If you’re an advertiser, you are probably deep into planning for the remainder of this year, and your next calendar year. This means making decisions about how much budget to allocate, and where to place your bets in content and media.
I have difficulty predicting what will happen next week, let alone next year. Will schools be open? Partially open? Do you even need back-to-school plans? Halloween: Will that not be just another way to collect and/or spread the virus along with candy (I am anxiously awaiting to see what costumes will be popular, inspired by the world we now live in)?
Thanksgiving? Are we giving thanks? With whom? For what?
Do you need a winter marketing effort for cars or clothing if we are all staying in and working from home? What about Christmas? Hey, maybe the virus is giving you the perfect excuse not to spend time with those pesky family members you don't like anyway.
I can go on and on, and I’m sure you get the point.
It's becoming clear that the pandemic is accelerating one aspect of marketing that was not healthy to begin with, which is advertisers’ reliance on “short-terminus.” This issue was prominent well before COVID, driven by the desire of Wall Street to accept only one kind of result: growth and nothing else.
As a result of this, marketers have gradually abandoned proven marketing strategies like building a brand or improving brand health metrics in favor of short-term promotional and sales-driven communications, which have been proven not to work long term.
Advertisers apparently like the perceived flexibility of digital media as the answer to their “short-terminus” needs. According to Gartner’s 2020-2021 CMO Spend Survey, digital advertising business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing budgets are expected to grow by 78% in aggregate in 2021.
Where are marketers planning to place all those dollars? Gartner knows the answer to this question too: “Among CMOs, 78% cite rising budgets for social in 2021, 71% for mobile, 71% for websites, 69% for SEO, 65% for partner and affiliate marketing, 64% for paid search, 63% for email marketing, 58% for offline advertising, and 57% for event marketing.”
And this at a time when many mainstream advertisers are boycotting social media (Facebook’s ecosystem most specifically). Advertisers have voiced their displeasure with many of the issues regarding social media for years. And yet, they are ready to plow more dollars into the medium they knew was tainted.
There are of course brands that absolutely belong on social media and depend on it. And not all social media (or all content on social media) is terrible. Some nuance is required. But does it seem a little disingenuous that advertisers are taking their dollars out of social media either for the month of July, or for the remainder of the year, only to spend “bigly” in 2021?
Many advertisers that are now on the boycott bandwagon will have to rethink their media and content strategies completely if the boycott does not yield results. Or come up with one hell of a PR spin. Because how do you “sell” your return to social media as an advertising platform to your consumers if little or nothing has changed?