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Distorted by the impact of COVID-19, global consumer media usage, including all digital and traditional media, grew at an accelerated 2.8% to an average of 53.1 hours per week in 2020, according to PQ Media’s annual Global Consumer Media Usage Forecast 2020-2024.

 

How much media did we consume in 2020? In contrast to the loss of momentum in advertising and marketing spending in 2020, consumer time spent with media surged at the fastest growth rate since 2015, reversing a five-year trend of decelerating growth in media usage, according to new research released by leading media economist PQ Media®. Distorted by the impact of COVID-19, global consumer time spent with media, including all digital and traditional media, grew at an accelerated 2.8% to an average of 53.1 hours per week (HPW) in 2020, according to PQ Media’s annual Global Consumer Media Usage Forecast 2020-2024™.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the stay-at-home countermeasures employed to stem its spread, shook up the media economy in such a way that secular trends driving down media usage in some segments were reversed, while cyclical trends expected to boost usage in other sectors were postponed, and still other emerging trends were accelerated, positioning newer digital media channels to capitalize on the social and economic turbulence that rocked the media landscape in 2020.

As a result, global digital media usage bolted up 9.6% to 15.1 HPW in 2020, accounting for 28.5% of consumer time spent with media worldwide, gaining nearly 11 share points on traditional media in just five years. Key growth drivers were a slew of mobile media, including mobile video, audio, games, books and news, as well as social media channels, podcasting and OTT streaming video services, all of which posted consumer usage growth rates exceeding 15%, according to PQ Media®.

Consumer Media Usage Grows due to Pandemic

Consumer MediaNot since the Great Recession has there been a 10-point differential between the growth of overall consumer media usage and that of total advertising & marketing spending. But in the upside-down media economy of 2020 the pandemic drove down advertising & marketing spending 6.8%, while consumer time spent with media grew 2.8%, which was the fastest annual growth rate in five years, according to the Global Consumer Media Usage Forecast 2020-2024™.

“The prime beneficiaries of this paradoxical growth surge in media usage were consumer-supported media, particularly digital video, audio, games, social media and chat services. There’s no doubt that streaming media as a group were the hands-down winners in an otherwise loser of a year for many media stakeholders, particularly those dependent on advertising-driven media,” said PQ Media CEO Patrick Quinn. “As a result, consumer-driven media usage continued a nearly 20-year pattern of snatching away market share from advertising & marketing-supported media, as consumer-driven media accounted for over 55% of all media usage in the US, while its share grew to nearly 35% globally in 2020.”

The prime beneficiaries of this paradoxical growth surge in media usage were consumer-supported media, particularly digital video, audio, games, social media and chat services.

Of the 22 digital media channels covered in PQ Media’s report, consumers spent the most time with OTT video, like video-on-demand and streaming TV programs on connected devices, reaching an average of 5.04 HPW in 2020. While global mobile media usage was nearly 6.0 HPW in 2020, mobile video and games were the only mobile channels to exceed 1.0 HPW. New streaming video and audio services proliferated in 2020 as their audiences grew simultaneous to COVID-19 forcing consumers indoors for longer periods, pushing up digital video and audio consumption.

Consumer Media Usage: Netflix won big time

Consumer Media

Netflix added 26 million global subscribers in 1H20 compared to only 12 million in 1H19, as original hit series like “Tiger King,” “Ozark” and “The Queen’s Gambit” provided fresh content to growing stay-at-home audiences. Just one year after its launch, new video streamer Disney+ amassed nearly 74 million paid subscribers by 4Q20. With movie theaters shut down and studios forced to either delay film releases or launch them via streaming services, Disney debuted both “Mulan” and “Soul” on Disney+, while Warner Bros. launched “Wonder Woman ’84” concurrently on HBO Max and in theaters.

While videogames tend to buck trends in typical years, with usage declining prior to major hardware upgrades, this was not the case in 2020, as videogame usage surged throughout the year. Several franchise titles, such as Activision’s “Call of Duty,” were updated with new editions to great success – even before the blockbuster releases of Sony’s Playstation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X in 4Q20 – while titles like “Animal Crossing” and “Among Us” became international hits, driving up time spent with videogames.

Traditional media

Consumer MediaMeanwhile, several traditional media that had posted declining or decelerating growth rates since the Great Recession recorded their strongest growth in over 10 years. Print newspaper and book readership ticked up, but much of the fuel driving traditional media’s growth came from radio listenership, which grew 2.8% in 2020, as radio was a primary source for pandemic information in rural areas. Consumers turned to live TV more than any other medium (20.7 HPW) and terrestrial radio was the only other medium to exceed 10.0 HPW.

But not all media shared the good news. Print magazines lost subscribers who were afraid to touch mail and retailer subscribers like salons that had to eliminate waiting rooms. Particularly hard hit were film & DVD viewing (down 30%) and both traditional and digital out-of-home media, as stay-at-home edicts sapped travelers from the roads and skyways and foot traffic from many other venues.

Despite the expectation of COVID-19 vaccines being distributed widely by mid-2021 and a minor upswing in media consumption during the Tokyo Summer Olympics postponed from last year, consumer time spent with media will resume decelerating growth in 2021. PQ Media projects global consumer media usage to rise only 1.4% this year.

While the pandemic reversed some secular trends in 2020, we believe this was simply a short-term disruption of key long-term trends that will resume in 2021.

“We projected last year that consumer media usage would likely reach a tipping point at which media consumption flattens by the end of 2023. And while the pandemic reversed some secular trends in 2020, we believe this was simply a short-term disruption of key long-term trends that will resume in 2021,” Quinn said. “The key factors remain, as various traditional media usage will continue to either decelerate or decline, while smartphone penetration is at or near saturation in major markets worldwide, and several internet and mobile media channels will continue to experience slower annual growth.”

The rise in mobile media usage has a direct correlation to the growing influence of younger generations. Although iGens (born 1981-1996) use overall media much less than older generations (29 HPW in 2020) almost half of their media consumption is done via digital devices. In comparison, the Great Generation (born pre-1945) use media the most (89 HPW in 2020), but only 22% of their media consumption occurs on digital devices.

Among the 20 largest media markets, Japan posted the highest usage in 2020 (79.6 HPW), while Russia boasted the fastest growth (up 4.5%), and South Korea had the highest digital media share of total consumer media usage (45.3%). US consumer media usage was up 2.9% to 73.0 HPW, as streaming video and audio drove up digital’s share of total media usage to 42.4%, PQ Media estimates.

 

COVID-19 is already having a huge impact on marketing, advertising and media.  How are advertisers reacting to COVID-19? How will different media types ad revenues be impacted by the coronavirus health crisis? Portada got insights from brand and media agencies of the Portada Council System in order to gain some clarity. The answers to 7 crucial questions.

1. How are advertisers reacting to COVID-19?

“In this period, we know that consumers focus on basic needs and expect brands to supply and deliver them reliably. Consumers don’t want brands to stop advertising, but it must not be exploitative or insensitive,” Joseph Kiwanuka, Senior Manager, Cross-Cultural Connections, at UM tells Portada.  A CPG brand marketer in the Portada network says that since the start of the coronavirus crisis, “marketing practices have remained consistent, one insight consistently being practiced is empathy. Messaging reinforces reassurance and value,” he adds.

2. How are brand marketers adjusting marketing expenditures?

Some corporations are freezing or postponing their plans  (e.g. Turbotax as the tax deadline has been postponed to July 15). UM’s Kiwanuka notes that,some of our clients are being tasked with pausing media campaigns and/or turning back media dollars to their corporations to help alleviate the impact to sales. Many matters regarding media budgets are still up in the air and it is still unclear as to the direction that media budgeting for the rest of the year will go. We are taking things a day at a time.”

Many matters regarding media budgets are still up in the air and it is still unclear as to the direction that media budgeting for the rest of the year will go.

3. How are different ad-categories being impacted?

The impact on business and marketing activity will vary across industries, depending on how much demand How are Advertisers Reacting to COVID-19?and investment will be delayed as opposed to destroyed during this crisis. MAGNA, a centralized IPG Mediabrands resource that develops intelligence,  expects the impact to be severe for the travel, restaurant, and the theatrical movie industry, significant for retail (check out Macy’s announcement to furlough 130,000 employees), finance and automotive, moderate for packaged food, drinks, personal care, insurance and pharma, and potentially positive for e-commerce and home entertainment. While the overall impact of the coronavirus on advertising will undoubtedly be negative (more details below), some sectors are actually starting to profit from the increased demand of families for home entertainment.  “We are in a unique position during this crisis since we are the market leader in providing families online education at home. Day to day efforts include accelerating campaigns/creative to be in market sooner and even revising some original copy to align with current events,” a brand marketer in the online education sector tells Portada.

We’re in a unique position during this crisis since we’re the market leader in providing families online education at home. Day to day efforts include accelerating campaigns/creative to be in market sooner.

4. Advertiser COVID-19 Reaction

MAGNA released its revised March 2020 Ad Forecast last Friday and expects all-media full year ad sales to decrease by -2.8% this year as the spending cut from most industry verticals will be mitigated by the incremental political spend ($4.9 billion, up +26% vs 2016), and a V-shaped rebound in the second half (Magna). It remains to be seen if this forecast is realistic, as there is a significant downside risk (see question 7 below).

5. Which media types will be particularly hard hit?

How are Advertisers Reacting to COVID-19?Linear ad sales will suffer the most.  MAGNA released its revised March 2020 Ad Forecast last Friday and it expects media suppliers’ total linear (National and Local TV, Radio, Print and OOH) ad sales to decline by -12% (-20% in the first half, -2.5% in the second half). The decline forecasted by MAGNA would be larger were it not for the political advertising revenues (2020 elections) to be obtained by linear TV, radio and print outlets later this year. Media vendors’ linear ad sales will shrink by -12% (incl. political) this year compared to approx. -4% per year in recent years. The decrease in advertising sales will reach -13% for national TV, -12% for OOH, -25% for print and -14% for radio. The outlook will be slightly more positive for broadcasters and publishers when including digital ad sales. Local TV’s non-political ad sales will also decline massively but political spending (almost US $5 billion, +26% vs 2016) will stabilize full year revenues (+1%).
The sharp decline in ad dollars is not necessarily a reflection of lower linear media usage in the last few weeks. In fact, the opposite is true: for instance in the multicultural space, Spanish-language news viewing increased as much as 50 percent last week among Hispanic adults 18-34 compared to the week prior and 123 percent versus last year. Hispanics over the age of 50 are already heavy news consumers, but their viewing has increased as well (29 and 46 percent, respectively). In addition, for the week of 3/16 -3/22 linear TV usage had as much as 182 percent increase among Asian American teens, compared to the same day the prior week.

The other major loser is experiential marketing as mass gatherings are out of the picture in the next few months. One brand marketer interviewed by Portada who wanted to remain anonymous told us that  “investment is mantained in all channels except experiential.”

Investment is mantained in all channels except experiential.

6. Digital Advertising: More Resilient

How are Advertisers Reacting to COVID-19?At this stage, the total market decline anticipated (-3% or -$6.2bn vs 2019) remains less severe than the decline experienced in 2008-2009 (-20% or -$33bn vs 2007), mostly because of the weight and resilience of digital advertising today. Magna expects digital advertising to be more resilient at +4% (-2% in the first half, +10% in the second half). Digital media ad sales will grow by +4% this year and re-accelerate to +7% next year. Search will slow down to +4.5% growth while social and digital video (including Connected TV) will continue to grow by high-single digits. 

It has to be said that at least in the short term digital advertising, see above  -2% in the first half of 2020,  will be negatively impacted. Third party revenue generating platforms have begun altering their payment processes. Altice-owned Teads and ad tech company GumGum Inc have sought changes to their payment arrangements with publishers, with Teads invoking force majeure on contractual arrangements and GumGum proposing extended payment terms.

Search will slow down to +4.5% while social and digital video (including Connected TV) will continue to grow by high-single digits.

7. Is the advertising forecast realistic? “V” vs “U” shaped recovery

According to Magna, “at this stage, both the macro-economic outlook and the corresponding advertising forecast present a high degree of uncertainty and significant downside risk for 2020. The key question is how long the social distancing imposed demand shutdown will be. The U.S. economy has never been through a period like this in modern economic times. Right now, governments are substantially repressing economic demand through social distancing rules.

Right now, governments are substantially repressing economic demand through social distancing rules. The key question is how long the social distancing imposed demand shutdown will be.

While in Europe substantial efforts are being made to make sure  that companies don’t go bust and employees don’t lose their jobs, that is not true for the U.S. despite the recently signed U.S. 2 trillion fiscal plan. This will become even more of an issue should the shutdown be expanded beyond April 30. Should the social shutdown be expanded to the late spring and summer, the economic and advertising recovery will be U shaped rather than V shaped. Therefore, the 2020 decline in advertising will be larger than the one in the Magna forecast.

Once the virus  is under control the economy needs to be available to hit the ground running and that means that most employees need to remain employed to keep processes and know-how at their companies.
Another caveat poised by analysts is about the quality of the data regarding economic activity (and advertising demand). Most economic data is based on surveys. Are consumers and businesses going to be filling out surveys in this environment? Will data be reflecting accurate information or meaningless noise?

 

What: For audience data analysis, CNN blends and analyzes multiple data streams that reveal its audience’s preferences. Thus, the world-renowned news organization produces content that keeps viewers coming back.
Why it matters:  CNN’s VP of digital research and analytics Seth Holladay outlines the challenge of finding the right data and analytical tools to ensure that content engages loyal viewers and attracts new ones.

 

Audience data analysis tools

Cookies are not enough when it comes to a complete understanding of your audience, according to CNN’s VP of digital research and analytics Seth Holladay. In other words, the bits of data stored on users’ web browsers provide only a partial picture of CNN fans’ interests and viewing habits.

To really know its audience, CNN turns to multiple data streams gathered from its own online properties and third-party data sources. For example, this includes Google and Alexa voice-activated speakers. Moreover, it analyzes users’ behavior on CNN’s websites, Holladay told Portada during a sit-down interview at Portada Miami.

CNN uses multiple sources of data and data analysis tools to inform its editorial, advertising, and content strategies. “We watch how people are interacting with our content,” Holladay said.

For instance, one tool CNN uses for audience data analysis is Adobe Analytics, to track users’ interaction with CNN’s websites. But cookies aren’t enough. Thus, CNN also uses third-party data sources, like Comscore, to better understand its audience demographics.

 

Third-party data and other data sources

“Across the CNN portfolio, we cover a lot of topics. Comscore for the U.S. market allows us to understand the demographics of our viewers,” Holladay told Portada. “We take a lot of our really granular Adobe-level data, users’ actions on our website, and within that we are blending in different types of data using a lot of third-party sources to enrich that data.”

Seth Holladay, CNN

Audience information drawn from third parties includes data from Alexa and Google Home smart speakers that, while not directly connected to CNN, still provides valuable insights, Holladay said.

We have increasing interest from Hispanic audiences across the world in what is happening in the U.S.

 

 

Connecting the dots with mobile

To further close gaps in audience data analysis, CNN looks at data drawn from consumers’ mobile advertising IDs.There is an ability to connect the dots with mobile advertising IDs, what people are doing and the online behavior data from Adobe, and then match those with the advertising side to create a richer picture of the audience,” Holladay explained.

CNN has a “number of initiatives underway” to deploy AI and machine learning to analyze the data it collects. But human decision making is still a key component of how CNN uses data to guide its content decisions.

“From a business perspective, at our core we are a news service. We have a lot of editorial oversight so that will remain the main driver in our decision making.”

 

Multi-cultural advantage

CNN en español allows CNN to isolate the Hispanic audience in a unique and discreet way, Holladay noted.

And the current political climate in the U.S. has turned into a plus for driving new Hispanic viewers to CNN’s properties.

We are blending lots of different data.

 

“What we have now is a platform for people that want to consume news in both languages. We have an increasing interest from Hispanic audiences across the world in what is happening in the US,” Holladay told Portada.CNN discusses audience data analysis

Moreover, CNN en español also allows the news network to draw a deep understanding of content preferences in the different countries in Latin America where it is available. This is also very useful for audience data analysis.

“One of the most basic things we collect is the geography of the user,” Holladay said.

 

Informing editorial decisions

First, CNN collects and analyzes “tons of signals” to understand its visitors. The company examines what digital properties they’re clicking on, what causes them to leave a site, and their digital touchpoints.

Then, it deploys a real-time dashboard to give its editorial professionals a true picture of the impact of content. In this way, they see “what types of topics and subjects resonate with different types of audiences,” Holladay said.

 

What: Stephanie Borges, VP for North America Strategic Marketing & Partnerships at Six Flags Theme Parks, shared insights on how the park deals with marketing to Hispanic consumers.
Why it matters: Six Flags Theme Parks is trying to expand by targeting U.S. Hispanics. It is also growing in the Latin American market.

 

Six Flags Reinforces Its Marketing to Hispanic Consumers

Portada: Why did you decide to reinforce your marketing strategy towards U.S. Hispanics at this particular moment?

SB: The Hispanic market has always been important to us. With its growth, we have put a dedicated focus on creating unique and innovative platforms in partnership with other brands that want do Hispanic marketing.

Portada: What have you discovered in these consumers that makes them great clients?

SB: Our research shows that Hispanics are very family-focused and want opportunities to spend quality time together.

Portada: How are you approaching U.S. Hispanics?

Six Flags Marketing to Hispanic ConsumersSB: As a brand, we purchase Spanish-language media in markets across the U.S. We constantly monitor media consumption and the growth of SL audience delivery. Each year, we have increased our SL media investments. From a partner perspective, we have built a variety of in-park Hispanic focused programs. Through “Festival Latino,” “Cinco De Mayo,” “Día Del Muerto” and “Fiesta Fin De Verano,” brands and guests interact in a relevant way. As an example, Ortega was a “Cinco De Mayo” partner, utilizing Six Flags’s in-park assets, and conducted an on-pack in market retail program. Additionally, Six Flags host concerts with some of the hottest and up-and-coming Latino artists.

Also by Portada: Multicultural Marketing: How to Use Seamlessly in Total Market Campaigns

Differences Between Hispanics and General Market

Portada: What differences have you found in how you do marketing to Hispanic consumers compared to your strategy for targeting the general American market?

SB: From a marketing perspective, we recognize the importance of family. We understand how it connects the Six Flags experience with moments and media we select to reach the Hispanic audience.

Spanish-language TV provides programming that delivers co-viewing, and enhances our opportunity to motivate a family visit to Six Flags.

For example, Spanish-language TV provides programming that delivers co-viewing and enhances our opportunity to motivate a family visit to Six Flags. We will tailor advertising developed in the Spanish-language, but always communicate how Six Flags delivers thrills on a broader level. Our “Go Big” campaign in the general market becomes “A Lo Grande” for the Hispanic market.

Portada: What advertising platforms are you using and which ones have been working best?

SB: Broadcast TV and radio have been our primary mediums for reaching the Spanish-language market. Six Flags buys media on the local level, and these mediums help us reach our local Hispanic markets while tailoring relevant creative for each. Spanish-language TV and radio also offer us the opportunity to bring our brand to life with messages that deliver news, reasons to visit and a sense of urgency.

Growing in Latin America

Portada: You are also growing in Mexico, where you are opening a new water park next year. How important is the Mexican market for you?

SB: The Mexican market is very important for us. Our existing park is the gem in Latin America and we are excited to add a water park in that market that will open in early 2017.

Portada: Are you using similar marketing strategies for reaching out to U.S. Hispanics and Mexicans? Why does it, or doesn’t it, work?

SB: We have found that all cultures across the world understand the language of thrill. At its core, the Six Flags brand is synonymous with delivering thrills for all ages.

We found that staying true to our ‘thrill’ brand heritage while communicating the brand in a manner that is relevant to each culture and tailored to the market and language is the key to success.

As a result, we have found our park in Mexico City to be one of our top-performing parks, and recently announced the addition of a new water park to open in the spring of 2017.

Join us at PORTADA Mexico!