For the past few weeks, the nation has been tuning in daily to discover the latest updates on COVID-19. The global ones make for uncomfortable viewing, but our local statistics have thankfully started to follow a much more encouraging trajectory, as a result of our enormous efforts to stay at home in our bubbles. Well done, New Zealand.

But this achievement has come at a cost (albeit a more acceptable one than the loss of more life), due to the unprecedented impact the lockdown has had on businesses and the broader economy, the effects of which will likely last for years, not months or quarters. So as we prepare to enter Level 3, there are trends and changes that we need to accept and adapt to quickly if we want to ensure the survival of our brands and businesses, and hopefully see growth in the months to come.

Something that has seen an immediate impact is the media we’re consuming. To help, we have had a close look at what is happening (coupled with our collective experience from the GFC) and have put together a media cheat sheet to help you ensure your media spend is working through a period where not much is.

Recently we shared some learnings from the GFC in our article, ‘What we learnt from the GFC and how to apply it in times of uncertainty.’ This article laid out several core principles that we believe should help govern your approach right now:

  • Focus
  • Innovate and challenge everything
  • Don’t forget to focus on your brand
  • Deliver performance

With these things in mind, what does the new media landscape look like?

Well, we’re all at home, so of course, we see changes in the areas you would expect, but there are a few surprises:

  • Internet consumption is going through the roof. Luckily, as a nation, we have a strong broadband and fibre network, delivering unlimited internet data in a lot of cases. And our network was recently upgraded for the Rugby World Cup, so despite the increase in consumption, we’re not having the Netflix issues that Europe is experiencing.
  • We’re using all that internet for making, listening and watching. Around 20% of Gen Z and Millennials are creating and sharing videos. 40 to 60% are streaming more music, and everyone is watching more old fashioned broadcast TV.
  • The news has made a comeback. Unsurprisingly, our consumption of news has increased. This has led to a resurgence in the use of social media platforms – Facebook in particular. The rise of the ‘Power News Consumers’ and ‘Power News Discussers’ is driving how media is being spread. Across the board, all generations are reading the news 30 to 40% more often.
  • Mobile consumption is on the move, even if we aren’t. Even while people are unable to leave their homes, mobile is the device of choice, with usage up 75%. But we are spending more time on other devices as well – 40% more on laptops and 33% more on desktops – most likely down to our move to ‘working from home’. Surprisingly, even in lockdown, being mobile-first is more crucial than ever.
  • Search volumes are up. We are seeking information, solutions and distraction at a much higher rate than normal. A review of the top search terms shows that there is a focus on the necessities – the top three ‘shopping category’ search terms were for thermometers and freezers. (Source: Search volume)

The NZ Media Landscape

The changes to the local traditional media landscape have been mixed:

  • Newspapers and TV are enjoying substantial audience gains; however, there have been some declines in advertiser support.
  • Overall, the TV audience has grown by 6-10%.
  • News has grown by 20%, with strong growth of 36% in Auckland for One News at 6pm.
  • OOH (out of home) is struggling. With the lockdown in force, people aren’t in cars or on public transport, so billboards and bus shelters are not getting the eyeballs. This will slowly correct itself as our freedom of movement returns.

So what are the new rules you need to know?

A lot of the lessons aren’t new, but are perhaps more critical to get right than they were in a pre-COVID world:

  • Understand your audience
  • Think broad and always on
  • Drive brand salience

These core marketing principles haven’t shifted, but where your audience is has. Once you understand that shift, it is critical that you can effectively measure how your media is performing. It has been proven time and time again that investments in your brand will drive results over the long term. Still, it’s essential to be able to demonstrate the value to key stakeholders and departments within your business now.

  1. Measure Performance – Ensure you have a robust measurement process that translates media performance into business performance. This shouldn’t just rely on reported clicks or tarps; you need to show how your media spend is driving meaningful performance. Tracking conversions, brand metrics, and the business impact will help you demonstrate how your media is working today.
  2. Return to Community – There is an opportunity to do meaningful social communications right now. The audience is engaged and looking to be entertained and informed, but you need to read the room. If you get your message right and promote it to the right audience, a focus on social could pay off right now.
  3. Digital Presence First – At a minimum, we would recommend maintaining your investment across digital. Make sure this is spread across awareness and consideration layers, and don’t just focus on search. Driving brand through video channels (OnDemand, YouTube, Facebook), supporting this with display, and being there when people are searching, is vital.
  4. Focus Around the News – If it’s right for your brand, we know people are consuming more news, so look to target your audiences around this content in a meaningful way.
  5. Don’t Forget Traditional Channels – There are opportunities to get some excellent value media buys right now, so look for the ones that are right for your brand and make the most of the opportunity.
  6. Brand Safety – During this time of heightened public anxiety and social change, you need to get your messaging right. You can read more about these changes here – ‘How to guide your brand through the emotional and behavioural impacts of COVID-19, today and into the future.’

As detailed in the article above, now more than ever, it is essential to listen to your audience and adapt your strategy, your messaging and your media mix in response. Operating strategically, and being smart about how you plan your media to drive both brand and business results has never been more critical than it is right now.

For more from the YoungShand Team, look out for the upcoming posts in our Future-Curious Series. Next up – ‘Why necessity is the mother of invention’.

Chris Kalkandis studied Communication Theory and Psychology at Western Sydney University and has worked in the media advertising industry for over ten years. Previous to Chris leading the Media Team at YoungShand, he held specialist lead roles at OMG, Publicis & Dentsu Aegis.

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