How Associations Can Leverage an Unprecedented Digital Marketing Decline

Recent statistics show that many marketers have paused campaigns or cut ad budgets due to COVID-19, causing digital advertising to drop for the first time ever. Those that still have a marketing budget may have an advantage on digital platforms as a result.

If you’re a digital marketer, you might be in a holding pattern as a result of COVID-19. But if you still have a bit of budget to spend on digital ads right now, you might be able to take advantage of a rare gap in the industry.

Recently, the global marketing insight firm WARC reported a decline in marketing budgets in the digital space in April—the first such decline it has ever reported. Both traditional and mobile ads are down.

On top of this, the Interactive Advertising Bureau reported survey data that found 37 percent of ad buyers paused their campaigns in April, up from 24 percent in March.

This is a significant change in fortunes for digital advertising, one that organizations with smaller budgets may be well-positioned to take advantage of. Although Facebook and Google continue to see revenue growth and may not be the best places to find discounts right now, other options may provide good opportunities:

Smaller publishers may be ready to offer discounts. Some publishers, such as Barstool Sports, have tried to stem the broader decline in advertising by focusing on smaller, more focused deals with advertisers in the hopes of long-term relationship growth. “Singles and doubles matter right now,” the firm’s chief revenue officer, Deirdre Lester, stated to Digiday.

Now might be a time to focus on trust-based messaging. A recent Gartner post notes that even before the recent crisis, many consumers had grown skeptical about brands and large organizations, instead favoring local organizations. “The current crisis seems poised to amplify the distrust customers have of brands,” writes Gartner contributor Laura Starita. “Brands can push against that wave by rising to the occasion to reestablish trust through customer-centric actions.” Starita says that marketing that focuses on listening to consumers and a balanced response about what your organization can and cannot do right now could help your organization reverse the trend.

The current environment requires tactical changes. The marketing messages that you put out there will have to reflect the situation in the real world, where some traditional marketing channels, such as in-person events, are off the table for now. And that requires changes in mindset, writes Business 2 Community contributor Susan Friesen. “Part of brand marketing during this pandemic is knowing when to re-strategize and pivot, rather than continuing with an ad campaign that’s not going to resonate with—or even offends—your target audience,” she writes.

(marrio31/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!