OpenX Releases Data On Ad Placements, Budgets For The Holiday Season In A Year Of COVID-19

Budgets took drastic cuts in Q2, but marketers have spent the last several months recalibrating their strategies to fit consumer behaviors.

Budgets are rising for the holiday quarter. But by how much?

OpenX teamed up with market research firm The Harris Poll on how consumers and marketers are responding to the consequences of this unexpected year and implications their 2021 plans. 

The survey was conducted online in the United States from July 20-July 29, 2020, with about 1,000 adults ages 18 and over participating, categorized as consumers. The survey also includes 391 B2C marketers and 111 B2B marketers.

The OpenX data shows that marketers were more concerned with the placement of their ads next to questionable content than consumers, as COVID-19 stories began to dominate the news cycle.

Some 40% of marketers took proactive measures such as keyword blocking to avoid being associated with COVID-19 content, and 34% paused all marketing to avoid being associated with the content.



Consumers, on the other hand, did not have the same concerns. Some 66% said seeing a brand next to COVID-19-related content would not have any impact on their opinion of the brand, and 14% said seeing a brand next to COVID-19 content was actually a positive factor.

Marketers also were concerned about whether to engage in social-justice issues, as Black Lives Matter came to the forefront of the national dialogue.

In this case, 82% of marketers said they thought consumers wanted them to weigh in on social issues, yet only 46% of consumers say they want this.

This sentiment differed between generations. Among Gen Z and Millennials, 64% claim they would like brands to weigh in on social justice issues.

Among the marketers who acknowledged, made a statement, or took some action around the George Floyd incident and protests, 52% said it had a positive impact, and 7% said it had a negative impact.

About 57% of consumers surveyed said they are more likely to buy or use a product if a company takes a position on a social justice issue that is similar to how a consumer feels -- 77% of Gen Z and Millennials. If a brand took a position different than how a consumer feels, 61% said they are less likely to buy or use their product.

Regardless of all the social issues and complications the year threw at them, the data shows marketers are increasing budgets for the holiday quarter. About 46% of marketers plan to add money back into the budget in the fourth quarter. About 80% of those who will add back money say it will be equal to or larger than their budget pre-COVID-19.

Some 34% marketers also expect their budgets in 2021 to be larger than their pre-COVID-19 2020 budgets, and another 33% expect 2021 to be equal to 2020 pre-COVID-19.

Among marketers who cut budgets due to COVID-19, 70% expect their budgets in 2021 to be larger than their post-COVID-19 budgets.

Perhaps budgets are rising because the data shows consumer spending continues to recover.

As people remained at home, digital media use rose across multiple categories, with more than 40% of all consumers saying they have increased their use of desktop sites, mobile sites and apps, social media apps, and streaming TV.

In fact, GenZ and Millennials say they increased streaming usage by 67%.

The data found that 74% of consumers are reading or watching the news more often since COVID-19 began, and 85% of marketers believe there is a way to capitalize on the increase in news consumption, with 68% altering their company’s marketing and advertising strategy.  

Some 76% of consumers using streaming services watch connected TV apps that serve ads. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 66% say their use of these apps have increased.

Some 44% of consumers say they have increased their online shopping, and 8% are making daily purchases. About 37% say they are shopping more on mobile devices.

Of marketers who offer the ability to buy online, 39% say they have added to their ecommerce offerings, and 76% have changed their strategies to offer more online services. Nearly one-quarter of marketers who offer the ability to buy online say their sales are up since COVID-19 began.

Even among marketers who say total sales are down for the year, 29% say their online sales are up.

Some consumers admit they are saving money during this crisis, at 28%. Going out less to restaurants led 61% to say they saved more money.

Among other contributing factors to saving, 47% said they have been spending less on events and going out, while 47% cite the closing of retailers, 45% say they have cancelled trips and vacations, and 21% say they are saving due to an increase in income.


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