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30-second summary:

  • The increased use of social platforms from users during lockdown led to a decrease in the advertising cost. Many industries benefited from this sudden change making the most of the reduced competition and the cost-effective ad results.
  • According to Smartly.io’s survey, users are more open to engaging with advertising on social media, especially in countries that experienced stricter lockdowns.
  • The best way to create effective ads is to find a balance between consumer needs and advertising best practices.
  • According to Smartly.io’s report, one-third of consumers want brands to share relevant messaging that is useful during and post the pandemic. More consumers expect from brands to continue their advertising compared to the ones who wish they’d stop for the time being.
  • Not everything is negative for brands right now. Despite the uncertainty, it’s encouraging to see that consumers are now making more purchases through social media compared to the past.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the face of marketing and advertising over the last few months. Marketers are trying to adjust to a new world with changing consumer habits and new strategies that keep brands relevant.

Smartly.io asked 5000 consumers on how social advertising affects the way they see brands.

Their global report ‘How Brands Should Navigate Social Advertising After COVID-19’ offers useful insights into the changes in the advertising landscape and how to address them based on the consumers’ needs.

Here are five changes that shape social advertising during COVID-19:

Content produced in partnership with Smartly.io.

The cost of advertising has changed

cost of advertising

Back in March when uncertainty was kicking off, many brands paused their advertising campaigns. This led to decreased competition on auction-based platforms.

Many industries benefited from this sudden change making the most of the reduced competition and the cost-effective ad results.

The ecommerce industry was encountering supply issues while the travel industry was also dealing with big uncertainty. Thus, while they were trying to adapt to a new reality, they were also seeing lower competition and CPM.

Meanwhile, there were industries that saw their CPM rising due to the rapid change of demand.

Gaming, online education and entertainment advertisers were among those who saw a sudden rise in their CPM.

All of a sudden there was a clear split between different industries and different expectations when it comes to advertising.

Consumers are more open to engaging with social media advertising

social advertising engagement

As more people increase their social media usage during the pandemic, they also seem to be more willing to engage with social ads. The behavioral change can be attributed to the growing need to connect with others during challenging times.

According to Smartly.io’s survey, users are more open to engaging with advertising on social media, especially in countries that experienced stricter lockdown.

The effect was even more evident in countries like Italy and Spain where the lockdown was stricter pushing users to explore online options for new products and services.

Even in Sweden where the measures were not as extreme as in other countries, 38% of the respondents seemed to be more open to engaging with social ads during the pandemic compared to the past.

It’s no surprise that 59% of consumers started spending more time on social platforms to connect with family and friends.

For brands, this is an opportunity to adopt a human approach that is based on understanding your consumers’ concerns and needs in the current situation.

Advertising types that consumers want to see vary all around the world

Advertising types

Not all markets have a clear preference for the most effective ad types.

Still, in countries like France, the preference is clear. 43% of French respondents seem to prefer video ads over images. This doesn’t mean that you should only rely on the consumers’ preferences for the ultimate decision.

The best way to create effective ads is to find a balance between consumer needs and advertising best practices. Testing different formats can be very beneficial when aiming for a successful advertising campaign.

When it comes to messaging apps, US consumers seem to be the least open to receiving them through messaging. Meanwhile, Italians are 4x more open to receiving messaging apps.

People need help while preparing for normalcy

We are currently experiencing an unknown situation that affects both consumers and advertisers. Brands need to frame their messaging to be relevant to their target audience.

So what do consumers really want from brands?

According to Smartly.io’s report, one-third of consumers want brands to share relevant messaging that is useful during the pandemic. More consumers expect from brands to continue their advertising compared to the ones who wish they’d stop for the time being.

Moreover, 4 in 10 consumers value ads that promote products and services that are relevant to the current lockdown lifestyle.

Looking at the different markets and how consumers react to brand messaging, there is a correlation between highly digital societies and openness to digital ads.

For example, only 7% of consumers in Singapore think advertising should stop. Meanwhile, less than a third of French consumers want brands to take some sort of action.

There seems to be more cautiousness in the EU and US markets than in Asian in social advertising and how to approach it in the current situation.

Only 32% of American consumers want brands to offer relevant products during the pandemic. Similarly, 21% of German consumers want brands to stop all their advertising efforts for the time being. Indian consumers seem to agree as 23% of them also want brands to stop their advertising during the pandemic.

Thus, global brands can learn useful insights on how to adjust their targeting and messaging for the time being based on the different markets they want to run ads.

Consumers are making more purchases through social than ever before

Not everything is negative for brands right now. Despite the uncertainty, it’s encouraging to see that consumers are now making more purchases through social media compared to the past.

In fact, consumers in India, Italy and Spain are leading the way with 73%, 71%, and 66% of their respondents making purchases through social ads over the last month.

The lockdown must have affected the increase but it’s still promising to see more consumers being willing to trust brands and new products through social advertising.

There are many more interesting insights to explore in Smartly.io’s latest report around social advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can download it here.

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