Media Epidemiology

One of the most surprising developments surrounding our coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic is the degree to which real-time marketing or media data has become a proxy for epidemiological data, revealing patterns of human behavior changing in response to the disease.

First it was Google search and Amazon sales data ascribing how people were researching and preparing for it. But more recently, ad industry data developed for marketing and media planning have become leading indicators of a return to some normalcy.

Las week I reported on a unique kind of data from Bombora showing that by at least one metric -- the amount of business content consumed online -- Madison Avenue is returning to pre-pandemic levels, albeit with many advertisers and agency execs still consuming it remotely from home.

Last week I also reported on the third wave of out-of-home media-planning data from Geopath and Intermx, revealing that by another measure -- the average number of miles traveled daily by Americans -- the nation is also returning closer to normal.

I also received similar data from Pattison Outdoor Advertising, the largest supplier of out-of-home media in Canada, showing our northern neighbors are also getting back to normal -- well, at least halfway there: “Displays across the country has increased to 50% of normal levels, and we are very pleased to see that in many markets, traffic is steadily increasing above 50% of the norm,” Pattison President Steve McGregor said last week, based on out-of-home planning data accumulated through the week of April 26. “This level of data and transparency plays a critical role in informing the advertising strategies businesses and brands will take to connect with audiences who are making trips to essential retailers and soon, will be returning to their places of work,” he noted.

While no one knows exactly what the “new normal” will end up being, or when we’ll know it’s fully here, we’ll continue reporting on media and marketing data providing insights on where we stand, and where we seem to be heading. If you’ve got any worth reporting on, please let joe@mediapost know about it.

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