Business Content Consumption Continues To Rise, Shifts From 'Thought Leadership' To 'Social Listening'

Ad industry interest in business-related content continues to climb -- for both advertisers and agencies -- after crashing initially during the beginning of the U.S. pandemic restrictions period, according to an analysis of weekly increases in digital content consumption from Bombora.

Interest levels that crashed at the end of March following work-from-home restrictions put in place at most major advertisers and agencies have been trending upward ever since and have actually spiked beyond pre-pandemic levels

“‘Thought leadership’ has been flat among brands while ‘social listening’ has been on the rise for both brands and agencies since mid-May,” observes Michael McLaren, CEO of the B2B Group at Merkle and an expert in analyzing Bombora’s data.

“These findings support a recent survey from Matter showing that consumers are more likely to turn to recommendations from friends, family and social media influencers than brands during the pandemic,” he explains, adding: “Even before COVID-19, advocacy marketing had been viewed as ‘up and coming.’ However, these programs have seen a 25% spike among brands in the second half of May. As more self-service options become readily available for B2B buyers, authentic content from trusted peers will remain at a premium.”



McLaren also found a decline in interest about “creative services” among both advertisers and agencies and speculated that it is “a result of brands handling aspects of their market plans with internal resources, freeing up agencies to work on bigger ideas. This could explain why brands’ interest in creative agencies skyrocketed around mid-May.”

Longer term, as the ad industry moves more into a “recovery mindset,” McLaren expects to see a “return to selling.”

“Brands are looking for growth partners who can deliver responsive marketing messages that will help restore brand equity which is beginning to show signs of positive growth for the first time since early May,” he concludes.

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