As the COVID-19 pandemic changes consumer behavior, using the right channels in your marketing mix could help you keep your ROI up.

Thomas van Noort, head of the data science team at Objective Partners, urges brands to experiment with their media channels. “If you’ve been wanting to make some changes to your marketing mix, now is the time to identify effective channels and eliminate lower performing channels,” he says.

As this situation is unprecedented, we can’t rely on historical data to create effective media plans. This makes it a lot more difficult to analyze the impact of channels and campaigns. “It’s great to see a lot of the brands we work with are not afraid of learning by doing.”

“We’ve been hard at work analyzing channel effectiveness for the brands we work with. The (post-)lockdown measures have hit some brands harder than others, but across the board, we’ve seen affected brands implement really great marketing strategies to maintain their presence in the market,” Thomas says.

During the early stages of the pandemic, there was a clear shift from promotional messaging to brand messaging. “Many brands felt it wasn’t appropriate to push their product, and wanted to offer messages of support and solidarity instead. For some brands, we did indeed find brand messaging to be more effective,” says Thomas.

“But one telco we work with was very successful using the opposite strategy. While all their competitors and other brands were communicating the same ‘stay safe’ theme, they decided not to shift their communication and run their usual promotional ads. For about a month, they were the only communicator in the market, achieving an excellent share of voice and increasing their fixed product sales.

This just goes to show, there isn’t a single marketing mix that will work for everyone. Brands really have to find their own way here.”

General Trends

There are some general channel trends noted by Thomas. Out-of-home (OOH) has become a lot less effective, simply because fewer people have been out and about. TV and digital channels, on the other hand, have seen performance improve. This is due to increased engagement with media at home. So there are plenty of opportunities for brands to take advantage of.

“I see marketers are mindful about where they’re spending budget,” Thomas says. “It’s not just a question of reactivating all activities. A clear goal, thorough campaign planning, and tracking daily performance are key. Our goal is to assist marketers in determining the impact of their campaigns and to help them in this process of experimental learning.