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How to adapt your media strategy amid Covid-19

In this ever-changing global situation, it's difficult to know what your business's next move should be. Just one of the many dilemmas brands are facing right now is how best to adapt their media strategies - not only in the short term but also to succeed in the long term, post-Covid-19. Here, experts from global digital partner Jellyfish share their thoughts and advice on how brands can tackle this challenge.
Photo credit: Headway | Unsplash
Photo credit: Headway | Unsplash

Look for ways to pivot your strategy

According to Steve Mikellides, paid search director, now is the time to adapt media strategies to suit this new landscape – if you have the opportunity to. “From fashion brands prioritising their loungewear to department stores promoting pieces that’ll brighten up the home – by focusing your strategy on what will be most valuable to your customers right now, you’ll be better positioned to fulfil that demand.”

Equally, it’s not just about marketing to new customers. As Tania Barr, VP brand planning, explains: “Ideally, brands would use this time to consider fresh and relevant strategies to build goodwill with current customers – especially if you’re in a sector where prospecting doesn’t make much sense right now.”

If you are advertising, think about your messaging

It’s not hard to see the widespread impact Covid-19 is having across all markets and sectors. As Daniel Wilkinson, chief solutions officer – paid media, puts it: “For many brands, the impact on advertising is of far less concern than the wider economic and health challenges everyone is facing right now.” Mikellides agrees. “If brands simply aren't able to sustain their marketing at the moment, then reducing investment is the only option.”

But for the brands who can continue to advertise, Wilkinson recommends you think carefully about what messaging you use – taking inspiration from those who are already successfully listening and responding to the tone of the conversation. As he explains: “One positive thing we’re seeing at the moment is brands who are using their influence to spread important messages – Nike's ‘Play inside, play for the world’ slogan is a great example of this.”

So, how can businesses ensure they get the tone and sentiment right? In light of the current situation, Barr believes there are “a few important questions brands can ask themselves now, around both their commercial opportunities and their ability to contribute in a valuable, responsible way.” In doing this, she thinks brands can devise a “smart and sensitive marketing plan around targeting, media and messaging” that could ultimately help increase their connectedness to their audience.

Take the opportunity to assess your digital maturity

James Parker, chief solutions officer – data and planning, expects this situation will prompt some brands into recognising that they need digital transformation of some kind. As he explains: “I think now is the time for businesses to understand what their digital maturity is and where their gaps are, then get their data straight to help plug these gaps.”

Barr agrees. “Long term, everyone will need to embrace a more digital world – and, therefore, more digitally-mature media strategies will become the norm.”

Wilkinson believes now is also the time for businesses to review their media and advertising technology and see whether it’s set up in the most beneficial way. Echoing Parker and Barr, he says: “If they can, brands should take a step back, review their current practices and implement some of the digital transformation opportunities that have been on the back burner.”

Make the most of lower inventory costs

If you do continue running some of your media campaigns, Parker predicts you’ll probably notice some changes. “Because a large proportion of the digital inventory that’s available is auction-based and bought programmatically, supply and demand heavily influences the cost. Therefore, I expect we’ll see some media deflate as businesses turn off their spend because there’ll be more inventory and fewer bidders.”

Wilkinson agrees. “There are numerous reports of cheap media being available from publishers. If brands are in a fortunate enough position, they may be able to sign guaranteed future media deals now at a much better price than they would normally get.”

But Parker also predicts that for some businesses, the opportunity to run campaigns might still be impacted by Covid-19 – regardless of whether or not you have the budget. As he puts it: “In some sectors, inventory will disappear due to a lack in content creation and focus.”

Be ready to act when things do pick up

For those who can afford it, Parker’s advice is to have the media “switched on in a way that means when they see grass shoots, they can react quickly.” As he explains: “One way I think you’ll get a robust early warning signal that things are picking up is to have a small amount of PPC turned on. Then you’ll very quickly get consumers’ reactions to how they’re feeling.”

To give yourself the visibility you need to act, James recommends keeping brand, shopping and generic campaigns running – albeit on a smaller budget. “Instead of running just your brand campaigns and switching off the other two, I’d recommend spreading your spend across all three campaigns. That way, you’ll still have a full-funnel view of what’s going on, and can spot changes in consumer behaviour at every stage of it.”

And it’s not just about weathering the current storm. Barr believes businesses will need to appreciate the longer-term shifts too. “When brands begin to see an end to the current conditions, they may need to have bigger commercial conversations about whether business models have been fundamentally changed or just temporarily. For example, if a significant new base has discovered your online offering when your offline one had to close, should future growth strategies pivot there?”

Barr predicts that as we face a potential future of intermittent periods of isolation around the world, the need for businesses to pivot their thinking will go beyond just media decisions. “Brands might want to start considering how they can offer more flexibility and reassurance to consumers going forward – whether that’s better cancellation and postponement terms or faster delivery of physical products, for example.”

Finally, Mikellides hopes brands will appreciate the lasting impact Covid-19 may have on societal priorities and attitudes. “Moving forward, it will be beneficial for brands to think about how they should appeal to customers post-Covid-19. What’s going to matter to these consumers, that didn’t before? Getting this right could make all the difference to what success they see in the future.”

About Jellyfish

The Jellyfish Group is a digital partner to some of the world's leading brands, and reseller of Google digital marketing technology stack and services. The Jellyfish brand represents a new kind of digital business, where agency services are combined with consultancy, training and cutting-edge technologies to deliver the best possible outcomes for clients.

With offices in Durban, Johannesburg and 30 other countries around the world, Jellyfish aims to be the first-choice global partner for any brand’s digital requirements and offers services in strategy, paid media, programmatic display, social, SEO, analytics, UX, training and creative.


Jellyfish South Africa
With offices in Durban, Johannesburg and 30 other cities around the world, the Jellyfish Group aims to be the first-choice global partner for any brand's digital requirements. As one of a select few globally managed Google Marketing Partners, Jellyfish also offers services in Strategy, Paid Media, Programmatic Display, Social, SEO, Analytics, UX, Training and Creative.


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