New research from Kantar uncovers how people’s media habits, attitudes and expectations can guide brands’ strategy during the Coronavirus pandemic in order to remain afloat now and to bounce back once the worst has passed.

The findings detailed in the first instalment of the research company’s COVID-19 Barometer, are based on a survey of more than 25,000 people across 30 markets between the 14th and 23rd March. Due to the time it takes to put together research and the speed of the virus’ spread, at the point of analysis there were 200,000 cases worldwide (there are now well over 400,000).

Markets are categorised as:

  • Early – few cases, limited social distancing policies in place
  • Mid – community transmission with social distancing measures in place
  • Late – Significant cases and deaths with full lockdown in place

At time of analysis, Italy and China were the only countries examined in the late stage.

What brands need to do:

  • Look after your employees and help national/global efforts where possible. Globally, 78% expect companies to worry about their employees’ health, and to favour flexible working, followed by 62% saying staff should be able to work flexibly.

    Elsewhere, supporting hospitals (41%) and being helpful to government (35%) is an expectation of significant minority of consumers.
  • Continue advertising for the long-term. Just 8% of consumers expect brands to cut advertising, so there’s little risk of it being read as insensitive. The risks of going dark by cutting back costs radically can be huge in the long-term, even if there is little short-term effect, according to longstanding Kantar figures. 

What’s more, it matters for recovery. According to a Kantar/BrandZ analysis of brands following the 2008 economic crisis, strong brands recover nine times faster than the S&P 500 standard.

  • What consumers want brands to do during the crisis: help them. Top three comms strategies among consumers include talking about how the brand is helpful in the new everyday (77%), keeping them informed about the brand’s reaction to the new situation (75%), offering a reassuring tone (70%)
  • What not to do. It is a tricky line to walk, however, as 75% of respondents agreed brand should not “exploit” the COVID-19 situation to promote the brand. Forty percent of the sample believes brands should avoid humour.

The media picture

Unsurprisingly, media use grows across all countries as they move deeper into the pandemic and more people stay home. Under lockdown, web browsing grows 70%, linear TV viewing increases 63%, and social media 61%.

In terms of gathering information, people across the world exhibit relatively low trust in the sources available to them. Just over half of people worldwide (52%) identify national news media as a “trustworthy” source. But just 48% say the same of government agency websites.

At an app level, Facebook-owned Whatsapp has seen the greatest gains at 40% overall, but usage differs by stage versus typical usage:

  • Early: 27% up
  • Mid: 41% up
  • Late: 51%

In China, social apps WeChat and Weibo saw a 58% increase. Meanwhile, now locked-down Spain saw a 76% increase in Whatsapp use even in the mid stage.

The Kantar figures hint at the sore spot in which Facebook finds itself. Despite its own finding that time spent on all its apps is up 70%, and Kantar putting usage of Whatsapp, Facebook, and Instagram up 40% among under-35s, much of that digital attention is going to be tough to monetise as brands cut digital spend. Meanwhile, those apps’ running costs and extra capacity will weigh heavy on the company.



TV advertising has an important role to play in keeping commerce going through the coronavirus crisis.

When people’s livelihoods are threatened and we all fear for the people we love, everything else can feel a little beside the point, a bit trivial.

So I have to keep reminding myself that there is a point. That life goes on. We can’t all stop and dwell. “The best way out is always through,” Robert Frost said. 

I look at the incredible response from the team at Thinkbox, atomised like so many teams for the time being but adapting and pushing forward, and I watch as stories of solidarity and collective effort from around the world come through, and I am reassured.

This is a time when we are so much more aware and hopefully far more appreciative of society’s key workers. The NHS staff, care workers, delivery drivers, police, the people keeping our supermarkets going, to name just a handful.

There is a long list of people to be grateful to and I would add our broadcasters to it. They are being fleet of foot, keeping our shows on and keeping us informed and entertained. 

Witness the record audience for ITV’s Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway at the weekend, recreated without its studio audience. Look at Channel 4’s Jamie: Keep Cooking and Carry On, a new show to help people cook during self-isolation. Millions are glued to Sky News as a trusted source.

Broadcasters are making the tough choices of putting some shows on hold, quickly changing formats and reducing the output of certain shows, even while large chunks of content and revenue – like sport – disappear from the schedules.

TV journalists are rightly on the government’s key workers list.

As society becomes temporarily withdrawn, TV is there for us all as a source of trusted information and much-needed distraction.

TV is and always has been a social glue. It brings us together. It comforts and connects. It also lets us escape. It is a faint professional silver lining at the moment.

During times of crisis, we always turn to trusted media. But our media habits in this crisis are being more directly affected because we’re being forced to spend more time in our homes and less time outside and commuting. This means media consumed at home will see increased consumption.

Rediscovering the value of TV

We are already seeing a dramatic effect on TV viewing, which grew by 17% year on year last week, having been tracking down about 4% this year. So, people watched an average of 28 minutes more a day. 

Daytime average TV audiences have grown 29% and daily reach has increased by 18%. Viewing among children has grown by 20% (and this was before the schools were closed). Monday’s prime ministerial address to the nation was watched by 27 million people on TV.

Media consumption and the impact of advertising are linked. So the crisis is also having an impact on advertising; it is changing how advertising should – or, in fact, can – be approached.

Thinkbox’s role is to help advertisers, to offer the best advice through uncertain times. And when we do get through the current uncertain times, it will be vital that businesses are in as strong a position as possible to help rebuild our economy. 

Those businesses are of course under immense pressure, which inevitably puts pressure on their advertising budgets. 

Some sectors will be affected more – travel is the obvious example. Some, though, will likely see a surge of interest because their products and services will be vital in this period. 

There can scarcely be a better time to be an online retailer, for example. Home entertainment, too, has never been more central to our lives. Disney+ is launching at a good time, if this time can ever be described as good.

As some advertisers, like travel, have little choice but to reduce their TV spend and TV viewing shoots up, the average price for a TV spot will come down (in TV terms, this means demand is down and supply is up).

The impact of this for advertisers is that TV advertising pricing will offer ridiculous value over the next couple of months.

This presents an opportunity to brands that can earn market share growth through well-established marketing mechanics such as extra share of voice. 

For every 10% points of extra share of voice (a brand with 10% market share but 20% share of voice will have 10% points extra share of voice) on average, you will earn 0.5% market share growth, according to Les Binet and Peter Field. 

Going after this growth is not mercenary panic-buying; it would be a sensible business decision that would not only offer competitive advantage, but fuel the economy (and, obviously, fund TV shows).

Now is the time to back up your brands. For most, there is little point in a focus on sales activation at this point with the world in retreat. But when we emerge, brands that maintained or built will be much stronger for it.

It may feel weird to be talking about opportunities at a time like this, but it is weirder still to ignore them. The worst thing to do would be to grind everything to a halt.

We must engage with the real world and its future still. And advertising has an important role to play in keeping commerce going.

Not all advertisers will be able to take advantage of the value on offer but, for those that can, competing via advertising is an important way through this and out the other side.

Lindsey Clay is chief executive of Thinkbox



What has changed in how people consume media, and what does it mean for advertisers?

With many countries introducing full or partial lockdowns, millions of us are spending more time at home in order to slow the spread of coronavirus. Using data from Kantar’s currency audience measurement and advertising intelligence services, we have identified some short-term shifts in viewing behaviours across multiple markets and set out the implications for advertisers.

1. People are watching more TV during the crisis… particularly during weekdays

We are seeing higher TV viewing levels due to greater availability to view as people practice social distancing and self-isolation. In Spain, as the Spanish government announced a nationwide lockdown on Saturday 14 March, viewers spent 100 minutes longer watching TV compared to the previous Saturday (326 vs 225 mins). While we have seen significant increases in viewing in markets as diverse as Latin America (+9% across last week) and Philippines (+19%) while in Norway there was a 26% increase in viewing across the first two working days following the national lockdown.

Other things being equal, this represents potentially greater value for advertisers as audience delivery should drive down cost per thousand rates – particularly in weekday daytime slots.

2. Younger audiences are driving the increase in viewing

With school closures, the increases in viewing among younger audiences are outpacing those of older audiences. In China*, viewing among children under 14 has risen 19% in the first 11 weeks of the year, with young adults 15-34 increasing 27%. For those over 65 the increase was 9% – still nearly two hours more TV viewing than the under 35s. Meanwhile, in Spain, average minutes viewed last week increased 80% among 13-24s throughout March, compared to 23% for the over 65s.

Norway currently has the most advanced audience measurement service. We track in-home streaming via a router meter in addition to linear and timeshift viewing through our people meters. While the under 30s accounted for the majority (58%) of YouTube viewing in the first two working days following lockdown, the increase in viewing during the crisis is greatest among slightly older demographics – an increase of 62% among 30-39s vs. 33% for 20-29s.

TV amongst younger viewers is increasing during this crisis, presenting an opportunity for advertisers to reach their target audiences in proven, effective ways.

3. Breaking news and breaking audience records

TV news programmes are one of the critical sources for audiences keeping abreast of the rapidly-evolving scale of coronavirus cases and guidance from public authorities. In China, the time spent watching news programmes has more than doubled so far this year (18.5 hrs per week in 2020 vs. 9 hours last year), while Spain saw a 3.6x uplift in TV news viewing on Saturday 14th March as the government announced a national lockdown. In Denmark, 3.3 million people watched speeches given by the Prime Minister and Queen announcing a national lockdown – a 28-year record rating of 59.3%.

TV continues to demonstrate its power during major news events – advertisers can look to benefit from these large audiences but must be mindful of the environment and context within which they are advertising.

4. Growth in viewing is shared amongst linear and non-linear platforms

Perhaps the biggest story around viewership during the crisis is the boom in streaming. We have seen how the demand for Netflix has prompted it to remove HD in order to maintain European bandwidth, with Disney making a similar announcement ahead of the launch of Disney+ in many markets later this month.

Our viewing data from Norway suggests that the increase in viewing across platforms is not to the sole benefit of the streaming services. In fact, the increased screen time has been shared in the early working days of the lockdown. Linear viewing – which accounts for around 70% of all viewing – has increased by 22%, compared to 29% for Netflix, 30% for broadcaster video on-demand channels and 39% for YouTube.

A growing number of markets now measure video on demand content and, increasingly, all forms of streaming. Some markets like Norway and Italy are well-established, whilst others like UK are in the process of rolling out. The investment in measurement is significant, but at times like this, we can see the payoff in extending measurement across all distribution platforms.

5. The most impacted sectors are reducing TV advertising

In France, there has been a 10% drop in the number of different advertisers appearing on TV throughout March with automotive, food and leisure the three sectors experiencing the biggest reduction in ad time last week. This has also played-out online with a 50% drop in paid-search activity among the airline sector.

Elsewhere, we have seen in the US that automotive, quick-serve restaurants and travel advertisers have shown a double-digit drop in TV ads every week since late January. In Vietnam, spending by the travel & tourism sector fall by 50% over the last five weeks, while in China, our partners CTR have observed reductions in advertising across automotive and e-commerce but increases in cleaning products and pharmaceuticals.

In this new environment with lock downs in travel, airlines cutting capacity and seeking bailouts, it is not a surprise that the travel category is quickly reacting to withdraw from advertising. We need, however, to note that packaged goods advertising is yet to see a consistent decline, however there could be an issue around advertising goods that are not in store.


 *Data provided by our partners CSM Source:


The COVID-19 outbreak is a global health crisis that has upended our daily lives. With millions confined at home, agencies, clients, and the media industry as a whole will experience unknown pressures. In the world of media planning and buying, that will lead to focusing investments and partnerships on meaningful media. By creating purposeful content, or sometimes, simply financially supporting media brands that are taking the right action themselves. These are the moments when media really matters.

So, what’s the role of media within this new dynamic? With social interactions on a hiatus, media is the core tenet of our social bonds. We need to investigate the evolution of the media landscape in two steps: short-term decisions and innovations the industry made to adapt, alleviate, and support immediate needs, and later, when the dust settles, diving into the long-term changes in consumer behaviors and industry practices.

Moments like this prove that not all media are created equal and some media brands can make a genuine, meaningful difference through three missions: inform, entertain, and connect.

The informative: Some media brands have really taken the spread of the coronavirus to be the purveyor of sense and calm that the world needs. Now more than ever, to inform the population is media’s public service duty. Despite the economic factors they face, news providers are dropping their paywalls—The Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, in the US to name a few. To counteract fake news, rumors, and despicable acts like hackers creating fake coronavirus maps to infect users with malware, trust in media is the strongest guardrail. Facebook is directing users looking for information to the WHO or local health authorities and prohibiting ads related to the coronavirus to curb scaremongering as well as prevent dishonest businesses from profiteering from the outbreak.

The entertaining: Some media heavyweights are upending current business models. For example, NBCUniversal will make its theatrical releases available to rent. We will investigate over the next few weeks the long-lasting impact of such decisions. Across the industry, meaningful initiatives are happening. Organizations such as the Seattle Symphony Orchestra plans to rebroadcast earlier performances and livestream new performances. TikTok challenges of handwashing dances are going viral. Italian’s TV broadcaster RAI is helping families stuck at home by significantly increasing the amount of kids and teens shows. And it’s hard to deny that by offering free premium service in Italy to ease coronavirus pains, Pornhub is being meaningful to many.

The useful: Video-conferencing companies are facilitating use by offering free services and free access to upgrades, starting with Google unlocking premium features of Hangouts Meets. Amazon Web Services has given access to its cloud computing to (AWS) to Italian companies, nonprofits and government agencies.

It is difficult to categorize every single initiative. And more are being launched by the hour. And some are just about giving everyone a much-needed laugh like the Australian newspaper NY News printing extra pages to help out in toilet paper shortage.

Media brands around the world are stepping up. But what comes next? With contestants on the current German edition of Big Brother unaware of the situation until a few days ago, The Truman Show doesn’t feel that far-fetched anymore. Media creation could change, live entertainment might never be the same, consumer behaviors will evolve and business models will be rethought. Our next task is to look at the long-term media implications and help brands navigate the new paradigm.

Thomas Minc is global managing director, intelligence & strategy, at Havas Media Group



Time spent in front of a TV screen has increased on average by 45 minutes per day, TV news rating has even doubled. 

Since 10 March when the Government prohibited all cultural, sports and social events attended by more than 100 people due to the coronavirus pandemic and declared that schools would be closed starting from the following day, the Czech data has shown a rapid growth in daily TV rating.

Further tightening of government measures has recently contributed to an increase in rating of 45 minutes per day (compared to previous weeks) in the 4+ target group. In the recent seven days, the rating has been even higher than in February 2018 when the Winter Olympic Games were held. This is revealed by ATO’s data supplied by Nielsen Admosphere.

Daily Total TV ATS (h:mm), target group 4+

Source: ATO – Nielsen Admosphere, live + TS0-3, calculated on 20 March 2020

Rating of the news has grown significantly. The increase is noticeable in the main news programmes of all major TV stations and continuous news broadcast. In the past seven days, an average Czech above 15 years who owns a functioning TV set watched on average 67 minutes of news programmes on TV per day, which is more than double compared to the regular situation.

In the last ten years, only the results of elections to the Chamber of Deputies (26 October 2013 and 21 October 2017), the presidential elections in January 2013 and 2018, floods in early June 2013 and Václav Havel’s funeral (23 December 2011) drew the same attention to TV news.

Total TV rating in %, target group: pupils, students and apprentices

5 business days before school closing

5 business days after school closing

Source: ATO – Nielsen Admosphere, live + TS0+3, calculated on 20 March 2020

Rating of young viewers, such as pupils, students and apprentices who are home from schools due to the Government regulation effective as of 11 March, has increased. In the Czech population, there are 1.6 of these individuals. The graph above compares this group’s rating curves (% of people watching TV in a given time) showing the average for the last five business days before school closing and for the following five days after the closing. A dramatic increase is apparent namely in the usual time of school attendance between 8 am and 3 pm and also late in the evening because there is no need to get up early next morning. This is also the reason why rating around 7 am has decreased.



The increase in time we dedicate to media relates to the expansion of electronic devices in population, shows Nielsen Admosphere’s data.

The average daily time Czechs spend with media grew to 7 hours and 14 minutes last year, which is a 14-minute increase year-on-year. Total media time includes media multitasking (such as browsing the Internet while watching TV). This is the outcome of Nielsen Admosphere’s data presented by Hana Friedlaenderová at the New Media Inspiration 2020 conference held on Saturday.

Most of the above-mentioned daily time still relates to watching TV, which is followed by media consumption on devices such as PCs, mobile phones and tablets. The third place in terms of time spent is taken by radio and five percent of our daily media time is devoted to print media.

The increasing penetration of electronic devices in the Czech population, namely the growth in smartphones, smart TVs and IPTV (owned by about a third of households) results in the increased time-shifted viewing. Last year, it accounted for 14:21 minutes par day on overage, which is 6% of the total TV rating. Despite the increase in time-shifted viewing, the overwhelming majority of TV is watched live.  

Average time spent watching TV was 3 hours and 43 minutes per day last year (comparable to 3:46 hours in 2018, 15+). TV is still watched by 93% of Czech households.

According to Nielsen Atmosphere’s data, the rise of paid streaming services has not been reflected in any increased demand of Czech households for paid services. Last year, they were used by 3.5% of households, with the most popular services prepaid by the Czechs being Netflix (1.7%) and HBO Go (1.4 %). 

YouTube (48%) is the most frequently watched unpaid web providing video content.  

Nielsen Admosphere’s data also shows that news are watched predominantly on TV (64% of households) and on the Internet (60%). 43% of Czech households watch news on their mobile phones. The TOP news sources include: Seznam Zprávy, TV Nova,, ČT1 and iDnes.czFacebook is the sixth most frequently used news source in the Czech Republic.

Top 20 Daily Most Frequently Used News Sources

Print newspapers – Radio stations – TV stations – Web

Source: Nielsen Admosphere, presentation at the NMI 2020 conference



Even though the range of services and devices for watching TV has proliferated in recent years, broadcast networks and advertisers should be aware that most viewers don’t care about the technology provided they get to watch what they want.

About three-quarters (74%) of global TV viewers, rising to 76% of Australians, feel this way, leading a senior executive at ViacomCBS to advise that viewers think of TV as content rather than the number and proliferation of the tools to access it.

That is according to Christian Kurz, SVP of global insights at ViacomCBS, who spoke to AdNews as he prepared to present research findings at last week’s Future of TV Advertising Forum in Sydney.

The study, called Today’s TV, polled 10,000 consumers in ten countries – Argentina, Australia, Germany, Hungary, Mexico, Poland, Spain, Thailand, the UK and US – and concluded that viewers love TV, but want a simpler experience.

“[The research] has demonstrated how TV (defined as TV shows and movies) fulfils three primary needs: it indulges viewers, it brings the family together, and it opens our minds by raising the visibility of previously untold stories,” Kurz said.

Australian audiences appear especially strongly attached to their TV with 84% regarding TV as part of their daily lives compared to the global average of 69%.

Some 83% of Australians say TV is an important source of entertainment (versus 70% globally), another 83% are excited by the options to watch (versus 77% globally), while 88% find TV to be a source of comfort (versus 66% globally).

However, 79% of Australians wish it was easier to find TV shows and movies, while 85% say they would like to access all their TV content through just one service.

“Searching for content is time-consuming and frustrating – especially on VOD services. Viewers yearn for simplicity, with 80% saying they wish they were able to access all their TV content through one service and 77% wishing it were easier to find the TV shows and movies they love,” said Kurz, who cited the global figures.

“In short, people love TV as much as ever, but with so much great content it’s stressful to decide what to watch,” he added. “To improve their viewing experience, give them the ease and seamlessness they crave. This applies to advertising as much as programming.”