Together at Home: Investing in consumer connection

How brand suitable strategies help build lasting relationships with consumers

02 July By IAS Team

The global coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the daily routines of people around the world—where commutes, shopping excursions, or dinner dates once kept consumers connected to the outside world, technology has stepped in. As brands reallocate their advertising priorities to reflect where and when their campaigns should appear, consumer attention has shifted almost exclusively to digital avenues. Despite marketer concerns about brand safety and negative news headlines, most consumers are okay with seeing advertisements next to pandemic news content. Adobe Advertising Cloud commissioned a survey that found that only 12% of consumers want brands to stop advertising, and more than half (51%) still want ads that are tailored to their specific needs. So how can marketers reach this growing, engaged audience without breaking the bank? A leading-edge brand suitability strategy is the way to go. 

Brand suitability goes beyond paid advertising

Brand suitability often refers to the content adjacencies of digital advertising. However, it also means knowing what your brand stands for and proactively communicating your message through all marketing efforts. Advertisers who engage with consumers in a thoughtful, appropriate way during times of crisis will build stronger, lasting relationships with consumers in the future. For example, companies can connect with their audiences using empathetic marketing, which has recently been employed to help brands reach people facing the stresses of a global quarantine.

As quarantine took effect, consumers who were accustomed to connecting in person turned to social channels to create a sense of togetherness through the shared experience of staying home. Advertisers recognised this shift and joined the conversation with an influx of newsletters, company updates, and health & safety recommendations to consumers’ inboxes and timelines. Consumers were receptive: eMarketer reported that 77% of consumers wanted to learn how a brand is helpful in the new normal of quarantine living. The report also noted that 75% said an ad should educate audiences about the company’s efforts to face the situation.

Optimise advertising dollars with contextual targeting

At the same time, it’s still important to make sure your brand appears alongside suitable content across paid advertising efforts. In particular, brand suitability strategies that leverage contextual targeting ensure that your advertising dollars are reaching the right consumers, in the right places, and at the right times. Contextual targeting uses machine learning to evaluate the topics, sentiment, and emotions on a page. As a result, it provides greater levels of accuracy and customisation for your marketing strategy. And more importantly, it’s what consumers prefer: In a recent IAS study, 53% of consumers said they’re receptive to contextual targeting, and that they prefer it to all other tactics, including behavioral, audience, and geo-targeting. 

Connecting with consumers now, and in the future

Understandably, consumer stay-at-home behaviors make outdoor advertising significantly less impactful. Billboards, word of mouth, newspapers, magazines, and almost all prongs of print and out-of-home advertising have decreased dramatically. While print advertising has been declining for a few years now, a new eMarketer projection predicts the marketing industry will only allocate $9.89 BN to print advertising in 2021 — that’s an 8.85 billion dollar difference from 2018. As the world considers the long term impact of coronavirus, brands can no longer lean on the same, traditional multi-pronged approach to connect with consumers.

For the foreseeable future, consumer attention is likely to remain shifted toward screens, and advertisers would be wise to meet them there. Even if budgets are tight now, the slow ease of quarantine and global adjustment to a “new normal” means that digital advertising budgets will return, and the connections made with consumers during this challenging time will remain. In the meantime, the best way to reach consumers while navigating the challenges presented by shrinking budgets and tricky, volatile news headlines is to employ a brand suitability strategy that leverages contextual targeting

Interested in learning more about how to connect with audiences in suitable environments? Download our practical guide for balancing digital advertising risk and reach during a global pandemic below.

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