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Webinar Recap: Optimizing Your Media Plan in Uncertain Times

Last updated: May 13, 2020

media plan uncertainty

Last week, we held our much-anticipated webinar Q&A: Maximizing Marketing Impact in Unpredictable Conditions. It featured some of our foremost product and analytical experts, including: 

  • John Matthews - President & Head of Customer Success 
  • Kristin Hambelton - Chief Marketing Officer 
  • Dr. Michael Cohen - Chief Data & Technology Officer 
  • Natasha Householder - Training & Documentation Lead

Together, they sourced and addressed 10 of the most pressing marketing questions and concerns from our customer community during these uncertain times. They explored how cutting edge marketing technology, like our own Marketing Measurement and Optimization Platform can guide decision making and media optimization during this shifting consumer landscape. 

Marketers Can't Ignore Data Quality Report

They found that, ultimately, consumers are still purchasing and consuming media… just differently. They offered actionable insights and next steps by exploring mock media plan scenarios, evaluating the requirements around measuring new KPIs effectively, refining survey questions, testing new media channels and more. Below is just a sample of what our experts discuss in our on-demand webinar.

The Impact on Media Spend

A majority of buy-side decision-makers believe that coronavirus will have a greater impact on U.S. ad spend than the 2008-2009 financial crisis. This belief has led many marketers to adjust their media plans, with nearly 1 out every 4 media planners (24 percent) pausing their budgets entirely. Another 46 percent adjusted their spending for Q1 & Q2 2020 to reflect the current landscape.

Many of these same decision-makers (64 percent) are still unsure of what changes will need to be made for Q3 and Q4 media plans. However, marketers need to remember that consumers are still purchasing and they are still consuming media, but this disruption has prompted them to change their habits. Marketers need to focus on customer data and insights to fully understand COVID-19’s impact on their target market, and make this part of their organization’s marketing DNA.

Steps to Consider in Uncertain Times

Cutting-edge organizations have been using data to run their business, but now is the time for every organization to embrace data-driven processes and marketing. Data quality will become increasingly important as organizations will heavily rely on these insights to make decisions. Since consumer attitudes are changing, past campaign strategies may not work in these uncertain times. To compensate for this, brands should be utilizing forward-looking scenario planning capabilities to determine which channels and creative assets will resonate with the target consumer.

Unfortunately, many marketers are pausing their media campaigns, unsure of how to better allocate their funds. However, it can take up to five years for a brand to recover its previous market share when they stop advertising. It’s important to continue advertising, although it may be better to shift your focus from generating leads to increasing brand awareness and loyalty. Building your brand instead of encouraging sales will create a wave of long-term value that your team can ride into a more certain future.

The Importance of Marketing Impact Measurement in the Midst of a Crisis

When it comes to data, it can be hard to determine what is worth measuring and what is not. Past data reflects past behavior. While referencing previous campaigns used to be a rock-solid campaign strategy, the novel coronavirus changed the marketing landscape. Marketers are left wondering if there is any point in measuring results and what the data could mean for their organizations.

Although we are past the time of economic expansion, it’s still important to measure results. Analyzing the long history of campaigns may also be less effective than in the past, so marketers must take a different approach to marketing measurement. It is crucial to have a solution in place that can disregard irrelevant data, but still learn from scenarios that are pertinent in today’s environment. It’s unlikely that COVID-19 will fundamentally change your target consumer or their preferences, but it may change the messaging and channels that you use to reach them.

Change Your Media Focus

Businesses that heavily rely on foot traffic, such as retailers and banks, may need to adjust their business and advertising models to reflect the current state of consumer behavior and while anticipating future trends. Brands must consider how consumers are currently engaging with their favorite brands, and realign their marketing strategy with new business models or products that will suit their needs. 

Behavioral data can be paired with other types of data, such as location or brand awareness metrics, to help you create better campaigns. For example, imagine a company that offers several different brands of beer. Before the pandemic, their target consumer that lives in the city may have opted for microbrews or other specialty beers that gave them a certain personal flair. However, with COVID-19 infiltrating cities around the world, those customers have started to limit their visits to the store. This shifted their tastes to a more traditional, mainstay beer that they can quickly find at any store. Brands need to keep an eye on these consumer purchasing habits, and cross-reference factors such as location data. Then, you can reallocate funds to create the most successful campaigns possible. 

Marketers must look for opportunities to align new marketing strategies with new business strategies. Initial indicators, as described above, can help business leaders make better decisions when allocating budget, choosing channels, and analyzing their business portfolio for new ways to interact and sell to customers. In fact, this changing marketing environment is a great time to test new, daring methods for engaging with customers - just remember to constantly measure your marketing campaigns and associate them with KPIs that will prove value to the C-suite.

Focus on the Right KPIs

Many organizations rely on sales KPIs to measure their advertising successes in terms of sales. In the midst of the coronavirus, there may be better KPIs to signify the results of your campaign. Generally, this means moving away from sales-based indicators, and into more awareness-based indicators. For example, instead of measuring how a campaign affected the organization’s net sales, focus on how many web visits it generated. These will act as indicators of brand health and help you predict the intent of your customers. Even if they are not purchasing today, you can use KPIs to ensure that customers are staying inside of your sales funnel.

Dr. Michael Cohen illustrates this point in our webinar and assures the listener that many other types of businesses, such as car dealerships, have had great success tracking brand health rather than sales in the midst of a disaster. Then, he discusses the importance of measuring Behavioral Digital KPIs and Brand Health KPIs to monitor the health of your marketing and media investments. Take a sneak peek:

Final Thoughts

The novel coronavirus is going to fundamentally alter the way that marketers reach their customers. Previous tried-and-true techniques may not receive the same reception that they used to, while economic concerns slow down purchasing across a variety of demographics. However, it’s not all doom and gloom for marketers. This is a great time to rethink how customer data can be used to reach your target audience, and invest in predictive capabilities that will help you create new, groundbreaking messaging that resonates with your target’s state of mind.

If you are interested in more practical tips for improving your marketing strategy during the COVID-19 pandemic, listen to our on-demand webinar, Maximizing Marketing Impact in Unpredictable Conditions. We will expand on some of the ideas that we mentioned here, then walk through mock media plan scenarios to discuss how data can drive better decision making across your organization.

Written by Marketing Evolution