With the latest outbreak and waves of consumers self-isolating, dealers need to consider reallocating their media budgets. The first instinct in a panic is to want to pull back budgets completely. But this would be a big mistake if you believe regular patterns of life will re-emerge in a few weeks. Over the next few weeks, consumers will likely be spending more time than ever with media, and people who need a new vehicle or repairs on an old one will still have those needs in six weeks. When it comes to media channels, there will be winners and losers. Some of the best buys the industry has seen in years could be right now. Here are some thoughts to consider:
Radio and Outdoor
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 30% of US workers have jobs that could be done from home. A huge portion of them is almost certainly doing just that during coronavirus. At least 29 states have announced school closures. Together, this means a lot of people are spending a lot less time commuting or going out in general for a while. Consider reallocating your radio budget; Sirius or Pandora might see a lift as people listen to music while working that they couldn’t turn on from their office desk. While harder to make changes in the short term, consider any flexibility you might have with billboards or other outdoor advertising budgets.
During times of self-imposed isolation and increased work-from-home opportunities, there could be an uptick in time spent watching television. However, with many major sporting events cancelled for the next 8 weeks, some key advertising opportunities will go missing. But usage and subscribers for streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime may surge. Nielsen sees a 61% increase of streaming video during crises! Some of those platforms don’t offer advertising, but YouTube could be a great opportunity. Most people working from home may not brazenly watch a movie or even a television show during working hours. Still, the temptation to sneak in a quick 3-minute cat video your co-worker slacked you is probably impossible to ignore. If you are advertising on television, it might make sense to allocate away from traditional television to YouTube pre-roll ads.
SEM and Social Media
Increased isolation will create an increase in time spent online. Social media analytics company, Sprinklr, recorded nearly 20 million mentions of coronavirus-related terms on March 11 alone. The virus is prompting an unprecedented surge of employees working remotely and connecting virtually with friends, family, and colleagues. However, during times of crisis, most users are probably not actively doing bottom-funnel searching to purchase a vehicle this weekend. Rather than buying keywords on Google, maybe now is the time to shift some budget to social media, with higher-funnel messaging, or ads to consolidate relationships with past customers. Highlight what you are doing to help the situation within your local community, even if just by keeping your people employed. Do you offer pick-up and delivery options for vehicle or service purchases? Pay close attention to the latest incentives your OEM may be offering to offset the financial struggles consumers are encountering due to the virus, and keep your local audience informed.
In summary, we think the next few weeks will be very different. Traditional commutes will be replaced with a quick scroll through Instagram. Glances at billboards will be swapped out with notifications from Twitter. That TV spot during the game? Perhaps better put on YouTube. Focus on reaching consumers where they are now: at home.