It seemed like the end of the world was indeed here for the first weeks of COVID-19. The stock market plummeted, businesses laid people off, people had to work from home, grocery stores were filled, and almost every country in the world was polluted and deadly – there seemed to be no end in sight. any of us who have seen other crises before have struggled to make a comparison to previous crises – the 2000 dot-com bubble, 2008 financial crisis. Yet even the most positive of us thought this was different – at least never before in our lives had we encountered a situation with a devastating combination of a financial crisis and a humanitarian crisis that happened concurrently and internationally.
I learned very quickly (and painfully) years ago when Insprago was formed, just after the 2008 financial crisis, that Marketing is almost always the first budget to be cut in a crisis. In general, most CEOs and CFOs are taking the mindset of 'first aim and then goal' in the midst of such a big crisis in order to minimize costs in a crisis and marketing is an easy target. Seeing that the majority of the marketing roles have historically been outsourced in large corporations, it is a easy place to cut before you talk about reducing staff. Inside marketing, the advertising budget is of course the hardest to cut, and so facilities, technology suppliers and eventually employees, perhaps in that order, are the first and then necessary.
So COVID-19 first felt as if we were going to head through another nuclear winter for tech shopping that would decimate digital marketing technology firms by slashing their budgets. Of course, COVID-19 was a crisis like many others before, but it was also different – different because it seemed to be short-lasting, with various experts forecasting so-called recoveries. When we saw food and consumable goods flying off the shelves (toilet paper anybody? Hand sanitizers, Glooves), another question that came to our mind was whether this would affect all or only some companies, due to the significant shift in life styles of working at home.
Through observing closely what our customers were doing, we tried quickly to explain what was happening. It was apparent within a few weeks that this situation was different. Although some industries such as travel and hospitality and retail have been hit hard and seemed like they would take years to recover, several other industries seemed to see a significant need for innovation in digital marketing technologies. It is also clear that many will be pressured to reconsider the outdated marketing tactics, methods and processes in which they have been living because of the evolving nature of their companies ( e.g. fast food being a delivery business).
Here are some considerations for advertisers preparing for the future of COVID-19:
The innovative and digital creation strategies of today are poised to challenge, with considerable cost savings for brands. Most brands still rely on an archaic content and a creative production model designed for T.V. and print advertisements that manually created , edited, distributed and paid for each piece of content and creativity. As marketing channels continue to increase and brands try to gain relevance through personalized content and innovation, these costs have risen significantly.
It is one field ready to use the technology to save millions of AED in manufacturing costs with the imminent marketing budget cuts. New dynamic creative technology (DCO) enables the digital version of creative advertising in several languages, product packaging, etc. without having to create and pay for the creative ad manually. There can also be dramatic shifts in promotional deals and costs without investing millions of AED on production charges.
GCC companies have for some time now been aware of the challenge to their paradigm of retail brick-and - mortar delivery, which made them heavily retail based. As a result, they did not have the ability to develop direct relationships with customers. Although some have invested in selling their goods through eTailers such as Amazon or direct sales, many still rely heavily on retailers to sell.
At the shelter point, COVID-19 almost completely halted retail sales, but brands with eCommerce deals and direct marketing rose in sales. GCC companies with strong emphasis on TV, OOH and print advertising are now moving their marketing investments to digital marketing as a new way of enticing consumers to purchase through their websites and apps. A fast move to digital marketing is their response to retail sales that continue to decline and may not recover for some time due to social distance, whether motivated by or induced by customer fear.
Similarly, fast-service restaurants often face certain existential challenges, as restaurants become unsafe and customers then opt to order. Big Brands which focused on brand recognition, need to turn gear quickly to 1:1 personalized digital marketing — to guide customers to their very own or other food services , it is important to survive. Also, it will be a while before customer dining behavior is common even though quarantine restrictions are removed.
It's also probably true that the transition from customers to digital distribution will be a permanent move as they've learned out of necessity a new restaurant process that they either didn't realize was feasible or simply didn't seek. Just as we all discovered from Zoom that meetings don't necessarily require travel or face-to - face, it can be a permanent improvement.
This means more investment in personalized marketing platforms that allow these companies to collect and use data for digital marketing , digital media buying platforms and innovative and content automation platforms to supply customized messages and offers. Both these innovations were not worried when dependent on TV ads, which was essentially one-size-fitting and was ordered and implemented manually by advertisers for them.
The first thing the COVID-19 brands discovered was that in a moment of crisis or a chance to adapt quickly, be it by a virus, competition or customer behaviour, it is important to adjust messaging and content. Most companies needed weeks to adjust their ads, as the outdated creative and content development departments had to generate everything, from tv advertisement to ads to crisis communications, manually and followed by another lengthy turnaround process.
The response required for COVID-19 was also unique in that messages had to be different according to where the brand was advertising worldwide (or only in one country). The present one-size-fit-all messages were alarming, as they either spoke about empathy in places where people moved beyond the epidemic or were attempting to steer customers to stores where shops were closed or infections peaked.
Although the rapid response to COVID-19 has illustrated these issues for advertisers, the issues have always existed. Travel companies have long had to confront natural disasters or seasons and alter their advertisements quickly or exclude all destinations from their ads. Telcos must continuously discuss their competitors' exclusive deals and discounts. Retailers had to continually push new offers to strike back.
For competitive brands acquiring a more sensitive and real-time marketing platform where data-driven predictive creative technology enables fast and prompt changes in creative and content across all marketing platforms, marketers would do well to embrace or be left behind these technologies.
One thing is obvious: advertisers in the wake of COVID-19 will have to rethink what innovations they need, which can help them save money and which can help them improve their companies that have been affected by this crisis. Therefore, marketing technology that contributes to the above business needs is regarded as 'important' and the rest that end up in the waste of technology-driven promises that have not been truly marketing ROI.
Insprago is a team of passionate and curious tech savvies. We love to work with people who trust their instincts, who are as bold with their vision as we are and who love things to be crafted beautifully. For us, it’s all about presenting the brands with creativity, backed by the latest innovative technologies. A blend of aesthetic designs bulletproofed with logic to hit your target market effectively to get you high Return on InvestmentBook Your Consulation