When the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic in early March, most brands pressed pause on their social media campaigns.
However, those that didn’t enjoyed exceptionally efficient campaigns throughout the month, according to fresh findings from Smartly.io, which surveyed 5,000 consumers around the world.
The social ad automation firm found that many consumers reported seeing more ads from brands they had never purchased from before. In hard-hit countries like Italy and Spain, the share of consumers who experienced this phenomenon were as high as 69% and 70%, respectively.
Additionally, users in markets hit hard by the pandemic reported a higher tolerance for engaging with ads on social media, including France (50%) and the U.K. (45%).
What have consumers wanted from social ads throughout the pandemic?
Early, about one-third said they expected brands to empathize with the rapidly changing global landscape by advising them on how to stay safe during lockdown.
Today, consumers in every market polled said they expected brands to serve them ads for products and services designed to help them cope with the effects of lockdown.
Consumers are focused on regaining some sense of normalcy without sacrificing their safety.
In the U.S., Walmart reported a boom in business during the first few months of the pandemic, thanks to increased ecommerce activity.
Globally, shoppers have flocked to social media as well. In fact, nearly 50% of consumers surveyed said they purchased an item seen in a social ad within the last 30 days.
Looking at specific kinds of products consumers are open to buying over the next 30 days, grocery (43%), clothing/apparel (41%) and electronics (36%) are heavy favorites.
Not surprisingly, industries that rely on freedom of movement, such as travel, tourism, and ride-sharing, continue to be impacted by the pandemic.
Meanwhile, industries that offer fully digital experiences like gaming, entertainment, and online education have either enjoyed a resurgence or have continued much as before, with established, devoted consumer bases that are comfortable sourcing, purchasing, and consuming online.
As such, Smartly.io strongly suggests that brands should focus on converting as many offerings to digital channels as possible, while looking to pivot traditionally in-person activities to ecommerce.