Nearly two years into the pandemic, the impact of the various waves on advertising is not as clear as it was at first. Advertisers do not press to pause ad spend. Nobody is putting out a “we’re here for you” ad, even as Omicron cases increase and the number of daily cases peaks across the country.
This does not mean that advertisers are not affected by the Omicron variant. If you ask agency executives and marketers how Omicron affects their plans, you’ll often hear that more and more people they work with get sick more frequently — people either within their company or with the companies they work with — making it difficult to keep things running as usual.
“With Omicron, we had to be pretty flexible in terms of meetings, photo sessions and any kind of personal activity,” he said. Abby Claassen, Head of Business Leadership, East for dentsu Creative. “For example, we may intend to have a personal meeting with the client, but we are also planning for the possibility that we will turn it into a virtual meeting. Or if we have a shootout, we should consider different backup plans in case no one can go.”
“However, we’ve been living with the ongoing disruption of COVID for nearly two years, so we’ve gotten really good at being flexible and building in contingency plans. We’re trying to manage it all with compassion and agility,” Claassen continued.
At the same time, some say that customer offers for new business are being held back, and there is a growing need for contingencies for some creative and experimental efforts. One agency executive said the volume of presentations is usually higher in January than it is currently because he believes clients are being cautious given the current wave.
Major cultural events planned for early this year including in-person conferences, such as CES which was cut short for a full day last week, are now difficult to plan for televised award shows due to uncertainty over whether or not they will happen.
“It’s hard to agree and plan when there is uncertainty and constant change, so we had to be flexible,” said Michael Sean Tucker, Los Angeles manager, Campbell Ewald.
“For example, we are planning around cultural events like the Grammy which was postponed twice last week. This is our cultural norm at the moment, so we will remain smart and open to different thinking and creativity.”
One agency was planning projects that would bring people together in public, but now sees that as impractical, according to one of the executive agencies, adding that those plans are now likely to be retooled to become virtual.
“Bigger things like SXSW that were on our radar are now likely to be less important,” said the CEO. “We are still planning to have a unit there, but we don’t feel comfortable planning larger revitalizations unless there is a drastic change in cases.”
3 Questions with Spectrum Labs CMO Tiffany Xingu Wang
Social media platforms are increasingly being called out because of the toxicity. What do you think of the future of content moderation in this regard?
Editing content is only a means to an end. Brand trust through user safety is the holy grail. Nearly 40% of Internet users in the United States have experienced online harassment. Toxicity eroded brand trust in the major social media platforms that defined Web 2.0. This forced us to redefine what it means to trust in the new age of metaverse. In my opinion, digital trust includes security, privacy, and inclusion. So, platforms that turn safety into brand trust will have a competitive advantage in the metaverse battlefield.
How does Adland need to think about online toxicity and content moderation?
With the exponential growth of the metaverse, Adland needs to plan for more ad spend there. With more companies turning to the metaverse, there is a dire need for AI tools to help erect safety barriers to combat toxic content, restore trust, and maintain vibrant online communities. The metaverse is continuous and immersive, and the conversion will be faster. Safety by design, right from the start, is paramount.
Are there other effects that advertisers need to look for?
They should pay attention to user-generated content. eMarketer expects spend on influencer marketing to exceed $3 billion in 2021 and grow to over $4 billion in 2022. With what I like to call the “flywheel of the creating economy,” there is a need for more content, more users and creators. viewers, etc. Confidence and security become the backbone to support that flywheel. Companies that build a bright society stand a better chance of serving the creative economy. Creators need to feel safe and supported or else the flywheel will break, and as a result creators will leave your community for those who aren’t. – Kimiko McCoy
Over the past few years, the idea of brand authenticity has taken center stage as more and more brands have worked to avoid #canceling. In today’s polarized social climate, shoppers expect brands to define their voice and value. While Forrester reports that most Americans will boycott a brand due to unethical business practices, their new research reveals that threats of boycotts may be just noise. Find key data points from the report below:
- 41% of adults online in the United States will return to doing business with a “cancelled” brand if the brand makes a public apology.
- 32% of adults online in the US indicate that if a brand is appropriate or embedded in their lives, they may not pursue a brand boycott.
- 22% of US adults online would boycott a brand that doesn’t share the same values. – Kimiko McCoy
“The power dynamic has changed. This is probably the first time in my career that I can say with confidence that people who do this work have more power than their employers in many ways. They have so many choices.”
We’re Rosie founder Stephanie Olson in the war for talent that agencies and brands are now battling with.
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