Hear from the leaders and authors
Hear the perspectives from our leaders and authors of our work and get an insiders point of view on important industry topics
Helping Marketers Find More Fish in the Streaming Ecosystem
Kathy GreyRead the Full Article Here
The fundamental principles that build strong brands for the long haul
Marianne VitaRead the Full Article Here
Brands should embrace diversity and inclusion as a core part of their DNA not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it also yields better business results
Jason WieseRead the Full Article Here
The Evolving TV Lifeline
Kathy GreyRead the Full Article Here
Advertising through a recession is better for your long-term brand health
The CMO and CFO have a great deal they can learn from each other
Develop media strategies that engage and drive outcomes at each stage of the customer journey
What troubled companies can learn from the crisis-response of Facebook, Uber and Chipotle.
If you fail to invest in long-term brand building, your consumer connections won’t stand the test of time
More people are tuning into network television than watching on Facebook or YouTube
New TV Advertisers
What was one marketer’s challenge turned into an opportunity for many othersRead the Full Article Here
During the first half of 2020 the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic became the catalyst for some brands to cut their ad spending. What was one marketer’s challenge turned into an opportunity for many others, resulting in an influx of new advertisers across different life-stages and budget levels entering the national TV marketplace to increase their reach and relevancy while driving business outcomes. VAB’s recently released report, Welcome to TV, found that in the first half of 2020, 110 brands across 59 different categories spent nearly $460 million on national TV advertising for the first time.
The implications brought on by the pandemic left marketers questioning how to manage advertising spend with a potential recession in sight. Even so, nearly 70 percent of new first-half 2020 national TV dollars were invested in the second quarter during the heart of the pandemic, with over $316 million from 60 advertisers. Due to the stay-at-home mandate and other restrictions, the direct-to-consumer (DTC) category also saw an increase in first-time national TV ad buys, accounting for 60 brands across 34 categories investing over $144 million in spend.
These bold and savvy brands invested in national TV in order to increase their share of voice which has been proven to drive category market share. As VAB exhibited in Keep Calm & Advertise On, advertising during an economic downturn yields significant business benefits in the short- and long-term.
To learn more about which categories, including the DTC segment, were new entrants to launch a national TV campaign during the COVID-19 pandemic, check out our latest report here.
Video Streaming's Sea Change
59% of adults say they have been spending more time streaming videoRead the Full Article Here
When all of this is over and someone asks me how I’ve spent my time during the COVID-19 pandemic, my answer will most certainly involve the amount of video programming I’ve watched. In this time of isolation, my favorite programs have been there for me when I needed to unplug and relax.
As a co-author of VAB’s recent custom study exploring video streaming behaviors, I know I’m not alone. Using my own perspective as an avid video viewer, combined with what I’ve learned about the current video streaming environment, I have three observations and learnings to share with marketers.
Video streaming has become a daily activity across audiences
With so much of life now confined to our homes, watching video as a whole has reached new levels of frequency and importance in our daily lives. In fact, VAB’s custom study found 59% of adults say they have been spending more time streaming video, so much so that it has become a daily activity.
Among both early adopters and newfound fans, increased time spent streaming video has naturally led to increased levels of comfort with video streaming for all audiences. I’ve noticed a rapid shift among friends and family from all walks of life over the past six months, with conversations turning more and more frequently to their latest favorite paid subscription (SVOD) and ad-supported streaming service (AVOD) programs.
Most recently, I noticed that my parents, in their own quest for more content, have been layering in ad-supported platforms on top of their paid subscription services, a trend becoming more common. In fact, 75% of AVOD users also subscribe to paid services, showcasing the growing opportunity for marketers to reach a wider audience as they experiment with different media platforms.
Lesson: Audiences across the board are now streaming every day or even multiple times a day and viewing multiple services. As viewers continue to stack AVOD platforms on top of paid, marketers have an opportunity to expand reach and ‘fuel their funnel’ with more consumers.
Booming appetites for content is driving exploration
Back in March, I quickly realized I was going to run out of shows to watch and, like the 27% of adults who regularly access four or more streaming services, I needed to add options to my existing streaming lineup. Like 67% of AVOD users, I was looking for streaming services to give me access to every show, past or present.
There are many factors to weigh when adding a streaming service, but my primary considerations were content and cost. I may have developed a bottomless appetite for content, but my bank account has its limits, as is the case for many streamers. Fifty-nine percent of American streamers will not pay more than $20 a month for streaming subscriptions.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to break the bank for more entertainment. AVOD services quickly caught my attention for both their extensive content libraries and affordable price point. Matt Strauss, chairman of NBCU’s streaming service Peacock, said it best: “There's nothing more affordable than free.”
Lesson: Due to their extensive libraries of quality programming, AVOD platforms are highly attractive to viewers and so they deliver marketers an engaged, attentive and committed audience.
AVOD is a strong ad engagement platform
Of course, viewing ads is the trade-off for no additional cost, however 53% of AVOD users appreciate the fact that ads are making this service cheaper for them. Additionally, ad-supported services are actively working to make the ad experience more engaging for the viewer. As I’ve increased my own time spent watching ad-supported streaming services, a range of interactive and shoppable ads have captured my attention due to their unique format and relevance to my interests.
In order to stay competitive in the face of AVOD’s quick ascent, many of the top paid services have announced the release of free content or launched ad-supported tiers in order to attract more subscribers. Personally, I’m ready for more AVOD options as are others. Nearly four in 10 AVOD users wish there were more free streaming video services.
Lesson: Viewers accept and appreciate that ads are a ‘part of the deal’ in getting free content. The streaming ad environment lends itself to being creative, interactive and targeted, further increasing consumer engagement.
To learn more about current video streaming behaviors and the rising star that is AVOD, download A Sea Change in Video Viewing: Helping Marketers Find More Fish in the Streaming Ecosystem.
Our Commitment to Racial Equality
VAB is committed to accelerating its ongoing efforts for racial equalityRead the Full Article Here
While VAB has been an advocate for multicultural marketing for over 25 years, I think we have seen more commitments for fighting racial injustice by U.S. marketers and our member TV companies over the past 25 days than any period in memory. Now comes the most important part, seizing this momentum and institutionalizing those commitments.
The recent outpouring of actions to combat racism and build racial equality by VAB member companies has included:
- Creation and airing of original programming that aims to fight systemic racism and spur actions for racial equality
- Escalation of company programs for anti-bias/anti-racism training, as well as programs for equality in career opportunities, all to very high company priorities going forward Sizable grants to organizations dedicated to social justice, anti-bias, anti-racism, civil and human rights
- Donation of commercial inventory to organizations fighting racial injustice
Atop supporting all of the above, as an insights-driven, marketer-first organization, VAB is committed to supporting marketers in their pledge to increase investment in Black and multicultural targeted media by providing the data-driven validation necessary to make those additional investments. VAB will escalate its commitment to producing standalone Black and multicultural insights in all our work.
Another VAB initiative in motion for greater racial equality is in connecting the many top media pros looking to use the multiscreen TV ad platform to bring new anti-bias, anti-racist, pro racial equality messages to the U.S. public at scale.
In terms of a deepening commitment of racial equality at VAB itself, the company will soon announce a paid internship program for multicultural college students in the name of the late Cynthia Perkins-Roberts, a VAB employee for 25 years who was an innovative pioneer in championing Black media causes and all multicultural media. Once established at VAB, it is our intention to help start additional multicultural internships in Cynthia’s name widely across VAB member companies.
Additionally, as one of the original members of ANA/AIMM, which created the #SeeAll campaign to eliminate racial, cultural and identity bias, VAB is also committing to original research supporting the expanded use of AIMM’s Cultural Insights Impact Measure (CIIM).
VAB is committed to joining top U.S. marketers, agency heads and the leaders of its multiscreen TV ad sales membership to accelerate racial equality, help eliminate racial bias, and join in the creation of public-facing TV messages championing racial equality.
The One Decision That Can Change the Fate of Brands
How can a marketer be sure brand growth opportunities can be found in advertising continuity despite a pandemic combined with a recession?Read The Full Article Here
It comes down to one decision. Tracing backwards from a set of best outcomes in any story, it is often easy to isolate one stay or go decision that caused fate to arc steadily upwards or conversely trudge towards a more tepid fate.
For U.S. marketers, the COVID-19 spring advertising decision to either stay committed to brand-building advertising at full scale or go dim or dark under a play it safe and wait and see banner will surely change the fate of certain brands and categories.
How can a marketer be sure brand growth opportunities can be found in advertising continuity despite a pandemic combined with a recession?
There is a trove of real outcomes-based proof from at least 30 top sources spanning nearly 100 years. What today’s brand executive needed was someone to thread the best of all evidence into one definitive guide created through a marketer’s lens…so VAB did just that.
In Keep Calm & Advertise On: How to Successfully Navigate Your Brand Through an Economic Downturn, marketers now have the definitive compendium of data-driven proof and support for justifying every growth-seeking ad dollar that can be spent and scrutinized well into 2021.
Packed with the sharpest of a century’s worth of data, marketing principles and real-world case studies, Keep Calm and Advertise On considers not just past recessions, but also another unique time in history when a global health crisis roiled daily life and marketplaces.
What is rendered so clear within the 65 pages of brand outcomes, analytics and insights found in Keep Calm and Advertise On, is that in adverse economic conditions, the brands that won or lost sales share, ROI and a full range of brand health metrics, were decided by one simple decision: those that stuck with advertising won, those that went dim-or-dark on advertising lost.
It is easy to fall for the spiral of hesitation that can naturally accompany the coronavirus descriptor of unprecedented. For marketers today, the best path out of COVID-19 conditions is not uncharted. The charts that map the way to brand growth actually do exist, in abundance.
So as marketers choose either to go all in or sit it out when making monthly and quarterly advertising decisions, the combined weight of outcomes data reveals that in retrospect, the fate of brands during times of economic strife came down to the marketer’s choice.
Nothing is usual – but inside those alarm bells there’s a wake-up call for brands that want to win. The map to growth despite adversity is charted and the sliding doors are starting to close. Go all-in versus play-it-safe, win versus lose, there is a choice to make – keep calm and advertise on.
Higher-Order Cheetos Ads? It's Very Smart Marketing
Frito-Lay’s newest 60-second It’s About People multiscreen TV ad includes the coronavirus crisis relevant qualifierRead the Full Article Here
Frito-Lay’s newest 60-second It’s About People multiscreen TV ad includes the coronavirus crisis relevant qualifier of "The world doesn’t need brands to tell us how to think and feel.” The message then pivots and states, “The world needs brands to take action.”
What follows is a view into the latest brand approach in the second wave of COVID-19-themed TV advertising. It’s a lower production, higher impact ad conveying and quantifying the specific actions taken by the advertiser (in this case the Frito-Lay master brand vs. its Doritos or Cheetos snack brands). The spot cites product and resource donations totaling in the millions, as well as specifics about aiding local communities.
And yes, since early March, there have been both enough COVID-19-themed brand ad campaigns launched (over 500 as of Mother’s Day) and enough marketer learning amassed in the succeeding weeks to clearly see the transition from the initial “brand empathy” approach to more of a “brand actions” template by mid-April.
Along with closely monitoring the unprecedented weekly rush of coronavirus-related ad campaigns debuting on multiscreen TV (551 brand campaigns across 15 industries launching since the last week in February), we revealed and quantified why these shifts are taking center stage in our recently released As Time Goes By custom study.
Part of our new analysis for marketers examines how media consumption is helping Americans cope with sheltering at home and our receptivity to COVID-themed brand advertising ads. We were able to quantify insights that said Frito-Lay’s approach was spot on for the present time.
- 52% of consumers said COVID-related ad messages positively impact their perception of the brand advertiser.
- 55% of consumers said they were more likely to purchase a product from companies that are lending resources or helping local communities during the COVID-19 crisis.
- 60% of consumers with kids said COVID-related ad messages positively impact their perception of the brand advertiser.
- 65% of consumers with kids said they were more likely to purchase a product from companies that are lending resources or helping local communities during the COVID-19 crisis.
Frito-Lay markets well-known snack brands (Cheetos, Lays, Doritos, Tostitos, others) in ad categories where annually the top 15 master brands spend over $430 million combined on multiscreen TV advertising differentiating its 40+ individual snack brands.
While COVID-19 certainly disrupted some of the snack category’s individual brand TV ad activity, and Frito-Lay no doubt saw several reasons for why their master brand coronavirus-related TV ads were the right thing to do, we are learning how some brands will matter more to U.S. consumers based on their approach during this crisis. “It’s about people” is indeed very smart marketing.
Our New COVID-19 Hierarchy of Needs: Food, Shelter and TV Video
As Time Goes By provides a rare, representative look at the depth of the current relationship between U.S. consumers and their mission critical mediaRead the Full Article Here
While my first COVID-19 memories will always be how hospital staffs redefined modern heroism, I will also remember those things that my marketer’s mind had the comparative shut-in safety to think about.
Frequent among those thoughts was how the U.S. was now a “test population” of never-before-seen scale. Recalling my Procter & Gamble consumer testing training, “Little U.S.” became “Big U.S.” in mid-March 2020, poising us to learn a lot from the largest American “what if” test population ever assembled.
I believe we’ll have family-first memories of how we “got through” the COVID-19 Spring of 2020, but at the VAB we wanted the marketer’s data for the objective, subtle (and as it turns out – not so subtle) ways American consumers weathered COVID-19’s mass at-home movement.
Our just released custom study, As Time Goes By, details how media consumption has been one of the pillars of utility, connectivity, and distraction U.S. housebound consumers have depended on during these weeks of coronavirus conditions.
The media and marketing anthropologist’s top takeaways from our study will likely flow as follows:
- When polled on their top ways of dealing with COVID-19 stress, 29% of U.S. consumers surveyed cited “Hanging with Family,” 40% reported Gaming, 41% Social Media… but 77% cited watching "TV & Movies."
- 83% surveyed reported they “couldn’t imagine not having a TV set right now,” 67% agreed that “TV has become the central focus of our home,” and 70% said they were "bingeing more TV shows & movies."
With a major piece of “the how” consumers are getting through COVID-19’s mass-at-home weeks identified (TV), our As Time Goes By study for marketers also provides over 40 charts that dive into the depth and subtlety of where so many opportunities lay to forge new types of connections with a screen-centric consumer population.
- Of course, there is a focus on News during COVID-19 that teases out insights including 50% of respondents indicate “at least one TV in my home is set to a News channel at all times.”
- 36% report adding a new streaming service, while over half of those surveyed have learned how to use more features on their smart TVs.
- There are also 11 pages of insights examining Multicultural media consumption during COVID-19, rounding out the study’s full breadth.
Naturally, the COVID-19 behavior of Sports viewers is detailed, too, as are consumer attitudes about marketers running coronavirus-themed ads.
As Time Goes By provides a rare, representative look at the depth of the current relationship between U.S. consumers and their mission critical media, all compiled during the largest scale U.S. test market ever assembled – our COVID-19 stay-at-home population.
What Should Marketers Do? Question from Early COVID-19
Sean CunninghamRead the Full Article Here
Of all the logo-ed rallying cries that the marketers at Hotels.com had considered prior to mid-March 2020, let’s guess that Just Stay Home wasn’t on the list of actions they would implore their widest possible customer base to do.
And yet Hotels.com likely broke a couple of their own video ad production-to-deployment speed records in getting that critical Just Stay Home message out via the closing frame of new :15-second TV video ads. As the ad also began with Captain Obvious thoroughly applying hand sanitizer, it delivered a just-in-time message highlighting two of the main methods combatting COVID-19, and yet it was seamlessly consistent with their brand equities, and their on-screen character and aesthetics.
Since the March 11 declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic, smart US marketers have been asking themselves “what do we do?” and “how can we help?"...and by the end of March roughly thirty of those marketers had new TV/Video creative executions activated across multiscreen ad-supported TV.
Each of those advertisers found their own “obvious” way to be of use to their customer bases (and far beyond), during an unprecedented time of challenge for the entire US population.
Choosing citizenry and purpose in the short term over product selling, these first 30 marketers were all looking to register the right-sized emotional signals of their brand’s commitment to a wide consumer base, audiences that were content-attached in scale. Below are some of the “obvious” messages that marketers are conveying to that connected scale of TV viewers:
- Several auto advertisers (Ford, Toyota, Hyundai, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Lincoln, Nissan, Jeep, Chevrolet & Volkswagen) offering help via a range of financial relief (deferred payments, 0% financing, etc.) and brand leadership/empathy statements (“Built to Lend a Hand,” etc.)
- QSRs and food service advertisers (McDonald’s, Burger King, Door Dash, Olive Garden) emphasizing drive-thru, car-side pick-up and “contactless” delivery options, while the #open for delivery ads juxtapose empty dining rooms with full kitchens serving customers via delivery services.
- Verizon, Sprint & T-Mobile got new ads running emphasizing their reliability of their networks during this communications-critical time period.
- Add Budweiser, State Farm, H&R Block to the above list, as well as several other major marketers that will begin airing new COVID-themed “help” TV ads early this month, and the list of marketers with a brand-obvious TV messaging will surely grow in the coming weeks.
Make no mistake, running COVID help-themed TV ads is the right thing to do for reasons beyond brand character and corporate citizenry. It’s the right thing to do for the long-term health of brands, as well as their restoration-to-growth sales goals.
Almost every marketer listed above is already experiencing significant business disruption, but they are all smart enough to look past the pre-COVID 2020 business plan that’s not going to work. They are all looking to build brand loyalty and profitable share gains over the long term, so the reasons we’ll keep studying them? - that’s obvious.
Like all of you, VAB has been adjusting, multi-tasking and needing to do evermore. We’ve just completed a major bulletin on a topic that wasn’t on anyone’s early March to-do list: TV Viewing in the Time of COVID-19. This comprehensive report is made available to marketers free of charge as it seeks to answer the wide range of questions marketers have put to us over the last few (unprecedented) days.
For U.S. Marketers, One of Your Easiest Insights Options
Marketers are all part of the universal morphing and adapting reality that has been thrust upon every individualRead the Full Article Here
Marketers are all part of the universal morphing and adapting reality that has been thrust upon every individual, every family, every community and every company by the escalating COVID-19 realities.
First & primarily - as our friends and colleagues, we’re hoping you and yours are in the best possible environment to get through the changes and challenges that are unfolding in real time for us all.
Secondarily, but importantly - we well know that along with all of this happening, you still have a job to do and that job challenge has likely increased significantly (maybe even exponentially) by a set of prevailing conditions that range from the sudden onset of complete remote communication to the need for a drastic rework of your core business plan deliverables.
It’s in this daily adapting environment of rework and much new work that we want to continue providing marketers free access to VAB's virtual Insights library. As always, our topics span the full gamut of unanswered marketer and advertiser questions.
While no one in our broad business ecosystem could have foreseen the current conditions that U.S. marketers need to professionally persevere through, we have ALWAYS been one of the ultimate ‘easy buttons’ for marketers in need of simple, straightforward, accessible insights and answers to complex and sophisticated media and marketing questions.
We encourage you to share this link with your teams – continued access to just-in-time insights for marketers should be this easy.
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