies on Paid Social

When users begin spending more time online, it goes without saying that social channels will stand to benefit. This increase in supply has helped reduce CPMs on Facebook & Instagram. Some campaigns have seen CPMs reduced by 10-20% across verticals ranging from CPG & entertainment to healthcare & B2B.

This has helped improve KPIs for multiple clients – from decreasing cost per engagement on awareness campaigns to decreasing CPAs and increasing ROAS on direct response efforts.

Your media budget can benefit from these CPM efficiencies in multiple ways. For DR campaigns showing strong performance, this can mean scaling spend to maximize revenue. In other instances, your business may be able to generate the same level of brand exposure at a lower cost, meaning that you can save incremental advertising dollars for later in the year.

Within the entertainment vertical, we're seeing clients shift budget into social. When campaigns are scalable and CPM efficiencies are helping to improve performance that was strong to begin with, expanding your efforts may be the ideal way to capitalize on affordable ad inventory.

This is not the first time world events have shifted the business landscape, and it certainly won't be the last. It's important for marketers to recognize this shift, but it's even more important to embrace it.

Many brands will look back and this moment and realize there were missed opportunities to engage with their customers. However, businesses who successfully shift their marketing strategies can continue driving revenue and creating value for their customers.

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