The state of the digital marketing landscape: COVID-19 (July 2020)

By Jennie Kitchin | 03 Jul 2020

Back in April, we gathered all the important trends and insights that we were seeing across digital marketing. This was just after the UK government announced a country-wide lockdown. So, three months on, what does the industry look like? We’ve summarised our current insights into digestible stats to give a clear picture of the state of the digital marketing landscape as the country slowly starts to open up again.

Global customer behaviour

  • Generally, people believe that their new behaviours will remain in place post-COVID-19
  • 20% believe they’ll continue to spend more time streaming TV shows and films
  • 15% expect to spend longer on social media
  • 16% think they’ll spend longer on messenger services
  • 2% plan to listen to more podcasts
  • Many customers are spending more time online shopping, 25-34 years olds are seeing the largest uplift with 53% of this age group now doing so
  • Audio channels have seen an uplift with Acast and Podfront reporting a 30% increase in listeners since the pandemic began

Global ad spend

  • Global total ad spend (online and offline) is predicted to fall by 8% to £450billion in 2020
  • The sectors facing the largest decreases include travel & tourism (-31.2%), leisure & entertainment (-28.7%), financial services (-18.2%), retail (-15.2%), and automotive (-11.4%)
  • YOY digital spend is predicted to remain flat at 0.6% growth

Paid and organic search

  • Google’s net US ad revenue is forecast to decline by 5.3% this year
  • Microsoft has reported that apparel searches declined after lockdown in the UK but are now experiencing slow growth, while clicks have seen consistent weekly and YoY growth despite lower search volume, signalling a higher intent
  • In Google’s top trending categories, hand sanitisers and wipes and disposable gloves keep leading the way in terms of YoY improvement
  • In June, garden and pool products and solo sport accessories were searched five to seven times more than last year so, despite the lockdown restrictions being eased, online searches still paint a life-in-quarantine picture
  • Health-related blogs and sites are getting 17% more traffic for searches related to Coronavirus symptoms, home remedies, prevention methods, antibacterial and antiviral products, handwashing techniques, etc.
  • News publishers have seen a 34% increase in traffic due to the increased use of online devices and the need for the population to keep up to date with pandemic news
  • Traffic to food sites has grown by 22%, mainly because of the increased interest in baking and recipes, whereas restaurant and pub-related sites have seen a decrease
  • Travel sites have lost 46% of their traffic because of lockdown restrictions, but there’s been an increase in searches related to cancellations and refunds
  • The majority of retail businesses have seen a sharp increase in online traffic, sometimes close to 100%, coming from users that would have otherwise visited brick-and-mortar stores
  • With the re-opening of physical stores, those numbers will start to decline but perhaps not drastically given the reduced footfall due to social distancing measures

Social media

  • Adults in the US will spend seven minutes more per day on social networks than they did in 2019
  • 48% of people in the US and UK use social media to read more news as a result of the outbreak
  • Facebook’s daily and monthly active users have increased by 11% and 10% respectively YoY
  • Since the pandemic began, TikTok downloads have increased significantly - in Q1 alone there were 315 million, making it the most downloaded mobile app in any quarter ever
  • Users are more likely to check their Instagram feeds during working hours now than they were before the lockdown
  • Total daily time spent on Snapchat has increased by around 35% YoY

eCommerce trends

  • Food and beverage online sales are up 40% YoY
  • 70% of customers approve of coronavirus-focused advertising, and 50% still approve of ‘normal advertising’ 
  • Tourism transactions globally have been hit massively
  • With customers being stuck at home and looking for ways to keep busy and active, home furnishing (+120%) and sports equipment (+77%) are seeing significant uplift

Content and Digital PR trends

  • The content that people want to see more of is not exactly as you’d expect
  • Only about 20% want more live streams from their favourite musicians, whereas almost 50% want more films
  • Over 30% want more ‘how to’ and tutorial videos, but only 11% want updates from Bloggers and Vloggers
  • Grazia partnered with Instagram to run a Life after Lockdown survey, which showed that most of their readers wanted bright, uplifting content to distract from the news cycle
  • The same survey also showed a huge rise in mental health problems and a desire to change life after lockdown, which has led the publication to actively prioritise wellness and life advice in its content - a trend which has also been typical across most lifestyle publications
  • Travel media has faced the biggest impact from the lockdown but has pivoted successfully by featuring virtual tours and ‘staycation’ content
  • As the retail industry opens up again most publications are supporting brands by featuring product lists, etc.
  • The most likely campaign themes to drive success with the media now are green issues, practical tips for navigating change, mental health support, staycation pieces, or light-hearted/escapism content
  • There has been an increase in product-related and ‘post-lockdown’ pieces
  • Simple stories with a topical theme will likely work best to cut through the increased noise