Immediate Changes to Survey Trackers
Unemployment in early March 2020 hovered around 4%. But the numbers shot up later that month when companies started cutting jobs as the economy began screeching to a halt. Close to 10 million people filed for unemployment benefits. Those numbers have skyrocketed to over 33 million people unemployed in the United States due to the effects of this worldwide pandemic, and many more employees have taken substantial pay cuts. The uncertainty of the nation’s economy and consumers’ personal finances has, understandably, altered consumer behavior.
Shopping, dining, and travel have shifted online. We see a bump in e-commerce, online food ordering and delivery, and virtual travel experiences. For market researchers, this represents a considerable shift. Tracker studies are typically conducted to reveal the purchasing behavior of consumers so brands understand how to target them better. Due to COVID-19, however, the vast majority of trackers are canceled or on hold, and the data may be of little value post-COVID. The methodology of the survey (trackers) does not fit the current vertical that consumers use to make their purchases.
Rise of Ad Measurement
The traditional model of advertising has also been negatively impacted. Advertisers are canceling or pulling back on campaigns, leaving gaping holes in once prominent placements. One of the most noticeable absences is in sports. The pandemic has silenced stadiums around the globe. With no live games to air, networks are looking to other forms of content to draw viewers, like ESPN’s “The Last Dance.” But networks are still struggling to monetize viewers, despite consumers sheltering in place, which has sent TV viewership soaring.
YouTube, on the other hand, and other digital streaming services have surpassed network TV in ad revenue, due in part to a pre-COVID streaming entertainment trend. COVID has just accelerated it.
Essential to survival during this time is ad measurement, which enables marketers to use digital tracking technology to help determine consumers’ exposure to digital advertising. Metrics like viewing time, video plays, impressions, reach, clicks, just to name a few, are all data points we, as researchers, use to weave together the fabric of consumer behavior.
Advertising Post COVID-19
It is hard to imagine life post COVID-19 because the cloud of uncertainty is blocking our view. For companies and brands, this uncertainty hinders their ability to predict where to spend their advertising dollars and optimize return. Ad measurement enables market researchers to leverage digital data points to understand how consumers make purchases now in the wake of the pandemic to inform marketing and media strategies. I foresee more ad measurement studies for the hotel, airlines, automotive and retail industries as they work to regain market share.
About the Author:
Art Padilla is a Director of Panels at ThinkNow. He has over eight years of experience in Online Market Research and successful performance-based business development efforts. In his new role, Art is responsible for the demand side of business development at ThinkNow which includes survey-providing partner relationships, strategic partnerships, and global bids management. Art also heads up ThinkNow's Latin American (LATAM) online sample services and is focused on the overall growth of the company's online sample division. Art has a B.S. in Economics from Georgia State University.