Has Covid changed media habits….and what does that mean for your advertising in 2022?

I’m sure most people reading this will be old enough to remember the days when the bulk of advertising budgets were invested offline, with consumers following a pretty predictable media day.  You knew where they’d be, what they’d be reading or watching and therefore how to find and connect with them.  Easy.

Then the TV market fragmented, digital came along, and budgets were dissipated across multiple channels.  However the good news was that in the most part this fragmentation brought increased accountability and levels of targeting that any military sniper would be jealous of.

As we look ahead to 2022 and ask ourselves, “should we be advertising”, “when should we advertise” and “on what media” we need to first understand the impact that the pandemic has had on consumer media habits.

So much has changed so quickly in living memory but the IPA Touchpoints survey has managed to capture some of the key trends since 2005 and especially those in 2020.  And whilst there have been some significant shifts of media habits during the lockdowns, it is important to consider broader trends as these are more indicative and informative to future media planning.

Somewhat surprisingly, since the survey began in 2005, little has changed in the overall shape of the average media day despite the fragmentation of media and the volume of new entrants to the media landscape.  TV has always dominated evenings, radio always peaked in the morning and the visibility of Out of Home (OOH – billboards, posters, buses etc) grew as the day progressed but declined in the evening.  And despite falling circulations overall, press ran at a low, but consistent level, throughout the day.  Not surprising when you consider the life of an “average” GB adult.

Interestingly the 2020 Lockdown saw the first ever major deviation from the norms.  Thanks to a 26% drop in those awake at 7am during lockdown vs pre lockdown (spot those on furlough!), the radio peak shifted from the morning to nearer midday.  Evening TV viewing grew significantly whilst inevitably OOH lost frequency, but strangely not overall coverage.  Some/all of these changes are likely to revert as the country returns to “normal” given how interwoven media consumption habits are with the “normal” working day/week.  However, it will be interesting to see whether there are any lasting legacies picked up in future waves of Touchpoints if the flexibility of working from home continues.  

However what the survey does highlight is a growing separation between the ages.  Whilst the gap between the media habits of the over 55s and 16-34s was already divergent, lockdown has further widened the gap.  During lockdown the time spent on digital channels for 16-34s reached almost 80% according to the survey!

Outside of OOH (28%), social media continues to dominate 16-34s media consumption at 24% but the biggest growth has come from online video, taking it to within 2% of live/recorded TV for this audience (10%).

For the 35-54 audience time spent on Live/Recorded TV has fallen by 31% since 2015 and has been swapped for time on social media or other online video/streaming.  That said TV remains the dominant medium for this audience (21%) behind OOH which recorded at 28%.

And although the habits of the over 55s are changing – they are changing very very very slowly.  Their habits in 2020 were 99% the same as their habits in 2015!  And although the visibility of OOH fell for them during lockdown the time was replaced with more live TV.

Clearly “digital”, in all its forms, makes up large parts of any advertising schedule, so how has that changed in recent times?

It will come as no surprise that digital ad spend continues to see growth and in line with the findings of the Touchpoints survey, online video spend has seen a rise of 79%.   And within this rise, it should come as no surprise that mobile ad spend is biased towards smartphones and now accounts for 64%, with UK smartphone penetration estimated at 94% by 2025 (vs 92% in 2021). TikTok was the second-most-downloaded app in the UK in 2020, just behind Zoom and ahead of the NHS Covid-19 app!  However in the US, France, Italy & Spain it topped the charts!  And although user growth has slowed in 2021, it has still seen a 36% user growth in the UK.

So what does this all mean for planning advertising campaigns in 2022?   ~To conclude I thought I’d share 10 top tips which we have formed our thinking in recent weeks and months:

  1. There is pent up demand for travel so it is important to defend your patch.
  2. Set expectations/benchmarks up front.  What does success look like….and at what point would you need to pull the plug and pause activity?
  3. Work your agency and internal teams hard.  Don’t wait until the end of the month to review campaign performance….set weekly reviews (daily is too frequent to spot trends!)
  4. Know your audience and get inside their minds.  When do they consumer media…when are thinking about holidays?  Just because they’re on LinkedIn doesn’t mean that that is the correct medium to engage them on.
  5. Layer media where you can.  It surrounds the audience, offering multiple touchpoints and makes the whole campaign feel larger and more significant in their eyes.
  6. Where can you find meaningful share of voice vs your competitors….it doesn’t all have to be digital after all.
  7. Be honest with yourselves though…..are you spending/buying enough to move the needle?  If not pause, review and consolidate budgets (or spend more)
  8. Try and identify media channels which allow you to flex if needed.  Are you selling holidays and engaging consumers?  If you are crack on…and can you do more to take customers out of market?  If it’s not happening…perhaps the ongoing uncertainties are leading to research but not bookings.  What else can you do to capture emails and engage during the year when bookings pick up or can you incentivise to secure bookings?
  9. The devil is in the detail.  Taking PPC as just one example, how does impression share impact conversions?
  10. But more than anything…..do something and measure it.  To get to the end of Q1 and hear how well others may have fared and how busy they might have been would be soul destroying.  As my hero Del Boy says….”he who dares Rodders!

And just to reassure you, we’re an unbiased bunch at Bluesoup.  As a full-service agency we’re not reliant on any one medium for our success and as such our focus remains advising our clients (and ABTOT members) on how to invest marketing budgets for greatest return.

If you fancy a no obligation chat about your plans for 2022 or any aspect of your current marketing plans, please get in touch. We’ll be able to give you an honest appraisal of where you are and then develop a bespoke strategy given your objectives and budget.

Contact Ben Duhig, Bluesoup’s Managing Director, for more information and to request an initial chat.
0844 880 5470