COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the world of marketing. Amidst social distancing restrictions, the seasonal norms of consumer behavior were reconstructed in an instant. As a result, over two-thirds of brands reported reductions in revenue.
Yet, even during the disruptions to the norm, the average American was still exposed to as many as 10,000 advertisements per day, while many brands evolved their offering around the new normal and looked to maintain Share of Voice equal to the Share of Market. In fact, I believe if we look back at this time in the not-too-distant future, we will marvel at the innovation and ingenuity of many market-leading brands to adapt and connect with consumer needs. COVID-19 made effective engagement in this cluttered and uncertain environment even more critical for brands, who were feeling immense pressure to hit quota. One particular area of importance is in their ability to cut through the noise with powerful, targeted, and hyper-relevant messaging.
With many Americans self-isolating in their homes and foot traffic on Main Street brought to a halt, consumer interests shifted. Demand for streaming services, exercise equipment, food delivery, and alcohol purchases rose rapidly as Americans looked to keep fit and entertained while enjoying a meal from their favorite local restaurants. For advertisers, winning during this “new normal” of behavior meant shifting targets, goals, and tactics to meet customers where they are and deliver value on their terms.
Each year, InMarket identifies standout campaigns that reflect the perfect combination of art and science to break through the clutter and create impactful brand moments. Our 2020 first-half winners stand out even more because of the unusual circumstances we now face. Their success in many respects can be equated to their ability to seize the moment and combine timing, relevance, and context to spark unique moments and experiences.
In every case, the highlighted brands connected with consumers on a deeper level, be it a desire to get outdoors and embrace their DIY side or by offering value during uncertain economic times. For example, brands like Jameson and Contadina, highlighted in Breakthrough Moments, sparked a bit of nostalgia and comfort in reminding us of simpler, happier times.
In the end, these winning campaigns are a great reflection of our circumstance and the new normal, resulting in exceptional viewability and Click-Through Rates (CTR) – as high as 18.1% – more than 30 times higher than the industry benchmark.
In general for brands looking to connect and engage consumers its best to keep the following in mind:
Delivery & Timing
Location-based marketing emphasizes timeliness for advertisers above all. The ad campaigns that had breakthrough moments all have that in common: they engage the right consumers at the right time and in the right channels including online and in-store – when they were in the purchase process.
At the heart of every high performing campaign is great messaging and creative. In every case these top-performing creatives tapped into key macro trends and were in some ways nostalgic with a strong connection to tradition – like Jameson’s St. Patrick’s Day Bring the Bar Home.
Each moment succeeded in grabbing the consumer with strong visuals including animation, interactive along with powerful copy.
Information & Offer
At the end of the day, the offer and content matters be it a discount, reward or product information including product benefits. This is particularly important and true during a time where economic uncertainty persists. The top Moments of the first half of the year combined brand recognition with value-based messaging ranging from The Fresh Market Dinner Done meals, starting at $3.75 per person, to Contadina’s digital coupons for bulk purchasing.
While 2020 is certainly an unprecedented time in our history, the impact of the events surrounding COVID-19 helped propel and perhaps enhance the performance of our Breakthrough Moments winners. However, regardless of external circumstances, brands who stay true to putting customer needs first, master delivery and timing of their messaging around those needs – particularly in real-time and during the purchase process and build engaging creative with value messaging will themselves succeed in breaking through.