COVID-19 Media Trends You Should Know

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This year has seen dramatic changes to media consumption. You likely are nodding your head in agreement. The question is, how big are the changes and how should you react?

According to an Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) report titled “2020-21 Covid Impact on Advertising,” traditional media decreased 30 percent while digital increased 6 percent. Traditional media includes broadcast TV, cable, local radio, newspapers, outdoor and direct mail. Basically, everything else falls into the digital category, such as paid search, display, over the top TV (OTT), Facebook, email and many others.

People staying home and having much less mobility in their lives have driven the shift to digital. Let’s look at some key data to understand what has occurred.

Traditional Media

The downward trend for print has been expedited, falling 33 percent. However, you might find some advertising opportunities in smaller communities that use the newspaper for local news.

Surprisingly, local radio plunged 31 percent. Even still today, I am amazed at how little traffic is on the road. This number will remain down until we see seven and eight cars backed up at traffic lights and congestion on our freeways.

One great strength of retail direct mail is its power to motivate people to leave homes and visit businesses. However, because of COVID-19, direct mail decreased 17 percent.

Out of home, also known as OOH, includes paper and digital billboards. Although digital boards have become popular, both types are down. How much? OOH fell more than 40 percent. Less traffic means fewer eyeballs, which means fewer advertisers.

One medium that might surprise you is broadcast TV, which has seen a 24 percent reduction in advertising. With more people at home, you would think this number would be higher. Most business have not been willing to take on the large expense of broadcast media advertising. In the RV world, this advertising has diminished because of the lack of inventory on dealership lots.

Digital Media

Digital marketing, according to IAB, increased across the board.

Social media grew 25 percent in the RV world, primarily via Facebook marketing. The bottom line is, dealerships have realized Facebook is a low-cost way to create valuable vehicle detail page (VDP) views to inventory pages on their websites.

Video marketing, or OTT, rose by 19 percent. OTT, which competes with traditional TV, connects viewers to streaming content on a variety of platforms. This medium allows you to place ads in many strategic ways to targeted individuals.

Not surprising, paid search jumped 26 percent. The surge in search volume has created many more opportunities to place your ad in front of buyers. You might be unaware, but while spending is up, the costs per clicks are going down, as more people are shopping.

Because more and more opportunities abound in the video world, digital video grew 18 percent. This includes pre-roll video, YouTube and other venues. With increased online video consumption, you have more opportunities to place your ads in front of users.

Digital display rose 15 percent for a variety of reasons. First, retargeting of websites’ visitors usually occurs through display ads. So, as traffic has surged, the retargeting spend across all business groups has grown, too. Plus, the technology to target individuals showing buying behavior based on internet activity is up as well.

By now, you may be asking yourself, how do I plan for 2021? Should I view 2021 as an opportunity for my marketing, or should I stay with the strategy I have used for the past six months?

You can make arguments for both. What you cannot argue with is that interest in RVing is off the charts.

Our Group 50 data shows VDP views increased more than 45 percent. These viewers are potential buyers looking at the details of a specific unit they have selected.

This is great news. This activity is not fleeting or temporary. So, competition for this volume will be high, come 2021.

Marketing Trends

Let’s talk about the possibilities in front of you, based on 2020 marketing trends.

These opportunities do not come around often. To capture market share and gain a competitive advantage, consider these three strategies based on the data shared above.

First, a common practice and knowledge of TV-buying professionals is this: Place your media dates for the year to lock in lower rates while you can. If you wait too long, or get too close to your event dates, the inventory of time slots becomes smaller, which will significantly hurt the integrity of your buy and cost you more per spot.

With TV spending down, the available inventory levels going into 2021 will be significant. Translated, this means the sooner you decide to make TV advertising a part of your plan in 2021, the better. The chance to dominate at a much lower cost is sitting on a silver platter waiting for you to execute. Keep in mind, stations will be willing to negotiate to regain the business they have lost. This is not a move for the bold, but simply good strategic thinking.

PS: You always can cancel with no penalties, so do not lose this incredible advantage.

The next major opportunity is OOH, or billboards. Look for billboards, whether permanent or digital. Scout out high traffic locations. Once traffic returns, so will the pricing. Lock these assets in now for some buys of a lifetime. A lot more RV prospects are driving your streets than ever before. Look for directional boards on major highways, and strategic boards around competitors. Then negotiate, negotiate, negotiate.

If you are planning on standing pat with a few adjustments, be sure you have email in your mix, either your in-house list or a conquest list. Next, leverage all the search traffic available. Even though trends are up, the costs are down. So add to your budget, and you will find more qualified traffic at a lower cost per click.

Finally, be sure to max out your retargeting plans. Plug in video retargeting, Facebook dynamic retargeting, display retargeting. Do not lose connection with those visiting your site. Build a robust plan to stay connected to these shoppers. The costs are low, and the returns are significant.

The key is to think strategically. Plan your execution based on your goals. Then, finally, be sure to set how you will analyze the selections you make.

These are key elements to every good marketing plan. Look out 2021 — here we come!

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