Startups should change their strategies to reconsider and realign their media investments during and post the pandemic era.

Ever since digital penetration reshaped the business world, digital marketing has become a hero, as an indispensable part of business operations today. It is common for consumers to conduct detailed online research for products/services before making any investment. The traditional vs. digital marketing debate has always been there, but the pandemic is likely to digitally reshape the ad industry soon.

Brands are prioritizing the survival strategies for now, but in the future, they will have to explore new ways of brand-building digitally. It ultimately boils down to which one fits the dynamic needs of the company.

How the pandemic changed marketing responses from channels

Over the last couple of months, marketers have seen a budget cut and are moving towards affordable and more flexible channels, such as programmatic and search advertising, where there is more real-time and precise data for the consumer presence.

Social media and digital display ads, along with online video channels, are most likely to witness an exponential increase in media expenditures. OOH ads will continue to have much lower exposure due to most people locked indoor.

Event marketing has completely come to a standstill, and B2B marketers are ceasing their OOH budgets – shifting towards online ads. The Statista trends published by Amy Watson in the US has revealed that during the COVID-19 outbreak, the total time spent on digital media has increased from 403 minutes to 451 minutes, while the traditional ad medium after an initial slump is slowing down its reach drastically. With COVID-19 having a significant impact on traditional media, the recovery of the traditional medium is highly doubtful this year.

Though experts do indicate that it might take till 2021 Q2 for traditional media to get back to last years’ business. Clearly, digital vs. traditional debate is currently favoring more towards digital media as it has enhanced impact and increased advantages in this crisis period. While the traditional media still remains the biggest advertising driver in the industry, the pandemic has wounded its investments by about 50% this year. Hence, the  digital medium has replaced it, taking up about 50% of that advertising spend in the process.

B2B Advertising Spend – How the Pandemic Is Impacting the Marketing Budget?

Digital media offers marketers with more tools and advanced methods to do strategic refinement of the planned ad campaigns. It gives data points, detailed metrics, and analytics to critically measure campaign performance, which aids in optimizing the campaigns for maximum RoI.

A complimenting angle to going digital is that along with its social networking angle; it also has a scope of audience capture through its social media paid ads, search ads, programmatic advertising, influencer marketing, content marketing, and many more modes on digital media.
Thus, startup marketers have a plethora of options at their disposal to realign their marketing spends from traditional to digital seamlessly.

Also, the focus should lie on the quarterly investment cycle for startups. Startup media investment is broadly categorized among startups who invest either on a yearly, monthly, or ad hoc basis. But, the sweet spot would be to smartly invest in a quarterly cycle.

Following the principles of OKR (objectives and key principles) methodology, one quarter gives them sufficient time to evaluate the performance of a medium. Startups can then decide to go full throttle on the ad spends or optimize. Startups should avoid monthly investment cycles as most mediums might be able to give RoI from the onset.

Single platform syndrome is another great consideration for startups to remember. Propping all eggs in one basket never yields great success as the same holds good even now. On digital media, the opportunities are always split into many modes, such as social media paid ads, programmatic advertising, search ads, content marketing, and more – investing in any one area deprives startups of audience opportunities on other digital modes. Each mode is more volatile than ever during the current scenario, as audiences are equally split across all channels in the digital world.

So, to conclude, this is a tough time for all businesses across sectors – startups are the ones struggling the most to manage expenses for business continuity and profitability. It is crucial for them to turn their investments into the right channel in the least risky manner. So, they need to actively reconsider their ad spend and focus on targeting their investments on media spends.