This is not another communication with theoretic insights about why and how advertisers should communicate during this crisis. The purpose of the following words is to demonstrate with a case study that consumers are not just consuming media, meaning Corona-related news, they are also engaging more with the brand content and start to buy more than expected.
During the early stage of the crisis, WW and its media and data agencies, Mediaplus & Mediascale, made the decision that most of you made as well: to slow down the campaigns and focus mainly on retargeting WW prospects, people who already engaged with the brand but who did not convert yet. And that was the good thing to do.
Here are the social media ratios between the 14th of March and the 28th of March compared to the beginning of March (1st - 13th of March, before the crisis):
CPMs decreased a lot: -42% on average for all regions (Dutch-speaking Belgium, French-speaking Belgium and The Netherlands)
Another positive KPI was the cost per fully viewed video (CPfV): -53% on average for all regions with a smaller decrease in The Netherlands
But even though media was very “cheap” and people engaged with our video ads, this was not the right time for people to buy products: the social media cost per acquisition (CPA) dramatically increased in each region: +213% on average for all regions, mainly in Belgian regions.
We could conclude at this stage people were OK with having soft engagement with the brand but this was not the right time to spend money for that, even for the WW prospects, as we were mainly focusing on various retargeting techniques. We can also see the differences between Belgium, where lots of people were at home, and The Netherlands, which was not in lockdown. In the latter, the CPA increased less and CPfV decreased less.
But ever since somewhere around the 29th of March, after 2 weeks of lockdown, consumers changed their mind and the WW business situation became totally different.
This is the evolution of the above-mentioned KPIs for the period of the 29th of March to the 5th of April in social media, compared to the pre-crisis situation (1st – 13th of March):
CPMs slightly increased after the 2 first weeks of lockdown in Belgium but, globally, remained 43% lower than the beginning of March
CPfV re-increased globally but were still lower than early March: -23% on average for all regions
Nonetheless, people started to convert on WW solutions again at a steady tempo. All CPAs decreased with 54% on average. And this is not only the impact of lower CPM, as conversion rates are historically acceptable.
To recap, here is a chart with the evolution of the 3 KPIs:
Of course, this case focuses on one brand, but it leads us to some conclusions. After 2 weeks of lockdown, filled with lots of anxiety, we are starting to find some stability again in our lockdown-life and we may be more open to re-buy services and goods. Even more so for those that are good for our health and happiness.
As for the pragmatic conclusion: at the early stage of such a crisis, stopping paid media communication is normal, even more so if your products are no longer available for the consumers. But if they are and you have appropriate messages, you should keep a close eye on your campaign KPIs, as they may hold both bad and good surprises. So be flexible in budget allocation: evaluate daily and make the decision to slow down if business is not OK, or to accelerate if business is doing better.