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Navigating the Traditional Media Landscape of COVID-19

Updated: Mar 21

As this uncertain time continues on, the main concern on most people’s minds is how to stay safe and healthy. The ways to do this seem to be clear: stay home, wash your hands and avoid large groups of people. However, if you’re business owner, it’s a lot less clear. How do you keep your profits healthy? How do you keep the future of your business safe?

Right now, a lot of dealers are having to make some tough decisions in order to make ends meet, including cutting marketing budgets to lower expenses. IAB’s (Interactive Advertising Bureau) recent survey based on 400 ad buyers determined nearly 25% of advertisers have paused all spend for Q2 and those who remain active have decreased their spend on traditional media by an average of 39%.

If you can help it, now is not the time to go dark. However, cutting costs may be a necessity for some dealers in these times, so it’s more important than ever to use your remaining budget wisely. To do so, you need to understand how consumers’ media habits are changing. This will allow you to make cuts and reallocate your advertising budget in a way that won’t completely derail momentum or risk potential loss of market share.

Per Comscore, cable news network viewership has increased 73% and the big four broadcast networks increased 19% when comparing March 16-20, 2019 with the same week in 2020. More and more people working from home, watching in the daytime and early fringe dayparts appear to be the driving force causing this increase. Similar increases are being seen with OTT (over the top television) usage. Comscore’s data shows that OTT households have risen 29% through connected TVs and 43% via streaming boxes and sticks. They’re also seeing total viewing hours continue to grow through these devices as well.

IAB also reports that over 33% of advertisers are adjusting their in-market tactics utilizing audience and OTT/CTV device targeting. The benefits are clear: improving the targeting of your message both demographically and geographically allows you to maximize your budget’s effectiveness.

Regarding radio, it can be tempting to simplify  the situation down to “less people out driving = radio is ineffective right now.” But consider the research. A recent Nielsen study shows that home radio listening (via regular radio & online radio) has increased by 26%.  NuVoodoo, a marketing research company, also conducted a survey to capture radio listenership in response to the current situation. They determined that about 30% of people are listening to radio more since the outbreak and 62% of respondents are listening via AM/FM radio. Maximizing your reach and frequency is key to message recall with consumers, and radio remains a great tool for targeting a large part of the market effectively, especially with lower costs and extra added-value right now.

From a marketing perspective, a dealership’s main objective should be to stay ‘top of mind’ with consumers. Marketing consultant Roy Williams summarizes it well. “The key to succeeding in a business with a long purchase cycle is to be the company the customer thinks of first and feels the best about.” Dealers need to project a message of empathy and trustworthiness right now to resonate with consumers. But equally as important, dealers also need to understand the shift in media consumption, reallocate dollars accordingly and by take advantage of more targeted campaigns to keep their messages in front of consumers in the most effective way possible.

Dealers who can do all of this effectively will have a competitive edge, both now (because people still need cars), and especially in the future, when this is all over and pent up demand floodgates open.

If you’re ready to discuss your media mix and how it can be improved during this challenging time, let’s have a conversation.

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