How Has COVID-19 Changed Online Marketing? (Hint: Beyond Recognition)

Remember when it was OK to gather at parties and we used to hug the people we love when we’d see them? Seems like such a long time ago, but it’s only been a year since the emergence of COVID-19 into our lives – and boy, has it turned it completely upside down. Humanity has certainly had to readjust itself in so many ways, in order to live alongside this virus.

You might think that the effect of the virus on advertising and marketing is marginal, compared to other fields, but this is an underestimation. And we’re not just talking about traditional marketing here. The online advertising and campaigning industry has undergone some substantial changes that were inevitable with these new circumstances, and if you’re a part of this industry, you should really get acquainted with them – the sooner the better. Here are the main ones that it is important for you to be aware of.

The cycle of disaster

The equation here is pretty clear: People have lost their jobs due to restrictions and lockdowns, which means they have less free money to spend. This leads to a shrink in total consumption, which causes more unemployment due to profit loss. What we’ve got here is basically a snowball which absorbs more and more consumers, with no sign of relief in the future (despite talks of an upcoming vaccine).

Markets are shrinking all around the world

When there’s less ‘free money’ out there, it’s a lot harder to convince people to spend it on your product. That is true for online advertising just as much as traditional advertising – if not more. And it means you need to work harder in order to persuade every potential client that your product is worth spending money on.

Orel Asformas, the owner of Viking Media and a specialist in sales-driven marketing, analyzes this phenomenon: “When people are less inclined to give their money to you, your campaigning needs to be extraordinary in order to convince them to do so. A true online marketing genius is one that manages to spark a feeling of urgent need in the potential client, even in times when reality demands frugality.”

It’s getting crowded out there

If you advertise yourself online in some form (and you probably do, if you’ve read this far), you’ve noticed by now that competition for attention is becoming harder. That’s because more and more campaigners are switching tactics and abandoning traditional media for the internet.

This is a result of two main factors. One is the fact that advertising online is cheaper substantially, and this is a time when everyone’s cutting down on costs. The other is that a lot of dynamicity is required from campaigners – and that’s not always possible when advertising on TV or the radio. For example, on a day when the pandemic strikes hard, there’s less room for humorous ads, and that’s a shift that is much easier to execute on the internet than elsewhere.

The subject of sensitivity

Continuing with the last point, there’s less you can say and do in online campaigns with the mood being the way it is these days. The taboos have expanded, and online advertisers must work harder so as not to hurt people’s feelings. This is a strange situation for campaigners: On one hand you need to avoid anything related to COVID-19 that may be crossing a line, but on the other hand you should relate to COVID-19 in order to make your ad seem up-to-date (and sometimes also in order to convince the viewer they need your product especially now).

There’s a lot less you can say these days

Keeping this in mind, there’s no need for your campaigning to be too sensitive or politically correct. Quite the opposite – in a flood of online ads that the viewer sees, yours needs to be extraordinary in order for it to stick in their mind. Orel Asformas explains: “An online campaign without the ‘wow effect’ isn’t worth the time of day. You must be unorthodox and bizarre in order for the viewer to remember you, and for the memory of your product or service to ignite in their brain at exactly the right moment.”

Bottom line

These are complex times for online advertisers. Budgets are shrinking naturally but harder work is demanded on their behalf. On the other hand, this is also an opportunity to stand out above the rest, and that can only be accomplished by thinking outside the box. If this isn’t one of your big strengths, it may be better for you to hire a professional to do the job. Sure, it might cost a few pennies, but the benefits certainly outweigh the cost if we’re talking about a true expert.

About Carson Derrow

My name is Carson Derrow I'm an entrepreneur, professional blogger, and marketer from Arkansas. I've been writing for startups and small businesses since 2012. I share the latest business news, tools, resources, and marketing tips to help startups and small businesses to grow their business.