Once Covid Hit, Companies Pivoted Their Marketing Strategies

In case you missed Thursday's column, let me introduce myself, although some of you I've surely met and mingled with already. I will be subbing for your regular insider, Laurie Sullivan, over the next few weeks. I won't pretend to have her deep knowledge about performance marketing and all its nuts and bolts but, with your help, we'll explore the latest news.

I was the editor of MediaPost's Marketing Daily from 2007 to 2018, when I joined the company's Events team, traveling from conference to conference, live-blogging sessions and rubbing elbows with some of you over many a cocktail hour. (Right, right, the one taking all those photos.)

I wrote about how the global director of digital activation at HP was annoyed at being "chased around the Internet by a pair of shoes" months after his June 2020 wedding. Data-mining, he said, needs to be more first-party and email-based. "Hopefully, we can find a better balance between the creepy factor and the beneficial."



Haven't we all been the victims of relentless targeting ads?

I remember being struck by the inanity of it after I searched for and booked hotel rooms in Iowa City so my family could attend a memorial service for a beloved aunt. Months went by with ads populating my browser, offering hotel rooms in the greater Iowa City area. Months!

And just the other day, a Marketing Daily writer/friend told me she gets "nonstop Febreze ads" that she suspects comes from the fact she and her husband "must have watched too many Hulu shows about animals or else it knows how much I love my dog."

Last year, after COVID hit, I wrote about the ways companies pivoted their marketing strategies. For example, ThirdLove, a D2C bra and underwear company, reallocated its marketing mix to OTT, Facebook, audio and search. It leveraged first-attribution tools to measure the performance of the channels and optimized its buys, a company representative told our Search & Performance Insider Summit in June.

Red Roof Inn told an engaging story about how the hospitality industry had been leaning toward putting Alexa or Siri in hotel rooms for guest to use. But would the guests be comfortable with the conversation AI bots?

Then one evening, Red Roof's director of marketing technology was at a dinner where two guests heatedly discussed a topic. One guest reached into her purse to get her phone to Google the answer while the host, who was arguing with her, simply asked Alexa, which gave the correct answer.

"It was instant recognition," he said, "that we don't have to use our phones." So he began to wonder -- why try to put voice in hotel rooms when one could use it as a "unique channel of opportunity? It made sense for us to stop trying to figure out the problem and recognize that we didn't have to worry about any infrastructure -- we could develop a skill."

There were always interesting stories like these to blog about at the summits. Hit me up at if you've got a good idea or story to share.

Now to ponder whether to "Add to cart" or not ...

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