What a surreal time it has been. Or still is. The pandemic has distorted all sense of time. But one certainty is that our transition into a quarantine has been turbulent. Like most industries, media have experienced their own trials. Specifically, paid media and March’s massive re-shuffling of client programs. Not a single one remained the same. And none should have. With the seismic changes to daily life, media consumption patterns were in complete disarray. The majority of the country was housebound and essentially immobilized. Travel all but came to a standstill. So much had changed so quickly. And no media plan went unscathed. 

Media Consumption Patterns Change in Pandemic

The change in media consumption patterns has had our team moving plans away from OOH, in-person events and activations. Instead, media campaign investments have made massive shifts to digital properties. Quantitative and qualitative judgments have been made on planned sponsorships, with those scoped for physical events moved to virtual. Initially, many of us wondered, how well will it work? And how will it compare to what we’ve signed up for? The term force majeure became our go-to catchphrase. With that said, we were genuinely impressed with our partners’ diligence, dedication and integrity. After all the shifting, some virtual events actually turned out to be quite valuable. And with a little ingenuity, some even improved. (Side note: Damn, I miss this year’s SXSW.)

Many clients now have more ambitious content plans for the year. We’ve seen an increase in webinars to better connect with audiences. Liquid has also been invited to participate in two separate client webinars targeting marketers.

Media Strategy Leverages Increased Inventories—More Targeted, More Efficient

There has been a massive draw toward reputable news and business sources during this time. We’ve seen this with Tier 1 media brands—both online and television. Site traffic numbers saw staggering increases at the onset of the quarantine. A more tuned-in audience led to higher engagement rates. TV viewership rose, both linear and OTT. People leaned in for more information. Many turned to key networks for business and market news. Noting this trend, we leveraged the increased media inventories that were more targeted and efficient.

Conversely, there was also a sharp increase in toxic media environments and a lot of bad actors. Based on our model, direct/private media-buying relationships and other safeguards, we were able to steer our clients clear of the fray.

We abandoned business print, which consists of newspapers and magazines often tied to business office subscriptions. Data shows those deliveries have now shifted to home, and print is showing a modest return.

Media Investment During Uncertain Times

Marketing investment uncertainties are still reverberating across the industry. However, many challenger brands still have lofty objectives that require media investment. A number of quick-pulse research studies from IAS, GlobalWebIndex, WSJ | BG and NBCU reveal that audiences support brands being active advertisers. Additionally, audiences actually expect brands to engage with them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Media Strategy Messaging Amid a Crisis

While many of us huddled over paid media pivots, the rest of the agency was hard at work too. Kudos to our strategy, creative and account teams for their focus in messaging and for being as intentional as ever. It allowed us to tactfully address the circumstances in the work. Last but not least, our production crew found ways to get it all done—as always.

Introducing Pivot from Liquid

In addition to adapting our media strategy during COVID-19, we also created a new offering, aptly named Pivot to What’s Next. It’s a series of three separate one-week modules—facilitated by Liquid—created to help companies solve business challenges in real-time. Developed in response to the new economic realities of the global pandemic, Pivot helps companies solve large challenges and embrace new opportunities through our virtual workshops. Navigating a change in the media or marketing landscape during COVID-19 is difficult. But if you’re looking to rapidly address a brand, product or customer marketing problem or opportunity, be sure to check out our Pivot offering.

We will keep shifting, along with the world. Stay safe, everyone.

Darin Albers, VP of Media

Darin’s experience in planning and buying all forms of traditional media—print, broadcast and out-of-home—has paid dividends in effectively navigating the earliest days of online advertising and its constant evolution to what we know today: a digital media world that is more diverse and challenging than at any point in history. He’s adept at building paid media programs for clients that meet a wide variety of objectives—from brand campaigns to intricate demand gen programs—all while leveraging the latest media offerings and MarTech stacks.
See Darin’s full bio here.