The Impact Of COVID-19 On The Digital Advertising Industry

The continuously evolving global outbreak of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), has taken over every aspect of our day to day living and seems to be the only topic of discussion dominating the media.

Just like the majority of organizations all over the world, we have taken our social isolation responsibility seriously and have implemented working remotely across the entire Yazle global network.

The sudden and unexpected emergence of ‘working remotely’ has allowed many companies to see endless possibilities, on how business is conducted while maintaining the wellbeing of their employees. If a business can prosper during this period, it may forever change the business landscape, and many organizations may choose to adopt this model in some form of capacity moving forward.

Within the digital marketing industry, the impact of COVID-19 has led to an unprecedented disruption. Although advertising spends are in decline and their impacts are felt by various agencies, suppliers & publishers. All parties involved are continuously figuring out ways to navigate through these challenging times.

Similar to other regions, the Middle Eastern market has taken a massive hit with the global outbreak: 47% of businesses have recorded a negative impact on their business, leading to a $44 million loss in digital ad spend and even more significant loss of employment.

Given this situation, consumers are forced to spend all their time online, utilizing e-commerce to make all of their purchases, compared to visiting stores, this has resulted in the majority of retailers shifting their focus to e-commerce, some sooner than anticipated.

Even major conglomerates such as the Dubai Mall are moving to a 100% online, e-commerce approach, by creating partnerships with brands such as Noon & Namshi.com. 14% of brands have admitted to re-allocating their offline budgets to online mediums, while 22% of brands have observed a significant shift in creative & geographic strategies.

We have also observed a significant change to ad spends across various product categories, with a clear visible spike in products such as hand sanitizers… It is important to note these demands are more short term than long-term.

Many brands and organizations have decided to change their campaign strategies both in the long-term as well as short term, 61% of organization have decided to change their strategies in the short term to reap immediate benefits only 9% of brands have decided to change their long term strategies.

While it is crucial to note how the consumer’s purchasing habits are being affected and how this may alter a change in overall behaviour post-COVID-19, It is also essential for brands to take note, to not only what the consumer purchases but also how they purchase it.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep across the globe, and as countless countries are advising their citizens & residents to “self-isolate,” a by-product of this situation is that the mobile gaming industry has also seen a massive peak in users and dwell time.

It is a well-known fact that entertainment in the form of gaming satisfies the social pacification that many consumers seek, in stressful situations. Online Gaming has seen a significant jump in adult users from 59% at the end of 2018 to 71% at the start of 2020.

It is inevitable that the COVID-19 pandemic will eventually come to an end and when it does, entertainment such as gaming will have an after effect with regards to the way it made people feel and the joy it brought in a particularly tumultuous time in their lives for years to come.

There is no fool proof solution in the current climate, that would help brands or publishers to stabilize the impact this outbreak is having on our industry. We have noticed significant changes within the strategies of some brands, such as a development specific content, across relevant and currently popular categories, with a shift in spend accordingly.

Keeping this in mind, we have come up with some fundamental strategies to consider:

  • Taking advantage of this period to gain increased market share over competition. Given that a majority of brands are inactive during this time and consumers are spending an increased period of time consistently online, ensure your brand capitalises on this situation by being top-of-mind & increase brand awareness, even if these campaigns are CSR based.
  • Allow for flexible budget spends, covering a wide variety of mediums. React to certain platforms that have increased mass consumption while the world is in lockdown and ensure your brand is seen and heard creating major impact in a unique advertising opportunity.
  • Shift focus away from travel-related ad spends and migrate spends across more relevant and highly populated verticals such as F&B, News & Gaming platforms.

As long as businesses approach the shift to digital marketing strategically, there’s no reason why the above strategies should only serve as temporary adhoc solutions. These ad spending fundamentals could also provide, long term value when the world eventually resumes its normal trajectory.

Lastly, companies and brands who adapt their digital spend accordingly and roll with the times, will become more even more resilient when it comes to tackling any future pandemics.

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