Marketing Insights to Navigate the Coronavirus Pandemic – Weekly Recap of News You Can Use

Week of April 20, 2020


Greetings from the home office.

As the COVID-19 chaos continues to create challenges for businesses across the map, there are beginning to be a few bright spots. Consumer confidence and spending have seen a slight increase thanks to stimulus checks and the anticipation of stay-at-home orders being lifted.

But, a marketer’s work is never done. Brands continue to find new ways to pivot their products and services to remain relevant, reallocate budgets and adjust marketing strategies and media buys. Those that remain steadfast with timely solutions and maintain an empathetic connection with their customers are more likely to be remembered and reap the long-term benefit of increased customer loyalty. To help you stay current and aid in your strategy development, below is this week’s roundup of insightful content.

Content Roundup

How has media consumption changed in face of COVID-19? Here’s a look at what people are doing during this period of isolation at home. Media consumption has vastly increased, and not surprisingly, it differs by generation. People are relying on their devices to “inform and distract,” which is creating an increasing opportunity for marketers to engage this captive audience. Learn more.

Local news is spiking, the top five video streaming services are up and radio and digital audio have maintained their listener base. A Nielsen expert discusses these points plus the effect on revenue for brands cutting their media spend during the pandemic. Learn more.

Pessimism and stories of economic gloom have dominated in recent weeks, but there are now increasingly hopeful signs for marketers including positive consumer sentiment, an uptick in online spending and increased marketing activity designed to propel brands through the rebound. Learn more.

Source:  CivicScience

As businesses are gearing up for a post-pandemic world, they must consider five areas that will shape their strategy: position, plan, perspective, projects and preparedness. This article from Harvard Business Review presents many questions to help guide brands’ planning initiatives. Learn more.

We all know content is critical for SEO success, but how can your brand stand out in a sea of “coronacontent”? What type of content should you be creating now and how do you prepare for the post-coronavirus future? There’s no simple answer, but here’s what digital marketing experts had to say in an interview with Greg Sterling. Learn more.

Although it’s a tumultuous period, now is the perfect time for brands to learn from consumers’ new purchasing habits and online behaviors and refine their customer experience strategies accordingly. Learn more.

Brands are trying to determine what changes they need to make now and moving toward the future to stay relevant, stay in business and ultimately grow despite this crisis. Here are four ways companies are pivoting their offerings, budgets and strategies due to COVID-19. Learn more.

We hope you’ve found our compilation insightful. Stay safe and if you haven’t already, subscribe to our blog to get next week’s roundup delivered straight to your inbox.

Might, May, Must for Media Strategies

Contributed by Tom Palmier, Mindstream Media Group Account Director. Tom has been consulting with brands and business partners on their digital advertising since 2006.

To help our client brand and CMO partners strategically navigate their marketing through the novel coronavirus crisis, Mindstream Media Group created what we’ve dubbed “rebound teams.” These agency teams pair our media professionals with individuals from a variety of disciplines and client teams to gain a fresh perspective and devise unique strategies for their clients post-virus.

I’ve been lucky enough to participate in a couple of these teams and noticed common themes developing across client industry verticals and topic groups. Not all of these topics apply to every industry and some may weight each topic differently. We realize each individual client is different, but the topics below represent challenges seen across all industries.

Might – Advertisers might want to rethink who their target audience is during this unique time. Brands might consider letting current customers know what they are doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or what they are doing in the community to help fight back. Are you open for online orders or curbside to go? “During this time in which the restaurant industry has seen huge declines in dine-in volume, it is encouraging that more than half of our respondents said they are maintaining or increasing their takeout and delivery spend,” said Cindy Judge, CEO of SRG in Ad Age. Let your most valuable customers know how they can do business with you and make it as seamless as possible. Brands might also consider pausing testing new audiences or conquesting and focus instead on core audiences and loyal customers.

May – Marketers may consider re-aligning their media mix to match changing consumer consumption behaviors. For instance, studies are showing radio, billboards and other OOH media are seeing a decline in viewership while traditional TV, connected TV, as well as social media and online video, have seen an increase in time spent with media. Comscore has released multiple studies on media consumption habits and how they have rapidly evolved since quarantines began.

  • Television has become a core source of news, information and entertainment.
  • In-home data usage is on the rise thanks to millions of adults being at home and schools shutting down.
  • Analysis of digital consumption has revealed a shift in category trends.

Advertisers, if not already, should consider these changing consumption patterns when deciding how to best utilize their media investments. Many marketers have already shifted media budgets according to the IAB, “More than a third (35 percent) of advertisers are adjusting their in-market tactics and are increasing: Audience targeting (+38 percent), OTT / CTV device targeting (+35 percent), Mobile/Tablet device targeting.”

Must – As a brand or CMO, you must be thinking about messaging. How can you convey that you understand your target’s perspective? Not just say, but convey your experience, leadership and ability to weather the storm. According to the IAB, “The majority (63 percent) of advertisers are adjusting their messaging and are increasing: mission-based marketing (+42 percent) and cause-related marketing (+41 percent).”

Messaging must change if it’s currently focused on in-store visits, for example, and focus instead on an easy online shopping experience. For others, the message may be to not have an offer or call to action, and simply let the community know how you are responding. No brand wants to be seen as taking advantage of a crisis or drawing unnecessary crowds with a big sale. Telecommunications industry leaders like AT&T and Verizon are responding with unique messages for this time any many carriers have added extra data to plans in response to the crisis.

Messaging must convey empathy first, then value. Here are some guidelines to help marketers think about messaging during this time.

Over time, these pivot points may change, and we may go back to our pre-crisis marketing plans, but for now, we must revisit our strategies and refocus our message. If possible, marketers should consider re-allocating media budgets to take advantage of increasing digital and in-home media consumption and have a plan to thoughtfully engage with your current customers now and post-crisis.

Marketers who stay quiet or withdraw during this time will have some catching up to do once this has passed in terms of messaging. Agencies who lean into this challenge and help their clients navigate this experience will solidify partnerships and strengthen brands for years to come.

Second Screen Advertising: Friend or Foe?

For nearly a decade, marketers have been talking about the effect of the second screen on media consumption and advertising. As is often the case with change, fear hit early, and doubt was cast on the consumer’s ability to engage with primary content funded by ad dollars, and second screens were largely seen as distractions. But before long, marketers began to see the opportunities ahead and started weaving multi-screen strategy into media plans. Success varied as waters were tested. As consumption and channels continuously evolved, so too did the media plans with increasing return.

The question persists: is the second screen friend or foe to advertisers?

Before we go on, let’s acknowledge a technicality– your first screen may not be my first screen. The average 18- to 24-year-old spends almost two hours more than older adults streaming video on smartphones, including television content. For the sake of simplicity though, assume first screen here is television.


How Consumers See the Second Screen

First, take a look at the consumer experience with second screens. Second screen engagement is practically a given as audiences “sometimes” or “always” have a smartphone or tablet in-hand 73 percent of the time they’re in front of a TV, according to Nielsen’s 2018 Total Audience Report. Not exactly a shocking statistic, but what are consumers doing with multi-screen use?

Consuming Related Organic Content.Over 70 percent of multi-screen users are engaging in content related to programming. They’re solving their own trivia questions by searching online for things like:

  • Sports statistics and bios during games
  • Actors, filming locations, past seasons and show spoilers
  • Music artists, fashion and style or product influencers

Socializing. How can you NOT talk about the final episode of The Bachelor on social media or by texting and emailing friends? Forty-one percent of second screen users report talking about their shows like this. Plus, second (and even third) screens put audiences in the moment as they take to social media to give their opinions and share related content. According to Facebook, half of sports fans say they use social media or message friends when second screening during events.

Engaging with Paid Ads, Apps and Other Content. Just ask Super Bowl advertisers–enough audience mass, hype and creative paid content will draw attention. Campaigns running during other key sporting events, like the World Cup, March Madness, World Series and Olympics, have seen tremendous audience engagement. (ICYMI, throw back to our blog, Sports and the Second Screen, for more on this.)

Literally Anything Else. Work, homework, paying bills, etc. will likely always distract audiences from paid programming and advertising to varying degrees.


How Advertisers Can Profit from Second Screens

Not every advertiser has a Super Bowl-sized budget to create and place multi-channel content in front of record-breaking audiences. Most don’t; we get it. But you can still develop profitable strategies for multi-screen consumers that create greater brand awareness and generate online and offline sales.

Think Holistically. Cross-platform planning for television, online advertising and owned media deliver extended reach, greater frequency and compounded performance. This means brands may need to bring multiple in-house marketers and agencies together to ensure cohesion of goals and tactics. For example, Mindstream Media Group commonly includes our traditional and digital strategists in client planning and optimization discussions, and we work closely with other creative and general agencies to activate holistic strategies.

Act Precisely. Imprecise, mass marketing will kill your budget and underperform. So, while you need to consider holistic strategy, that doesn’t mean paint with a broad brush. According to Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, only 30 percent of survey respondents think professionals in their organizations are “very knowledgeable” about viewing trends and related advertising needs. So, get with your agency, and be generous with your customer data, consumer targeting and intent for lookalike audiences. Pinpoint accuracy on buying journeys and viewing habits tied to content relevancy are key to efficiently and effectively allowing one screen’s marketing to play off another.


Ongoing Advertiser Opportunities

The complexity of video across screens and channels continues. With it, comes the opportunity for marketers to exploit remarkably finite data points to predict and personalize the ad experience.

Want to get the most out of second screen ad strategies? Contact Mindstream Media Group to learn how we can help. 

What You Need to Know About Connected TV Advertising

As the lines between traditional and digital video consumption blur – and, in many cases, vanish completely – marketers are scrambling to find the right approach to reach an increasingly fragmented audience. Some marketers see this as a binary choice between leveraging the massive audiences and storytelling prowess of traditional TV or harnessing the targeting precision and tracking capabilities of digital video.

But, with connected TV advertising, you can have both. Connected TV allows marketers to marry the impact of linear TV commercials with the precision of digital advertising.

A shift in TV viewing

In recent years, there’s been a shift from traditional to connected TV in both viewership and ad dollars. Viewers are now watching their favorite movies and TV shows outside the confines of traditional TV providers using a variety of over-the-top (OTT) services, which makes focusing on where to serve ads somewhat trivial. In response, marketers are shifting to connected TV advertising to focus more on who they serve ads to.

“What’s hot right now, for us anyway, is connected TV,” according to Jim White, Senior Vice President, Mindstream Media Group. “It’s taking the best of the digital world in terms of data targeting, different behavioral aspects and personas, then targeting people in a television environment with digital capabilities.”

To help you embrace this shift, here are answers to some of the most pressing questions marketers have about shifting to connected TV advertising.

How do connected TV ads differ from traditional commercials?

Connected TV ads look and feel like linear TV commercials but they are not bought, sold or delivered the same way.

With traditional TV advertising, advertisers purchase ad spots at designated times on designated channels during designated programming. Advertisers decide ad buys based on the size and makeup of each program’s audience. To determine this, media sellers use Gross Rating Point (GRP) to determine the number of people from the desired audience who have likely watched the program.

Here’s how media sellers determine GRP:

How does connected TV advertising work?

With connected TV advertising, ad buys are not based on air times or channels. Instead, connected TV ads are delivered one at a time based on the specific viewer watching a program. The advantage here is that you don’t have to guess which shows your target audiences are watching. Instead, you can build a target audience based on demographic and behavioral signals, then serve ads to specific viewers.

How do you identify specific viewers?

The key to serving ads this way is cross-device matching, which allows advertisers to identify consumers across a variety of connected devices. Cross-device matching uses digital footprints on computers, smartphones, tablets and connected TVs to identify specific audience members and serve them ads across those devices.

There are two primary methods for identifying specific viewers with cross-device matching.

Probabilistic and deterministic matching for connected TV advertising

What targeting options are available to reach the right connected TV audiences?

Now that we’ve looked at how you can identify viewers, let’s go over what types of targeting options are available. There are a number of connected TV advertising vendors with variable targeting options based on each provider’s specific tech. As an example, let’s look at the targeting capabilities available through’s connected TV solution.

(Disclosure: Mindstream Media Group partners with to provide programmatic advertising solutions with advanced geo-targeting capabilities.)

Addressable targeting

This type of connected TV targeting uses prospect lists to serve ads to specific members of a target audience with precise geo-fences around their addresses.

Behavioral targeting

This type of targeting allows you to serve ads to consumers based on the behavioral and intent-based signals they leave as they consume content online. You can target based on:

  • The link and tag data from webpages your target audience members visit
  • The contextual categories of the online content your target audience members consume
  • The searches your target audience members conduct online
Demographic targeting

Demographic targeting relies on data from reliable sources like household census, warranty registrations, questionnaires, credit bureau record and purchase histories. You can then layer this on top of behavioral targeting to hone in on very specific audiences.

With’s technology, you can target households across the country based on more than 1,500 demographic attributes.

Demographic categories for connected TV advertising

How does this impact local businesses?

Connected TV advertising presents a significant opportunity for local businesses and multi-location brands to hone in on viewers based on very specific geographic information. Here’s a look at the geographic targeting available through’s connected TV solutions.

Targeting options for connected TV ads

What apps and OTT services can I serve ads on?

The beauty of connected TV advertising is it allows you to focus more on the who (i.e., the specific viewers seeing the ads) than the where (i.e., the programs and services hosting the ads). But, this question is still common from advertisers that are new to connected TV advertising. Here’s a look at which OTT services serve ads to give you an idea of the connected TV ad inventory that’s available today.

OTT services that serve connected TV ads

Want to learn more about connected TV advertising? Check out the first two installments of our connected TV series:

Ready to get started with connected TV advertising? Contact Mindstream Media Group to learn how we can help you marry the power of traditional TV ads with the precision of digital advertising.