How do we adapt to COVID-19 internationally?
COVID-19 is having a profound impact on life and business internationally. More people are at home, with repercussions for retail and travel industries in particular, but a positive impact on e-commerce. From a media perspective, eyeballs are moving towards TV and ‘in-home’ media (95% of consumers surveyed are spending more time on in-home media), which means opportunities for greater reach, particularly to upper sector and younger viewers for advertisers who target these often ‘harder-to-reach’ audiences.
The European approach to COVID-19 has varied, with hard-hit Italy implementing lockdown on the 9th March, and the Netherlands still practicing ‘intelligent lockdown’ (no official shop closures) a month later. All Response Media runs efficiency-focused campaigns across European markets and we often see that these kind of challenges present opportunities to lessen impact on businesses or improve results, by being reactive and tactical with media-strategy and buying.
Focusing on some key markets all at different stages of impact; Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, we have found that:
- TV viewership has increased by 40% with lockdown
- Weeks 3-4 of lockdown saw TV viewership increase by 40% vs. the same period in 2019.
- This increased by 15% year-on-year (YoY) in the previous week (Auditel, March 2020).
- A cost per spot market means that cost per thousands (CPTs) are cheaper
- TV is bought on a fixed cost-per-spot basis. At the moment prices for most sales houses (with a few exceptions on high impact/larger news channels e.g. LA7) are still based on lower pre-COVID TV viewership. This means ‘equivalent CPTs’ for All Response Media clients in February decreased by c.40% vs. January and we expect further decreases in March.
- Response rates can remain stable
- For one charity client, we saw that response increased very slightly post-lockdown, meaning that ROI increased in line with cheaper prices and combined with other efficiency changes were up 100% YoY. (ARMalytics® data)
- Due to reduced industry investment, there are opportunities for late deals
- In general, the Italian market often offers ‘late deals’ – usually booked 1-2 weeks in advance – which can see cost per spot reductions of up to 40-50%. Because of larger retailers and travel advertisers pulling out, availability is currently high.
In the Netherlands:
- TV viewership has increased slightly less than Italy, in line with less strict lockdown measures
- The 16th-31st March (after the Prime Minister’s speech and intelligent lockdown measures were pushed) saw a 15% increase in total gross rating points (GRP) YoY. AB1 viewership is up 40% YoY and the 16-36 age group are up 75%. Advertisers targeting these groups have even more to gain (Media Buying systems, April 2020).
- Televised public broadcasts on commercial public channel drives reach
- Viewership on public broadcaster NPO1 is up 46% YoY, driven by two televised Prime Minister’s speeches and one from the King – all of which All Response Media bought spots in, delivering the highest 3 donation spots this year for one charity client, at 20% below average CPTs due to reactive negotiations. (ARMalytics® data)
- Additional late spend and tactical last-minute spot buys provide efficiency opportunities
- The Netherlands is bought on a cost per GRP basis so, unlike Italy, increased impacts do mean higher spends. However, total TV spend for March was down 7% YoY (Adfacts, April 2020) and sales houses are offering tactical opportunities for late deals including last-minute bill-boarding opportunities at 55% below usual rates (Adalliance). Over-delivery is also unreconciled, with one ARM client seeing 25% over-delivered ‘free’ value in March.
- TV viewership has increased by c. 20% YoY
- As with other markets, due to lockdown measures Germany has driven increases in TV viewership. TV’s total reach is up to 82%.
- This is directly improving CPT efficiency
- Like Italy, Germany is a cost per spot market, with most prices still based on lower pre-COVID impacts. Total equivalent CPTs in March have decreased by 20%. We have worked with two advertisers to tactically buy spots on the stations with the biggest YoY increases and most advantageous equivalent CPTs (outside of the larger stations) to boost efficiency by a further 25%.
- Late deals offer cost-efficient opportunities
- Like other markets, Germany is seeing some investment reduction from retail and travel advertisers. This often means increased discounts with the major sales houses and free spots on Sky stations and Zeeone (up to 100% free achieved on ARM clients), decreasing final CPTs by a further 25%-100%.
All Response Media viewpoint
In times of uncertainty, it is important to keep driving responses at the most efficient possible cost. Consumers are watching more TV and across all markets, now is an important time to reach them. Importantly, SimilarWeb international insights last week show that despite the current climate, e-commerce site visits are up by 2% week-on-week.
Emarsys and GoodData’s tool to visualise revenue internationally, shows YoY growth in e-commerce transactions over the past 7 days is strong across most European markets. This means the response opportunity is still there and naturally growth in e-commerce vs. retail makes it even more essential to measure TV impact on online sales or transactions.
For most industries, consumers are still available to target, and opportunity is particularly online. To boost efficiency internationally, advertisers should:
- Continue to focus on measuring e-commerce performance, in some cases seeing shifts from retail to online.
- Consider testing new markets with strong buying opportunities, like Germany, the Netherlands and Italy, with increasing TV viewership and cost-efficient opportunities.
- Adjust approach depending on the country. In the Netherlands media habits are closer to usual levels, so taking advantage of the best late deals is essential, whilst in Germany tactical shifts to stations seeing higher YoY ratings increases can make an impact on results.
Retain flexibility and react to shifting viewership and late deal opportunities.
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