COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, remains a risk to U.S. consumer confidence. Consumer behavior will change the way companies buy media and run daily operations. Some are giving away advertising, while others are giving away services.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, outlined in a lengthy post the company’s plans for dealing with coronavirus. He said Facebook will give the World Health Organization as many free ads as it needs to disseminate accurate information about coronavirus, along with similar support.
“We'll also give support and millions more in ad credits to other organizations too and we'll be working closely with global health experts to provide additional help if needed,” Zuckerberg wrote.
Last week MediaPost reported that China's search engine Baidu developed a fever-screening system and open-sourced the code. Alibaba offered $1,000 in credits to purchase cloud services to any company impacted by coronavirus.
Google also announced earlier this week that it would give G Suite customers free access to the G-Suite’s advanced features like the ability to hold virtual meetings with hundreds of participants, or stream live events to tens of thousands of people. Microsoft also now offers six-month free trials of Teams, which helps their employees use video chat technology. For example, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn and Microsoft have asked their employees to work from home, if possible.
Next week, Microsoft is holding its first Search Partner seminar at Microsoft Times Square. Ian Orekondy, CEO at Ad ComplyRX says it’s about showcasing the websites and partners that are part of the Microsoft and Bing search network with a focus on the pharmaceutical industry.
Raymond James & Associates published a report on Friday to update investors on how companies are approaching investments and travel based on the outbreak.
While the “impact on consumer behavior is difficult to model as we do not yet know the extent to which the virus will spread,” analysts wrote in a research note. “Chinese manufacturing appears to be coming back online for most of the companies,” whose representatives attended the 41st Annual Raymond James institutional Inventors Conference. The conference took place Wednesday.
Raymond James Healthcare Policy Analyst Chris Meekins, who previously worked at the Department of Health and Human Services in the area of public health preparedness and response, believes the United States will see a notable widespread outbreak. As lab testing ramps up in the coming days, the number of diagnosed cases will likely skyrocket, which will cause the stock markets to fluctuate for the next few weeks.
Still, many companies said they continue to test employees as they come back to work. Applied Opto Electronics, which operates about 70% in China, told Raymond James they have tested all employees twice. While all are monitoring the situation, some like Home Depot, and Farmland Partners do not see any potential impact in 2020.
Scotts Miracle-Gro does not see any top-line exposure in fiscal year 2020, as the company already made contingencies ahead of the recent coronavirus outbreak.