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Advertising in a COVID World

Why residential marketing plays are more important than ever

April 29, 2020

There are times when your gut is the last thing you should be listening to.

With fear and uncertainty dominating the conversation, many businesses are hunkering down and pruning deep into their budgets as they attempt to weather the economic storms ahead. Prudent moves given the lack of information needed to forge on.

What isn’t prudent is cutting into the one area that will help you out during and after this world-wide crisis, and that’s advertising. The long term effects of dropping out of the game are something that won’t only be felt now, but especially in the future as lost ground is made up. Of course, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t be looking into how and where you advertise your brand.

“residential elevators... are now one of the most obvious ways to reach homebound consumers with a creative approach”

Some businesses are opting to drop regular ads and instead focus on community and COVID related spots, others are pulling back entirely as they assess the situation. The mode of delivery is shifting for those seeking to stay ahead of the game, however, as people find themselves confined in houses or apartments. While advertising in residential elevators isn’t a new idea by any stretch, it is now one of the most obvious ways to reach homebound consumers with a creative approach and to keep your brand in the public eye.

Where are your consumers? Check the data.

The data is very specific; with businesses closed and the usual public gathering spots mostly off-limits, home is the key. The most recent Google Covid-19 Community Mobility Report lays bare the fact that public transit hubs are seeing a drop of over 60 percent in ridership, followed by retail and recreation (- 54 percent), the workplace (- 47 percent) and even parks (- 22 percent). The one area where you can be guaranteed to find people is at their place of residence, where there’s been a 17 percent rise from baseline. 

"As other businesses go silent, the marketing noise level drops"

The latest findings from Statistics Canada reveal that a significant number of Canadians live in apartment buildings. A trip to the lobby or back upstairs guarantees a captive audience, especially considering that we’re all used to staring at screens both big and small, at work and home. Many of them are unconsciously picking up what advertising represents in a crisis: better times, leisurely pursuits, disposable income. Any company that keeps their brand visible in these times will inevitably reap the benefits by continuing to engage with their target audience. 


The last time that North America stared down a serious recession was back in 2009, when a global financial crisis eventually swamped the continent. Canada was only brushed by the wave in comparison to other countries, but it was a significant hit: export earnings went down 22 percent at the peak, personal expenditures declined, auto and house sales dipped dramatically by 20 percent and 34 percent respectively in the months leading up to 2009. In 2020, Canadian economists are forecasting economic activity to shrink between 25 and 35 percent; not only will businesses be affected, but the communities they’re part of as well.

Keep the beacon shining.

We still don’t know how this will pan out over the coming months, and this is why advertisers need to be canny in how they deal with the downturn. The recession of 2008/09 had companies scrambling to survive, and by the end of it, ad spending had dropped by 13 percent. The ones that came out ahead kept their brand in the spotlight as others faded, beacons of stability in a wildly shifting consumer terrain. With retail outlets closed and mass self-quarantining a fact in 2020, new ways must be looked at to keep your brand alive in the public consciousness. 

Keep in mind that as other businesses go silent, the noise level drops and the information you want to get out there becomes clearer, especially when that information is delivered close to home. 

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