How startups can realign their media, ad spend on digital medium during COVID-19

Here are five key strategies startups should follow with their media investments during and post-the COVID-19 era.

26th Jul 2020
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Ever since the digital penetration transpired in the business world, digital marketing has become an indispensable part of businesses today. It is common for consumers to conduct online research for a product/service before the investment.


The traditional and digital marketing debate has been long and lasting. The pandemic is likely to digitally shape the advertising industry in the long run. Brands are prioritising survival for now, but in the future, they will have to find new ways of brand-building digitally. It ultimately comes down to which one fits the needs of your company.


Over the last few months, marketers have seen a cut in budgets and are moving towards cheaper and more flexible channels, such as search and programmatic advertising, where there is real-time and precise data available for the consumer presence.


Digital display ads, social media, and online video channels are most likely to see an increase in media investments. Out-of-home advertising such as bus branding, metro branding, and billboard ads will have a lower exposure due to most people staying at home. Event marketing has come to a standstill and has seen marketers ceasing their OOH budgets or a shift towards online ads.


Based on Statista trends published by Amy Watson in the US, during the COVID-19 outbreak, time spent on digital media increased from 403 minutes to 451 minutes, while the traditional medium after an initial slump is slowly getting back its reach.


With COVID-19 having a drastic impact on traditional media, the recovery of the traditional medium is highly unlikely this year. Expert analysis indicates that it might take till Q2 of 2021 for traditional mediums to get back in shape. Hence, traditional versus digital debate is currently favouring towards digital media as it has more advantages in this crisis period.


While traditional media is still the biggest advertising driver in the industry, COVID-19 has wounded its investments by 50 percent this year. Hence, the digital medium will take up at least 50 percent of the advertising spend.


Digital media provides marketers with more tools and methods to do strategic refinement of the campaigns. It gives data points, metrics, and analytics to measure campaign performance, which helps in optimising the campaigns for maximum RoI.


An additional complimenting factor to digital is that it not only has a social networking angle, but also has a scope of audience capture through search ads, social media paid ads, programmatic advertising, content marketing, influencer marketing, and many more modes on digital media.


Thus, startup marketers have a plethora of options to realign their marketing spends from traditional to digital seamlessly.


Here are five key strategies startups should follow with their media investments during and post-the COVID-9 era.

Focus on quarterly investment cycle

Startup media investment is broadly divided among startups who invest either in an ad hoc, monthly, or yearly basis. But, the sweet spot would be to invest in a quarterly cycle. Following the principles of OKR (objectives and key principles) methodology, one quarter gives enough time for startups to evaluate the performance of a medium.


They can then decide to optimise or go full throttle on the ad spends. Startups should avoid monthly investment cycles as many mediums might be able to give RoI from the onset.

Single platform syndrome

Propping all eggs in one basket has never yielded great success before, and the same holds good even now. On digital media, the opportunities are split into many modes such as search ads, social media paid ads, programmatic advertising, content marketing, and more.


Investing in one area might deprive startups of audience opportunities in other digital modes. Each mode is more volatile than ever as audiences are equally split between all channels in digital.



Medium analysis

Stay-at-home behaviour has influenced media consumption across the world. Mobile video and display ad volumes are up by eight percent throughout the day as more people are accessing their daily dose of content through the most easily accessible platform – smartphones.


Marketers should assess the media channels where their customers are spending more time. With the easy availability of data for every digital medium, media analysis plays a crucial role in the brands.

Avoid the COVID-19 theme

Everybody knows that it’s COVID time, but that doesn’t mean every brand can step on to that saddle and have a COVID-19 themed campaign. It might work for certain healthcare brands, but not for all brands out there.


Sticking to your brand values, core principles, and the precautions you are taking for COVID-19 makes more sense now than ever, as the audience would also appreciate the campaigns being less about the pandemic.


Digital equivalent of traditional medium

Media investment transition from traditional to digital has been happening for the last couple of years. But, with the advent of COVID 19, this process has been fast-tracked, quite literally.


The print audience has a digital equivalent in the form of online news media, radio has its digital equivalent in the form of music streaming and podcast platforms such as Spotify, Jio-Saavn, Hungama, Gaana, and television audience has an alternative in the form of OTT for consuming content.


While understanding and recognising the uncertainties COVID-19 brings, marketers should also not let the pandemic paralyse their media investments. Adapting, evolving, and re-aligning the objectives on the right track is the need of the day, and investing in digital is sure to have a better impact on your brand during these times.

(Edited by Suman Singh )

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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