How Covid-19 changed the advertising industry

Times Square in New York City.

Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty Images

This time last year, Jeff Trade, CEO of The Trade Desk, watched as advertisers interrupted every campaign they could.

The ad tech executive said digital advertising had a downside in the early days of the pandemic. It was easier for advertisers to turn the switch and interrupt spending while trying to figure out what to do. But in the ensuing months, when marketing dollars started to turn on again, it became clear that they were flowing online.

“Everyone gets more driven and agile during a recovery because every dollar has to count,” Green said. “It was then that it really accelerated for us. So we were hurt excessively in the first month. And we have benefited excessively since then.”

The Trade Desk saw first-hand how certain pieces of the advertising industry were catapulted years ahead, while consumers stayed home during the pandemic. Digital reigns supreme: flexible purchasing, the ability to eliminate messages and direct-response purchases that clearly show that the return on investment was popular were in high demand by many advertisers who often had no idea what to do next month, or even next week, would look like.

These themes have led to great progress in areas such as linked TV and e-commerce marketing, where the pieces were already in place for growth, but which propelled the pandemic forward. And the way the advertising industry in the process may have also changed the way it works.

“These things have already happened,” said Barak Kassar, co-founder of the independent creative agency BKW Partners. “And that, whoosh, just made it happen faster.”

Experts and space executives spoke to OilGasJobz about three areas where the advertising industry had to see jumps during the pandemic.

Connected TV

As soon as pandemic-related exclusions began in March, the storm surge began. Platforms like NBCUniversal’s Peacock and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max were launched when people were forced to stay home. And since different states had different rules about events and business openings, and the rules changed by the day, advertisers working on TV also wanted the ability to be flexible in purchases and messages in a way that linear TV arrangements historically not made easy.

Green said at The Trade Desk’s first quarter 2020 call in May that he expected a ‘revolution’ in the field of TV streaming. His business, which helps brands and agencies reach targeted audiences within media formats and devices, has a growing presence in the category. But Green expected this revolution to take place in a few years. It eventually took months.

Since then, it has accelerated even more: “If we plugged in two years in the first six months, we plugged in another three years in the next six months,” he said. “It felt like 2020 after five years of change.”

Everyone was home to watch more videos and the commute time was in many cases reassigned to media consumption. Movies have been released via streaming. The cut has increased: eMarketer forecast late last year that more than 6 million U.S. households canceled their pay-TV subscriptions last year, with TV advertising spending up 15% to its lowest level since 2011.

Lauren Hanrahan, CEO of Publicis Groupe-owned media agency Zenith USA, said things had changed in space forever.

“It’s not like 2020 was the year for connected TV, but now back to our usual media mix,” she said. “Consumer behavior has changed permanently. And we will have to adjust where and how we achieve it.”

Kasha Cacy, global CEO of the agency group Engine, believes the pandemic has pushed CTV forward by five to seven years.

“I used to work on Sony Pictures, and the idea of ​​launching a movie on a streaming platform was like blasphemy,” she said. “And now that barrier has been broken.”

She said factors such as Google moving away from third-party cookies in the Chrome browser further positioned CTV well.

“The combination of Google’s announcement about cookies and identity and that CTV is out of their control, I think will also see advertising dollars flowing in there,” she said.


Brands and platforms have been working for years to make consumers comfortable with the idea of ​​buying something they have not yet seen, touched or tried. But in recent years, many consumers have not had a choice and have turned to online to order groceries, supplies and other items.

Americans spent $ 791.7 billion on e-commerce during 2020, 32.4% higher than in 2019, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau in February. And while shopping at physical stores can pick up again once the restrictions are lifted, the retail industry has changed forever.

Hanrahan of Zenith said that growth can not only be seen in a single demographic or audience, but across the board.

“I think there is a real toughness, I think there is a consumer behavior that is built now,” she said. “If you ordered from a platform from your phone multiple times, and now the app is on your phone … you have now adopted the behavior.”

The swelling of e-commerce – and its effect with the gust of wind on the growth of digital advertising – was evident in the performance of companies like Snap, which used advertisers to augment reality for virtual ‘trials’, as locker rooms at many retailers remain closed and there have been new precautions around the sampling of products such as makeup. Pinterest was another advantage as the retailers inspired and inspired the platform along the way.

e-marketer forecast in the fall, marketers would spend $ 17.37 billion on advertising on e-commerce sites and programs by 2020, up 38% from 2019. And the trend is unlikely to die: Hanrahan added that the growth pattern of e-commerce can be seen if we look at a market like China, which was much more advanced in that area.

“I think the biggest indicator that we are not going to return all the behavior is because in other countries that are over the point, it is just accelerating,” she said.

Brendan Gahan, partner and chief social officer at the advertising agency Mechanism, agreed that a new baseline has been set, even when things are ‘normal’ again. He said what so much of e-commerce involves is reducing friction and helping people save time, which is a benefit that will not go away, even if people can go to stores safer if they want to.

“When the world returns to normal, the adoption will be much higher if the pandemic never happened,” he said. ‘It may deteriorate a bit at first. But there is no going back. ‘

Gahan said the pandemic could also confirm the status of influencer for some marketers.

“From a mere production standpoint, there were not many options for some marketers in the early days of the pandemic,” he said, adding that some brands that did not work much with creators were given a chance. And dollars began to convert even more to creators: A report of influencer marketing platform CreatorIQ said sponsored jobs were 46.6% higher than year-on-year during Thanksgiving sales weekend.


The past year has been a bit of a ‘right place, right time’ situation for We Are Rosie, a community of independent marketing workers founded in 2018 by Stephanie Nadi Olson.

Forrester research forecast last year that the U.S. advertising agency sector will lay off 52,000 jobs in 2020 and 2021 amid spending. Flexible marketing organizations were one place workers could go.

“Covid hastened the inevitable,” Olson said. “It was coming. What Covid did was that it poured a little bit of petrol into the situation. ‘

The company has worked with major companies, including Bumble, WW, Nextdoor and LinkedIn, and has grown its annual projects in the first 25 years. Olsen said it is already on track to do 1,000 in 2021.

We Are Rosie’s talent base is the best. Some do not live in large markets. Some are caregivers for family members. Some have medical problems or are terminally ill. Some are war veterans. It represents race, age, educational and geographical diversity. That kind of talent is often excluded or is not enabled by the ranks of, a predominantly white industry that often wants its employees to sit in large markets.

‘I think we had to be forced in a strange way to really realize that all the excuses and all the obstacles we would make [give as reasons] that it will never work, “Olson said. She said the industry has traditionally had the assumption that creative work should be done with everyone in the same room.

“We saw it,” she said. “Creativity thrives, and broad outlines, we do it, the work is still happening.”

Olson believes that the past year will mean a lasting shift in the operation of the industry. She believes that talent who wants to work in a flexible way, brands that want project work and dexterity on their side will be equal to some of these changes.

“I think the loss of the binary thought to full-time employees or if you give it to an agency or consulting, I think it’s gone forever,” she said. “The rise of bending talent … is here to stay.”

Engine’s Cacy recently told the company conducted a national survey it has shown that almost 80% of working moms would like to continue working from home. Cacy said the company is thinking about flexible models that make this possible.

“In an industry that is trying to get more women in senior positions, in an industry where we are trying to create more diversity in the workforce, the idea of ​​being able to offer it to employees and moving to different markets outside of New York for talent, especially diverse talent, to acquire, there is something very attractive about it, ‘she said.

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