The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is impacting every part of our lives, from the places we can go to the way we spend our time, to the priorities we have and the way we spend our money.
Of course, this has wide-ranging ramifications for marketing and advertising – as well as a number of other sectors like travel, entertainment and FMCG.To help marketers keep on top of what this means for them, their jobs and their industry, we’re collecting together the most valuable and impactful stats in this roundup, updated regularly since 20th March 2020.
Read on for statistics on retail sales, adspend, streaming subscriptions, social media use, recruitment figures and much, much more.
Alternatively, head over to our Covid-19 ecommerce stats roundup.
UK advertisers set to spend record £7.9 billion this 2021 festive season
The Guardian reports new WARC figures that predict advertisers are set to spend £7.9 billion on marketing efforts in the three months to December, marking a new record since the study began in 1982. According to analysis, an extra £1 billion will be invested in advertising, equating to a 13% rise on last year’s advertising spend across the same period, which was somewhat subdued due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.
Spend on TV advertising is expected to increase by 9% to £1.56 billion, as brands battle it out with their headline Christmas ads. If this is indeed reached, it will signify the largest annual growth rate recorded by the vertical in more than a decade. Investment in search advertising could rise by as much as 15%, while online display may see a 12.7% increase. Together, these two verticals are set to account for 65% of all ad spend in the fourth quarter.
Overall, and perhaps unsurprisingly, cinema will experience the biggest bounce back in advertising spend, having been devastated by the impact of the pandemic and worsened by fresh lockdowns imposed in November and December. The category could see a huge 3160% uplift, as advertisers expect a boost from several much-anticipated titles and a high number of cinemagoers throughout the Christmas holidays. Meanwhile, despite OOH advertising suffering much the same fate as cinema over the last 18 months, advertisers are predicted to spend a respectable, if slightly muted, 50% more than they did in Q4 2020.
Snap DAUs rise 23% year-on-year in Q3 2021, marking fourth consecutive quarter of >20% growth
Snap has once again seen rapid growth in revenue and Daily Active Users (DAUs) as we move into the latter half of this year. In a Q3 2021 financial statement, the social media company reported it was able to match the ‘record’ DAU growth rate it achieved in the quarter prior, and mark four consecutive quarters of >20% growth in the metric. This quarter’s 23% uplift equates to an extra 57 million users engaging with the app daily compared to the same period the year before.
Ad revenue remained high – up 57% year-on-year – but shows signs of slowing from the 66% and 116% increases it saw in Q1 and Q2 of 2021, respectively. This is thought to be largely down to Apple’s recently introduced ATT feature, which Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said had had a larger impact than first expected:
“While we anticipated some degree of business disruption, the new Apple-provided measurement solution did not scale as we had expected, making it more difficult for our advertising partners to measure and manage their ad campaigns for iOS.”
Further comments from Snap Executives shortly after the financial announcement included a note of concern surrounding the impact of global supply shortages on projected social media ad spend from brands. They said ongoing staffing, transportation and product shortages could prompt companies to hold back on spend across social platforms and opt to redirect budgets elsewhere during the crucial final quarter of the year.
Netflix sees new subscribers rebound by 100% year-on-year in Q3 2021, thanks to backlogged ‘big’ content
Following a notable dip in subscriber growth this summer, as life returned to normal, Netflix revealed it had added 4.4 million new subscribers to its service in the three months to September 2021, up from 2.2 million recruited in the same period of 2020 (+100% YoY).
The streaming platform said the boost in subscriber numbers this third quarter was down to a ‘stronger slate’, after several of its shows were forced to postpone filming throughout 2020. Korean title Squid Game, released on 17th September, is one such example of this ‘stronger slate’, gaining popularity during the month and into the fourth quarter. It became the service’s most watched show in its history.
Revenue also performed better than expectations, rising 16% year-on-year, and reaching $7.5 billion in total.
Adding to the figures, Netflix said it predicts a further 8.5 million subscribers will sign up for its services during the fourth quarter – historically the peak period for TV and film streaming – which marks a flat level of growth versus the last three months of 2020. Meanwhile, its operating margins are expected to fall, again as a result of its ‘backloaded big content release schedule’.
Growth rate of Facebook MAUs and ad revenue continues to slow as life returns to ‘normal’
Facebook’s Q3 2021 financial statement shows the growth rate of Monthly Active Users (MAUs) on its namesake platform continues to slow, rising just 6% on the same period the year before to hit 2.9 billion. This marks the third consecutive quarter of decline for the metric, following a boost to engagement during the first wave of the pandemic in spring and summer 2020.
Family Monthly Active People (MAP) grew 12% year-on-year, matching the rate of growth reported a quarter earlier in Q2 2021, and indicating engagement remains stable across Facebook’s wider offering of social and messaging apps.
Despite a gradual decline in Facebook usership, total ad revenue rose by 33% over the three months to September, it remains several percentage points above pre-pandemic levels of growth. While, again, this third quarter figure represents a slowdown from the 50%+ figures revealed in Q2, this is in line with the company’s expectations that it would “decelerate significantly on a sequential basis as we lap periods of increasingly strong growth.”
It is yet unclear how much of this slowdown can be attributed to the consequences of Apple’s ATT versus a stabilisation of the ad market since global reopening began. However, the company has released a cautious outlook for its fourth quarter and full year financials “in light of continued headwinds” from ATT, as well as “macroeconomic and COVID-related factors”.
Contact between clients and marketing agencies rose notably during the pandemic, but this has not improved relationship scores
Contact between clients and agencies inevitably rose during the height of the pandemic in H2 2020, but this has not been conducive to an improved relationship between the two, according to a report published by Aprais.
Data indicates that 35% of global clients contacted their agencies every day during this period, up from 21% in the first quarter of 2020. Likewise, the number of agencies that contacted clients every day throughout that six months rose to more than half (51%), compared to 31% prior.
Overall, agencies have said that working hours have been less respected as a result, with many clients asking for last-minute changes due to the uncertain nature of the global market. Meanwhile, the increased need for agency support among clients has led to a perceived lack of focus and an increased intensity of day-to-day tasks. High numbers of virtual meetings have also been cited by survey respondents, leading to a lack of time for ‘valuable discussion’ and a deterioration in mental health among marketers. Consequently, many agency staff have taken leave citing burnout.
By H2 2021, contact frequency between the two parties has reduced almost to pre-Covid levels, as old working patterns fully or partially resume, and more structured hours are reinforced.
2021 UK ad spend predicted to be up 30% YoY
Following recent H1 2021 ad spend figures published by IAB UK, GroupM has revised its forecast for the full year. The media agency reveals it now expects ad industry growth to rise 30% year-on-year, 6% higher than what it predicted in its interim June forecast.
It said the amended figure was driven by even better than expected growth in TV and digital ad spend, meaning 2021 could record the third strongest year-on-year growth rate since 1955.
Drilling down by vertical, TV ad spend is now expected to rise 19% year-on-year, versus the 13% estimate made by GroupM back in June. Part of the reason for the uplift is attributed to summer growth spurred on by the Euros, as well as continued consumer interest in VOD sports content. Combined with this was a 28% increase in spend on TV advertising during the month of September, as almost all subcategories upped their investments.
Meanwhile, digital advertising could grow by as much as 34%, up by 7 percentage points on this summer’s previous estimate, due to digital platforms reporting high revenue across consecutive quarters. Furthermore, audio is expected to increase by 18% on the year before, as it solidifies itself as the next trend in online and social media content. Ad spend on print formats is still expected to decline, and while OOH has seen a substantial rebound in recent months, GroupM analysis suggests it will not be enough to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2022.
Other external factors like Brexit, staff shortages in the supply chain and growing Covid infections could also have an impact on the final numbers come the end of the year, although the report determined these factors to be ‘manageable’.
Travel app downloads in Europe rebound to 143 million in H1 2021
A report from SensorTower has found travel apps have rebounded substantially in European markets during H1 2021, reaching 143 million downloads over the period. While this is notably higher than in the first half of 2020, it is still 47 million below downloads recorded 2 years earlier, showing consumers remained cautious of journeying abroad.
Despite this, momentum appears to be picking up so far in H2 2021, as the vaccine rollout continues and consumers gain confidence in returning to ‘life as normal’. In August, total monthly travel app downloads met pre-pandemic levels for the first time since the coronavirus crisis began.
Much of this recovery over the summer was driven by urban travel apps, as evidenced by Uber dominating the top travel download charts, as well as keen interest in rivals Bolt, Yandex Go and CityMobil. In fact, analysis reveals downloads of urban travel apps surpassed pre-pandemic levels way back in May 2021 and have continued outperforming them in the months since.
The same can be said for accommodation apps, although numbers have dipped slightly now that the peak summer season has passed. Airbnb was one such brand in this category that experienced higher app downloads in 2021 than it did in 2019. This is reflected in its recent Q2 2021 financial results, which reported a 300% year-on-year uplift in revenue, equating to a 10% increase versus pre-pandemic financials. The brand’s share of installs, however, has decreased by 11 percentage points this year to 67%, thanks to the increasing popularity of smaller competitors like HomeAway, Holidu and HomeToGo.
Global marketing budget growth slows in September 2021
Globally, marketing budget growth has begun to slow since September, according to new data from WARC’s Global Marketing Index (GMI). The GMI is a monthly indicator of the state of the global marketing industry, whereby any index value above 50.0 signifies growth.
The current global average index value stands at 63.1 for September, a figure which, while indicating growth, sits lower than that of the three months before it. Of these summer months, July saw the strongest budget performance at an index value of over 65.0.
Digital marketing (which excludes mobile) saw the most noticeable slowdown, still ranking at an impressive 70.3 index value – the highest of all verticals – but positioned well below July peaks of more than 75.0. Mobile experienced a similar trend, OOH declined to only a slight growth of 55.1, as did Radio (50.6).
The only vertical to buck this trend was TV, with global budgets accelerating further following positive performance over the summer and continued interest from advertisers.
WARC says its wider September report shows “the slowing recovery in marketing budgets is visible in the Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe. Trading conditions have also slowed in September while staffing levels are continuing to rise.”
62% of Britons watch more SVOD since the pandemic began, even after lockdown
Advanced Television reports October 2021 data from Criteo that shows the popularity of SVOD with British consumers has not waned since lockdown was lifted. Sixty-two percent of those surveyed said they were watching more content provided by paid streaming services now than they did before the onset of the coronavirus.
When it comes to what consumers prefer about these services, more than half of them say that platforms like Netflix, YouTube and Prime Video had higher entertainment value than linear TV channels, often for a much lower price. Currently, one-third of TV viewers in the UK are spending over £50 on a cable or satellite subscription, while just 1 in 8 spend the same amount on the popular video streaming services they use, combined.
Increased time at home, versus pre-pandemic, was rated the top reason for subscribing to SVOD brands (56%), however, the ability to watch shows and films anytime, anywhere was also appealing (42%), as many people return to their busy daily lives.
Looking to the future, almost one-third of consumer respondents stated they would like to be watching more SVOD content this time next year. This will mostly be driven by Gen Z and Millennial cohorts who, on average, are watching videos on both free and paid streaming platforms far more than the average individual (42% vs 29% and 40% vs 29%, respectively).
Perhaps most importantly for advertisers, 40% of consumers claim that ads shown on SVOD platforms have had an impact on their purchasing behaviour over the past year.
81% of US and UK-based media buyers want to increase in-game advertising spend into 2022
Game On For Advertisers – an October 2021 report from in-play advertising platform Admix – has found 81% of media buyers want to increase their in-game advertising spend over the next 12 months. This is, in part, thanks to a renewed interest from advertisers in the power of gaming as part of the marketing mix. Added to that is the huge uptake in the hobby from consumers throughout the pandemic. By the end of the year, three billon active gamers, globally, could spend up to $176 billion on games.
The survey of more than 400 media buyers from the US and UK also shows there are plenty who do not have the budget to advertise in the next year, but are including it in their long-term plans – 93% say they intend to run in-game ads by 2025. However, one-fifth of respondents stated the key reason they would be hesitant to purchase in-game advertising space is a lack of understanding around the process and execution.
This wariness and confusion translates more strongly among US clients, 23% of whom have directly resisted spending on the ad format versus just 9% of those in the UK. Similarly, 52% of UK media buyers’ clients are requesting that money be spent on in-game marketing compared to 33% in the US.
As interest in video game advertising continues, it opens up even more possibilities for marketers looking to promote their brands within the vertical. The availability of programmatic options, third-party verification for in-game advertising performance and an increase in in-game inventory have all been cited as the biggest causes of growth in the category.
30% of UK B2C companies are still not back to pre-pandemic CX levels
A September 2021 report on the state of customer experience in the UK reveals as many as 30% of B2C companies have not yet returned to pre-pandemic customer experience levels. The 2021-2022 UK Customer Experience Decision-Makers’ Guide from Enghouse Interactive and ContactBabel surveyed 211 organisations and more than 1,000 consumers for their thoughts on how the pandemic has affected customer experience, as well as what’s in store as companies prepare for the year ahead.
More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents claimed that higher-than-usual contact volumes from consumers is the most significant barrier that is preventing them from providing optimal customer experience. Ranked second was a lack of contact centre staff (62%), while a reduced operating budget (43%) was the third most cited issue.
Those organisations that fall into the retail, telecommunications, media and technology (TMT), and outsourcing sectors were the most likely to have experienced an uplift in the number of customer service calls received.
As for the reasons why, 81% of survey participants either strongly agree or agree that there is a greater need for reassurance and confidence in their organisation’s products or services, given continued uncertain circumstances. Interestingly, more than half (54%) also say that their brand’s self-service functionality is not delivering what customers need and another notable 39% also admitted that the same could be said for their digital channels.
44% of B2B marketers have ‘completely changed’ their marketing channel mix since the pandemic began
Data from Salesforce’s seventh annual State of Marketing report, this time covering trends in 2021, shows that 44% of B2B marketers have ‘completely changed’ their marketing channel mix since the pandemic began to meet new challenges and a shift in behaviour. Another 45% said that their mix had ‘somewhat changed’, leaving just 11% of B2B marketers’ strategies unaffected.
A huge 91% of marketing organisations now use social media as part of their mix, tying with digital ads as the most commonly used channel across the sector. Video is ranked third, with 90% of companies embracing the format, indicating that even more B2B marketers have been jumping on the trend in the past year in order to engage with their customers.
Notably, two-thirds of respondents also cited audio (e.g. podcasts and streaming ads) as a frequently used channel for their marketing efforts, emphasising the momentum this format has gained over the last 18 months.
When it comes to investment, 19% of B2B marketing budgets is now dedicated to advertising efforts, marking it as the category with the biggest share of spend. This is followed by tools and technology (16% share), content (16%), account-based marketing (16%), people (15%) and events and sponsorships (14%). By comparison, B2C companies spend a proportionally larger amount of their budgets on advertising (22%) and people (20%).
Overall, it appears that the survey respondents are optimistic about the direction their organisations are heading now that their strategies have shifted to more digitally-focused channels. Two-thirds of B2B marketers believe their companies will experience positive revenue growth over the next 12 to 18 months, while a further 30% predict growth to be stable. Just 4% expect it to decline.
Online brands have increased TV ad spend by 37% since 2019
Brands that were born online have increased their linear TV ad spend by 37% since 2019, according to a report from Marketing Week which outlines new 2021 data from Nielsen and Thinkbox.
This trend varies in strength across different verticals. Online-born exercise brands, including the likes of Peloton and Echelon, have together increased spend on TV advertising by 279% in the two years, ranking this category as one of the most eager to use the platform. Meanwhile, spend by online car brands like Carwow and Cinch has collectively grown by 235% to reach £36.3 million in total.
Gifting and greetings cards, online food delivery services and streaming platforms also increased their investment in TV advertising by 209%, 194% and 137% respectively. Conspicuously, online travel brands cut their spend by 57% as they continue to feel the effects of travel restrictions.
Thinkbox’s Research and Planning Director, Matt Hill, commented that the overall increase in ad spend by online-born businesses has been mostly driven by the pandemic, but the rise in TV investment also “demonstrates they see [the format] as a valuable means of driving growth”.
While online brands are still making the most of the ecommerce boom, they are likely to remain using TV to boost their reach throughout 2021. By the end of the year, TV ad spend is expected to jump 18% on 2020, which declined by 11% versus pre-pandemic levels.
Global video game ad spend rises 17% year-on-year in 2021
Insight from MediaRadar has found global video game advertising rose by 17% year-on-year between January and August 2021. Ad spend across the industry totaled $421.2 million during this time, up from $360 million the year before, as publishers took advantage of increased consumer engagement with games during the pandemic.
Analysis reveals the top spending advertisers so far this year have included The Elder Scrolls, Hero Wars, Rockstar Games, Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells and Final Fantasy XIV Online. Overall, these five brands spent a whopping $78 million, equating to 18.5% of the global total.
Meanwhile, ad spend within the wider category of video game consoles and streaming platforms has increased even further. In the eight months ending August 2021, entities like Nintendo Switch, Xbox, Twitch and Steam have invested 36% more in advertising versus the same period in 2020. Together, these four gaming giants spent $45 million on ads, up from $33 million last year.
Interestingly, these companies have also been switching up their marketing strategies in recent months, focusing more intently on where they spend their cash to garner the best return on investment. TV advertising, which previously accounted for more than half (51%) of advertising spend for gaming brands in 2020, now accounts for a much lower 42% in 2021.
UK digital ad spend up 49% in H1 2021
UK digital ad spend rocketed to £10.5 billion in H1 2021, equating to a year-on-year rise of 49%, or a 42% increase on H1 2019, new analysis from IAB UK and PwC has revealed. This is the largest growth since IAB UK first began recording ad spend biannually, and spells positive news for the industry moving forward post-Covid.
It is thought that advertisers were better prepared for another national lockdown, which occurred in the early months of this year, enabling them to make more informed decisions about where to invest.
Search held onto its title as the biggest digital channel, with ad spend increasing 49% in this category compared to H1 2020, reaching £5.5 billion. Display performed even better in terms of growth – hitting 55%. Within this vertical, video display achieved almost 70% year-on-year growth alone, reflecting a growing consumer interest in video formats across the internet and on social media.
Mobile ad spend saw a 75% uplift as users continued to spend time scrolling and engaging with content. Consequently, smartphones now account for 64% of all digital investment, up from around a 55% share in the first half of 2020.
IAB UK’s CEO, John Maw, said of the findings, “We saw three years of change take place in just three months. Advertisers in turn adopted a more digital-heavy strategy as it was the medium least impacted by lockdowns. Meanwhile, the surge in video spend runs parallel to an explosion in short form video content and a move from advertisers to harness this as a vehicle for effective brand building.”
In 2021, gaming now accounts for half of all global mobile user-acquisition spending
VentureBeat reports H1 2021 data from Adjust that finds gaming now accounts for half of all global mobile user-acquisition spending, following a huge boost in engagement across mobile games since the pandemic began. This figure rises even further when observing regional trends, with APAC reaching highs of 64%, and 57% in North America, where mobile gaming is particularly popular with consumers.
By comparison, the second largest category on mobile – ecommerce – now represents just a 16% share of user-acquisition spending worldwide. In EMEA, this divide between investments is less pronounced, with a below-average 39% of user-acquisition spending dedicated to mobile gaming, and 27% to mobile ecommerce.
Additional data shows puzzle gaming continues to dominate as the top mobile gaming sub-vertical around the world, accumulating a 16% share of downloads. This trend is reflected in most regions with the exception of APAC, where role-playing games have the largest lead (at 23% of all downloads).
It is clear why user-acquisition in mobile gaming remains so high during 2021. Currently, gaming apps comprise one quarter of all downloads on iOS, and 21% of downloads on Android systems. While the number of sessions spent in-game so far in 2021 is unsurprisingly lower than the spike we saw at the peak of the first wave last year, engagement grows steadily – up 4% on Q4 2020. Total mobile gaming sessions in February 2021, for example, outperformed January 2021 by 47%.
Marketing budgets now equate to just 6.4% of revenue
Gartner’s annual CMO Spend Survey, published in July 2021, has found global marketing budgets now equate to just 6.4% of overall company revenue, down from 11% in 2020. This marks the lowest ever recorded share as organisations continue to struggle with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, Ewan McIntyre, Co-Chief of Research and VP Analyst in the Gartner for Marketers Practice commented, “Despite facing in-year budget cuts in 2020 due to the pandemic, most CMOs expected budgets to bounce back in 2021. This budgetary optimism was misplaced… However, these cuts have been a slow burn over the course of the last year, where many marketing budgets have not recovered what was originally lost.”
Until this year, marketing budgets have retained a relatively steady share of revenue, between 10.2-12.1% since the survey first began in 2014. Data from the study has shown that, regardless of company size and/or industry, no single organisation has escaped the need to drastically cut marketing budgets as a result of Covid-19. In fact, none of the brands that participated in the survey experienced a budget that broke into a double-digit share of total revenue.
Travel, hospitality, manufacturing and tech product companies, it has been revealed, experienced the largest budget cuts of all, while consumer products and goods came out the strongest, posting an average 8.3% share of revenue.
TikTok ranked as least trustworthy, but most innovative, digital advertising environment by senior marketers
Data from Kantar has found global senior marketers believe TikTok is the least trustworthy digital advertising environment in 2021, despite consumers ranking it top for ad equity for the second year in a row.
The report, titled Media Reactions, was informed by the opinions of 14,500 consumers, more than 290 brands and 900 senior marketers, globally.
Despite ongoing scepticism, the percentage of marketers that have trust in the app has doubled year-on-year to around one-quarter. It is perhaps unsurprising that the relatively new platform remains untrustworthy in marketers’ eyes as it continues to ramp up its options for monetisation and improve brand safety measures to match more longstanding social apps.
Interestingly, TikTok was also cited as the most innovative platform for digital advertising, while Facebook was placed as the least. According to the responses collected, Instagram strikes the best balance between the two metrics, mirroring steadily accelerating ad investment on the channel. Meanwhile, music streaming service Spotify is creeping up the ranks as audio advertising trends develop.
Fast forward to 2022, and media growth areas are expected to have the biggest positive impact on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok as video-based ads and influencer-led campaigns continue to engage consumers. This proves that, regardless of deep uncertainty from brands about advertising on TikTok, many are listening to their customers wants first and are planning to dive into the deep end.
UK digital ad spend set to hit record growth by the end of 2021
The Q2 2021 Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report reveals UK digital advertising spend is set to hit a record 18.2% growth by the end of 2021, reaching a total £27.7 billion. This is an increase on prior April 2021 estimates that suggested a 15.2% rise and marks more than a two-percentage point lead on the current record of 15.9% reported in 1988.
If this new benchmark is met, it will recuperate the £1.8 billion decline in ad spend reported in 2020 and could pave the way for a healthy 7.7% additional rise in 2022.
Data also indicates that search will grow 19.7% and social media and display advertising by 17.2% over the same period. Naturally, the largest spurts will come from industries most affected by the pandemic – ad spend in the cinema category is predicted to skyrocket by 315.6%, while digital OOH could see a 43.7% increase.
In Q1 2021, ad spend rose just 0.8% year-on-year to £6.5 billion. This result is thought to be down to continued UK lockdown measures causing more large declines across some verticals and further increases across online formats. Despite this, predictions for the year end remain very strong, meaning (as we’ve already witnessed) the last six months of 2021 will be the biggest driver for ad spend growth. Of course, as spend accelerates this will have an impact on competition between brands, as well as ad pricing.
Travel industry doubles digital ad spend since January 2021
Travel Weekly reports findings from digital ad intelligence platform Pathmatics that show the travel industry has doubled its spend on digital ads since January 2021. Between 1st May and 20th August alone, total spending reached approximately $480.6 million, as travel brands advance their efforts to recover major losses from the past year.
In the full year to date (ending late August 2021), this figure rises to a total $844.7 million investment in digital advertising across the sector.
Expedia was the brand that spent the most over this period, splurging almost $94 million, followed by Disney Theme Parks and Resorts, spending $21.6 million. Meanwhile, popular accommodation and rentals app Airbnb came in at number three with an ad spend of $17.7 million.
According to additional data, Facebook was the top platform through which travel advertisers targeted potential customers between early May and late August, raising $157.5 million in ad spend. Instagram and YouTube were also very popular, drawing in $95 million apiece.
UK OOH advertising ad revenues soar 277% year-on-year in Q2 2021
The UK OOH industry experienced a considerable bounce back during Q2 2021, with revenues soaring 277% year-on-year, according to research from Outsmart and PwC. The figure is the biggest growth ever recorded for the vertical, reaching £198 million, following a challenging first quarter under lockdown which garnered revenues of less than £100 million by comparison.
Both traditional and digital OOH formats saw strong performance between April and June, with revenue growth of 339% and 247% respectively. As a result, digital share of OOH revenues has increased from 59% in 2020 to 63% so far this year – a ten percentage point increase on the pre-pandemic (2019) share of 53%.
As has been the case since the latter half of 2015, roadside locations accumulated the largest amount of revenue across all digital OOH environments in the second quarter, at above £80 million. Next comes retail and leisure venues at a little over £30 million, followed by transport environments at just £10 million (approx.).
Only roadside advertising, out of all three digital categories, has so far seen revenue significant enough (in the last 18 months) to match or beat levels recorded throughout 2019.
US OTT ad spend rose 55% between January and May 2021
While over-the-top (OTT) ad spend in the US remains substantially lower than linear TV (22% vs 78%), some industries are shifting their investment further to OTT as streaming trends accelerate amid Covid-19. Research from Standard Media Index (SMI) found that, overall, US media ad spend rose 22% in the five months spanning January-May 2021, while investment in OTT across the region soared by 55%.
This has allowed OTT CPMs to rise 30% higher in price than CPMs for linear TV advertising.
“That has lot to do with the fact that you’ve got brand safe content, commercial grade programming, authenticated services and authenticated impressions with OTT, and targetability with the reach of television. So, it is the best of both worlds,” Ben Tatta, President of SMI, said in a webinar explaining the findings.
The apparel and accessories category is one particular vertical driving this trend, with an average 61% of its total media budget directed towards OTT advertising, while OTT has a 36% share of budget in the travel services industry. Other categories are also turning to the format as it becomes more popular among advertisers, with some splurging more money than others (and on different types of channel).
Drilling down, a large fraction of ad spend in the US automotive category is dedicated to OTT – the bulk of it directed at sports channels like ESPN, CBS Sports and NBCSN. More than 24% of ad revenue for OTT sports channels can be attributed to auto advertising as a result. It’s a similar story for the prescription drugs sector, which now accounts for 22.7% of ad revenue for OTT sports versus just 3.1% for linear TV sports.
YouTube records growing year-on-year watch time via TV devices
As YouTube engagement remains high thanks to an acceleration in new viewing habits over the course of the pandemic, there has also been a substantial shift in watch time by device. This is according to a report from Conviva on the state of streaming in Q2 2021.
While mobile devices still account for the majority of unique views on the streaming platform – 63% to be precise – they only make up around half of total watch time. Instead, this quarter has seen a new trend in viewership via connected/smart TV devices, which account for almost a quarter (23%) of hours watched, despite only accumulating a 14% share of all video views. A similar trend can be found among desktop and console devices, although to a lesser extent: both have maintained a larger share of watch time than they have unique views.
As a result, watch time per view across connected TV and console devices is 1.96x greater than on mobile and tablet, while on desktop it is 1.46x greater. This points towards consumers increasingly choosing devices with larger screens to stream long-form content – something which, Conviva says, brands and marketers should make note of.
Many of these emerging viewing patterns have been formed over the past year, data reveals. In total, streaming growth reached 13% year-on-year as of Q2 2021, although this growth is disparate across device type. Share of hours watched via smart TVs jumped by 46% over the period, and connected TVs by 5%. Among devices with smaller screens, mobile saw a 30% increase, desktop 15% and tablet 9%. Interestingly, games consoles were the only type of device that reported a decrease in share of time viewed (-14%).
Social CPM grows 41% year-on-year in Q2 2021
Data from Skai reveals global social CPM has grown 41% year-on-year in Q2 2021 to an average of $6.37, after an equally large uptick in social advertising spend from brands. This is one of the highest costs per thousand impressions recorded in the last year, second only to 2020’s Q4 which reached $6.77.
Total social ad spend rose 41% on the same quarter a year before – the most badly-affected period throughout the pandemic – but increased just 3% on a quarter-on-quarter basis. Meanwhile, ad spend on campaigns designed to grow brand awareness, traffic and reach shot up 114%, driven by a 62% increase in CPM, demonstrating a shift away from campaigns that target direct action from consumers. Skai posits this new trend could have been largely caused by the introduction of iOS 14.5, which has made it much more difficult for marketers to successfully serve iOS users with targeted ads.
Despite the added cost for marketers, the overall number of social impressions remained flat year-on-year, although impressions for brand awareness, traffic and reach campaigns grew by almost one-third due to increased marketing efforts in this area.
This and other datasets on social advertising trends have informed WARC’s latest forecasts. It predicts total social advertising spend will grow by 10% as of the end of 2021, rising further to 12% in 2022.
2018 research shows how an advertising hiatus can impact brands’ long-term sales
Marketing Week reports recently released findings from a 2018 Ehrenberg-Bass Institute of Marketing Science study which demonstrates how an advertising hiatus can impact a brand’s long-term sales. Ehrenberg-Bass said in a statement that, likely due to the pandemic’s impact on brand advertising, it had had ‘subsequent interest from industry’ surrounding the results.
Using data from 70 Australian brands’ advertising spend over two decades, the study found that, on average, sales fell by 16% after one year without advertising. This rises to a 25% decline after two years and a 36% fall after three, before gradually levelling out over the remainder of the timeline.
The Institute admitted there were significant variables around the averages recorded, as only some brands saw an immediate decline in sales, while others saw a more gradual drop. Medium and large sized brands that were growing before deciding on an advertising hiatus continued to experience sales growth for 1-2 years after spending was cut. Small businesses, on the other hand, saw a more immediate detriment of sales, indicating an unsurprising ‘size advantage’ for bigger brands.
When the survey was conducted, there were just 57 cases where brands halted their media spending, 14 of which did so for a one year period. Of these fourteen, three saw continued sales growth during this time, while six saw a decline.
“Crucially,” Marketing Week reporter Michaela Jefferson says, “The study found that resuming advertising the next year did not stop this trend… suggesting it takes longer than 12 months to recover from a year’s hiatus.”
Although this research was carried out a while before the pandemic struck, it is essential to observe these findings given that many brands opted to pull their advertising efforts during 2020. After the events of the past year it will be interesting to see if the effects of such a mass advertising hiatus result in the same trends witnessed in 2018.
Google Advertising revenue rose 69% year-on-year in Q2 2021
Google Advertising revenue grew 69% year-on-year in Q2 2021, rising from $29.8bn to $50.4bn, a financial statement reveals. Alphabet’s total revenue, meanwhile, grew to $117.2bn during the period, up from $79.5bn in Q2 2020. The result follows a tougher-than-usual second quarter last year as the first wave of coronavirus impacted demand for advertising, thereby stunting the tech giant’s growth.
Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, commented that the company had seen a ‘rising tide’ of online activity between April and June this year as life for advertisers and consumers alike shifts to a new normal. Indeed, Google’s results show advertising spend is recovering strongly in most major markets, and consumers and businesses are still heavily reliant on its cloud services, with Google Cloud revenue rising 53% from $3bn to $4.6bn year-on-year. As a result, the company stated it will continue its long-term investment plan in AI and Google Cloud in order to ‘improve everyone’s digital experience’ in an increasingly digital society.
Alphabet also said in its statement that revenue for YouTube reached $7bn during the three months ending June 30th, a figure that continues to close in on Netflix, which posted $7.34bn in revenue in a press release on July 20th. Analysis from MarketWatch indicates that YouTube is, in fact, growing at a rapidly higher rate than the Netflix, given its broader audience, and could see quarterly revenues surpass its rival in the near future.
ITV posts record ad revenue in June 2021 following a rocky 2020
British broadcaster ITV posted record ad revenue in June 2021, rising 115% on the same month in 2020, thanks in part to the return of the Euros and increased TV ad spend by brands. Meanwhile, total advertising revenue for the six months ending 30th June grew by 29% to £866m.
In 2020, ITV saw its advertising revenues fall 11% year-on-year, dropping by a huge 42% in April alone, as several major brands took stock of their budgets and messaging during the onset of the pandemic.
Despite positive results halfway through 2021, the company also disclosed that viewership was down 6% on H1 2020, likely due to changed consumer habits – this year saw substantial lockdown easing from spring, while national lockdown was extended throughout much of the first half of 2020.
Revenue from ITV’s VOD service also rose by a healthy 55% during H1 2021, even after it experienced double-digit growth throughout 2020, suggesting an accelerated and more permanent shift in viewership of on-demand services versus traditional, linear TV. ITV Hub streaming increased by 6% over the period and the number of registered users grew by 7% to 34.6m.
Digital advertising accounts for more than 40% of UK marketing budgets in 2021
Digital advertising now receives 40.7% of UK marketing budgets, up 18.5 percentage points since 2015, according to Scopen’s Agency Scope UK 2021/22 report published in partnership with WARC. A further 37.5% share of marketing budgets is put towards above-the-line actions, while 21.8% is spent on below-the-line actions.
Analysis has also found UK digital marketing budgets are higher than the average 35.7% share of budgets recorded across ten other major markets which serve as a benchmark, following a strong year and a half of digital growth in the country.
Six in every ten marketers prefer to work with specialist agencies when it comes to focusing on dedicated marketing channels like digital. The remaining four in ten say they use an integrated agency to help deliver results across a wider, more comprehensive range of marketing disciplines.
Facebook advertising revenue up 56% year-on-year in Q2 2021, but DAUs continue to stagnate
Facebook’s advertising revenue grew 56% year-on-year in the three months to June 30th, reaching $28.5bn according to its Q2 2021 results posted on July 28th. The company’s ad revenue growth is showing little sign of stalling following an increase in spend from advertisers since late 2020, once pandemic uncertainty had begun subsiding. In Q1 2021 it posted a 46% increase, while in Q4 2020 growth was recorded at 31%.
Despite this, DAUs remain stagnant, especially in Europe and the US. While overall DAUs grew by 7% this quarter, the majority of these additional 30 million users hail from the APAC region, and a smaller number from ROW, reports Social Media Today.
The data found DAUs have flatlined in the US for some time, staying at the 195 million mark since Q4 2020 and matching pre-pandemic levels in Q1 2019. US DAUs increased slightly at the height of the first peak of the Covid crisis during Q2 and Q3 2020, at 198 and 196 million respectively.
A similar story can be said for Europe, which currently accounts for 307 million DAUs, down from peaks of 308-309 million in late 2020 and the first quarter of 2021. However, Facebook has managed to retain a few million more DAUs in this region than those recorded before the pandemic hit (305 million in Q1 2020).
As Facebook’s earnings are more reliant on its core western markets, this could ‘be an important element to monitor’, says Andrew Hutchinson of Social Media Today. However, it is also worth noting that the use of other apps in the Facebook family are rising in popularity among consumers from Europe and the US, suggesting they are simply reallocating their social media time to apps like messaging service WhatsApp.
Global ad spend in Q2 2021 rose by 23.6% year-on-year, marking a new record for a second quarter period
Data from WARC has revealed global ad spend rose by 23.6% year-on-year in Q2 2021 to $157.6 billion, setting a new record high for a second quarter period and marking the strongest rate of growth in this metric for more than a decade.
Analysis shows brands are slowly recovering from the effects of the initial peak in coronavirus infections, which caused havoc on the advertising industry. Ad spend for the first six months of 2021 was 17.8% higher than the same period in 2020, totaling $311.5 billion, including a healthy 12.5% year-on-year growth throughout Q1 2021.
Throughout 2020, data has found ad spend on offline media like print, radio, TV and cinema, fell by around one-fifth – the worst performance for this sector since WARC began its analysis 40 years ago. Meanwhile, online ad spend grew by 9.4%, rising to 27.4% within the ecommerce sector and 18.3% on social media.
Consequently, WARC expects investment in advertising will bounce back at a 12.6% growth on last year, compared to the 6.7% previously forecast, while it predicts an 8.2% rise during 2022. Ad spend on ecommerce could rise as high as +35.2% year-on-year by the end of 2021, spurred on by increasing consumer demand on online retail giants like Amazon. Spend on search could see an uplift of over 26%, while online video and social media could also reap a 17.7% and 13.1% growth respectively.
GroupM revises global advertising growth prediction upwards to 19% midway through 2021
Advertising growth for the year so far has exceeded prior expectations due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic on the industry. As a result, in June, GroupM had to revise its previous predictions upwards to reflect this trend. Now the company expects global advertising growth to reach 19% by the end of 2021 (excluding US political advertising), up significantly on the 12.3% growth first predicted in December 2020.
This equates to a 15% rise in total ad revenue compared to 2019 results, with similar levels of year-on-year growth expected in the coming years as the world recovers from the pandemic. By 2026, GroupM estimates the global advertising market to hit the $1 trillion mark – a huge increase from the $641 billion reported in 2020.
Zooming in on individual markets, several regions including the UK, India, China and Brazil are anticipated to see more than 20% growth in 2021 compared to the year before, while others like the US, Canada and Australia could experience an uptick in the high teens. Meanwhile, as digital advertising becomes more prominent, there may now be a 26% growth rate for pure-play digital media in store this year (up from a predicted 15%).
One of the most notable shifts in GroupM’s projections is in audio advertising. It now envisages this sector to achieve growth of around 18% versus prior predictions of 8.7%, thanks to increased uptake in this format from consumers. However, even if audio advertising meets these lofty expectations this year, it still won’t be enough to fully recover from the 27% decline recorded last year.
Creator marketing in Europe grows 14% year-on-year in 2020 to reach €1.3bn
Research conducted by IAB and TikTok for Business indicates creator marketing in Europe grew 14% year-on-year in 2020 to reach €1.3 billion in value. Intersecting with the term ‘influencer’, TikTok defines creators as a wider pool of social content makers that do not always rely on ‘the commercial power of persuasion’.
Data shows that creator marketing has been and will be seeing continued growth in the near future, although the rate at which it is doing so appears to be slowing. In 2020, spend on creator marketing rose by 14% in Europe, down from 38.4% in 2019 and nearly 50% in 2018, however the amount of investment in this format has almost tripled in the last three years.
As TikTok becomes an ever more powerful player in the fields of influencer and creator marketing, it is clear that the platform’s share of this spend against its competitors will rise over time. Additional analysiss from WARC suggests that up to 45% of marketers now use the short-form video app for campaigns, marking TikTok the second most preferred platform for influencer marketing behind Facebook.
Five tech companies accounted for 46% of global advertising revenue in 2020
Five major tech companies – Google, Facebook, Alibaba, Bytedance and Amazon – accounted for nearly half (46%) of global advertising revenue in 2020, equating to $296 billion. Google came out on top, taking a 21% share of total revenue during the year, followed by Facebook at 14%, while Alibaba ranked third at 4.5%. This is according to analysis from GroupM’s June 2021 report ‘This Year, Next Year Global Mid-Year Forecast’.
In contrast, the top five companies in 2019 garnered $247 billion, a nearly 38% share of global ad revenue, demonstrating just how much marketers’ advertising choices during the pandemic have shifted in favour of big tech. Notably, Comcast’s ad revenue was still more than that of Amazon’s back in 2019.
Nearly a decade prior (2010), the five largest brands for ad revenue – then Google, Viacom/CBS, News Corporation, Comcast and Disney – claimed just a 17% share of revenue. Comparing the numbers, and indeed the types of companies listed in the top five, we can see a dramatic change in the worldwide media landscape in a relatively short time. There is no doubt that the pandemic has played a substantial part in accelerating the advertising revenue growth of many of these already dominant companies in 2020.
Amazon Advertising CPC is up by more than 50% year-on-year
Analysis from Marketplace Pulse reveals Amazon Advertising costs have soared in the past year as the ecommerce giant becomes an ever more popular place for consumers to shop and retailers to sell their products to a global market.
On average, cost per click on the site reached $1.20 in June 2021, up from $0.93 at the start of the year (a 30% growth) and rising more than 50% compared to June 2020, where rates were recorded at $0.79. While Amazon’s advertising rates have increased to meet higher demand from sellers, it is thought that the delayed Prime Day, which occurred in October last year, combined with Black Friday/Cyber Monday and the holidays helped to boost CPC at the end of 2020, before it continued to rocket in the first half of 2021.
Marketplace Pulse says it has watched more and more brands invest their budgets into Amazon advertising, allowing them to compete more effectively for ad space. As a result, typical customer acquisition costs for brands selling on Amazon has risen from a 15% equivalent transaction fee per order to ones that are typically more than 20%.
The study indicates that the rise in cost per click and for customer acquisition has affected all advertising types offered by the marketplace, and has been mirrored beyond the US into its global markets.
Pent-up demand for experiences and events creates increased sponsorship opportunities for brands
Data from Momentum Worldwide shows that pent-up demand for experiences and events could pose increased opportunities for brand sponsorship deals as lockdown constraints are loosened. Forty-eight percent of consumers that took part in a May 2021 study said they were planning to try new experiences this year, while another 41% said they hoped to try even more experiences than they did before the pandemic.
Currently, 40% of UK consumers say they are ready to return to live experiences and events one month after they’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19, ranking them the second most enthusiastic group behind the US (46%). On average, 35% of the global population say the same.
Consequently, many consumers believe brands should step up sponsorship deals to ensure such events take place as planned, particularly when it comes to sports fixtures. Sixty-nine percent agreed that now, more than ever, sports need brand sponsorships, while another 72% agreed that brands should focus on sponsoring teams and leagues in order to help sporting communities.
With 74% of consumers stating they’d ‘keep an eye’ on the ways brands step up to the plate in this regard, the pressure is mounting on them to play a vital role in helping fund a return to live events
FinTech marketers invested $3 billion on user acquisition in 2020
AppsFlyer’s June 2021 report, The State of Finance App Marketing, found downloads of FinTech apps rose 129% in the UK between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021, as consumers sought alternative ways of interacting with financial services providers.
Marketing-driven installs of these apps grew by 300% in the UK over the same period, significantly further ahead than records from other areas of Europe, where average growth was measured at 170%. The reason for this trend, which is occurring in large parts of the world, is because FinTech marketers have invested a total $3 billion in running ‘aggressive’ user acquisition campaigns over the last year, the study explained.
Demand for investment apps has rocketed in the UK, with installs growing 61.4%. This could be driven by an increased spotlight on zero commission investment apps like Robinhood, which gained traction with amateur investors in late 2020. Meanwhile, globally, installs of apps from digital banking providers have increased 45% year-on-year, and installs of apps offered by traditional banks rose 22%.
Twenty-nine of the top forty financial services apps on all app stores experienced at least a 20% increase in downloads between early 2020 and early 2021, while the average number of downloads in developing countries was 70% higher than those of developed countries. These figures indicate a rising demand for FinTech apps across the world, regardless of market size, as people manage their finances on online platforms throughout the pandemic.
Data shows UK media quality has been compromised amid Covid-19
Integral Ad Science’s Media Quality Report H2 2020, published in April 2021, reveals UK media quality has been compromised amid the unprecedented circumstances of the last year.
The data, which examines advertising campaigns that ran between 1st July and 31st December, shows UK brand risk increased across all media environments analysed (mobile and desktop display and video) compared to the same period in 2019. Desktop display brand risk rose the most over this time, jumping 3.2% to 5.8%, representing the highest level of brand risk in this environment since 2017, a year laden with brand safety controversy. Meanwhile, brand risk on mobile video rose to 8%, making it the highest risk environment of all, but it experienced the smallest change at +0.2% year-on-year.
Of all factors that contributed to this worsening brand risk, hate speech saw the highest rise in share. The share of desktop videos flagged for this issue grew from 0.6% in H2 2019 to 16.5% in H2 2021, and from 2.2% to 17.1% on desktop display.
Additionally, adult content on desktop display made up 18% of all pages flagged for brand risk (up from 3.5%), while share of violent content grew from 10.4% to 21.3% year-on-year. Violent content on mobile display, however, improved significantly, shrinking brand risk in this category for this environment from 40.2% in H2 2019 to 27.3% in H2 2020.
Ad spend across top marketplaces and social media platforms rises 31% YoY in March 2021
An infographic released by Mediaocean suggests that ad spend across a group of top marketplaces and social media platforms has risen 31% year-on-year in March 2021 – the highest rate since January 2020. The analysis covers more than 300 advertisers and $3 billion of total ad spend across Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snap and Twitter.
Data shows a consistent return to growth (year-on-year) since September 2020, having dipped significantly between March and August last year. It is interesting to see how events outside of the pandemic have altered the amount spent on advertising across these seven platforms – May 2020, for example, saw a relatively small dent in spending (-7%) as the UK Prime Minister announced plans for the lifting of restrictions after lockdown 1. Then, by June, spending declined sharply to -18% year-on-year as Black Lives Matter protests and the Facebook Ad Boycott came into effect.
The beginning of 2021 paints a rather subdued picture, with January and February experiencing just 9% and 10% year-on-year increases in ad spend respectively. This is compared to a 39% growth in January 2020 on the same month a year before. However, the notable jump between February and March 2021 could be a positive sign of things to come as the ad economy begins to ramp up recovery.
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UK ad market expected to be the second highest for growth in 2021
Ad spend in the UK could grow at the second highest rate of all global markets in 2021, Dentsu’s Ad Spend Report 2021 predicts. Dentsu expects a healthy recovery for the UK ad market, forecasting a 10.4% year-on-year growth by the end of 2021, with only one other region – India – in front at +10.8%. France, Canada and Italy will also experience healthy growth at 8.9%, 7.2% and 5.9% respectively.
While the US will continue to dominate the total share of global ad spend (37.9%), the UK ranks fourth in this area with a modest 5.1% share, also behind China (17.6%) and Japan (9.9%).
Understanding and predicting which new consumer behaviours will be temporary, and which will be permanent, will be the largest challenge for advertisers in the coming year. However, brands appear to be confident that social, search and video will be the biggest drivers of digital growth in the sector, despite the global outlook remaining uncertain in the first six months.
European digital ad spend rose 6.3% in 2020
European digital ad spend rose 6.3% in 2020 to a total €69.4 billion and overall digital share of advertising grew to 56.5%, according to analysis from IAB Europe. This result was substantially lower than the average annual growth rate since 2006 (19.5%) and notably smaller than the 8.9% increase posted in 2009 – the last financial crash – demonstrating just how much the pandemic has affected the sector.
Four of the twenty-eight markets analysed saw a decline in digital ad spend over the course of 2020, however, in contrast, seven saw double-digit growth despite one of the rockiest years on record. Turkey came out on top, posting a 34.8% growth, followed by Ukraine (26.5%) and Serbia (19.2%). Meanwhile, the UK saw results below the European average for the year at 5.1%.
Drilling down, display advertising experienced a healthy increase over the period at 9.1%, with social display advertising growing 15.9% to €16.1 billion and other display increasing a more modest 2.9% to €15.6 billion. 2020 also marked the first year social has occupied a larger share of display advertising spend than all other display advertising spend combined.
Additionally, the last year saw a prominent shift towards video display advertising, up 10.1%, and a decline in investment in formats like banners and static images (down 1.1%). Audio, in the meantime, continued to occupy a very small percentage of ad spend by comparison to other categories, but grew at the fastest rate of 16.7%, mirroring recent trends.
Top ad agencies make modest predictions for growth of global ad market in 2021
At the close of 2020, Forbes compiled predictions from three top ad agencies, Magna, Zenith and GroupM, on the potential growth of the global ad market in 2021.
There appears to be a consensus that digital advertising will grow at a faster rate than traditional forms of advertising. Cinema advertising is also set to make a steady comeback this year as some regions roll out vaccinations and lift restrictions in an attempt to help life return to normal. With the Olympics in Tokyo on track to take place after being delayed last year, sports advertising will likely see a boost, too.
Magna says it expects to see global ad spend to rise 7.6% in 2021 to $612 billion total, with digital media seeing growth of 10.4% and linear media a much more modest 3.5% (although $42 billion less than in 2019). It also predicts India to be the leader of total ad spend growth across the globe, up by 26.9% year-on-year.
Zenith, meanwhile, predicts global ad spend will reach $634 billion – still less than the total recorded in 2019 – and then by another 5.2% in 2022 to $652 billion. After a big boost from the recent 2020 election, the US could see quite a small growth in ad spend this year, at just 3.3%, compared to other regions like Latin America and the Middle East/North Africa at 10-11%.
GroupM is the most optimistic about the ad market in 2021, forecasting a jump to $651 billion, with the largest rate of growth in Latin America (24.4%) and APAC (14.1%). According to their analysis, digital media could see a 14.1% total rise to $396.8 billion, significantly higher than figures estimated by Magna.
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Only 23% of executives are confident in the speed at which they’re gaining accurate insights
Only 23% of executives believe the speed at which they gain accurate insights is ‘very strong’, the Digital Trends 2021 report from Econsultancy and Adobe reveals. This explains why agility has been ranked as the second most important development objective for mainstream organisations moving forward, just below innovation.
Data also suggests there is a strong link between the rating of an organisation’s insight agility and the projected budget increases over the next year. Fifty percent of companies that were reported to have a ‘strong’ speed to customer insight are planning a 2021 marketing budget increase in a continued time of uncertainty, as employees are more able to prove the value of marketing within their individual organisations.
Furthermore, 52% and 44% of ‘strong’ respondents, respectively, said they will be expanding their acquisition and retention budgets this year, compared to just 39% and 30% of those with a comparatively ‘weak’ speed to consumer insight. Meanwhile, thanks to their more in-depth analysis of customer insight, CX leaders are significantly more likely to increase their marketing budgets for 2021 (60%) than CX mainstream organisations (39%).
Disney’s D2C ad revenue grew 47% in Q4 2020
Ad revenue via Disney’s direct-to-consumer channels, which include online streaming services Hulu and ESPN+, grew 47% year-on-year in Q4 2020, to $882 million, Bloomberg reported in March. This means these revenue streams are close to catching up with, or indeed surpassing, ad revenue recorded by its major linear broadcasting networks like ABC, which saw only a 5% growth over the same period (to $984 million).
The disparity in growth reflects the huge shift in consumer preference towards streaming services versus more traditional forms of television, as accelerated in part by the coronavirus pandemic.
Hulu, which now has more than 39 million subscribers, has created new technology that allows advertisers to be able to buy ads themselves using data, collected by Disney, that indicates what audiences are watching across their owned channels and when. As a result, marketers can make more informed decisions on where their campaigns would best fit within Disney’s ecosystem.
Consequently, Disney says it expects an 80% uplift in automated ad revenue from its online channels by the end of the year. In time, this method could also be implemented across Disney’s traditional channels too: the company believes that, in five years’ time, up to half of its total ad inventory could be bought by marketers in this way.
Video game industry ad spend rose 80% year-on-year in the first two weeks of November 2020
The video game industry spent more than $45 million in ad spend over the first two weeks of November 2020; a rise of 80% year-on-year, according to ad sales intelligence company MediaRadar.
This news follows a bumper year for the gaming industry as engagement amongst its core audience reached record highs and both Sony and Microsoft brought brand new consoles to market. In fact, it was the latter that drove much of the increase in ad spend. According to the data, Sony spent more than $15 million advertising the new PlayStation 5 in the month before its release – more than three times what Microsoft spent promoting its equivalent Xbox Series X. Nintendo also contributed to the rise, with ad spend increasing 138% in the first two weeks of November compared to the two weeks prior – all the better to compete with its rivals.
New games have also been released to coincide with these major new console launches, such as Call of Duty: Cold War and Assassins Creed: Valhalla, causing a 76% year-on-year increase in ad spend from video game titles overall. Additionally, popular gaming retailers increased promotions during these two weeks in an attempt to entice fans to spend throughout the much-anticipated launches.
Global ad spend predicted to have fallen 10.2% year-on-year in 2020
In a November 2020 report, WARC predicted that 2020 global ad spend will fall 10.2% to $557.3 billion compared to results from 2019. The ongoing fallout from the pandemic has meant that traditional media has had its worst year on record and this has had an enormous effect on the industry as a whole.
Drilling down by industry, ad spend in automotive is expected to decline the most severely overall in 2020, with a loss of $11 billion. Travel and tourism could see ad spend drop by a total of 33.8%, but looks set to rebound at the fastest rate next year at +19.5%. After a very volatile year, total retail ad spend could fall 16.2% to $54.3 billion and is only projected to rebound with a 5.9% growth next year – a much slower rate than some other verticals like automotive (predicted +14.1%) and media and publishing (+8.4%). Business and industrial could also struggle, as its forecast growth of 5.3% means investment in this sector could only increase by 2.5% on 2019.
Consequently, WARC says it could take up to two years for ad spend to fully recover to levels seen before the onset of the coronavirus. According to analysis, a 6.7% growth in ad spend throughout 2021 will only be able to make up for 59% of losses that occurred this year. In 2022, ad spend would need to rise a further 4.4% to finally meet 2019’s $620.6 billion.
UK digital ad spend fell 5% year-on-year in H1 2020
Research from IAB UK, as reported by WARC, has found that UK digital ad spend fell by 5% in H1 2020 compared with figures from the first half of 2019.
Across the sub-categories within the digital marketing sphere, some areas performed better than others. Display advertising grew by 0.3% year-on-year to £2.84 billion, within which video advertising rose 5.7% mirroring increased engagement consumers had with video streaming services over lockdown. Without video’s strong growth, overall digital ad spend results would have been much worse.
Search ad spend, meanwhile, dropped by 3.7% during this period, representing a £143 million fall in revenue on H1 2019. Mobile ad spend also saw a decline, but a much more modest 1%. However, one of the worst affected areas of digital ad spend was classifieds, which saw a massive 33% fall in revenue, decreasing by £235 million to £485 million.
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Biggest recorded drop in UK marketing budgets takes place in Q2 2020
The net balance of organisations that have cut marketing budgets fell to -50.7% in Q2, down from -6.1% in Q1. This latest figure is the biggest drop recorded by the IPA Bellwether Report since the report began twenty years ago – including the Q4 2008 financial crisis when marketing budgets were slashed to -41.7%.
Nearly 64% of those surveyed stated they had recorded a decrease in marketing spend between April and June, compared to 25% who recorded a decrease between January and March. Just 13% said they had seen an increase in budget for the same period.
Drilling down, a net balance of -76.6% of organisations reported cuts to their events marketing budgets in Q2, with just 3.6% claiming they had risen. Meanwhile, the reduction in main media budgets dropped to a net balance of -51.1%, the largest decline seen by the report for this metric. Out of all subcategories in main media marketing, OOH budgets unsurprisingly were hit the hardest (-61.2%), followed by audio (-50.0%) and published brands (-49.2%).
Direct marketing and PR budgets were least affected in the second quarter, but still recorded a severe downturn in net balance to -41.6%.
JC Decaux revenue down 63% in Q2 2020
In its H1 2020 results, JC Decaux stated its revenue plummeted by 63.4% in the second quarter of 2020, a figure it claimed was ‘historic’ for the company. OOH advertising has taken a huge hit from lockdowns and stay-at-home orders around the world and JC Decaux’s data reflects the extent of financial losses felt in the industry.
In Q2, the company reported €351.9 million in revenue, down from 1 billion during the same period in 2019. Revenue in Q1 was less badly affected, but still recorded a 13.1% year-on-year drop from €840 million to €723.6 million. Overall revenue for H1 2020 was down by 41.6%.
When it comes to revenue via geographic area, most regions saw relatively similar year-on-year declines. France and North America faired the best with -37.1% and -38.3% revenue growth respectively, while ROW and APAC saw the worst revenue declines of -48% and -43.7%.
The company said it has scrapped its earnings guidance for 2020 in light of the ongoing disruption and uncertainty caused by Covid-19.
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Global mobile ad spend soared 71% in Q2
PubMatic’s Mobile Quarterly Index found that mobile ad spend soared 71% year-on-year during Q2, rising to 77% in the Americas, as spending across other areas was slashed.
While APAC experienced lesser year-on-year growth than other geographical areas (+66%) its 30% quarter-on-quarter growth was particularly strong, reflecting both the increasing cost of ads in the region and its advanced position in the timeline of the global pandemic. This could indicate that APAC will see the strongest immediate recovery in this metric as the outbreak subsides.
Despite being heavily impacted at the start of the outbreak, mobile video platform spend has seen a strong and steady recovery since the end of April and is now measuring 116% up on pre-pandemic levels in the US. As of Q2 this year, mobile now has a majority share of video ad spend across APAC (74%), EMEA (70%) and the Americas (60%).
Snapchat sees record revenue in Q2 2021 and biggest rise in Daily Active Users in 4 years
Snapchat’s Q2 2021 financial results have seen the social media platform garner record quarterly revenue, rising 116% year-on-year to $982m. Daily Active Users increased by a total 23% to 293 million, a rise of 55 million, with growth in this metric recorded in North America, Europe and ROW.
This impressive performance reveals Snapchat’s recent success during the pandemic could be here to stay long term, as its user base (typically a young cohort) continues to engage with the augmented reality platform via an increasing variety of content.
The number of Snap Originals available on the app is continuing to rise, as are its Discover Channels, which saw a record 117 new launches internationally in the three months to June 2021. Perhaps most notable of all is its Spotlight tab – Snapchat’s rival to TikTok – where Daily Active Users rose 49%, daily short-form video content submissions more than tripled, and daily time spent per user grew 60% in the US.
The company says it hopes to reach 301 million DAUs in Q3 2021, which would equate to a 21% year-on-year rise in the metric. It also expects the quarter’s revenue to increase by between 58%-60% on Q3 2020, taking it over the $1bn threshold.
53.7% of marketers plan to increase their budget for TikTok influencer marketing campaigns
A report from SocialPubli, titled The State of TikTok Influencer Marketing 2021 indicates 53.7% of marketers plan to increase their budget for TikTok influencer marketing campaigns this year, after the social app has seen explosive growth over the last 18 months.
Data shows nearly 88% of marketers agree TikTok influencer marketing is effective as part of their wider digital and social marketing strategies. Part of this could be down to superior audience engagement on TikTok – 87% of influencers that use a multiple platforms told the study that they had recorded higher levels of engagement on the short-form video app than on other social apps.
Although influencers appear to be dominating TikTok in terms of performance metrics, only 17% share weekly content that is brand or product focused. This suggests brands are still warming up when it comes to running influencer campaigns on the platform, despite plans to invest further this year.
Since Covid-19, a whopping 86.5% of influencers have spent more time on TikTok, with 60% doubling their time spent on the app compared to pre-pandemic levels. But influencers are not only helping to promote products – they’re also buying products themselves. Nearly 7 in 10 have so far made a purchase based on content they have viewed by people they follow.
Sixty percent of US B2B marketers now use Instagram, up from 30% in 2020
A summer 2021 report from US advertising agency SageFrog has found sixty percent of B2B marketers in the region now use Instagram as part of their marketing mix. This figure is up from just 30% reported mid-way through 2020, demonstrating the power social media advertising, particularly that which is image and video-based, has had throughout the pandemic. As remote work and business continues, it is evident B2B brands are investing in Instagram and other (perhaps typically neglected) social platforms to connect with their employees and potential customers in new and creative ways.
Unsurprisingly, LinkedIn remained the most implemented social platform by the B2B companies surveyed and has been used by 86% of these brands in the past year. Seventy-nine percent also use Facebook, ranking it second, while a further 60% regularly use Twitter for their marketing communications. Aside from Instagram’s recent rise in popularity amongst this demographic, YouTube has also gained traction, with an additional 20% of respondents using the platform compared to last year, bringing the current total to 56%.
Marketing spend across other channels jumped in this year in comparison to 2020’s recordings. In particular, branding has become a more highly-prioritised area of investment, with 27% of respondents increasing their spend in this area for 2021 versus 17% in 2020. Combined with a similar uplift in spend on marketing and sales collateral, this indicates brands are pivoting their products and services to keep up with heightened longer-term demand borne from Covid-19.
Tesla, TikTok and Pinduoduo named among 2021’s fastest growing brands
Kantar’s annual BrandZ report has revealed Tesla, TikTok and Pinduoduo are among 2021’s fastest growing brands following an unprecedented year of acceleration for some sectors and decline for others.
Tesla was the fastest growing brand of all those analysed, according to the study, seeing a whopping 275% increase in value (to $42.6 billion) since its last valuation a year ago. Overall, this ranked Tesla at number 47 on the list of brands by value, and number one for the first time in the car brand category. Additionally, Chinese-owned TikTok and Pinduoduo both more than doubled their value in the last year following a boom in social media usage and engagement during worldwide lockdowns. TikTok has now been valued at $43.5 billion, ranking at number 45 in the list – up 34 places since 2020 alone.
Meanwhile, Amazon retained its place as the world’s most valuable brand for the third year in a row at $683.9 billion, increasing its value by 64% in just one year thanks to record-breaking 2020 sales. Apple ranked second, seeing its value rise 74% year-on-year to $611 billion, while Google came third at a $452 billion value (up 42%).
Sixty-nine of the one hundred brands listed in the report saw growth of 5% or higher over the course of the year, with 13 new brands including Spotify and Zoom making their debut entrance in the rankings. US brands grew the fastest out of all other regions, at an average 46%, while China grew its share of total brand value to 14%.
Pinterest now sees more than 5 billion searches every month on its platform
In a blog post, SVP Products at Pinterest, Naveen Gavini revealed that the social app now sees more than 5 billion searches on its platform every month, spurred on by an increase in activity throughout the pandemic.
This figure is up from an average 2 billion searches per month in 2016 – or a 150% increase – according to Social Media Today. The number of searches per Pinner, according to analysis, has increased 31% year-on-year for those in the Gen Z age category, while the overall number of searches made by this demographic rose 96%. Furthermore, product searches on the platform jumped more than 20x at the end of Q1 2021 compared to the same period the year before.
These results are reflective of a sharp increase in Monthly Active Users over the past year, up 30% to 478 million by the first quarter of 2021 as consumers found themselves with more time to search for inspiration and for their next online purchase.
As the world begins to open up again, “searches for outfits, vacations, and home renovations are at all-time highs, and searches for weddings have presumed pre-pandemic levels”, Gavini explained. Indeed, data Pinterest released last month shows searches for ‘vacations’ rose 75% in March 2021, three times faster than the average search volume for the month across the last 2 years. Meanwhile, there was an 85% increase in searches for ‘outfits’ April compared to April 2020, and interest in ‘home renovation’ in Q1 2021 was 65% higher than in Q1 2019.
Mentions of ‘travel’ on social media have increased 37% since restrictions on holidays were lifted
Social listening data from digital marketing agency the tree shows confidence has risen among UK consumers ahead of the typically busy summer holiday period. Mentions of the word ‘travel’ across social media platforms have increased by 37% since the May 7th 2021 announcement that restrictions would be partially lifted on foreign travel from the 17th. Eighty-seven percent of these posts featured positive or neutral sentiment on the topic. Many remaining negative posts cited the latest so-called Indian variant and the wider pandemic.
This follows news that airlines like Ryanair have recently seen bookings rise from 500,000 per week in April to more than 1.5 million per week by late May. When it was revealed Portugal would be on the green list for travel, posts mentioning the region jumped 121%, with 93% of those being positive or neutral in sentiment. The term ‘package holiday’ also saw an increase of 63% as a result.
Despite the clear excitement from social media users, there is still more discussion than usual about vacationing at home this summer. Posts containing the phrases ‘staycation’ and ‘UK holiday’ rose 12% and 8% respectively over the same period.
Q1 2021 social ad revenue rockets across the board
Quarterly financial results posted by major social media companies reveal ad revenue is rocketing one year on from the start of the pandemic.
In Q1 2021, Facebook posted a 46% rise in ad revenue to $25.4 billion, driven by a 30% increase in the price of ads and a 12% rise in the number of ads served on the platform. The figure is substantially higher than year-on-year revenue increase for Q4 2020, which, amid the rush of holiday advertising, was reported at 31%. Growth in Monthly Active Users on the platform, meanwhile, appears to have slowed to 10% from 12% the previous quarter.
YouTube has revealed an even stronger ad revenue growth of 49% to $6 billion, while Twitter posted a very healthy 32% incline after mixed results last year. Perhaps the most surprising of all was a 66% rise in overall revenue reported by Snap, as well as a 22% increase in Daily Active Users (reaching 280 million), marking the platform’s largest growth in more than 3 years.
Ad revenue in Q1 2020 began to take a hit as the uncertainty of the coronavirus outbreak took its toll, causing these most recent results to appear slightly inflated. However, this notable increase in revenue performance also signifies a renewed confidence in social media advertising and the rapid recovery of marketing budgets.
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Influencer #ad posts decline 14.9% year-on-year in Q1 2021
A Q1 2021 Socialbakers study reveals the quantity of influencer content containing the #ad tag (and similar tags like #promo #sp and #paid) has dropped almost 15% year-on-year, highlighting the damage Covid-19 has wreaked on the industry.
Data analysis shows #ad posts reached an annual holiday peak around Christmas 2020, before falling again in early 2021 – a typical pattern – except the number of posts containing sponsorship hashtags has not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
Despite this, interactions with well-known influencers rose by 7% over the course of the year, indicating that social media users are still invested in these individuals regardless of the frequency of sponsored posts on their feeds. Writers saw the largest median increase in interactions between March 2020 and March 2021 at 50%, followed by DJs at 40.6%, broadcasters (20.9%) and sports stars (13.8%). In contrast, musicians saw the biggest decrease in this metric at -18%, while actors (-2.3%), artists (-2%) and singers (-1.2%) also experienced slight declines.
A sustained interest in influencers during the pandemic, combined with the gradual reopening of the hospitality and travel sectors across the world, paints a positive picture for the influencer marketing sector as it attempts to recover its losses.
TikTok was the most downloaded app of Q1 2021
Latest statistics from App Annie have found that TikTok came out on top, once again, for global app downloads in Q1 2021, increasing its rapid growth that has not faltered since the start of the pandemic.
As many consumers remain under full or partial lockdown restrictions across the world, it is clear that people of all ages are continuing to flock to the app for entertainment and a bit of escapism.
Of course, download numbers do not always correlate with high usage. According to analysis, TikTok ranked eighth for Monthly Active Users in the first quarter of this year, below the likes of competitors Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter. It is worth noting, however, that its Monthly Active Users have now surpassed Netflix, emphasising the power of video content on social media. Additionally, global TikTok users spent the second largest amount of money in-app between January and March 2021, just behind YouTube.
Q1 2021 also saw the massive growth of MX Takatak, India’s TikTok equivalent, which is making waves in the region since TikTok was banned by the Indian government. The app topped the charts for quarter-over-quarter download growth, and jumped 21 places in worldwide download numbers for the three-month period.
Facebook is still top among social media sites for daily visits, according to Pew Research
Pew Research’s Social Media Use in 2021 report, which surveyed more than 1,500 U.S. adults by telephone between 25th January and 8th February, has found that Facebook is still the most frequently-visited social media website, with 49% of adults who use the site indicating that they visit it several times per day.
Second in the ranking was Snapchat, which despite having a narrower demographic appeal than Facebook (65% of 18 to 29-year-olds surveyed reported using Snapchat, versus just 2% of users aged 65+, 50% of whom use Facebook) enjoys high engagement among its userbase, with 45% visiting it several times per day. Instagram ranked third, with 38% of its users making several visits per day. TikTok was not included in the ranking, despite being featured elsewhere in the report.
Also of note is the finding that among the social media sites included in Pew Research’s report since 2019, only YouTube and Reddit have achieved “statistically significant” growth in the percentage of Americans who use them. Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter’s growth among U.S. respondents has been mostly level since 2019, while LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and WhatsApp have seen relatively small increases.
By contrast, the percentage of Americans that say they use YouTube has grown by eight percentage points since 2019 (from 73% to 81%) and Reddit has grown by seven percentage points, from 11% in 2019 to 18% in 2020. TikTok is currently used by 21% of U.S. respondents, but was not included in the survey prior to 2021.
More influencer marketers now use TikTok than Facebook
More influencer marketers now use TikTok than they do Facebook, according to a new report from Influencer Marketing Hub.
The study, titled the Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report 2021, found that 45% of brands currently use TikTok for their influencer marketing campaigns, compared to 43% that use Facebook. Last year’s report saw Facebook rank second place, behind Instagram (which still holds the top spot this year), but TikTok’s recent rise in popularity among social media users has knocked Facebook down to third place.
Even more notably, the use of TikTok by influencer marketing teams was so insignificant at the start of 2020 that it didn’t warrant its own category, and instead fell under ‘other’. This proves marketers have been able to spot and respond to social trends in an agile way, moving their budgets and focus to where their audiences are, rather than sticking solely with safer and more familiar platforms.
Overall, Facebook saw a small decline in influencer marketing use (-3%) between early 2020 and 2021. Winners, on the other hand, include LinkedIn, which saw use grow from 12% to 16%, and Twitch, which has now separated itself from the ‘other’ category by attaining a substantial 8%. Meanwhile, interest in YouTube for this purpose remained flat at a healthy 36% and Twitter saw a seven percentage point decline, from 22% to 15%, ranking it sixth – and below LinkedIn for the first time.
Perhaps the most striking statistic of all is that the most significant decline was experienced by Instagram, dropping from 80% last year to 68% this year. With more than two-thirds of influencer marketers planning to spend more on TikTok campaigns over the course of 2021, it is likely that the gap between the two will continue to tighten, spelling trouble for Instagram’s long-held reign.
Digital Shift Q1 2021 Chapter 1 – TikTok
UK consumers spend an extra day online per month so far in 2021
Internet users in the UK have so far spent an extra day online per month so far in 2021, according to data from We Are Social and Hootsuite. The average time an individual spends online everyday now totals 6 hours 26 minutes compared to 5 hours 28 minutes in 2020.
There is no doubt that the prolonged UK lockdown has accelerated this behaviour, forcing many to stay in touch with friends, family and the outside world via the internet. As of the end of December, Google took the highest share of UK online traffic, followed by Wikipedia, BBC.co.uk and Amazon.
Thanks to the increasing time spent on social media since the onset of the virus early last year, the average number of minutes spent per day on social media platforms and apps only increased slightly from 2020 to 2021 – from 1 hour 42 minutes to 1 hour 49 minutes. YouTube and Facebook rank 5th and 6th respectively for share of total web traffic so far, the only two social media platforms to appear in the top 10.
Expectedly, mobile internet use has grown to 2 hours 44 minutes from 2 hours 7 minutes last year (an increase of 29%). Meanwhile, the number of mobile internet users as a percentage of all internet users rose from 85% to 89.3%, exhibiting the huge and necessary shift of the population to online devices. However, share of web traffic on mobile dropped by 3.3% vs. 2020, and this migrated instead to laptop and desktop devices, which saw traffic increase by 5.7% – bucking the usual year-on-year downward trend.
Global social media ad spend was up 50.3% year-on-year at the height of the 2020 holiday season
SocialBakers’ Q4 2020 Social Media Trends report has found that global social media ad spend grew 50.3% year-on-year during the peak of the 2020 holiday season (Around mid-December), rising to a massive 92.3% growth in North America.
Across nine different sectors analysed, average social spend increased by 33% in Q4 2020 compared to levels seen the quarter before. Most industries invested a substantial amount more during this quarter, except for accommodation, which has been particularly negatively affected by the pandemic. Ecommerce brands spent the most on advertising across social platforms (24.8% up on Q3 2020), reaching nearly double spending seen in Q1 2020. Fashion, auto, beauty and alcohol companies also markedly ramped up their ad spend.
With this increase in ad spend comes an increase in CPC. Globally, CPC rose 9% year-on-year at the highest point of the golden quarter, while average CPC across key industries grew 27.4% in Q4 versus Q3.
There was a particularly large increase in CPC for ads placed in the Facebook News Feed, climbing 12% since Q4 2019 to $0.107, however, Instagram Feed placement remained the most expensive despite declining overall year-on-year.
Pinterest saw highest growth in revenue in Q4 2020 vs. other social platforms
Pinterest saw the highest year-on-year revenue growth in Q4 2020 versus other major social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.
According to its Q4 2020 financial statement, the platform acquired over $705 million in revenue over the three months to December 31st, a 76% increase on the £399 million reported in the same period of 2019. While this total revenue is notably less than other giants in the sector, it marks Pinterest as the fastest growing social platform for ad revenue.
Snapchat comes next with a 62% growth rate, reaching $911 million in revenue compared to $560 million in Q4 2019. Meanwhile, Facebook reported a 31% growth to $27.2 billion and Twitter a 28% growth to $1.3 billion.
It is interesting that smaller and more commonly overlooked social platforms are making such gains in this area. Pinterest has attributed its fourth quarter success to ‘continued product innovation, execution and an earlier and longer holiday season’, while also reporting it had welcomed an additional 100 million monthly active users over the course of the calendar year.
As the likes of Snapchat and Pinterest grow their user bases, even more advertisers are likely to flock to the platform to reach a wider demographic – spelling a positive future for the platforms.
Snapchat revenue rose 62% year-on-year in Q4 2020
Snapchat has announced in a financial statement that its fourth quarter revenue rose 62% year-on-year to $911 million. Operating cash flow also improved by $14 million to $53 million compared to Q4 2019.
Global Daily Active Users increased by 47 million over the period to 265 million in total – a 22% growth on the year before – and the average Snapchatter opened the app 30 times per day.
The social platform’s investment in its Discover tab and AR capability appeared to pay off, with more than 90% of users in the Gen Z age group watching Shows and publisher content during the quarter, while 200 million Daily Active Users engaged with AR filters every day. Interestingly, there was also a 30% increase in time spent viewing Shows and publisher content in Snapchatters over the age of 35.
Meanwhile, its Spotlight tab (similar to Instagram reels) has garnered 100 million Monthly Active Users in January 2021 alone, proving the company’s decision to incorporate short-form video onto its platform very successful so far.
Snapchat expects its Q1 2021 revenue to reach between $720-740 million, up from $462 million in Q1 2020, and equating to a maximum 60% year-on-year growth.
More than 1 in 5 Millennials are using social media less than they used to
More than 1 in 5 (22%) of Millennials, globally, are using social media less than they used to, according to data collected in Q3 2020 and published by GlobalWebIndex in Q1 2021. This is despite a spike in social media usage and engagement recorded since lockdowns took effect in March 2020. While many are using the apps to connect with people they cannot meet face-to-face, Millennials seem slightly more conscious of its effects on their mental health, and are taking more action.
Sixteen percent of Millennials claimed that the platforms were making them feel anxious, the report found. However, those with this sentiment have been found to mostly use the platforms for ‘social reasons’ – as opposed to other activities like shopping – making them 19% more likely than others in their cohort to ensure they aren’t missing out on anything being posted.
Like others, over a quarter of Millennials also worry about the amount of time they are spending on social media. But they appear to be taking more action to rectify this, with 26% setting up their devices to monitor screen time vs. an average 23% across other age groups.
Despite the negative effects of these platforms, Millennials are surprisingly the most optimistic about social media’s role in society – on average, 38% say these platforms are ‘good for society’, rising to 45% in particularly heavy users.
TikTok beats Facebook for the first time on average monthly time spent per user in 2020
The average amount of time spent on the TikTok app among its UK users, per month, has nearly doubled between 2019 and 2020, according to analysis from App Annie. On Android devices alone, monthly average hours increased from 11 to 19.9, vastly outpacing Facebook’s 16.6 hours across 2020 and cementing its place as one of the most rapidly growing apps for engagement.
While almost every app in every market saw an increase in usage last year, thanks to the pandemic, the unprecedented popularity of TikTok has seen the growth of all other social media apps pale in comparison – Instagram recorded just an 8-hour average per month.
The report also claims that TikTok is due to surpass 1.2 billion active users by the end of 2021, having been the most downloaded app of 2020 in all major North and South American regions, as well as China, Australia, Germany and the UK.
This is big news for the Chinese app, which has faced huge controversy and several (attempted and successful) bans over the past year – we’ve already seen its format being imitated by rival social platforms and its influence is unlikely to stop there in the years to come.
Events of 2020 have changed brand social media priorities for 2021
A Hootsuite report – Social Trends 2021 – has identified how the events of 2020 have changed brands’ priorities in social media marketing for 2021. Conducted throughout Q3 2020, the survey interviewed more than 11,000 marketers from across the globe.
Between July and September this year, Instagram’s advertising reach increased by 7.1%, more than three times that of Facebook’s, which saw a 2.2% growth. Despite this, Facebook is viewed by 78% of brands as the most effective way of achieving business targets.
Instagram’s 2020 growth in reach can’t be ignored, however, and is reflected in the fact that 61% of brands are planning to increase their budgets for this platform in the coming year. Facebook ranks second (46%), followed by YouTube in third (45%). Interestingly, despite the huge popularity of TikTok since the pandemic started, only 14% hope to increase their budgets for the channel, making it second least prioritised social media platform after Snapchat (4%).
When it comes to businesses’ social goals for 2021, increased acquisition of new customers is the clear winner, with 73% of organisations citing this as a top objective compared to just 46% last year. Increased awareness of their brand was also considered important by 64% of respondents, as was driving more conversions (45%).
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One in four online purchases are now made via an interaction with a social media platform
Analysis commissioned by Visa, which studied shopping habits over the six months to October 2020, found that one in four online purchases in the UK are now made as a result of interacting with a social media platform.
Furthermore, close to a fifth (17%) of consumers purposely turn to social apps for shopping. Of those that do, 35% cited convenience as a key purchase driver, while 26% also said they liked how quick it is to check out. However, more than half (57%) admitted to neglecting online security by not always reviewing third party ratings for the websites they were purchasing from.
More often than not, data shows, consumers are disappointed with the goods they receive when shopping via social platforms. Fifty-eight percent of respondents claimed they were dissatisfied with their purchases and 38% were in the process of trying to process a refund or return of such items. Worryingly, with more than half (54%) failing to check the refund/returns policies of social retailers, just one-fifth said they have received a full refund via the method with which they first paid and 88% said they have been left out of pocket for at least one purchase.
These figures highlight the potential risk associated with purchasing from lesser-known retailers that advertise on social media. The way in which social media lends itself to more impulsive spending, particularly with the addition of speedy checkout, also appears to mean that shoppers are less likely to make the necessary security checks that they might usually do when landing on a webpage directly from search results, for example.
Global social ad spend rises 56.4% quarter-on-quarter in Q3 2020
SocialBakers’ Q3 2020 Social Media Trends Report has found that global social ad spend rose 56.4% in Q3 2020 compared with figures recorded at the end of Q2. This figure increases to 61.7% in North America, with the widespread Facebook ad boycott in this and other regions throughout Q2 partly responsible for the sharp upturn in Q3.
Central America saw the second highest growth between these two periods at 55.6%, while Western Europe came third (50.4%). By the end of September, the average global ad spend on social media was nearly double that of its lowest level at the end of March when many Western lockdowns were first imposed.
Encouragingly, the report indicates overall global ad spend on social has returned to levels similar to those seen in Q3 2019, and marketers predict that it will continue to improve over the holiday season as brands try to entice consumers to shop for gifts via social platforms.
Zooming in, social ad spend saw the highest jump across the FMCG food (+61.3%), automotive (+59.4%), finance (+35.3%) and ecommerce sectors (+27.5%). However, spend in the accommodation industry remained volatile throughout the quarter amid a second wave of the virus, ending with comparable spend levels to those seen in the latter part of Q2.
TikTok reveals more than a 181m growth in global MAUs throughout H1 2020
TikTok divulged its user growth for the first time in late August as it filed a lawsuit against the US government over its potential banning in the region, CNBC has reported. The figures revealed that its global user base reached nearly 700m monthly active users (MAUs) in July 2020, a 181m growth since December last year. It is estimated more than 100m of those are based in the US.
The app’s biggest spike in global popularity occurred between January and December 2018, when it first began its ascent to social media fame in the West, jumping from 54m to 271m MAUs. User growth has continued to rise at a healthy trajectory since; steepening slightly this year due to increased interest amid the coronavirus pandemic and marking an almost 800% rise in MAUs between the start of 2018 and July 2020.
This comes as findings from an IPA report confirm that the social media platform more than doubled its reach to 15-24 year olds throughout the coronavirus lockdown, up from 14% to 30%. Meanwhile, other social apps increased their reach to this age group only modestly; YouTube, for example, climbed just three percentage points to 63% during the same period.
Some consumer markets have upped their in-app hours by as much as 45% since 2019
Q2 2021 data from App Annie reveals a huge shift in in-app activity for mobile users over the course of the last two years, largely driven by the pandemic. Consumers in eight of sixteen regional markets studied now spend more than four hours using apps everyday. Brazil totted up the most time at an average of 5.4 hours per day, followed by Indonesia at 5.3 hours and India at 4.9 hours. Meanwhile the UK ranked tenth with an average of 3.8 hours in total.
This data suggests new habits formed during prolonged periods of lockdown in 2020 have been mostly sustained through to 2021, as time spent interacting with mobile apps has notably increased across the majority of markets compared to pre-pandemic levels. Global spending on apps in Q2 2021 also rocketed to $34 billion, up $7 billion year-on-year, and $2 billion quarter-on-quarter.
Russia, while coming in at 11th for Q2 2021, saw the largest growth in time spent in-app, up 45% on its reported data collected in 2019. Meanwhile, Turkey (ranking 6th)) saw the second-highest rise at 40%. Consumers in the US, by comparison, saw a lesser 20% growth over the two-year period, largely driven by recent downloads of apps that have no relation to Covid-19 or contact tracing, a trend separate from other countries. For example, between Q1 and Q2 2021 the app that experienced the highest download growth in the US was PictureThis, with which users can photograph a plant and find out more about it. In contrast, the NHS App, TousAntiCovid and CovPass continued to place at the top of the list in their respective regions (the UK, France and Germany).
Cryptocurrency investments and AI-driven banking become new trends in US personal finance as remote banking habits take hold
Data from SYKES observes changes to US personal finance habits one year on from the start of the pandemic. Results show mobile banking is on the rise amongst consumers, although there remains a place for in-person banking moving forward.
For example, more than half (55%) of US adults claim to have visited a bank branch in the last year to carry out tasks like depositing money or opening a new account. Of those that didn’t visit a bank over that period, 58% said they stayed away because all of their banking needs could be met online.
The recent uptick in interest surrounding cryptocurrency has also made its way into consumer banking trends of late. One in four US consumers surveyed said they had moved funds from a primary savings account into a cryptocurrency wallet since the start of the pandemic. While four in ten would never replace their primary accounts with cryptocurrency investments, 27% said they were already in the process of doing this, and a further 21% said they would consider it.
As remote banking becomes easier over time, many say they would be comfortable with taking financial advice from AI entities like robots, or an automated system. More than half of consumers (50.5%) would be happy to transfer money following guidance from these sources, according to the study. Another 48.5% would also feel comfortable depositing and withdrawing funds from their accounts, although there is less confidence around carrying out more crucial tasks like applying for loans and mortgages using this method.
Consumer confidence in June 2021 at highest level since 2016
As of June 2021, consumer confidence is now at its highest level since 2016, as UK citizens become more optimistic about the future post-Covid. A YouGov poll has revealed that overall consumer confidence index gained 3.1 points on the month before, reaching 113.6 (up from a negative 96 points 12 months ago).
Outlooks on job security and personal finances for the next year have hit record highs, which could point at a healthy amount of disposable income ready to be spent with retailers, entertainment venues and the like as they look to recover their losses from the pandemic. Typically, households are optimistic that their improved financial situations will continue over the next 12 months, and the same can be said of their expectations about house prices.
Employees are also feeling positive about workplace activity. Confidence in this area grew to 127 on the index, up by 3.8 points on May 2021 – reaching the highest level recorded in the last five years. This barometer mirrors of a number of other reports which suggest demand for products and services is booming as lockdown restrictions lift further.
Overall, not a single metric decreased compared to the month before, reflecting a changing public mood and a more positive outlook for brands and businesses.
3.7 million UK adults used online banking for the first time during the pandemic
Covid-19 has been the most major factor in the widespread adoption of digital services over the course of the last 18 months. New research from SYZYGY, which monitored digital acceleration in the UK and US throughout the pandemic, has found 3.7 million UK consumers used online banking for the first time since March 2020 (to March 2021), equating to 7.1% of adults in the region. Uptake of this service was slightly less in US as a percentage of the population, where 6.7% began online banking at some point during the crisis.
Even more UK adults (13.8%) turned to online doctors for the first time, while 7.3 million began using telehealth services for new or existing health conditions. A further 7.8% started online fitness classes to stay healthy and active during lockdowns.
This rapid surge in the usage of digital services also spanned outside of essential lifestyle, financial and health categories into leisure and entertainment. Virtual visits to museums and galleries are on the rise, with 1.4 million UK consumers exploring one via a digital device since the pandemic started. Meanwhile, a massive 4.1 million began streaming movies and TV to pass the time, rising to 20.4 million in the US, and 1.8 million UK adults took up online gaming, with a further 10 million Americans doing the same.
1.5 million more UK citizens have begun using the internet in the last year
Lloyds’ 2021 Consumer Digital Index has found 1.5 million more UK citizens have begun using the internet over the last 12 months, thanks to increased reliance on digital services since the onset of the pandemic. This equates to 95% of the UK population now being online.
Predictions cast before the onset of coronavirus suggested that it would take until 2025 for 58% of the population to obtain what is known as ‘high digital capability’, but the rapid acceleration of online activity has meant 60% now have this degree of capability in 2021.
The report found, in the last year, 72% of consumers made an online purchase from a brand they had never purchased from before, 67% visited a news website for the first time and a further 65% made their first ever video call.
Although there has been a huge uplift in digital activity since the pandemic began, a considerable proportion of UK internet users (29% or 14.9 million people) have very low digital engagement scores. This means 14% or less of their spend is online, rarely via mobile devices, and they often don’t use email or online banking services. This segment has shrunk by just 4 percentage points since 2020, and 2.6 million consumers still remain completely offline, signifying that there are still several unsolved barriers to increased digital engagement.
Data shows that those in these two groups are more likely to be older (just one in ten people who are offline are under 50 years old) and earn less than £20,000 a year. Analysis also indicates that digital poverty has been intensified by existing social and financial vulnerabilities more than ever in the past 12 months. As a hybrid online/offline approach to work and lifestyle is expected to continue past the pandemic, digital poverty and inclusivity become ever more important topics to address.
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US and UK social media users most likely to advocate for a brand on price and/or value for money
A Brandwatch report on Customer Loyalty has found US and UK social media users were most likely to publicly advocate for a brand on price and/or value for money than any other purchase driver over the course of 2020. Approximately 40% of consumer brand advocacy discussion on social media platforms in these regions mentioned fair prices or good value for money over this period.
Two additional reasons were consistently cited as causes for brand advocacy by respondents – quality of products received, as well as a great delivery experience, perhaps due to the increased demand on delivery services in 2020 as customers shopped online. Each of these reasons accounted for 20% of positive brand mentions on social media.
When it comes to detraction from a brand on social media, however, consumers are far more likely to post about a poor delivery experience than anything else, followed by the negative treatment of employees and the quality of a product they received. Poor customer service came surprisingly quite far down the list but ranked above complaints about value for money.
Notably, data shows brand detraction brand post volume in the UK and US was 20% higher than the number of posts advocating brands, indicating that social media users prefer to post about negative experiences than positive experiences.
Consumers have become more trusting of brands for health and wellness advice
Consumers are becoming increasingly more trusting of brands than ever for health and wellness advice, according to data from a recent Forrester report titled The Trust Imperative.
The research indicates that consumers across the regions of the US, UK, France and India are now more trusting in brands than they are in their local and national governments and the mainstream media in their areas. In fact, close to half of consumers in the US and UK say they have faith in brands to give them advice on how to stay healthy, while an additional third (32% and 33% respectively) accept guidance from them on topics of mental wellness, like anxiety and stress.
On the other hand, if a brand goes against a customer’s strongly-held values, a growing proportion of them will stop purchasing their products or services. Just over one-quarter (26%) of French shoppers agreed they would do this, followed by 23% of those based in Singapore and 18% of those in the US.
6 in 10 UK brands don’t rank customer satisfaction as a top priority for 2021
Research from customer engagement platform Braze has found that 6 in 10 UK brands don’t rank customer satisfaction as a top priority in their 2021 business strategies.
The vaccination programme currently being rolled out offers hope that both life and business will return to normal in the second half of this year, and marketing budgets are set to rise alongside this for 50% of companies that took part in the study. However, it appears that marketers plan to prioritise this investment in Artificial Intelligence tools (47%) more than in customer analytics (45%) or customer satisfaction (43%).
With the massive disruption to customer loyalty that has been experienced by businesses across the globe in the last 12 months, this smaller than expected focus on customer satisfaction could spell trouble for brands looking to improve rates of repeat purchases and/or ROI. Although Artificial Intelligence can have some impact on the way marketers can respond to customer behaviour, which will in turn help revenue in the short term, it is equally or more important that they ensure their customers are happy with their experience to achieve long term success.
Additional data from the study highlights a further lack of precedence for customer experience among these organisations. Just 3 in 10 companies share a company-wide understanding of how to define customer engagement, while a further 77% struggle to demonstrate levels of customer engagement through tangible business outcomes. Despite this, 79% still feel confident in their customer engagement strategies for 2021.
James Manderson, GM and VP of Success at Braze EMEA explains, “While it is positive to see that UK companies are upping their marketing budgets this year, it is imperative they place it into customer engagement strategies and tools that impact revenue.
…2020 was a wake-up call to marketers who learnt that products or services alone are not enough to win customer loyalty. Today, customers are in the driving seat and want to be communicated with in a way that suits them – it’s important companies respect that and take action.”
So what exactly does customer experience (CX) mean?
CX leaders were three times more likely to outpace the mainstream on company performance in 2020
Organisations defined as ‘CX leaders’ were three times more likely to outpace organisations in the ‘mainstream’ on company performance in 2020, according to the Digital Trends 2021 report from Econsultancy and Adobe.
In total, 71% of CX leaders (who comprised 18% of respondents and were defined as having very advanced approach to CX) claimed they had ‘significantly’ or ‘slightly’ outpaced average performance in their sector last year compared with just 43% of the mainstream (those whose CX capability ranged from ‘immature’ to ‘somewhat advanced’). Meanwhile, double the number of organisations reported to be on pace for performance were CX leaders (43% vs 22% in mainstream).
CX leaders also appear to have greater insight into the motivations and challenges that their customers are facing, due to the long-term development of their analytics functions in the years before the pandemic began. As a result, they are more than twice as likely to report that their customers have had a positive digital experience with their brand than others with lesser insight. They are also able to make more empathetic decisions, data suggests.
Fifty-three percent of CX leaders say they have detailed insight into the drivers of loyalty/retention for customers organisation, compared to just over one-fifth of companies in the CX mainstream, while similar numbers were reported across insights into mindset of customers and friction points in the customer journey.
The CX mainstream performed marginally better against its competitors when it came to knowledge of purchase drivers (25% vs. 49% of CX leaders). However, there is still plenty of room for improvement, as 60% of client-side respondents across all companies admitted that they would still ‘definitely’ or ‘possibly’ get frustrated were they a customer of their own organisation’s experience.
25% of brands will see ‘statistically significant advances’ to their CX quality in 2021
As customer experience, particularly through online channels, was thrown into the spotlight for most of 2020, renewed focus on this core business aspect will enable vast developments throughout the course of 2021, according to predictions from Forrester.
Twenty-five percent of brands will see ‘statistically significant’ advances to their CX quality next year, despite budget cuts, thanks to increasingly improving customer experience competencies on the back of short-term fixes generated at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak. As a result, this move could save companies hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars, the data forecasts.
Forrester also expects spending on customer loyalty and retention will increase by 30% over the next year, after acquiring plenty of new online customers during the 2020 ecommerce boom. Brands can expect to see their CMOs taking more control over the full customer lifecycle in order to improve CLV amid the uncertain financial climate ahead. Many CMOs are likely to integrate marketing with CX to create a more joined up experiences that encourage customers to stick around.
82% of UK consumers are still recommending brands during the pandemic
Research from MentionMe reveals that, although there has been a rising trend of consumers abandoning brand loyalty over the course of the coronavirus crisis, brand advocacy remains as strong as ever in the UK.
Eighty-two percent of consumers that took part in the study said that they had recommended a brand over the last year, and more than a third have in the past month alone. Many of these referrals were for home improvement brands selling furnishings, DIY and garden products, which have also seen a huge rise in sales across lockdowns. Other sectors with high referral rates included food and drink (up 10% on 2019), subscriptions and technology, and, unpredictably, holidays and travel.
After a year of uncertainty, 65% of consumers now place the trustworthiness of a brand as the top reason for referring them to a friend or relative, followed by great customer service (58%) and free delivery or returns (51%). However, there were aspects that became much less important over this period. Brands that ‘surprise or delight’ consumers and those with innovative products, fell by 22% and 17% respectively from previous figures in 2019.
Consumers also appear to be considering the wider impact of their purchasing decisions, particularly as home delivery has become so commonplace. As a result, nearly one-third of respondents said they would be more likely to recommend companies with ‘green credentials’.
47% of British consumers have had issues with parcel delivery since the onset of coronavirus
An October 2020 survey of more than 2000 British consumers, commissioned by Citizens Advice, has found that nearly half (47%) of British consumers have had issues with the delivery of parcels since the first lockdown began in March.
With the UK having been in full or partial lockdown for much of this year, 51% say they feel more reliant on having products delivered to their homes. The increased numbers of people now shopping online, whether for necessity or convenience, seems to have thrown retailers’ logistical issues into the spotlight.
Of all respondents, a whopping 96% claimed to have ordered products that require parcel delivery since March. Three in 10 of these have experienced shipping delays, making it the biggest issue cited by consumers. A further 18% said they had lost out financially due to a home delivery gone wrong or missing, with 40% of those losing out by more than £20.
As a result, nearly one in four admitted they had lost confidence when ordering goods from online stores.
Citizens Advice has said views of its webpage providing advice on parcel issues had more than doubled to 208,000 between March and October this year compared to just 94,000 over the same period last year.
How has the overwhelming shift to online impacted retailer returns strategies?
US shopping app downloads slowed to a 4% year-on-year growth in Q3 2020 after a Q2 spike
US shopping app downloads slowed to a 4% year-on-year growth in Q3, following a spike in Q2, according to Sensor Tower’s Mobile Retail Trends Analysis, published in Q4.
Across the Apple App Store and Google Play, shopping app downloads in the region surpassed 150 million. The ranking of most downloaded apps remained mostly unchanged throughout Q1-Q3 this year, with Amazon, Wish and Walmart remaining in the top three, in that order, as they did last year. However, three new retail apps entered among the remaining seven spots, mirroring their successes in the US market this year – Shop (by Shopify) rocketed to fourth place overall, while fashion retailer SHEIN ranked number seven and Nike crept in at number 10.
Sensor Tower data also revealed that US app download growth for top brick-and-mortar retailers between Q1-Q3 this year was almost double that of top online-only retail apps (+27% vs. +14%). Downloads for stores that also have a brick-and-mortar presence also dropped off less sharply over the Q3 period compared to those of online-only retailers.
This suggests US consumers found a new way to shop with their favourite high street stores in 2020 under unprecedented circumstances. Customers who favour flexible shipping policies and contact-free pickup particularly reaped the benefits of apps from these kinds of retailers.
Customer experience trends in 2021: What do the experts predict?
Business apps are still a hit with US consumers in 2021, with download growth up 49% year-on-year in Q1
A report from SensorTower on the state of the app industry a year on from the start of the pandemic shows which download and usage trends have endured into 2021, and which have not.
Downloads of business apps in the US remain at the highest level of growth (+49% YoY) compared to 20 other categories analysed, reflecting new habits of remote and hybrid working that are continuing even as the world reopens.
Medical, news and educational apps are still in a state of positive year-on-year growth, although at a much lower rate than we saw during the peak of the pandemic. In January and February 2021, these three categories saw 23%, 18% and 11% rises in downloads, respectively, versus the equivalent months of 2020. By comparison, between March and April 2020 and 2021, they experienced 79% (medical), 106% (news) and 148% (business) growth. This suggests that these topics and services remain a high priority for consumers moving into the ‘new normal’.
Meanwhile, apps across other categories have seen an enormous shift in download activity earlier this year. Downloads in the Sports category have gone from a 50% decline between spring 2019 and spring 2020 to a 19% growth year-on-year at the start of 2021. Health and fitness app downloads are now flat (+0.4%) after a 59% year-on-year uptick at the peak of the first lockdown.
Apps within the travel and navigation sectors are two of a small handful to continue experiencing declines since early 2020. However, the declines are now less significant, reducing from -53% to -31% and -39% to -28%, respectively.
85% of UK employees set to return to the office at least one day per week after Covid-19 restrictions are lifted
Marketing Week reports on June 2021 research from employee rewards brand Gemsatwork, which indicates most (85%) UK employees will return to work in an office for at least one day per week post-pandemic. So far, while some social constraints remain in place, 58% of office workers are visiting their workplaces at least once a week.
The survey of more than 400,000 UK workers also revealed that two-thirds plan to resume their normal working habits as soon as restrictions are due to be lifted in the region on 19th July. Currently, 77% of workspaces that remained closed during lockdown have now reopened, with nearly half of all employees having returned to the office as a result.
According to additional data from the study, as reported by Field Marketing, these figures could impact planned government legislation due to be passed later this year. It could enable ‘millions’ of office staff to work from home by default, and prevent employers from forcing workers to visit the office unless their presence can be proven essential.
45% of US ad executives say they would attend live events in Q3 and Q4 2021
Optimism for in-person events is growing among US advertising executives, Marketing Dive has reported based on findings from an Advertiser Perceptions survey. In April 2021, forty-five percent of respondents said they would physically attend events taking place in Q3 or Q4 2021 if invited, up from 37% in February.
A further 13% said they would be willing to attend live events from Q1 2022 and beyond, suggesting that the majority believe the worst of the pandemic will be over by that period, and in-person conferences and awards ceremonies will be able to resume as normal.
It seems that ad executives are not only willing to simply participate in live events in the near future, but back them too. Thirty-one percent now claim that they would begin sponsoring these events in either Q3 or Q4 2021, a figure that has risen from 27% in February. An additional 30% say they are now planning and creating in-person events for the second half of the year as a result of heightened optimism surrounding the end of the pandemic.
While many events this year are still scheduled to be digital-only affairs, for example the much-anticipated Cannes Lions awards, evidence suggests the advertising industry is keener than expected to return to live events by the end of the year.
Confidence amongst employees in US travel and entertainment sectors soars
New research from LinkedIn, published in April 2021, indicates confidence amongst US employees in the travel and entertainment sectors has been soaring in recent months.
Now that more than 96 million people in the US have been vaccinated, data shows workers in sectors that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus are the most optimistic they have been since before the start of the pandemic back in March 2020.
LinkedIn’s Work Confidence report, which collected the views of more than 5000 US citizens, found that workers in the travel and recreation sector are now the most confident in their employers’ outlook for the next 6 months at +65 up year-on-year (+100 being most positive, and -100 being most negative). This is followed by those in the entertainment industry, which scored +55.
Indeed, confidence has notably improved across all sectors covered by the survey, although education appears to be trailing slightly behind the rest of the top five at +31, up from -23 in May 2020. Meanwhile, overall confidence in outlook for all sectors in the region has been recorded at average +42 year-on-year. This optimism can only be a good thing for brands and marketers as they prepare for recovery following a devastating year for many crucial industries.
Further data suggests there is still a way to go for some other industries to bounce back, such as healthcare, manufacturing and public administration, while workers in finance, construction and real-estate are currently demonstrating above average confidence.
Business app downloads remain high a year on from the pandemic
According to a report by SensorTower, Covid-19’s App Impact: One Year Later, business-related apps like Zoom and Google Meet have retained the highest growth a year on from the onset of the pandemic, out of a range of app categories including Sports, Education, Health & Fitness, and Travel.
Between February and April 2020, as the pandemic spread across the globe, business apps in the United States saw the highest increase of all app categories, with year over year downloads rising more than 150% by April. By February 2021, downloads had declined, but were still 50% up from where they had been before the pandemic took hold.
In Europe, business app downloads rose even higher, spiking at a 252% increase in downloads between March and April 2020, compared with the same period in 2019. In early 2021, they were still the highest-growth app category, with downloads up 109% in January/February 2021 compared with the first two months of 2020.
Close to two-thirds of businesses negatively impacted by Covid-19 showing signs of recovery
The road to recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic will be long and arduous for the businesses affected by it. However, a report by the Data & Marketing Association (DMA), Coronavirus: March 2021 – The Impacts on Business, has given a glimmer of hope.
The report found that while a decisive majority of businesses (70%) are still being negatively impacted by the pandemic, close to two-thirds (63%) of businesses affected say they are experiencing signs of recovery. The report also found that the percentage of businesses reporting the impact of the pandemic as ‘Extremely negative’ is down to 16%, falling from 25% in November 2020.
This gradual recovery may bode well for marketing departments in particular. The DMA found that close to half (48%) of organisations expect their budgets to increase over the next financial year (compared to 27% who forecast a decrease), with 47% expecting an increase in their budget for marketing specifically. One in five organisations (21%) also said that they are currently hiring for data and marketing roles.
Mean gender pay gap for full time marketers is 23% in 2021
The Econsultancy and Marketing Week Career and Salary Survey 2021 has revealed the mean gender pay gap for full time marketers is 23% in 2021, down from 28% reported in 2020’s findings, but exceeding the national mean of 11.5%.
While female marketing professionals in the most junior roles earn slightly more, on average, than their male peers (£27,500 vs £26,800), the pay gap between the genders becomes wider the closer employees get to director or VP roles. Data found women were on average paid £3,200 less than men at senior executive level, rising to nearly £10,000 at the most senior level.
Given that women have been disproportionately affected by furlough and redundancy since the onset of the pandemic, the results of the survey indicate the marketing sector still has further to go, even against other industries, to achieve gender pay equality.
Substantial barriers still remain for marketing and experience, despite 2020 being the ‘most innovative period’
Half of senior marketing leaders have said that the last nine months of 2020 were the most innovative period they had experienced in their organisation, as businesses were forced out of necessity to think of new and exciting methods to engage their customers online.
However, the Econsultancy and Adobe Digital Trends 2021 survey has identified some substantial barriers to success in marketing and experience. For ‘mainstream’ CX businesses (those whose CX capability ranged from ‘immature’ to ‘somewhat advanced’), the continued use of legacy systems was voted as the barrier that was mostly holding them back from their true potential (43%), followed by workflow issues (42%) and a lack of digital skills or capabilities (35%). This suggests that, despite advances at these companies in 2020, old processes and outdated knowledge continue to hamper efficiency and digital maturity.
A similar story can be said for those in the B2C and B2B industries, employees of which cited these three topics as their top obstructions to success. While the same is also true for CX leaders, these barriers were significantly less of an issue by comparison. Just 29% of employees working for CX leaders cited workflow issues vs. 42% of the CX mainstream, 27% vs 43% on legacy systems and 22% vs 35% on digital skills and capability.
46% of media, marketing and advertising freelancers in the UK say they are no longer constrained by the location of clients
Forty six percent of media, marketing and advertising freelancers say they are no longer constrained by the location of their clients, thanks to recent advances in remote working, according to research from Worksome, published in December 2020.
The survey of more than 500 UK freelancers in the sector also found 23% of contractors outside of the London area now work for companies that are based overseas, compared to 15% of those in London. However, almost half (49%) of respondents said they predict fewer jobs to be available from January due to the extra pressure businesses will be under from Brexit, on top of difficulties from Covid-19.
More than one in five UK workers have become freelancers throughout the course of the coronavirus outbreak, accelerating the trend of contracting becoming more widespread. Fifteen percent of these new freelancers said that the reason they moved to this type of work was because of redundancy where they used to work permanently.
For most, the change is set to be longstanding, with 83% stating they hope to continue working contractually after the pandemic subsides. The events of this year have also improved the general outlook of contractors. Fifty-seven percent said freelancing has been a positive thing for them during Covid-19, likely due to the flexibility it offers while juggling other responsibilities like childcare. A further one in five have observed that there are more contractual jobs available since the workforce became less permanent, and an additional 37% claim they have been more productive when working.
97% of event marketers believe hybrid events are the future
Covid-19 has had a profound impact on the events business, eliminating crowded conferences and expos and forcing events organisers to adapt by shifting online. However, the outlook from the events industry is positive in the wake of this change.
Bizzabo’s Evolution of Events Report, published on 13th November and based on a survey of almost 400 event and marketing professionals, found that 97% of event marketers believe hybrid events are the future – and that going forward, the most rewarding events will have a virtual component.
More than 80% also reported greater audience reach from their events thanks to the shift to virtual technology, due in large part to the elimination of barriers to attendance such as travel, venue capacities, accommodation booking and other costs.
All of this has led to nearly a fifth of marketers (18%) reporting that they intend to increase their event marketing budget for 2021, with many already planning events for 2021 that will be supported by an online component. This widespread acceptance of hybrid events – and willingness to invest in them – is even more remarkable considering that 77% of respondents say they have never hosted a hybrid event before.
51% of UK marketers say they have lost in-house digital talent as a result of Covid-19
A September 2020 report from Serpico by Croud suggests that 51% of UK marketers have lost in-house digital talent as a result of Covid-19. Fifty-seven percent of these losses came from redundancy, 43% from furlough and 35% from those who had resigned from their roles since March. For larger UK businesses (those with 250-500 employees), the percentage that lost in-house talent during this period was as high as 61%.
UK businesses still perceive sigificant barriers to in-housing digital marketing, with 39% citing finding the right talent as a major barrier to in-housing, followed by budget cuts (38%). All in all, the future of sourcing digital talent for in-house teams looks to be as uncertain as ever.
Despite these significant losses and barriers, however, the report revealed that UK marketers are as keen as ever to move to in-housing digital talent at their organisations. Forty-nine percent of respondents said that they were planning on actioning this as a result of the pandemic, compared to a smaller 40% of those based in the US.
However, to mitigate issues down the line, not all of those hoping to switch to an in-house model are looking to do so entirely, at least for now. In the UK, 27% of UK marketers say they are planning to in-house marketing more as a result of Covid-19, but with the support of an agency; 11% plan to in-house their digital marketing less and rely on agency support, while 17% plan to increase in-housing and move away from agency support altogether.
57% of British workers want to continue working from home after the Covid-19 crisis subsides
Fifty-seven percent of British workers say they’d like to continue working from home, some or all of the time, once the Covid-19 crisis subsides, data from YouGov, collected in early September 2020, has found.
Before the outbreak began, 68% of the workforce never worked from home, while 19% did for some of the time and just 13% did full time. As has been reported frequently, Covid-19 has initiated a huge shift in flexible and remote working as a means of adapting. By early September, one third of workers were still working from home full time, even after the government encouraged the population to return to their physical workplaces. This number is likely to rise again now that restrictions and messaging have been revised.
The idea of striking a balance between office and home working is one that seems to appeal highly to British workers once things return to normal – whenever that may be. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said that splitting their time across the office and home would be their preferred option. Meanwhile, the same percentage specified that they would still opt to be based in an office or other physical workspace full time – 29% fewer people than originally worked this way before the pandemic.
Three quarters of staff who are working from home expect their employer to continue to offer this arrangement after the crisis is over. As a result, one in five of the British workforce say they would consider moving far away (non-commutable distance) from the office, rising to 28-30% of those currently based in London, and 22% would even contemplate moving to a different country.
Effective Remote Working for Marketers Best Practice Guide
Global mobile app downloads decrease 4.8% year-on-year in Q2 2021 as Covid-19 surge subsides
The number of global mobile app downloads totalled 35.9bn in Q2 2021, a year-on-year fall of 4.8% following the huge surge in demand during the onset of Covid-19 a year earlier, according to SensorTower’s latest Data Digest report. Apple’s App store saw an even greater 13.3% drop, while Google Play downloads fell 2.1% over the period.
Once again, TikTok was the most downloaded app worldwide, marking the fifth time it has held the top spot in the rankings in the last six quarters. In the most recent three-month period, the short-form video app surpassed 200m downloads for the first time since it was removed from India’s app stores back in the second quarter of 2020. Facebook family apps accounted for the rest of the top five downloaded apps, while video-conferencing software Zoom ranked sixth.
In the App Store, four of the five core categories analysed by SensorTower (Games, Photo & Video, Entertainment and Shopping) saw notable declines in downloads, except for Utilities apps, which grew by 4.7% year-on-year. This suggests consumers are becoming ever more accustomed to managing their household bills and energy usage via online platforms. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Gaming category saw the largest drop in downloads this quarter, at -22.3%, largely driven by Chinese consumers as life there quickly returns to normal.
Google Play’s core categories painted a rosier picture, with increases of more than a fifth in Tools (27.6%) and Finance (25%) and smaller increases in Social (10.6%) and Entertainment (7%) – but Gaming still saw a decline of 4.4% in comparison with Q2 of 2020.
In the US, gig work apps have made a strong comeback as the vaccine rollout gains traction with the wider population. Demand for rideshare apps like Uber rocketed in Q2 2021, with downloads steadily overtaking pre-pandemic levels from Q1 2020. There were even reports of driver shortages across some rideshare companies as driver adoption returned more slowly than consumer adoption.
Global mobile gaming revenue rises 25% year-on-year in Q1 2021
Analysis by SensorTower on the state of mobile gaming has found global gaming revenue rose 25% year-on-year in Q1 2021, outpacing the 18% and 16% growth recorded, respectively, over the last two years. Most notable growth was seen during Q2 2020, at 33% up on the same period the year before, when (for the first time) games earned a total $20 billion in just one quarter.
US mobile gamers remain the biggest spenders of all, with mobile game revenue there reaching over $6 billion by the first quarter of 2021 – a 34% rise year-on-year. Japan came second, creating over $5 billion in revenue, and is closing in on the US’s lead at a higher 35% growth rate. Across both of these regions, spending on these apps grew by more than $1 billion over the course of the year.
After strong download performance for mobile games between Q1 2019 and Q1 2020, up 39%, growth has slowed substantially to just 5% between Q1 2020 and Q2 2021. However, this figure still considerably outpaces the 1-2% average annual growth from the years prior to 2019, suggesting some of the enthusiasm for mobile gaming that was first seen at the beginning of the pandemic has been retained into 2021.
As ownership of smartphone devices soars amongst India’s population, the number of downloads of mobile games has followed suit. By Q1 2021, the region saw a 28% year-on-year increase in downloads, peaking at almost 3 billion during Q3 2020 and accounting for 12% of all mobile game downloads in 2020.
36% of British mobile gamers have played more often since the start of the pandemic, and the habit is here to stay
An April 2021 YouGov survey has found the recent soar in mobile gaming could be here to stay. Thirty-six percent of British mobile gamers say they have played more often since the start of the pandemic, with females most likely to contribute towards the rise (42% compared to 29% of male mobile gamers). This figure grows to 39% of mobile gamers in the US, but growth has been more evenly split between males and females (40% of females vs. 38% of males).
Further data shows the majority of both GB and US gamers hope to sustain their heightened mobile gaming habits post-pandemic, despite returning to busier lifestyles. Sixty-eight percent of British respondents agreed that they were very or somewhat likely to continue spending more time on the activity once Covid-19 has subsided, rising to 77% of US respondents.
With more than two-thirds of British consumers now regularly playing games on their mobile devices, game developers and (by extension) in-game advertisers can expect to maintain a large share of consumers’ designated entertainment time in the future.
76.2% of European consumers have consumed more audio content since the pandemic started
A comprehensive Audio Content Survey from Sortlist shows, on average, 76.2% of European consumers have consumed more audio content since the pandemic started than they did before. The research on listening habits was conducted on 500 business leaders of small to medium sized enterprises across France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.
Radio was the most preferred type of audio content among those surveyed, reaching its highest in Spain at 56.1%. This was followed by podcasts, which seem to be less popular in the Netherlands (30.1%) than they are in France (40.9%). In fact, there was just a 5.2% gap between the popularity of radio and podcasts in France. With 900,000 new podcasts created in 2020 alone (a 300% year-on-year rise), the popularity of podcasts could increase even further, and perhaps overtake radio, in certain regions in the near future.
Across the board, consumers are much more likely to listen to audio related to their hobbies than their day jobs. Other popular topics include news-related content, audiobooks and other miscellaneous entertainment.
The data also reveals some good news for advertisers using audio formats for their campaigns. Seventy-eight percent of survey respondents said they have bought, or are open to buying, products promoted alongside the audio content they listen to.
Commercial media consumption between generations widens over 2020
The events of 2020 have exacerbated the widening generational gap in commercial media consumption habits, according to a study from IPA.
Data shows the consumption of such media has evolved significantly between 2015 and 2020, with 55+ year-olds continuing to adopt a slow and steady pace of change, 35-54 year-olds shifting selected habits, and 16-34s altering their consumption at a much more rapid rate.
Over the 2020 lockdowns, those in the 16-34 age bracket spent 79% of their time consuming commercial media on digital platforms, up from an average 73% across the whole of 2020 and just 59% in 2015. By comparison, adults of all ages (on average) spent less than half of their media time on digital platforms (48% vs. 42% in 2015).
There was a particularly large disparity between age cohorts and the types of devices preferred last year. Throughout 2020, smartphone usage unsurprisingly accounted for 47% of all media consumption (digital and non-digital) in 16-34 year-olds, rising to 52% during lockdown periods, while usage of the device stayed the same for 35-54 year-olds (31%) and declined slightly in over 55s (11% to 10%).
Meanwhile, the TV set made a notable comeback for consumers over 35, with the amount of time spent using them sometimes beating figures from five years before. Watching TV comprised 35% of commercial media time for 35-54 year-olds in 2020, increasing 6 percentage points over lockdown, while the percentage of TV viewership for those over 55 grew to 54% – 2% higher than in 2015. However, for 16-34 year-olds, TV usage continued to decline, falling to 23%.
US consumer spend on video games rises 27% in 2020
In a series of tweets, Executive Director at the NPD Group, Mat Piscatella, shared some fascinating insight into US consumer spending on the video games industry throughout 2020, based on full-year data collected by the company.
Total spend on video game content across PC, console, mobile, portable, cloud and VR platforms in the region reached $56.9 billion, growing by 27% year-on-year.
In December alone, $7.7 billion was spent on such games, up 25% compared to the same month in 2019, while spend on hardware grew to $1.35 billion (+38%), no doubt boosted by the release of the new Xbox and Playstation consoles in November.
The Nintendo Switch was the best-selling console in 2020, as evidenced by the huge rise in demand seen throughout the spring and summer months when many looked to distract themselves from life in lockdown. According to analysis, the annual dollar sales of the Switch were only outstripped by the launch of the Nintendo Wii in 2008. The PlayStation 5 came in second place for dollar sales in 2020, but its predecessor beat it in unit sales.
By now, we all know that 2020 has accelerated industry performance across many sectors, and the gaming industry is no exception. The growth in both consumer spend and engagement across video game platforms can only be a good thing for marketers looking to branch out into, or expand, their advertising efforts in game and at sponsored eSports events.
Nearly 1 in 5 UK consumers are pure streamers
In 2020, the number of consumers that watched traditional TV on a weekly basis was lower than it had been in at least the last 4 years, at 79%, according to a December 2020 study conducted by AudienceProject.
Similar patterns can be seen in behaviour across regions like Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. The trend is even more pronounced in the US, where just 59% watched traditional TV in 2020 compared to 83% in 2017.
This consistent drop in traditional TV viewing is being replaced, unsurprisingly, by popular subscription streaming services like Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime. In the UK alone, those that use streaming platforms at least one a week has risen from 49% in 2018 to a much larger 77% in 2020, with under 45s dominating the shift.
As a result, nearly one in five (17%) UK consumers are now ‘pure streamers’ – that is, individuals who have ditched traditional TV altogether in favour of streaming services. The figure will no doubt increase over time, especially on account of new habits formed during the pandemic. Indeed, last year, 27% of UK respondents to the study said they had either watched less traditional TV or had begun using streaming services more than they did in 2019.
The UK still has some way to go before it catches up with the viewing habits of consumers in the US, who lead the way globally, with one-third (32%) now classified as pure streamers.
US daytime TV consumption by professionals working from home rose 21% year-on-year in October 2020
Insight from Nielsen indicates that US daytime TV consumption has climbed since workers have become accustomed to working mostly from home. In October alone, there was a 21% increase in time professionals spent watching TV (either live, time-shifted, via an internet-connected device, or on a game console) between 9am and 4pm – the equivalent of 26 more minutes per day than in the same month in 2019.
Data from an August Nielsen study on remote workers also found that 65% of remote workers in the region watched TV or streamed video content while taking work breaks, and a further 56% admitted to watching TV with sound when they were also working. Nielsen noted that while media habits have “normalised” since the initial shelter-in-place restrictions, daytime TV has become a “second primetime” and has skewed consumption, perhaps permanently if working from home becomes a more accepted norm following the pandemic.
By contrast, those not in the US workforce were actually found to have watched less TV in October 2020 than they did in October 2019, with declines ranging from 8% to 2% depending on the time of day. Meanwhile, children aged between 6 and 11 years old spent, on average, three hours and 25 minutes more watching TV during designated school hours. For children aged 12-17, there was an increase of two hours.
Marketers should take note of this trend and use their budgets wisely to target new audiences now watching far more TV than usual, and at significantly different times.
Netflix obtains just 2.2 million new subscribers in Q3 2020, a more than 67% decrease on the same quarter in 2019
After very strong performance in Q1 and Q2, which resulted in a total of more than 17 million new subscribers, Netflix obtained just 2.2 million new subscribers in Q3, it has said in a statement. The quarter beginning July and ending September is typically one of strong growth for the streaming platform, but these latest figures put it 67% behind subscriber numbers acquired during the same period of 2019.
Just 177,000 of these new subscribers came from the United States – one of its largest markets around the globe.
There’s likely to be a myriad of reasons for this dramatic deceleration in growth, including consumers wanting to spend more time outdoors over the summer season after a prolonged period of indoor confinement. Subscriber cancellations following controversy surrounding one of its shows, ‘Cuties’, could also have been a partial cause. In a statement, Netflix cited the theory that those who wanted to subscribe during the pandemic had already done so at its peak in the first half of the year – the ‘pull-forward’ effect it predicted in its Q2 financial statement.
However, the brand is now close to having obtained 200 million total global subscribers, well above that of rival Disney+ (estimated 60 million subscribers), despite disappointing Q3 results. Retention and overall new subscriber numbers across the whole of the calendar year were also up, it said.
Mobile app downloads rose 31.7% year-on-year in Q2 2020
The number of apps downloaded globally across the App Store and Google Play in Q2 rose by 31.7% year-on-year in Q2 2020 to 37.8 billion, a report from Sensortower has confirmed. Video conferencing app Zoom was the most downloaded app in worldwide between April and June, beating TikTok which ranked second. As a result, Zoom is just the third app in history that has surpassed 300 million installs in any one quarter, alongside TikTok and Pokemon Go.
Business, healthcare and educational apps thrived in Q2, while travel, navigation and sports apps suffered from a period of low installs. Rideshare apps Uber and Lyft experienced a severe decline in US installs and as of late June were still 57% and 59% behind pre-Covid levels despite many restrictions easing.
Entertainment apps also fared well – Disney+ took the number 14 spot in the US and entered the top 20 apps in Europe for the first time, ranking at number 15. Meanwhile, global mobile game downloads saw healthy growth, up 51.2% and 19.6% from Q2 2019 on Google Play and the App Store respectively. Popular app Roblox jumped from its number 11 Q1 ranking to number 2 in the US as shelter-in-place orders were enforced, while battle royale sensation Fortnite saw an 88% increase in US downloads quarter-on-quarter having newly released the game on Google Play in April.
Disney loses $4.7bn in revenue during Q2 2020, but Disney+ subscribers soar
Disney reported a $4.7bn drop in revenue for the quarter ending June, but Ofcom data has shown rapid uptake in its streaming service Disney+ thanks to Covid-19.
Between its launch in the UK (24th March) and early July, 16% of online adults in the UK had subscribed to Disney+. The research has also confirmed that it has surpassed NowTV when it comes to subscription numbers in the UK, ranking it the third most popular SVoD in the country after Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. However, 95% of those who subscribe to Disney+ also have a subscription with at least one of these other two services, suggesting that Disney+ offers supplementary entertainment and will likely not replace them as an outright alternative.
In June, Disney+ was accessed by 32% of UK households containing children between the ages of 3 and 11, an increase from 21% in April, overtaking the reach of BBC iPlayer among this demographic, which fell from 26% to 22% during the same period. As a result, this proves Disney+ is continuing to gain momentum with families despite the easing of lockdown, and in some cases is replacing BBC children’s content.
Ofcom data also found that consumers were on average spending 1 hour and 11 minutes per day on SVoD services in April 2020, which is 37 minutes higher than figures recorded in April 2019.
The Digital Transformation Monthly
Employment & recruitment
Marketing salaries bounce back above pre-pandemic levels as vacancies rise in 2021
Marketing Week reports that salaries in the industry are set to bounce back in 2021, as vacancies rise and many recruiters struggle with more roles than there are candidates to fill them. David Nobbs, Managing Partner and Head of Consumer at executive search firm Grace Blue spoke to the publication about this latest trend in talent acquisition.
According to analysis, salaries have met, and often increased on, pre-pandemic levels, especially when it comes to more senior positions that are vacant. This is in addition to firms struggling to retain talent as the pandemic eases and the economy rebounds. Nobbs explains that it is “not uncommon” for recruiters to offer up to a 50% pay increase to help retain senior individuals in their current roles and help stem the current wave of resignations witnessed across multiple sectors.
The article also cites recent research from Hays which found nearly a quarter (23%) of employers are more likely to counter-offer staff in the event of a salary dispute than they were before the onset of the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, leadership search firm Fortune Hill says it has seen many recruiters in tech and FTSE companies restructure their benefits packages and increase share offerings in order to stay competitive within the jobs marketplace.
Remote job vacancies are rapidly rising in the UK
LinkedIn has seen a rapid rise in the number of remote roles being advertised on the social media site as employees and employers adapt to newly forged flexible working routines.
As of June 2021, roles in software and IT have taken the largest share of all remote job vacancies at 23.1%, 5.5x as many that were advertised on the platform in June 2020. Remote jobs in education take the second largest share at 16.1% compared to just a 3% share a year ago.
Transportation and logistics, retail and travel and recreation have experienced the largest shift in the number of remote vacancies available, seeing respective increases equating to 18.5x, 11.6x and 9.3x the number of this type posted last June. As a result, these three industries have found their share of remote roles grow from below 1% to mid-to-high single figures. Retail, for example, now has a 3.9% share of vacancies for remote workers, up from 0.3%, as retailers increasingly focus on ecommerce and digital, offering greater opportunity for long-term WFH arrangements.
This comes as total UK job vacancies rise above pre-pandemic levels for the first time since the onset of the coronavirus. Between April and June 2021, 862,000 job vacancies were posted by employers, 77,500 more than were advertised in the first quarter of 2020, according to the ONS.
Indeed, LinkedIn has confirmed that the total hiring rate via its platform is up, on average, 92.6% year-on-year across all industries, rising even further among sectors most affected by the coronavirus outbreak. This includes a massive 337.7% increase in hires in travel and recreation, 126.7% in construction, 119.2% in real estate, and 109.9% in manufacturing.
Hiring in US travel sector rises 9.1% month-on-month in May 2021, entertainment by 7.2%
While the unemployment rate in the US remains higher than it did before the pandemic, there has been a jump in hiring amongst the retail, travel and entertainment sectors as events, holidays and shopping trips gradually return to consumers’ daily lives. This is according to May 2021 research published by LinkedIn, which has found the hiring recovery rate in these sectors to be steadily increasing since February.
In the travel and recreation industry, there has been a 9.1% month-on-month jump in the number of US LinkedIn members adding a new employer to their profiles, driven mostly by airlines and hotels in the region. However, several workers who were furloughed or let go at the height of the pandemic, have opted to move to new roles away from the hospitality sector, causing some hotels and venues to rethink their work benefit schemes.
Meanwhile, the US entertainment industry saw a 7.2% increase in recruitment, month-on-month, especially amongst large resorts/theme parks and tourist-centric areas like Las Vegas as they prepare to welcome visitors once more.
Retail experienced a more modest 5.2% growth in hiring over the same period, continuing on a gradual upward trajectory following a devastating year for brick-and-mortar brands. While supermarket chain Kroger said it was looking to hire up to 10,000 employees in the near future, much of the recruitment taking place in the retail sector remains focused on ecommerce – Amazon, for example, hopes to hire 75,000 US employees to help expand their fulfilment and delivery capacity moving forward.
UK job vacancies are recovering in the wake of Covid-19 – but remain depleted
A report from the House of Commons, Coronavirus: Impact on the Labour Market, which draws on figures published by the Office for National Statistics, has illustrated the extent to which UK job vacancies have recovered since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic – but also how far they still have to go.
Between April and June 2020, the number of UK job vacancies reached an all-time low of 343,000 since record-keeping began in 2001. This swiftly began to climb back up, and between December 2020 and February 2021 the number of job vacancies had reached 601,000, 44,000 higher than the previous quarter.
However, this number is still well below the level seen before the pandemic, with 220,000 fewer jobs on offer compared to the same period in 2020 – a decrease of 26.8%. In the job vacancy figures that informed the House of Commons’ report, the ONS warned that the restrictions imposed in late autumn 2020 have slowed job market recovery, although it acknowledged that there is inevitably some lag in the figures as they are based on three-month averages.
The loosening of restrictions that is already underway in Q2 2021 offers some hope for continued recovery, as does the fact that the ONS’ experimental online job advert index shows a steady increase in the quantity of job adverts posted between the last week of February 2021 and the first week of April.
1 in 10 marketers have been made redundant in the last 12 months
Econsultancy and Marketing Week’s annual Career and Salary Survey has revealed that 1 in 10 marketers in the UK have been made redundant in the past 12 months, with an additional 12.7% having been put on furlough.
These aren’t the only ways in which the pandemic has affected the careers of those in the marketing sector. One in five respondents claim to have experienced a cut in compensation for their work, while another 7.7% have had their hours reduced, both of which can have a significant damage on potential earnings. Furthermore, 11.7% of marketers who have retained their roles have had a promotion delayed or made increasingly unlikely.
While these are grim figures for the industry, job losses and salary cuts are reflective of the wider impact Covid-19 has had on businesses in almost every sector. As a result, the majority (49.2%) of marketing professionals believe furlough or redundancy won’t have a long-term effect on their overall career goals, with those aged 18-24 the most laidback about consequences and over-55s the most concerned. However, a substantial number (30.9%) still believe these sorts of setbacks will have enduring negative effects.
Marketers still in employment have overwhelmingly confirmed that their teams have been streamlined since the onset of Covid-19, with most seeing structural reorganisation (46.3%), followed by merging with other departments (22.6%) and moving to squad based or agile working (15.8%). Changes like this could be for a number of reasons, including the prioritisation of digital platforms, smaller budgets or the rapid shift in customer demand (or a combination of all of these).
Digital marketing named in highest growth job categories of 2021 by LinkedIn
In its latest analysis of rising job categories in the UK, based on growth and size of demand, digital marketing, digital content and social media marketing have been placed among the top 15 of 2021 by LinkedIn.
Ranking below ecommerce and healthcare support staff, digital content freelancing came in at number 3, growing 118% in 2020 due to the number of UK workers turning to freelancing throughout the coronavirus outbreak. This includes skills such as podcasting, blogging and video editing, with the most common job title being Content Co-ordinator.
Meanwhile, social media and digital marketing was placed at number nine in the list, in the wake of an increase in online usage by consumers. Combined, these industries grew 52% last year, despite restrictions on marketing budgets. However, job titles like Growth Specialist also came to the fore as organisations looked to hiring roles that focused on low cost innovation. According to the data, this category attracted younger applicants, aged 28 on average, and the majority of roles were secured by females (68%).
Summarising its findings, LinkedIn said, “The past year has truly shown us how skills can be transferred into new career paths – we’ve seen Salespeople become Social Media Specialists, Research Instructors become Medical Writers, and Business Owners become Life Coaches.”
Google searches for digital marketing courses saw three-digit growth during lockdown
New data from SEMrush shows the number of global Google searches for the term ‘online digital marketing courses’ grew 110% (rounded) in the period February-July 2020 compared with numbers from August 2019-January 2020. The figure rises to 132% in the UK, suggesting a large proportion of the workforce in the sector were looking to improve their digital marketing skills over lockdown.
Queries for Google-run digital marketing courses (‘Google digital marketing course’) were particularly high in the UK compared with global averages, seeing 168% growth in the search term vs. 86% growth elsewhere. This could indicate UK marketers’ perception of Google as an expert authority and influence on the subject when matched against other training providers.
Demand for similar digital marketing courses was highest in Canada, Australia and the UK over this five-month period, while equivalent search queries in the US remained relatively low.
(See Econsultancy’s online digital marketing courses)
46% of UK marketers ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ worried for their jobs
Nearly half of UK marketers are worried for their jobs, according to a June 2020 survey conducted by YouGov. In a study of 1178 marketers, 16% said they were ‘very worried’ that they will lose their job as a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, while an additional 30% said they were ‘fairly worried’. Just 15% of marketers claimed they were ‘not at all worried’ about their job security, compared to 27% of other workers.
These figures are significantly higher than those from the rest of Britain’s general working population, of whom 10% and 21% are ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ worried about their job security, respectively.
So far, one quarter of marketers have been placed on furlough for at least part of the pandemic. While some have since returned, there continues to be heightened concern about financial security from employees in this industry. Sixty-two percent fear that their personal finances will be severely affected, in contrast to 46% of those in other sectors, as the UK economic outlook remains uncertain. Meanwhile, they are also more worried about being able to keep up with mortgage repayments than the rest of the UK workforce (38% vs 30%).
Large numbers of business leaders from YouGov’s wider B2B survey admitted that they had cut the budgets of their marketing functions, with more than a third claiming these cuts were severe. As a result, marketers appear to have felt the impact of Covid-19 – or believe they will feel it in the near future – more than most.
Retail & FMCG
UK retail sales growth slows to 3% in August 2021
UK retail sales grew a moderate 3% year-on-year in August 2021, down from 6.5% the month before, the latest statistics from the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor reveal. The clothing and accessories category reported positive sales during the course of the month, albeit from a much lower reference point than some other sectors.
Online sales dropped by 2.5% on the same period the year before, although penetration rates remained much higher than pre-pandemic levels, indicating ecommerce habits are becoming increasingly permanent among the consumer population.
Overall, it appears that the rate of retail recovery is slowing, which could be down to a number of reasons. This includes recent high rates of inflation, product shortages and limited availability, a lowering of pent-up demand post-lockdown, staffing pressures, and sustained hesitancy from consumers to shop in-store as cases rise once more.
Despite this, there is some hope for retailers as we enter the last quarter of 2021. Analysis indicates that brands are hopeful for the return of office workers to town and city centres throughout the autumn, which could provide a much-needed extra boost in sales. Christmas may also prove a success, given the savings that have been accrued by some consumers after more than a year of reduced spending.
Three-quarters of Gen Z shoppers believe it is still important for brands to have physical stores
Despite the recent ecommerce boom, three in five consumers still believe it is important for brands to have a physical, brick-and-mortar presence as well as an online presence, according to a Q2 2021 study of 2000 UK consumers conducted by Supercharged Commerce. This figure rises to three in four shoppers in the Gen Z cohort, and 70% of Millennial consumers, proving that an interest in in-store shopping among younger age groups is driving an omnichannel retail future.
The ability to conduct purchases solely online has unsurprisingly become more important to consumers during the course of the pandemic, however a further 25% said that being able to buy from physical stores had also become more important to them since the onset of Covid-19. This is likely due to consumers missing out on unique in-store experiences such as sampling and trying on beauty products and clothing before they buy. The survey also found that, while 70% of product discoveries now occur online, a notable proportion – 12% – still occur in brick-and-mortar retail locations.
Supporting independent retailers is also becoming more popular with shoppers as restrictions lift. Twenty-eight percent of consumers of all ages agreed that purchasing products from independent stores is more important than it was a year ago, and another third want to shop more locally. This data exhibits a huge shift in consumer consciousness as a result of the pandemic and its negative impact on smaller businesses.
Tim Edwards, founder of Supercharged Commerce, commented, “Although brands now need to adapt to the new ecommerce age, they must listen to the consumer demand for high-street stores by providing joined up, multi-channel shopping experiences – ‘experiences’ being the key word here.”
UK May 2021 footfall down 27.5% on pre-pandemic despite the reopening of hospitality
Data from Springboard, reported by the BBC, has found May 2021 footfall in the UK remained 27.5% down on the same month in 2019.
Experts believe this was largely down to record wet weather in May, although the reopening of indoor hospitality on the 17th did not appear to have much effect on the number of people returning to the high street. In fact, the gap between footfall widened as the month wore on, rising from 25.3% below May 2019 in the first full week to 26.8% in the final week.
Overall, high streets experienced the most severe drop in footfall across the entire month, declining 36.3% compared to May 2019, while shopping centres saw a 30.3% drop. As has been the trend throughout the pandemic, retail parks fared the best at a 5.7% decline.
More recent figures suggest footfall is in fact slowly rising again since warmer weather has arrived. Across all retail destinations, the sunny late May bank holiday weekend caused numbers to grow 25% on Sunday 30th and 16% on Monday 31st compared to the equivalent days during the previous week.
Online falls as a percentage of UK grocery sales in March as older shoppers return to stores
March 2021 saw the percentage of UK grocery sales carried out online diminish, due in part to older shoppers making fewer online orders and more trips to the supermarket, research by Kantar has revealed.
While online sales were still an impressive 89% higher than this time last year, online’s share of the grocery market declined from its record high of 15.4% in February 2021 to 14.5% in March. Some of this can be attributed to shoppers aged 65+, an age group that has now largely been vaccinated: in March, 143,000 fewer over-65s placed digital orders, and there was a 6.8% increase in over-65s making trips to brick and mortar outlets – more than double the national rate.
Overall, households reportedly made 13 million additional trips to the supermarket in March, and Kantar reports that while grocery spending as a whole is lower than it was in March last year (when supermarkets infamously faced dire shortages due to coronavirus-induced panic-buying), it is up 15.6% on the same period in 2019.
Online as a share of total retail in the UK reached 33.8% at its peak in 2020
The ONS has revealed that, online sales as a share of total retail (excluding fuel) reached 33.8% in May 2020. This figure dipped to 27.6% by September when non-essential brick-and-mortar shops had mostly resumed trading. Pre-Covid, February 2020 saw 20.1% of total retail transacted online.
Since local and national lockdowns began being reintroduced in Autumn 2020, online sales grew once again, up to 28.5% in October and 31.4% by end of November 2020.
Stats roundup: the impact of Covid-19 on ecommerce
UK footfall down 29% year-on-year as non-essential shops reopened after November lockdown
The Retail Gazette reports ShopperTrak’s findings that UK footfall on the first Saturday after England’s November lockdown was lifted (5th December 2020) was still down 29% year-on-year, even though week-on-week shopper traffic increased 193%.
Further data, this time from Springboard, indicates that footfall across all retail destinations in the first week after the November lockdown ended was 41.3% down on the same week in 2019, rising to a 51% drop on high streets and a 45.6% drop in shopping centres. However, the number of shoppers visiting dedicated retail parks declined by just 1.3% on last year.
72% of British shoppers think that retailers should offer more promotions in a time of financial uncertainty
Seventy-two percent of British shoppers think that retailers should offer more promotions in a time of financial uncertainty, such as the pandemic, according to a December 2020 report from XCCommerce, ‘Promotion at the speed of customer demand’.
The survey of 2000 consumers also revealed that more than half of consumers (56%) in the region believe it is the most important factor when they shop, rising to 70% among those aged between 18 and 24. A further thirty-two percent of respondents said they have been researching offers in 2020 more than they were last year.
With 60% of consumers spending less this year due to Covid related financial troubles, brands have to provide shoppers with smarter and more aggressive discounts to encourage them to part with their cash. It seems that customers are more likely to prefer immediate-term discounts than those that offer long term perks for their loyalty. The most popular form of discount cited by those surveyed was money off specific products (78%), followed by free shipping (55%) and multi-buy discounts (46%). However, access to members only discounts (15%), a subscription service offering money off future buys (10%) and access to exclusive content (9%) were ranked the least popular.
Despite a large appetite for discounted products, brands must be careful not to overdo promotional communications. Forty-four percent of customers say they resist the temptation to buy additional products recommended to them (e.g. ‘customers who bought this also bought’), while another 46% say that over-communication of current offers puts them off from making a purchase.
Grocery supermarkets are seen as the most generous discounters by consumers, and even more so in the eyes of the 55-64 year old age bracket. Meanwhile, just 8% believe fashion retailers offer the best promotions, increasing to 19% for 18-24 year olds.
UK October 2020 retail sales up 5.8% year-on-year as second lockdown loomed
ONS data found a 5.8% growth in the volume of retail sales in October 2020 compared to the same month a year before. Retail sales volume also increased by 1.2% on September, continuing the industry’s trend of steady recovery seen over the last six months.
These figures suggest UK consumers began their festive shopping much earlier than usual, spurred on by heavy discounting by retail stores and perhaps by rumours of an impending second lockdown in November.
Non-store sales volume rose month-on-month for the first time since June, and were 44.9% higher than in February, pre-Covid. Meanwhile, sales in sectors such as household goods, non-food, food stores and department stores all continued to recover above their equivalent February numbers, but at a much lower rate. Clothing, however, notably stayed lower than pre-Covid levels, hampered by tightening local lockdown measures on non-essential stores.
78.9% of clothing and 66.7% of department stores saw a decreased level of footfall during the two weeks from 5th October to 18th October 2020, resulting in the increase seen in online spending. Overall, online sales as a percentage of all retail reached 28.5% in October – an uplift of 4.7% month-on-month.
Asda gearing up for a “record online Christmas” as it publishes Q3 results
Asda reported that it is gearing up for a “record online Christmas” as it published its Q3 results for 2020, which included a 72% year-on-year increase in combined net sales for Asda.com and George.com.
Overall, Q3 like-for-like sales (excluding fuel) increased by 2.7% year-on-year, the supermarket chain reported, with growth driven by strong performance in grocery, back to school clothing and online shopping. Asda is already seeing a surge in demand for Christmas products and essentials, including Christmas trees, sales of which are up by 83% year-on-year; festive lights, which are up 57%; and Christmas puddings, which are up 71%. Sales of frozen turkey crowns, which serve three to four people, have also increased 230% year on year, indicating that consumers are planning for smaller gatherings during the festive period.
Asda is responding to the continued demand for online shopping by increasing the capacity of its grocery delivery service to 765,000 weekly slots. It has also expanded its delivery trial with Uber Eats from 50 stores to 100.
M&S posts a loss for the first time in 94 years
British retailer Marks and Spencer has posted a loss for the first time in 94 years. In the six months to the end of September, the company made a loss of £87.6 million versus a £158.8 million profit during the same period of 2019.
Sales fell 15.8% between March and September, mostly impacted by the lack of sales in its clothing and homeware departments. Even food sales struggled, seeing a 20% decline on budget during the four months to July, which hit overall annual revenue by £348 million. However, total food sales rose by a modest 2.7% overall during the full six-month period, boosted by the performance of its standalone Simply Food stores.
There was a slight rise (1.8%) in the number of clothing and homeware sales conducted via its ecommerce arm, but this was not enough to offset the losses from the prolonged closure of 600 of its brick-and-mortar shops in the first lockdown.
However, Ocado, the online grocery store which began delivering M&S produce in September 2020, reported a 47.9% sales growth in the six months to the end of August.
Footfall down 3.5% in shopping centres in week to October 17th 2020 as local lockdowns are enforced
The number of shoppers travelling to physical UK retail destinations has fallen for a fourth consecutive week, according to data from customer activity specialist Springboard, reported on by Reuters. Further local lockdown restrictions have been enforced to subdue a second wave of the coronavirus this coming winter, which in some cases includes closing pubs and restaurants in particularly badly-affected areas, providing consumers with even fewer reasons to visit town centres and shopping complexes.
In the week to the 17th October 2020, footfall on UK high streets and retail parks fell by 2.8% and 3% respectively on figures from the week before. However, it was shopping centres that fared the worst, seeing a 3.5% decline during this period.
Unsurprisingly, it was regions of the north that felt the biggest hit as restrictions became especially strict in areas like Manchester and Yorkshire. Footfall in many of these areas dipped by around 5% week-on-week. In total, the decline in shopper numbers across all retail destinations around the UK worsened to 32.3% year-on-year.
This comes alongside news that a record 11,000 UK shops have been permanently closed as a result of the ongoing pandemic so far this year.
80% of brands do not have a loyalty programme in their marketing strategy
Despite droves of online shoppers switching between brands this year, as many as 80% of organisations still do not have loyalty programmes integrated into their marketing strategies, October 2020 research from Dotdigital confirms.
A further 43% of companies with an ecommerce arm fail to collect enough key customer data, such as date of birth, to offer them crucial personalised messaging, while 40% admitted they don’t publish post-purchase reviews – a key purchase driver. An additional two-thirds of those surveyed failed to send editorial marketing communications, which help to highlight the value of a brand and its products.
Consequently, numerous companies are missing out on the opportunity to acquire repeat online business from these new customers, whether from lack of loyalty to a brand, irrelevant content or not enough social proof on display from past shoppers.
According to the data, 38% of consumers are keen to acquire brand credit with actions outside of buying products, for example writing reviews or interacting with social accounts. Interestingly, thirty-nine percent only consider themselves ‘loyal’ to a company after completing a fifth purchase, but with the majority of brands not making the effort to incentivise engagement, they have little reason to stick around.
Customer loyalty: “Rumours of my demise have been greatly exaggerated”
Tesco’s pre-tax profit surges 28.7% year-on-year
Tesco’s 2020/21 interim results released in October 2020 indicated a 28.7% year-on-year surge in pre-tax profits for the company in the 26 weeks to the end of August in what has been a landmark year for the grocery sector.
Food sales rose by 9.2%, but interest in its clothing line F&F fell, resulting in a 17.2% drop in sales for this category. Average basket size in large stores grew by 56%. Unsurprisingly, fuel sales fell by 42% on 2019 as the general public were encouraged to stay at home throughout national lockdown in spring and early summer. The brand also said it had so far spent £533 million on Covid-19 safety measures for its staff and customers throughout the pandemic.
Online delivery capacity doubled to 1.5 million weekly slots as a result of heightened demand at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK. It also revealed that it had served 674,000 vulnerable or shielding customers so far.
Meanwhile, operating profits fell by 15.6%, largely due to Tesco Bank which made a loss of £155 million during this period.
Tesco’s new Chief Executive, Ken Murphy said in a statement, “The first half of this year has tested our business in ways we had never imagined, and our colleagues have risen brilliantly to every challenge, acting in the best interests of our customers and local communities throughout.”
Tesco on experience and purpose during a pandemic
Ocado named 2020’s fastest-growing UK brand
BrandZ has named grocery chain Ocado as the UK’s fastest growing brand in its annual Top 75 Most Valuable Brands report.
The company jumped 16 places in the Top 75 list in 2020.
For more on coronavirus and marketing, visit Econsultancy’s coronavirus hub page.