An Ad Industry Forecast You Never Wanted To See

Warning: This column contains data that may be considered sensitive content by some readers.

It's not uncommon for some of Madison Avenue's leading modelers to forecast outcomes like a epidemiologists predicting a viral spread, but usually, it's about media. On Tuesday they did that literally during an Advertising Research Foundation "virtual town hall" on the impact the COVAD-19 pandemic could have on the United States.

The town hall was billed as a series of presentations and discussion that would shed light on its impact on advertising and media, and there was some insightful anecdotal discussion of that, but mainly, it was a couple of cases of leading industry modelers' analysis of epidemiological data predicting the spread, infection rate and mortality across the U.S. population.



While the presenters -- Marketing Evolution Executive Chairman Rex Briggs and ABCS Insights Co-Founder Jerome Shimizu -- did provide some fascinating examples of COVID-19 marketing responses, as well as predictions and likely best practices, the presentations mainly made a case for how severe the disease will be in terms of Americans' lives.

Thumb through their presentations linked above, and watch the video of the ARF's town hall below, but I'll cut to the chase and highlight what we in journalism call the "nut graf," or the essence of this column. It's on slide 10 of Briggs' presentation when he uses his ample statistical skills to forecast the human toll COVID-19 will have based on data from cases in Hubei, China, which was ground zero for the spread of COVID-19.

According to Briggs' forecast: 49 million Americans will become infected, 3,899,00 critically or severely, and 780,000 will die.

Both Briggs and Shimizu made cases for the spread to be less severe -- or worse -- depending on how American citizens and our government respond, but the numbers above represent the logical mathematical model based on the data available to date.

6 comments about "An Ad Industry Forecast You Never Wanted To See".
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  1. Stan Renbarger from Valassis, March 18, 2020 at 2:14 p.m.

    Shame on Media Post for publishing these scare tactics.  This is the time for us to consume legitimate sources of data - not speculation - no matter how 'data driven' it is.  Please provide commentary from CDC.  Ad Research Foundation?  Really?  At the very least put this 'speculation' in the proper context.  This may be a relevant perspective based on data collected at the time but we're dealing with real-time change, limited data, lack of experience and no idea what current measures will do to mitigate.  

  2. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., March 18, 2020 at 2:41 p.m.

    @Stan Renbarger: Apologies if we offended you. We didn't publish it to scare people who are already anxious enough. We published it because it was organized and hosted by the ARF, which is the industry's research authority. I don't agree that the data is speculation. It's based on scientific modeling based on patterns that COVID-19 has been spreading to date. There are far worse scenarios and forecasts, including one from the U.K. that 2 million Americans could die, which reportedly motivated the White House to take the health crisis more seriously:

  3. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., March 18, 2020 at 2:52 p.m.

    @Stan Renbarger: We also updated the headline and added a warning about sensitive content.

  4. Michael Pursel from Pursel Advertising, March 19, 2020 at 1:47 p.m.

    I too was not happy and skeptical with the story, which tends to fuel the panic, albiet in the advertising community.  I believe my reaction and possibly that of Stan's is based on past posts by Joe Mandese which have mostly been negative towards our current president.  I understand that this will affect our advertising community, but just like the dog that cowers when you raise your hand based off of previous beatings....whenever I see an article by Joe that touches on politics, I am conditioned that it will bash President Trump and tell us how horrible he is. KAG!!   Just being upfront Joe.  Yes, there COULD BE Millions dead.  Thanks for that insight.

  5. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., March 19, 2020 at 1:56 p.m.

    @Michael Pursel: "Dog that cowers?"

    In any case, it seems you're bringing your own bias issues to a story that happened to have my byline on it. The story had nothing to do with the President. It was a report on what the ad industry's research trade association discussed the impact of the Coronavirus.

    I would suggest you just stop reading anything with my byline on it. I mean, why are you reading me in the first place?

  6. George Simpson from George H. Simpson Communications, March 19, 2020 at 4:47 p.m.

    Michael Pursel: it has been my observation that coverage of yer boy Trump tends to be negative because he does and says unforgivably stupid stuff. Don't shoot the messenger.

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