The entire world is being ravished by a pandemic many have predicted but no one believed to actually happen. Governments around the world are scrambling blindly trying to contain it’s spread and mitigate its damage but to very little success. Experts and analysts are predicting the worst for the economy, saying it might take years before it recovers. With all these in mind, one can’t help but ask what these all mean for digital marketing.

Now that people are forced to spend most of their time indoors as one of the measures to fight the virus, lifestyles and daily activities have been drastically changed. With no other means to entertain themselves, anyone who has access to the internet is spending increasing amounts of time online, and brands have been quick to notice.

Those online shops that have been known to target people termed as “couch potato” have seen an increase in their sales. And those whose businesses have largely depended on physical stores had to change their strategy to facilitate a move towards online transactions and user experience.

Short term effects

Obviously, the main concern is public health, hence the self-isolation measures, but it is not just the sick who are at risk of the virus. Businesses are feeling the effects as well, with many companies reporting revenue losses and going into financial crises. Many have started to furlough or even fire employees as a cost-saving measure.

Marketing departments and agencies like Adfluencer are also feeling the effects as well with many marketers seemingly at a loss, wondering what their next step is going to be now that the future is so uncertain.

Impact on marketing

A recent survey showed that 61% of marketers have now changed their short-term strategies but only 9% are doing anything about their long-term plans. The move from offline towards online signaled to marketers which direction they should take. And considering that digital media is consumed at a much faster rate during this post-corona world, this trend should come as no surprise.

The massive budget cuts the companies and businesses are doing will also push marketers to explore cheaper and flexible channels like programmatic advertising. Social media is also another channel not many marketers were willing to explore in the past but have not actively studied and tested its overall impact in their strategies.

It goes without saying that out-of-home ads like billboards will have lesser significance now that many people are forced to stay home and digital advertisements such as social media and online video will see an increase. Even marketing has also been on pause since mass gathering has been banned all over the world. But marketers, digital marketers to be precise, have taught ingenious ways to facilitate outdoor entertainment indoors.

Virtual concerts, shows, and hangouts are all the rage, and thanks to channels like Zoom, Skype, and other video conferencing services, people are still able to attend such events even when they’re stuck at home.

Long-term implications

A concern that many people have about this ongoing pandemic is when everything can go back to the way it was. People are keen on returning to their old lives where movement is not restricted and they’re free to interact with others.

Certain industries have altogether ground to a halt. Spending on travel, retail, and events is almost nonexistent. But on-demand services have increased and it is here that advertising will be focused on.

Delivery services, online streaming and news, and video conferencing software have also benefited in this era of a higher online presence.

Seizing opportunities

The current predicament might seem dire but for the online world, there is a lot of promise. There has never been a time in human history that consumer behavior has been drastically changed overnight. Being forced to stay indoors has pushed many to turn online for many of their needs – from food, interaction, shopping, and entertainment.

A new type of online behavior has also emerged. Now that consumers are spending more time online, activities such as online shopping are going to shift to mid-day, a time when activity is usually low. Media is going to be cheaper as budgets for marketing get cut in certain industries. Online activity is also predicted to increase now that there is a constant stream of news.

For brands, establishing an online presence has never been so crucial. To survive this crisis, they need to treat their work like business as usual but move it online. Now more than ever they need to know where their target audiences are, how their lifestyles have changed, and plan the best strategy to target them.

Eliza Brooks

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