Coronavirus Ad Adjacency: A follow-up study for a changing digital landscape

By Tony Marlow, CMO Integral Ad Science

04/21 By Tony Marlow

In the midst of the evolving coronavirus situation, the advertising industry continues to seek guidance on how to best navigate these unprecedented circumstances. Advertisers have been quick to make adjustments—”coronavirus” was virtually unblocked in 2019, and is now the most blocked keyword in the world—but it’s important to remember that brand suitability requires a nuanced, strategic approach. When it comes to advertising amid the current global climate, marketers and publishers are searching for a refreshed perspective on best practices for brand suitability. But where do consumers stand?

Last month, IAS conducted the Coronavirus Ad Adjacency study to understand U.S. consumer perception concerning digital advertising and coronavirus content online. Since then, IAS followed up with consumers to see how their behaviors and sentiments have evolved as they continue to spend time at home.

In less than a month’s time, we saw a 12% increase in consumers seeking out coronavirus content online and a 27% increase in consumers actively seeking out news more generally. Compared to the first study, consumers remain uncertain about whether they’d engage with ads alongside coronavirus content, but most consumers still agree that their opinions of brands that appear next to such content would remain unchanged.

The second wave also included more specific questions about consumption patterns to better understand where consumers are getting information and what types of content they find acceptable for brands. When seeking out information on coronavirus, 90% of consumers prefer premium, recognizable sites.

Additionally, IAS explored whether consumer perception is influenced by the sentiment of news headlines. Consumers were shown coronavirus news with positive, neutral, and negative headlines. As the sentiment of the headlines became more positive, so did consumers’ reactions to them. In the current climate, consumers don’t expect brands to stop advertising, but they do recognize when brands make the effort to appear in suitable environments. As always, context matters.

As most of the world continues to adapt to the evolving coronavirus situation, consumers are relying on prominent news sources to stay up to date. With the increase in engaged online audiences, there are opportunities for both brands and publishers to reach consumers with suitable content and messages during this challenging time. Download ‘Coronavirus Ad Adjacency: A follow up study for a changing digital landscape‘ to get the full picture.

Download study