Commercial TVs Nova and Prima participated in educational activities relating to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to tens of hours of their own news and journalistic content and new public awareness programmes launched, commercial broadcasters supported the official educational campaign of the Ministry of Health focused on prevention of the coronavirus infection and provided the Ministry with ad space for free.

Prague, 29 April 2020 – The campaign has been under way since 19 March 2020 and will continue until further notice on channels of the Nova and Prima TV groups. More than 1,000 spots have been aired to date in the aggregate length exceeding 1,500 minutes. The key objective of the campaign is to inform the public of the most appropriate hygiene measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The videos are available on the website of the Ministry of Health at

“The current wave of solidarity, consistent adherence to the Government’s regulations and consideration of people in the Czech Republic are really impressive. Every day, our news desk colleagues seek to capture the most inspiring stories and distribute the most useful information to  as many viewers as possible. Therefore, we joined the official preventive campaign and provided space for information spots of the Ministry of Health as a matter of course,” says Marek Singer, President of AKTV.

“We very much appreciate the fast involvement of commercial TVs in our preventive activities. Thanks to the high reach of TV broadcast, our public awareness campaign will hit the maximum number of people, which significantly facilitates containment of the disease,” adds Gabriela Štěpanyová, PR Manager and Spokeswoman of the Ministry of Health.

The situation around the COVID-19 disease is completely new for all of us. On that account, the Together Against the Coronavirus campaign (#Spolu proti koronaviru) is aimed at providing people with universal and simple rules on how to behave under the current conditions and how to care of their health. The Ministry of Health has prepared six TV spots using an amiable and original approach to inform viewers of the rules to be followed now. In the first spot named How to Protect Yourself and People Around You, an actress, Alena Doláková, presents the current hygiene rules. She gives viewers an idea that protection of our eyes, nose, mouth and hands is of the utmost importance and shows how to protect ourselves properly. Other spots of the Ministry of Health called How to Behave in Public Transport, How to Proceed with a Doctor’s Appointment, How to Proceed in Shops or Why Protect Health Care Workers feature renowned science experts: Director of the National Institute of Public Health, MUDr. Pavel Březovský, MBA; Rector of Czech Technical University in Prague, doc. RNDr. Vojtěch Petráček, CSc.; Head of the Department of Health Care Disciplines and Population Protection of Czech Technical University, prof. MUDr. Leoš Navrátil, CSc., MBA, dr. h. c; and the medical microbiology specialist, MUDr. Emil Pavlík, CSc. In a simple and entertaining way, the four experts present important hygiene measures and rules to be followed in our daily routines. The last one of the Ministry’s video spots, What You Should Know about the Coronavirus, is an animated video providing a summary of the key information on COVID-19.

Apart from the TV spots, the Ministry of Health has prepared posters to be displayed in public transport and in the streets across the Czech Republic as part of the same campaign.


Kim Portrate

During CV-19, television has been delivering better value than ever before. The simple reason for this is co-viewing.

If you’ve been gathering around the TV with your family in recent weeks like I have, you’re not alone. As we seek connection in this time of isolation, TV has cemented the role it plays in our lives as a place for families of all shapes and sizes to connect. It’s called co-viewing, when people come together to share their TV experience and we have seen a big increase during the great lockdown of 2020, particularly in the evening.  

Family hour: 7pm – 8pm has become the key co-viewing period as people gather around the television in homes across the country.  

The power of co-viewing can’t be underestimated. 

Unlike social video such as YouTube and Facebook, TV has the power to bring people together for a shared experience, whether that’s Lego Masters (70% of its viewing during lockdown has been in the company of others), MasterChef (65%), Gogglebox (63%) and movies including The Castle (62%) and Guardians of the Galaxy (60%). 

It presents an opportunity for brands to increase share of voice without spending an extra cent by speaking to multiple generations at once, sparking conversations that influence purchase decisions and driving behaviour change. With share of voice equating to market share, co-viewing is a powerful tool for brands looking to come out on top post-COVID.  

One brand that understands co-viewing well is BCF. Usually over Easter, Australian families turn to BCF before packing up the tent and the esky and heading off on an adventure. But given CV-19 travel restrictions, this year, everyone was staying at home.  

BCF replaced its scheduled retail campaign with a brand building initiative encouraging Aussie families to camp out in their backyards. By cleverly tapping into co-viewing audiences, the brand ignited a movement of backyard camping and sparked the sale of marshmallow forks, fire pits and kids camping gear. 



Mediatel’s Steven Scaffardi speaks with key figures from the broadcast media world to discuss how they have dealt with the coronavirus crisis – and what comes next for commercial TV

Steven Scaffardi (Chair): Good afternoon and welcome everybody to this special virtual roundtable debate for the Future of TV Advertising UK fortnight.

With us we have Sarah Jones (Director of Planning, Sky Media), Kate McVeigh (Vice President, International Client Strategy & Development, CNBC International), Rob Bradley (Senior Vice President, CNN International Commercial), Matt Salmon, Sales Director, Channel 4), Lindsey Clay (CEO, Thinkbox), Mark Trinder (Director of Commercial Sales and Partnerships, ITV) and Christian Kurz (Senior Vice President, Global Consumer Insights, Viacom CBS).

Let’s get down to it and start with you Lindsey. As the CEO of the marketing body for the main UK commercial TV broadcasters, what has impressed you the most with how TV has reacted to the coronavirus crisis?

Lindsey Clay: The speed, the positivity, and the creativity. The broadcasters have been swift to adapt their schedules and rise to the challenge. We have seen TV’s creativity at its broadest, from initiatives on mental health and the clap for carers, to a brilliant Saturday Night Takeaway with no audience, chat and news shows shot from home, classic sport reinvigorated, and Jamie Oliver helping us to keep cooking and carry on.

Steven Scaffardi (Chair): And the same question to the rest of the panel, starting at home here in the UK with ITV, Channel 4 and Sky. How do you think the broadcasters have reacted?

Mark Trinder: I think UK Television has reacted brilliantly. Be that programming, news, editorial decisions, scheduling, balancing the loss of programmes with creating new and bringing back favourites, accommodating advertiser challenges with great flexibility, incentives and creativity.

Matt Salmon: I’m constantly impressed by the power TV in the UK has not only to entertain but to inform, educate and ultimately change behaviour. At times of national crisis TV, and especially public service broadcasting takes on a unique role in our society – for Channel 4 that means that now more than ever we must ensure we our speaking to the audiences we were created to serve.

Sarah Jones:From a Sky perspective, we are seeing a huge increase in news consumption across all platforms and all demographics – Sky news linear is up over 150% year on year, and across the month of March we had 130m news video views on YouTube.

This agility has also transcended into the TV advertising space too. Despite the industry working from their kitchens and bedrooms, we’ve kept brands on air, commercial schedules have been filled, and we have produced new creative executions for brands looking to deliver more relevant messaging and got them on air within a matter of days.

Steven Scaffardi (Chair): What learnings can we take from broadcasters from around the world too, and what have the likes of CNN, CNBC and Viacom been doing in reaction to the pandemic?

Rob Bradley:International news organisations have an important role to report on developments and share information that can help stop the spread of COVID-19 – this applies to our TV output of course, but also across the wider ecosystem of platforms where we are publishing content.

It is particularly important to have trusted news sources to turn to because of the danger of misinformation growing exponentially during the current crisis – latest research from Ofcom shows that half of the people in the UK have come across false or misleading information about COVID-19.

These spurious stories and ill-informed advice shared on social media and in private messaging groups can literally cost lives, so it’s essential that people can rely on a trusted news brand for news and information.

Kate McVeigh: I’ve always been a believer in the power of TV, and have loved how trusted news networks, locally and internationally, have provided comfort and information to their audiences during this period of uncertainty. These are unprecedented times and I am continually impressed by the commitment of our journalists and the production teams to covering these stories at risk to themselves, ensuring that the audience demand for trusted content is met.

Christian Kurz: I continue to be impressed with how quickly and creatively productions have been adapted to meet the demands of the current crisis. We are seeing more news programs and entertainment specials that are being produced remotely, such as “One World: Together at Home,” which aired globally on ViacomCBS’ networks.

The creativity and flexibility we have seen on the part of production companies, crews and talent is impressive. Wherever you look, the audience is at the center of considerations, and the TV industry is continuing to inform and entertain during this tough time.

Steven Scaffardi (Chair): We have mentioned that many shows are being recorded straight from the presenter’s homes, which truly reflects the mantra of “The show must go on” but is Stephen Allan (Worldwide Chairman and CEO of MediaCom) correct in his assessment that the lack of new content being created during lockdown will lead to the “perfect storm” for broadcasters?

Mark Trinder: On one hand Coronation Street and Emmerdale have had to cease production, but we produce a number of weeks ahead and have reduced weekly episode transmission to 3 each versus 6 (per programme) so we’re hopeful that we can cover this period. Live programming and planned audience participation programmes are on hold and of course all Sport is currently cancelled or postponed. On the other hand – The ‘virtual Grand National’ had an audience of 4.3m and raised £2.6m for the NHS.

Christian Kurz: Across the board, we’re seeing audiences tune-in across our linear and streaming platforms, with ratings and share of viewing on the rise.

We’re committed to supporting our audiences who are impacted by COVID-19 through our global relief efforts, public awareness campaigns and dedicated programming, as well what we call our “adaptive creativity” – in other words, our agile approach to creating and delivering content in this uniquely challenging environment.

Matt Salmon: This crisis is undoubtedly having an impact on our revenues and as an ad-funded broadcaster, our schedule, which is why we have announced a range of financial measures to help us through this difficult period. Ian and the team have said quite clearly there are a number of productions that have been delayed and some which regrettably will not be happening.

But we remain confident we will continue to have a range of high quality programming on offer over the year for our viewers and advertisers – we’ve already announced and in some cases aired a number of brand new commissions – the key here is to continue to respond to our audience needs in the unique way that only Channel 4 can – which I believe we are doing and will continue to do.

Sarah Jones: Aside from the obvious gap in live sports, from a Sky perspective there is less impact on our current schedule, than there may be for broadcasters who are more reliant on entertainment shows and soaps.

We’ve made significant strides in the content space in recent years both in investment and recognition with shows like Chernobyl, Save Me and we will continue to release new original and US content which is massively helped by being part of the Comcast family. Not having all your eggs in one basket is key to Sky’s growth and success.

Lindsey Clay: It’s a challenge but broadcasters are demonstrating great innovation and agility. Plus, it is important to remember that programme budgets have mostly been deferred. So, we can look forward to a post-pandemic glut of great programming.

In the meantime, they have a lot on the stocks and vast back catalogues – back catalogues that have helped propel services like Netflix to prominence (and which are now being taken back from Netflix). With more time at home, audiences are experimenting and a repeat is only a repeat if you have seen it before.

Steven Scaffardi (chair): Is it a different picture for broadcasters like CNN and CNBC who are more news-led than the likes of a Channel 4 or ITV?

Kate McVeigh: We are in a more fortunate position of not relying on commissioned feature programming. We have been focused on covering the stories with a business lens, and delivering the facts and unbiased analysis, not via rolling and often repetitive breaking news headlines like other channels. With markets moving at such a breakneck rate our editorial content is more essential now than ever.

Rob Bradley: We face a nuanced version of this challenge at CNN. As much of our content is rolling news, it is not a challenge so much of running out of shows as we can continue reporting breaking and developing news.

However, our production teams have had to be creative in how we produce stand-alone features programming that acts as a counterpoint to our news coverage.

Steven Scaffardi (Chair): A lot of advertisers have reacted in a positive manner to the crisis. What has been your favourite TV ad during this period and why?

Sarah Jones: I really like what Channel 4 have done with their talent led Stay at Home idents for the Government – I’m a big John Snow fan so love his ironing execution. Fingers crossed he will do his socks next.

One of the reasons I like this so much, is that it is delivering an important message in a light way – and all of us need a bit of levity in such a difficult and uncertain time.

Kate McVeigh: The NHS ads – they’re vital and full of critical information for viewers at this time, and South African Tourism – “Don’t travel now so that you can travel later.” I love that this ad is sensitive to the environment and has an optimistic tone.

Lindsey Clay: There are loads (in fact there is a Crisis Creativity player on our website here). But I’m a sucker for an emotional ad and I particularly like the Tesco Food love stories one.

It is a seamless part of their existing campaign and works just as well if not better in Lockdown. Tesco are definitely having a good crisis.

Matt Salmon: I agree with Lindsey, I’m loving the Food Love Stories ads that Tesco have created – in fact the whole supermarket sector has responded phenomenally in my opinion. We all know that TV has always been the very best place to build your brand and in the present situation brands that have the budget to continue to make powerful brand creatives will undoubtedly resonate with the huge audiences that are available.

Being part of the unique conversation that is happening in millions of homes across the country is a huge opportunity as audiences look to trusted brands to make sense of an unsettling situation.

Christian Kurz: I want to acknowledge all brands and advertisers who are keeping up their spend. During a time of crisis, it is even more important to continue communicating with consumers, and we are seeing some truly creative ways of doing that.

Many organisations are changing their businesses to adapt to the time by enabling remote services of need, and those new capabilities have to be communicated to potential customers.

Mark Trinder: McCain Here’s To Everyone #StayHome. Although an existing, long running TV campaign, McCain quickly recorded and new VO (Ricky Tomlinson remotely) as soon as we hit the ‘lockdown period’. Topical, powerful and true to the values of the ongoing campaign. Brilliant!

Rob Bradley: Guinness have been getting their advertising right from as early as I can remember. Their ‘We Will Toast Again’ ad was brilliant. It hits all the right spots of being uplifting, reassuring and just…very Guinness. There is plenty of research showing why brands should still run ads during a crisis and during Coronavirus.

Analysis from Kantar shows that 60% of brands that ‘go dark’ see a negative impact on brand relationship metrics, losing affinity, image, loyalty.

Steven Scaffardi (Chair): Many media analysts believe this pandemic will accelerate huge changes in consumer behaviour. With that in mind, what is the future of TV advertising?

Rob Bradley: One area of particular interest will be around immersive experiences. For us at CNN, TV advertising is just one component of a sophisticated media mix. As we have seen consumers take to immersive experiences – for instance, tour the Louvre Abu Dhabi virtually if you can’t be there in real life like you had planned to be – the case for greater adoption of VR/AR into multi-platform advertising, content creation and marketing campaigns will grow even when we can travel again.

Mark Trinder: I see a strong future for TV and TV advertising. This challenging period has seen the public, our viewers, turn to TV as both a trusted source of information and advice and a provider of comfort and entertainment.

Advertisers are seeing this through audience performance and ‘come together’ moments e.g. Clap for Carers and many advertisers are working with us to create topical and contextual campaigns at breakneck speed.

I do feel that this period will make advertisers think differently about their messaging and overall campaigns moving forward.

Matt Salmon: What seems to be different about this crisis, compared to previous recessions, is that much of the demand for products and services is being pent up rather than completely lost. This means that when the lockdown starts to lift, the role of brands will be significant, and the power of TV as important as it was before, if not more so.

Sarah Jones: In these unusual times people are coming back to TV to be entertained and informed with uplifts across the board. Younger audiences, in particular, are viewing significantly more TV than pre-COVID, and we would hope that they continue to spend time with the content they love on our channels.

This crisis has accelerated on-demand viewing, as people seek out content at different times of the day that they want to watch. Again, we would expect this trend to continue, so brands and agencies should ensure they are investing in TV in a platform agnostic way in order to maximise reach of their audiences.

Christian Kurz: I do think there will be changes in consumer behaviour. What we have been seeing so far is significant uptick in viewership – both linear and on-demand. Plus, the most trusted source of information – TV is continuing to deliver for the audience.

Companies have to sell their wares. Once everybody has figured out how to logistically do that, the need for communication will be greater than before as consumers may need to learn new ways of doing and buying things. Long-term brand communication is incredibly important.

As such, I don’t see this specific event as having a significant long-term impact on advertising.

Kate McVeigh: According to GlobalWebIndex, 95% of audiences across 13 markets globally say they are consuming more content since the start of the pandemic, with TV as one of the primary mediums. On the other side of the pandemic we’ll see the continuation of flexible working and working from home, which will continue the resurgence we’re seeing in TV viewing.

Steven Scaffardi (Chair): Lindsey, you had the first word so it seems fitting you have the last so I will leave you to give the final thought on the future of TV advertising.

Lindsey Clay: TV’s future is already here, it just isn’t evenly distributed. Now the changes that were already happening in TV via data and tech are accelerating and creating a hugely bright future for TV advertising. When we come through this crisis, advertisers will look to increase their efficiency as budgets may be reduced.

The increasing availability and targeting capabilities of addressable TV advertising, for example, will be a powerful way to deliver this.

And, advertisers are likely going to want to reduce the risk of their advertising investments. We know from studies such as ‘Profit Ability’ and ‘Demand Generation’ that TV delivers the highest returns with the least risk, so this bodes well for its future.



Television audiences have gone through the roof because of the coronavirus lockdown, but will advertisers use the spike in engagement to drive brand-building campaigns, given the economic uncertainty? That is the billion dollar question, and according to Mike Shaw, Director of Advertising Sales at Roku, the answer should be ‘yes’. He has a long list of reasons why brand activity now, rather than later, will pay handsome dividends.

Speaking on a Videonet webcast this week looking at how we safeguard and grow OTT and connected TV advertising revenues in the wake of Covid-19, Shaw pointed to the enforced upheaval in how consumers shop and where they can find goods and suggested it presents a unique opportunity to cement new habits. “Consumer behaviour and patterns are already disrupted – they have to do some things differently, so rather than trying to change behaviour, you can try to take advantage of changes that are happening naturally.”

He used the example of direct-to-consumer retailers (who can deliver goods that non-essential shops cannot, because they are closed). “DTC brands are good at defining changing consumer behaviour and exploiting it at scale very quickly,” he told a live audience. “There is a short-term opportunity to build market share at a rate that normally they could not achieve.”

Looking more widely, he said the significant contraction in advertising budget in some goods/services sectors is an opportunity for those who keep spending. With competitors out of the way, a brand can increase their relative share of voice without spending more, meaning they get much more impact than they could have before.

But it gets better. “They can pay lower advertising rates than they would have done before.” And smaller brands could push themselves to the front of the television queue. “Potentially they could get more access to airtime, because previously they would not have been part of the upfronts. Now there is supply out there and that is allowing them to get in.”

Lara Izlan, Director, Advertising Data & Analytics at ITV, agreed that this is a good moment to gain share of voice and market share. “The audience figures make linear TV, in particular, a very attractive proposition and that is attracting new advertisers who may not have thought about using linear TV before – they are now trialling it.”

How major commercial broadcasters are coping with the lockdown

On the Videonet webcast, ‘Safeguarding and growing OTT and CTV advertising revenues in the wake of Covid-19’, senior executives from ITV, Channel 4, Discovery, Roku and PubMatic discussed the impact of the lockdown on audiences and advertising, outlined where the green shoots are, and whether the flexibility of advertising within the digital domain has made the crisis less severe than it would otherwise have been for commercial broadcasters.

There are some valuable insights about what and where people are watching, while ITV provides an update on its new Planet V programmatic platform and Channel 4 outlines the next major steps for its own programmatic offering on its All 4 digital service. The panel considers whether structural change to the way we plan, buy and execute TV advertising will accelerate as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.



The British Government ordered the UK to go into lockdown on March 23 and, after a month of self-isolation at home, a new study has revealed dramatic changes to TV viewing habits.

News consumption, for example, more than doubled (up by 124%) in the first three weeks of lockdown, while there is clear evidence of families now watching more TV together, with comedy and nostalgic shows proving increasingly popular.

These are some of the key findings in a new report from Thinkbox, the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, which commissioned research firm Ipsos MORI to analyse video diaries kept by 12 households during the first three weeks of the new restrictions.

The study, entitled Lockdown TV, is an ongoing series of updates into how TV habits in the UK are continuing to evolve in lockdown; and excerpts from the video diaries can be watched on YouTube about these new routines and attitudes to the news.

One important finding is that forced self-isolation appears to be bringing families back together, with shared TV-viewing growing by 37% year-on-year since lockdown began, compared to an increase of just 15% among those who watch TV alone.

This in turn is creating new household TV habits, such as families tuning in to important news broadcasts, or teenagers reconnecting with their parents around classic comedies like Friends or shows like ITV’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

One of the video diaries describes how a father watched cookery shows with his young children before going to the kitchen to make what they’ve just seen, while another reveals how a home-working couple try to eat their lunch together in front of the TV at the same time each day.

And in these unsettling times, the research found that viewing of comedy shows increased 40% year-on-year in the three weeks since March 23. For example, viewing of the BBC’s classic Only Fools and Horses on Gold grew 20% year on year.

Nostalgic shows are also growing popularity, such as Last of the Summer Wine on Drama, which saw a 30% year-on-year increase in viewing figures.

“Our media habits are dramatically changing as a result of the new situations we find ourselves in and it is vital we understand what those changes mean for the TV and advertising industries. This ongoing study will do this,” said Matt Hill, research and planning director at Thinkbox.

“What is clear already is that TV has many roles to play. The huge breadth of broadcaster content – live and on demand – is coming to the fore, with people exploring all corners of the TV universe to keep them and their families entertained.”



This week’s egtabite features an in-depth ROI study of the Finnish market – conducted by Screenforce Finland, the national TV trade body and Sellforte, an independent tech company specialised in granular marketing ROI measurements  – which proves that Total TV (in this case meaning linear and online, with no programmatic) brings the highest incremental sales in the long-term and delivers a strong argument for advertisers to invest in Total TV.

Total TV advertising measurement

In Finland, 99% of the population watches TV content on any device. The viewing time of just under 3 hours per day (2h 42min) has remained pretty stable for the past decade, with commercial broadcasters representing 52% of the market. Nonetheless, there was a need for an in-depth ROI study, with advertising measurement added to Total TV.

Therefore, Screenforce Finland, in collaboration with Sellforte, conducted a unique piece of research by analysing purchase data from Gigantti, the largest retailer of electronic and household appliances, with over 41 stores nationwide. With the huge amount of data, the research takes into account, among other things, the effect of discounts made by Gigantti.

The objective of the study was to discover the strengths of TV from a brand that uses both tactical and brand-building marketing and to understand which media channels generate the highest incremental sales.

The study compared more than ten million receipt lines collected over Gigantti’s sales and marketing data. The advertiser’s data showed that 18% of their media budget goes into Total TV, while one-third of the total media budget goes in direct mail, as their marketing is driven via weekly promotions.

As part of the study, two years of extensive sales data (item, location, date) were analysed together with marketing data and media spend, which enabled the researchers to obtain a comprehensive, reliable and actionable model and results.

Sales data was split into three components, the base sales, that would occur without any promotions, the offer, as an uplift for the promotion of a product and finally the media, an ad for a certain promotion. ROI was calculated by dividing media-driven uplift by media investments.

The long-term results

Results of the study demonstrate that search engine marketing stands out with the highest ROI in the short term, but TV generates a much higher ROI than any other media in the long term. In the incremental sales that occur the following week after the campaign, search engine marketing is the most efficient turnover driver.

However, TV has a positive spill-over effect on web traffic and it is the biggest media driver of total turnover. The results show that 4% of search engine marketing-driven incremental sales belong to Total TV.

The study proves that Total TV has the best total performance and is the best media channel to drive incremental sales over a long period. Each euro invested in Total TV generates 17 euros of total turnover

The ROI study sparked a dialogue between TV, agencies and advertisers. “Gigantti is one of Finland’s largest advertisers, and the results of the study certainly give food for thought in many corner rooms,” said Anna Lujanen, Executive Director, Screenforce Finland.

„We spend a significant portion of our marketing budget on TV advertising because it effectively generates demand. Our industry is highly competitive and hectic, and we need to know the return on our marketing investment. The efficiency of marketing can only be increased with the right information, ” says Sami Särkelä, Marketing Director, Gigantti.



An overview of the long-term change in consumer media habits after the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the UK and US.

  • At least half of those who are spending longer consuming media say they plan to continue to do so after the outbreak ends.
  • Online video content shows the strongest staying power – 78% of those watching more will continue to do so after the outbreak.
  • Americans are more likely than UK consumers to stick with their displaced in media habits.

Consumers are spending longer with different media because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and this is set to continue after the outbreak, according to the latest data from GlobalWebIndex. Across ten different activities, at least half of those who are spending longer say they plan to continue after the outbreak ends.

Online video content, including YouTube and TikTok, shows the strongest staying power – 38% of consumers say they are watching more and almost three-quarters (73%) of this group plan to maintain these higher levels. Over one-quarter (28%) are streaming more music and 73% plan to continue this after the outbreak.

American consumers are more likely than those in the UK to stick with their higher media consumption. Linear TV shows the greatest gap, while two-thirds (68%) of Americans who are watching more linear TV planning to continue to do so after the outbreak, compared to one-half (48%) in the UK.

Male consumers are most likely to continue their greater use of online video content, with 75% of those who are consuming more planning to continue this after the outbreak. For female audiences, this is tied at 71% between online video, music streaming and online TV.

This shift in consumer habits and behaviour offers brands an opportunity to create new customer relationships, particularly if the emphasise health and safety and online commerce. Luxury brands are one group who may suffer regardless, as consumers limit their spend post-outbreak.

However, marketers across industries are shifting or cutting spend in the face of a likely recession, something that may damage medium- and long-term success.



Mark Ritson

There are very few upsides for anyone right now. A record number of companies, big and small, find themselves just weeks from insolvency. Employees are being let go in record numbers. And the media is collapsing as advertising dries up and a long, difficult and painful ­recession lumbers into view.

It’s a struggle to find even the faintest flash of a silver lining with so many grey clouds above us. But there is one. And perhaps only one.

We are about to find out who the great chief marketing officers are. And, with the other side of the tape measure, we will identify all those imposters who aren’t worth their big salaries.

The COVID-19 events that now engulf us are entirely unprecedented. But what follows next will be nothing new. After our global lockdown ends, we will head directly into a recession. Economists are divided about whether it will be a long one or a short one. But it’s as inevitable as it is familiar.

And that is good news, because recessions, unlike COVID-19, are nothing new. We’ve lived through them before. And we know a lot about how to manage brands and businesses when they arrive.

As long as there have been marketers, we have been studying advertising’s impact on sales during and after a recession.

In 1920, in 1974, in 1980, in 1991 and, of course, in 2007-08, analysts looked at which companies spent what on advertising and what ­happened as a result. And the ­pattern has been remarkably similar, time after time.

As the recession looms, there are two kinds of marketer. The first sees the decline in sales demand as a signal to cut advertising budgets and save money. They slash their marketing and advertising spend, batten down the hatches and wait months for the green shoots of ­recovery to appear.

And then we have the other type of marketer. Unlike most of their peers, they have a formal education in marketing and know the case studies of old. Thanks to their training, they also know that advertising works on an immediate level to drive short-term sales, as well as on a much longer-term, multi-year basis to build brand and ­deliver enduring success.

Rather than cut the budget, this marketer heads straight upstairs to talk to their CFO or CEO and make the case for maintaining the advertising budget. And if they are really good, they even propose an ­increase in the advertising spend.

Yes, you read that right. They increase their advertising budget in the face of a recession.

The reason they are right to push for more money and more advertising is partly because branding is a long-term game. Waiting until the recession ends to kickstart an increase in advertising is like firing the starter’s gun 10 seconds after the sprinters have left the blocks. But the main reason they are smart to spend more in a recession is because their rival marketers are cutting budgets.

Market share is a function of many things. But one of the biggest drivers of sales is a brand’s share of voice. The more a brand spends on advertising versus its rivals, the more it will grow. Analysts call this proven relationship “ESOV”, excess share of voice. If a brand has a 20 per cent share of the market but a 30 per cent share of the voice, it has an excess, an ESOV, of +10.

In almost every recorded instance, a brand with a positive ESOV will gradually grow its share of the market to a level that will eventually match its share of voice.

In a recession, brands go bankrupt and disappear. Other brands, run by poorly trained marketers or those without the support of their executive board will cut their advertising spend. Those marketers that maintain their spend or even increase it will survive the tough times a little better and then grab huge increases in market share when the recession ends.

This is not some spurious argument to help save our media companies. It’s one of the few hard facts of marketing and advertising.

For a century, we have watched thousands of companies go into a recession and have recorded their advertising investment. Those that maintained or increased their budgets during the recession grew their subsequent market share tremendously at the expense of those that cut back.

There are famous historical examples of companies that discovered the inherent opportunity of recessions and acted accordingly. Consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble is notorious for upping advertising investment levels when recessions hit. It increased its ad spend by 7 per cent during the difficult post-GFC period, ­following flat investment levels in the more positive growth years that preceded 2007.

It’s a smart play but it depends on three important factors. First, and most obviously, you need the money available to maintain your advertising budget. Next, you need a board of directors who understand that marketing and advertising are an investment and not something you cut when the going gets tough. Australia is notorious for boards of old white sales guys who see marketing as little more than costly window-dressing. No guesses what these old duffers will all be doing in the weeks ahead.

Finally, you need a marketer who knows about marketing things. That might sound a given, but there are plenty of senior marketers out there without the faintest clue about any of this, who simply spend the budget they are presented with by the company they work for.

But smarter, “proper” marketers do exist. I talked to two top CMOs last week about the coming recession. One was steadfast that she would not be cutting the advertising budget by a single dollar. The other had already been to see his board and received a multimillion-dollar increase.

They are the rare ones. The ones who will reap the benefits when this horrible ­period of isolation and recession ends.

They are the ­silver lining I was looking for.



Twice as many consumers say TV ads create a more positive image of brands than say the same about common digital formats, an extensive new survey reveals.

The report, Consumer Trust in Digital Marketing, by GroupM, questioned 14,000 consumers across 23 countries, and uncovered growing concern over digital marketing and the use of personal data that could have important implications for brands.

Consumers are increasingly sensitive to brands that appear alongside inappropriate content, the survey results show, with 64% of people saying they would form a negative opinion of a brand as a result.

And 60% of consumers say they are less inclined to use a product if their data is used for any purpose; almost as many, 56%, want greater control over their personal information.

The survey found that, against a backdrop of growing concern over privacy issues globally, consumers react more positively to TV advertising and more than a third (37%) feel digital ads are too intrusive. With this in mind, say the researchers, marketers need to focus on using the right digital platforms to reach customers. It’s also vital to be transparent about how data is collated and used.

“With pervasive reports of data security and privacy missteps, consumers are increasingly wary of information gathering about them as they move online,” said Christian Juhl, Global CEO of GroupM. “Media has evolved dramatically and it’s crucial the industry work collaboratively to make advertising work better for people around the world.

“As marketers, it’s our responsibility to ensure that we are using consumer information responsibly and transparently.”

GroupM’s analysis, conducted before the COVID-19 virus went global, suggests for those consumers with concerns about digital marketing, those at the top of the list were: fake news on social media, cyberbullying and online predators.

And consumers clearly think it’s a digital platform’s responsibility to act, with 75% saying they thought it was up to the platform to prevent or take down inappropriate content. All of which suggests marketers need to give added thought to the appropriateness of the channel they are using. They also need to focus on parameters around ad placements to protect brand value.

The research reveals that consumers are not only distrustful of their data being used, they are also getting more savvy at trying to protect themselves, with an increasing number of people saying they change privacy settings and delete cookies and browser history, for example.

“If companies wish to continue using consumers’ data, marketers may need to offer incentives and communicate the benefits more convincingly,” say the authors. “Being transparent about consumer data usage, with clear frameworks aligned through a whole organization, will help foster a new relationship of trust in the digital marketing process.”