A new report from Nielsen notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an array of far-reaching lifestyle shifts for American consumers, including how they engage with media.
“It’s unlikely that consumers’ lives will return to normal in the near future,” Nielsen says in its new Insights report, Advertising in the Age of COVID-19. “And as they’ve adapted their media and shopping habits to manage their lives through the pandemic, those changes are likely becoming embedded as part of the new normal that will emerge as the country recovers.”
That could mean more listeners for traditional radio. Nielsen says that in addition to consuming more local news and digital media, 83% of U.S. consumers say they’re listening to as much radio as they had before the pandemic.
Says Nielsen: “Consumers say they use radio to feel informed and connected to their community. Sixty percent of American adults 18 and older hold radio in high regard and trust it to deliver timely information about the current COVID-19 outbreak.”
Television usage, unsurprisingly, is also surging as more Americans work from home and an increasing number tune in to local, network or cable news coverage of the pandemic. And streaming video on demand (SVOD) has seen the most dramatic increase of all — with total minutes up 120% vs. the week of March 23 compared with the same period in 2019.
The question, however, still lingers: How do advertisers respond?
“Faced with uncertainty about the future,” Nielsen says, “many companies are responding by trying to freeze all activity, from hiring to marketing. But stopping and cutting all activity can only persist for so long without dramatic downstream effects. Adaptation will be the key to survival, and the marketers who can begin to strategically evolve their approach to changing consumer behaviors now will be way ahead of the game when consumers find post-pandemic balance.”
Nielsen says the cessation of advertising isn’t the answer, and that going dark — long term or short term — could have a significant impact on revenue. In fact, Nielsen says its database of long-term effect models suggests cutting advertising for the rest of 2020 could lead to an 11% revenue decline in 2021.