Ad Spends During Lockdown – Yay or Nay?

On 24th March, India and life for its citizens came to a complete standstill as a nationwide lockdown was announced to combat the spread of coronavirus. When we witnessed this unprecedented closure of almost all services, we knew the world would be a changed place. Naturally, the one place we turned to, young and old alike (for once), was social media. Now, nobody is chiding anyone for being on their phone all day – our phones being what connects us to our friends, family, work and the world. 

Nielsen, the market research firm, released reports which said that the social media volume saw a 50X surge between January and March. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger saw a 70% rise in their usage and TikTok remained the top downloaded app amidst the lockdown, with even celebrities joining the trend. The Houseparty app also became the most widely downloaded app and Zoom took over business meetings.

To engage with audiences and stay relevant, many brands got on board artists like musicians, stand-up comedians, motivational speakers and also health experts to keep people engaged and motivated during these times. And all of these sessions were made live on Facebook and Instagram. Some chefs and artists are also using the ‘Live’ feature almost every day to engage with the audiences and we have witnessed a number of collaborations on the platform. 

However, times have not been rosy for many brands as manufacturing was halted and distribution faced problems. Fearing a backlash, many have even stopped advertisements on almost all channels. But a research by Kanter showed that 92% of the population believed that brands should not stop advertising altogether, as long as it is relevant content. 

We are living in a world where it’s hard for people to imagine the things we usually put out – holidays, fashion, traditional forms of entertainment and anything outdoor-sy or anything that involves going out or getting your hands on the latest product. What people can see/do is anything in their homes and what they are hoping for is a quick recovery from this pandemic. 

Amongst trending formats, TikTok challenges on exercises, cooking etc. and interactive features on Instagram stories have seen a steep rise. Some of the viral content in the past few weeks have been around washing hands, thanking health and sanitation workers, sharing tips on exercises, staying healthy, so on and so forth. So it seems that while some traditional content may have taken a backseat, sending a thumbs down to your ad spends may not be the right thing to do. 

Instead, it is now time for brands to reevaluate their ads and customize them as per the norms and trends. Developing engaging content or sharing information – there are many ways to go about it. And channelizing the spends might just work in one’s favour and help evolve the brand image. During this time of crisis, it is important to remember that the audience is looking for ways to spend time and stay safe and pushing products (unless done subtly or where they are relevant) may not always be helpful. Hence, as long as we can tweak our strategies and find a way to weave in relevant content into our ads, ad spends will get a big ‘YAY’ from the industry and the consumer.

Key Takeaways:

  • This is a crucial time for brands in essential services like FMCG, Healthcare, Essentials’ Delivery Partners etc. and as such should increase spends to increase visibility and stay relevant
  • For businesses in manufacturing, ads spend should be increased for any additional things you may be manufacturing to combat the outbreak. These could include masks, sanitizers, disinfectants or even tools for fumigation and cleansing
  • If your business involves non-essential manufacturing or construction, the promotion should be around measures that the organization is taking to safeguards its employees and factory workers
  • For businesses in e-commerce, the focus should be on alternatives, or information pertaining to resuming services along with safety and engaging pieces
  • Some B2C businesses may also like to keep their audiences engaged during lockdown times with Live online concerts, Fun Activities and more.

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