What audiences say and do, and how we respond 

There is no denying, of course, that TV and video have played a big role in keeping consumers entertained during lockdown.

A recent webinar from Kantar looked to uncover what audiences are saying and what they are doing in respect of their viewing habits, and how we as advertisers are able to respond to this different set of behaviours.

Kantar’s Covid-19 barometer has been measuring consumer views and attitudes towards the pandemic in over 50 markets among 45,000 consumers. As expected, overall media consumption is increasing significantly with certain media channels leading the way, providing new opportunities to reach and communicate with audiences.

Online consumption changes were most visible among younger audiences across many media channels as markets entered strict restrictions, with the most noticeable increases being in TV, online messaging apps and on-demand TV/streaming.

TV viewing figures have seen an uplift across the world, with the UK seeing a 29% increase on average minutes viewed per day when compared to this time last year. 48% of 18-34 year olds are claiming to be watching more TV and 51% of this age group are watching TV on demand and using streaming services more often.

A great example of this increase is the news; at a time of a major crisis one thing consumers tend to do is turn to the news for information. Viewing figures for the UK’s biggest live TV events from 1981-2020 reveal that the Prime Minister’s national lockdown statement was viewed by 28.2 million people, making it the third-biggest TV event from the last 40 years, overtaking the Summer 2012 Olympics opening (24.5 million) and closing (24.2 million) ceremonies. This was closely followed by the Queen’s speech on Covid-19, which was viewed by 24.4 million.

What are the changes in viewing behaviour across the day by men and women?

With many working from home and saving time on commuting, Kantar found that both men and women in the UK are starting their viewing times much later in the morning. As a result, there has been a significant increase among men watching late morning TV shows. The male audience of ITV’s ‘This Morning’ has increased and now represents 29% of all viewers, which is up from 19% when looking at the statistics from this time last year.

The other noticeable changes are small increases among both genders for ‘prime time’ TV but also around 20% of men are staying up much later between 12:00AM – 04:00AM, whereas only 5% of woman are watching TV during these hours.

When looking at this from an advertising perspective, it is interesting to know that there are new short-term advertising opportunities available and more efficient ways to target male and female UK TV viewers throughout the day.

As expected, all content platforms are currently enjoying an uplift. Kantar can monitor linear TV, BVOD (broadcaster video on demand and subscription video on demand), Netflix (URL level) and YouTube (URL level) data. The interesting take from this data was that while Netflix announced record revenue and profits earlier this week, their increase in daily viewing minutes (68%) was lower when compared to BVOD (99%) and YouTube (105%). With only linear TV showing smaller growth when compared to Netflix.

It is clear then that UK TV viewing has changed dramatically over the past couple weeks as people have adjusted to their new ‘normal routine’. Looking to the future, it’s salient that TV viewing in China has started to stabilize as their lockdown is slowly being lifted, suggesting that in Europe too this is one change to consumption habits that may not outlive the pandemic.

Should we stop advertising during the pandemic?

Absolutely not. Kantar’s research found that only 8% of consumers believe that companies should stop advertising. During this time financial budgets have come under severe strain, meaning organisations and agencies are looking at different methods and channels depending on their availability.

While consumers do not want brands to stop advertising, they also do not want to see brands exploit the situation, and instead expect them to acknowledge the fact that things are different right now, even if advertising does not overtly address the crisis. Advertising should be useful, positive, and consistent with a brand’s values.

What happens if you decrease your ad spend?

A simulation for a real beer brand demonstrated what the impact would be if the reduced their ad spend by 50% and 100%.

Were a beer brand to completely turn off their ad spend, the model suggested they would lose 13% in sales and 2.3% in market share which is hard to recover from. But if they cut ad spends by 50% there is only a 5.25% loss in sales and 1.0% drop in market share.

It is impossible to predict how Covid-19 will continue to change consumer behaviour, but with up-to-the-minute research we can at least understand and quantify the impact it has already had. It is now more important than ever to make sure your brand is reactive to the current and future climates. The best practice for this it to optimise your media, get the best creative you can and plan for the future and recovery.

If you would like to discuss your marketing strategies, please get in contact with a member of the team.

Felix Hoogendoorn