LESSONS FROM LOCKDOWN

As we are near approaching the end of week 11 in lockdown it is surreal to sit back and think about what a journey it has been so far and what has quickly become the ‘new norm’ for us.
It started with the initial panic buying in supermarkets, sad looking shelves and shortages of the globes newest precious commodity….loo roll! Parents then reluctantly embraced the introduction of home schooling, Joe Wicks quickly became our overqualified PE teacher and households put their home improvement skills to the test and painted their fences with B&Qs finest.

As we as individuals have adapted to this new world, brands have also been on a journey witnessing the crisis bringing the economy to a near halt, which has left millions out of work (quite literally!). We have seen brands devise plans on how to keep afloat during these times and come up with innovative ways to keep their brand alive. Universities holding virtual open days to try and fill remaining places, the Premier League planning to go ahead behind closed doors, restaurants selling ‘make at home’ kits, and with models grounded at home, fashion brands are attempting to bring us new visual content with the trend of flat lay photos being introduced in magazines and websites.

At the other end of the spectrum I have observed several brands, unexpectedly, err on the side of caution pressing pause on all ad investment to rethink their yearly strategy and ensure their messaging was aligned and empathetic to their audiences new needs and general sentiment. It seems that internet trolls, millennials and populism have created a fear amongst brands themselves, where the age old ‘no publicity is bad publicity’ clearly no longer holds.

Working in Sales at Nano, I have had to keep on top of the ever-changing trends we are seeing within the industry and by keeping a close eye on insights from a range of client verticals has enabled the dynamic nature of our keyword optimisation. From the initial telco broadband panic ‘how to increase internet speed’ with users trying to set-up their work from home stations, to the more relaxed ‘best broadband for gaming’ searches. From the health and wellbeing sector, we have seen initial searches around vitamins and immune boosters with the hope of preventing the virus, to a more relaxed trends in ‘home workouts’ and ‘leisure wear’.

Being able to act on these live signals of intent and target users in premium environments means that we can help advertisers stay ahead of the curve by adapting and optimising their campaigns in accordance with the current needs. This type of dynamic targeting is something we have recently been recognised for in the 2020 Digiday Media Awards Europe shortlist with Betway. Being able to target users, based on ever changing games, odds, players in live and cookieless environments have proven very successful for a number of clients.

As we slowly emerge from lockdown, we are starting to see brands slowly re-ignite digital campaigns in what is seemingly a very competitive market right now. Covid-19 has most definitely accelerated the digitilisation of media (whether we will see this unwind is yet to be seen), but with outdoor all but disappearing for the short term, Nano has seen a wave of potential clients, new to digital, seeing no better way to move into the world of digital, than by targeting off a user’s intent. You could even argue that the real industry success stories, post Covid, will be the (mainly) SME’s who have been able to adapt, innovate and adjust their operations and brand quickly and seamlessly. Whilst we have seen an incredibly diverse array of changes from businesses, the ability to deliver these adjustments to the end user depends more on the dynamic nature of the digital space than ever before.

We are now specifically seeing a huge increase in financial campaigns, with several new clients coming forward to test at this time. From clients wanting to target an ‘in market’ audience checking credit scores during this worrying time, to larger, more corporate clients wanting to reassure users by being front of mind in an ominous-looking financial environment. Another observation has been the influx of charity campaigns. With most fundraisers being cancelled due to lockdown, charities have had to find alternative creative ways to fundraise. Live Intent has proven very successful in helping bring in donations when anyone is searching for anything around ‘fundraising at home’, ‘helping charities during Covid’ etc.

As we (gingerly) look forward to coming out of lockdown and we are back to speed of everyday life, we will reminisce about the slower paced life and remember the many zoom quizzes and banana breads consumed. There is no doubt that brands’ new mentality of “if I can do it online, I will’ will transcend throughout all areas of how they do business. Now it is up to them, in this new world we live in, to ensure that their operational innovations can reach the end consumer through the digitalisation of their brands. Speed to consumer is proving just as important as operational innovation in this strange world we now live in.

Author: Hailey McDermott, Account Director, Nano Interactive