2020 Has Shown How Seasonality in Marketing Can’t Be Assumed


June 25, 2020

By Juliette Stead, SVP APAC, Telaria

As regular TV programming and advertisements resume and daily life starts resembling something close to normal, it’s important to reflect on the challenges our industry has faced in just the first half of 2020. By no measure has 2020 been an ordinary year. In fact I don’t think any of us want another one like this ever again, thank you. I’d like to explain why these challenges have been unique from a marketing perspective, what we’ve seen change amongst advertisers and discuss the new trading tools which haven’t previously been available during other major events.

Why this is different

There is no other period where half the world’s population has been in lockdown before; nobody knew how this was going to impact on consumer behaviour, how long it would last or what the long term effect would be. In the past we’ve seen other major events like elections, the GFC or global recessions impact seasonality of media planning and marketing investment. But the disruption caused by COVID-19 is, thankfully, unique.

Restrictions have resulted in a lot more screen time for Australian viewers, with linear TV viewing figures still currently up over 8%, compared with prior to lockdown. Broadcaster video-on-demand (BVOD) viewing figures are up even further at 26% according to Think TV, based on OzTAM VPM data. It’s worth noting that one third of BVOD consumption is now live streamed rather than catch up and catalogue content, which account for the other two thirds. For many audiences, TV delivered through an internet connection is just TV.

Customers becoming even more comfortable with shopping online is another behaviour change we’ve seen during lockdown. While some brands like Bunnings continue to roll-out their online offering, others have had to pivot and fast-track their digital transformation projects to match consumers’ expectations around ecommerce. There’s little doubt this sudden and unexpected event has acted as a catalyst for some brands. In countries such as China and South Korea, both of which were more digitally more mature, an increase in online grocery shopping is displaying signs of outlasting the initial lockdown period. Offline consumption remains heavily affected in China, which is probably furthest along in terms of post-COVID behaviour patterns.

Advertisers respond to changes in consumer behavior 

When we look at the advertising spend categories that Telaria has seen for CYQ2 in 2020 we find – perhaps unsurprisingly – the top sector is government advertising. When we compare the data with last CYQ2, we find insurance has climbed the most places year-on-year as financial services look to ensure the population is thinking about their future in both the short and long term. Retail has also jumped to second in advertiser rankings, with many of these ads focusing on direct-to-consumer (DTC) with people unable to leave their houses. With restrictions on travel internationally and domestically, advertiser categories for automotive and travel have expectedly seen a reduction.

Source: Telaria Video Management Platform

New tools of the trade 

The current crisis may be bringing unexpected changes, but marketers have advanced tools to help them adapt to unpredictable situations. When the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) happened in 2008, the term programmatic was a reserve of the IT crowd and the acronym CTV was more likely to be confused with CCTV.

Advertisers now have the ability to pivot messaging through digitally delivered and programmatically bought ads. Advertisers like the government have been able to reach digital-only audiences that may not watch linear TV as the market is more fragmented now. This is a vital tool when the message is this important.

Another reason that BVOD has been an important channel for messaging is the longevity of ad recall. ThinkTV’s Not all Reach is Equal piece found that TV and BVOD outperforms other high reach platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, both in terms of the initial impact on the audience, but also the rate at which that impact decays over time. This has meant that, as the government advice on best social protocol has changed, the creative has been able to change with that messaging, ensuring audiences are kept informed with the latest information.

Making it addressable

First party login data from broadcasters is also allowing increased addressability when reaching connected viewers. Most Australian broadcasters have some form of login requirements, which open new targeted advertising options for brands in professionally produced, brand safe, curated content streams. Addressability has advanced considerably in the last year, creating an advanced toolkit available to brands who are trying to navigate their messaging in this unique situation.

We’re likely to see a lot more brands, especially those that are direct-to-consumer, advertising on BVOD due to the increased level of targeting now available. The captive audience is there, and growing, and TV has proven its branding power over decades of research. Programmatic access to this supply means that advertisers have the flexibility to pivot messaging as needed. Anecdotally I’ve heard from Flaminia Sapori, Head of Partnerships at Matterkind who commented: “We have seen a number of different advertisers focusing their investment into BVOD off the back of the large increase in viewership numbers driven by the lock down”. 

Changing tides

We don’t yet understand the full impact on the digital advertising industry caused by COVID-19 but the return of Aussie sport to our screens has brought a level of familiarity for media planners and audiences alike, which is encouraging progress.

Consumer attitudes and behaviours around how they access TV content were already changing before COVID-19 came along, and many brands have been adapting to these changes. However the global pandemic has accelerated the shift for planners and their approach to reach audiences. As uncertainty forces the evaluation of previous practices, I expect that some of the buying behaviours we’re witnessing, the move towards ecommerce for instance, will outlast the current crisis. The regularity of big creative campaigns are likely to be replaced, at least in the short term, by marketers’ practical need for agility and the ability to pivot when sentiment and messaging shifts.

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