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Americans are consuming more media, don't want advertising to stop during COVID-19

14 April 2020

Sometime, X-number of months from now, there's going to be an explosion of pent-up demand. Until that happens, keep advertising.

Results of a new survey by video ad platform Unruly indicate that US stay-at-home orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic have significantly increased media consumption by this captive consumer audience, and suggest that this presents an unprecedented opportunity for smart advertisers.

Across a wide range of media, survey respondents said that compared to before the COVID-19 outbreak, they are spending a lot more time on:

  • Watching live TV (42% of respondents)
  • Watching TV on demand (40%)
  • Watching online video (43%)
  • Messaging (39%)
  • Interacting via social media (45%)

Respondents also reported spending more time on cooking and reading - presumably including the consumption of ads in print media.

Of devices, mobile phones had the sharpest increase in use (80%+ of respondents aged 18-44 reported increased use), followed by connected TV (60%+ of respondents aged 18-54 reported increased use).

Top categories in which consumers reported spending a lot more money were:

  • Home entertainment, cited by 29% (driven by consumers aged 35-44)
  • Online shopping for groceries and food, cited by 28% (driven by consumers aged 25-44)

What respondents said they want from advertisers:

  • Informative content (cited by 49%)
  • Warm/happy content (37%)
  • Inspirational content (33%)
  • How companies are supporting staff and consumers (22%)
  • Informative messages about COVID-19 (21%)
  • Ads depicting continuity and normalcy (17%)
  • Humorous or positive ads (17%)

53% of all respondents said they currently prefer to get brand communications via TV ads, but 42% of those aged 18-24 prefer to hear from brands by online video.

Only 2% of respondents said they think all advertising should be stopped.

Unruly VP/Insight Terence Scroope summed up the survey results this way:

"This is now one of the most engaged and literally captive audiences of our lifetime...The vast majority of consumers still want to see ads, but the key to success is in the content and the way a message is conveyed.”


  • Video, YouTube or otherwise is a natural medium to be consumed by bored, restless, housebound people. If your offerings appeal to the visual sense, use video or at least plenty of high-quality color photos.
  • Since shut-up consumers are reading more, don't neglect print.
  • This is maybe not the best time to invest in out-of-home advertising.
  • Also it's probably not the best time to run ads talking about the bad things that could happen to people if they fail to buy your stuff. Instead, talk about how happy you're going to make them, even though gratification must unfortunately be delayed.
  • Sometime, X-number of months from now, there's going to be an explosion of pent-up demand. Until that happens, keep advertising to stay top-of-mind with past customers and your best prospects.

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David Boggs    - David
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External Article: https://go.unruly.co/l/50182/2020-04-07/d4f5vl

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