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Jul 26

Maintaining an Effective Digital Advertising Presence During Economic Uncertainty

2023 has been an economic wild ride for almost every industry. The Fed continued to increase interest rates, Russia and Ukraine are still at war, and banking has been full of volatility. Almost every sector is directly impacted by this, and digital advertising is no different, as brands and agencies may be considering reducing their ad spend or pausing it altogether. 

Many brands have been tightening their approaches to stay afloat – and in a time of unpredictability, it’s common to see marketing budgets trimmed. That said, we’ve also seen the reverse, with many brands doubling down on ad spend or trying to keep things going at a steady rate. As we navigate the turbulence, what approach is best for the long run, and how can brands and agencies meet their goals in this current environment?

Stay The Road

Despite today’s business climate, there are plenty of reasons brands and agencies should continue their marketing initiatives. It’s not a far-fetched thought that new products will continue being developed and evolving offers will be available to consumers. If anything, it’s more important to relay your messages to key audiences but in ways that are reflective of the current social and economic situation. 

A report from NTC Publications found that marketers who increase spending during recessions or economically volatile periods reap large share-of-voice (SOV) and affinity rewards in the long run. By increasing spend by 48%, brands can double SOV gains compared to competitors who increase their spend modestly. 

These are massive insights – now, we’re not saying to dismiss your business’ financial standing or overextend when you really shouldn’t. But, it’s important not to jump to conclusions where marketing spend is axed out of the gate. By playing the mid- and long-game, your brand can secure a position at the front of the pack.

Insights, Strategy, and Messaging Considerations

Rather than start from a place of hindering constraint, consider a new marketing approach with fresh strategies and data-driven accountability – so you know every dollar spent goes as far as possible.

One of the first things we recommend to our clients is incorporating multi-touch attribution (MTA). This is a measurement technique that analyzes every touchpoint along the customer journey, helping brands and agencies understand which channels and approaches drive conversions. 

As an industry, we’ve all gotten used to the immediacy or quick reports the typical large ad platforms provide. While these are incredibly helpful, they showcase bottom-of-funnel metrics. MTA stands as one of the strongest tools in understanding both bottom-of-funnel and top-of-funnel tactics, which are typically a bit harder to track. 

Many ad platforms, CRM systems, and website analytics tools typically default their attribution model to last-click – or assign all credit to the final touchpoint before the intended action is taken. Typically tactics like Paid Search, Social, and Retargeting see the bulk of the last-click credit. But most people are exposed to a plethora of messages across channels and platforms, so assigning all credit to the last touchpoint doesn’t show the full story or highlight the role that awareness investments had in influencing action. 

Having a better understanding of each component of a campaign helps with realizing what messaging resonates – or doesn’t at all. By analyzing how campaigns perform in real time, you can lean in on what drives the best outcomes and adjust your investments and strategies accordingly. The key here is realizing how your audiences react to specific interactions based on the current environment. 

For example, a hospitality brand is looking to market vacations abroad. However, the recent rounds of layoffs across various industries might encourage many people to pause their ability to travel. With this in mind, the hospitality brand needs to adjust how they engage their audiences – in this case, they can evolve messaging to talk about unique or affordable activities and showcase how they can help come up with enjoyable experiences. Or, they can focus their marketing around social causes the company is passionate about – showcasing how they help make a positive impact on society. These interactions will pay dividends once the consumer lands that new job and is ready to invest in travel again. These broader and more supportive messages ensure the brand is top-of-mind for relevant consumers and help them have a better recollection of the services the travel company provides. Ultimately, it encourages the target consumers to revisit their services in the future.

Another opportunity is to paint a picture of your brand’s ethos through your messaging and creative assets during times of uncertainty. For example, a restaurant brand could develop an ad campaign around a cause they care about. While these initiatives don’t drive immediate conversations – that’s okay. In moments where consumer spending is down, focusing on broader social good or supportive messages demonstrate how companies can play a role in benefitting the world around them. A second-tier benefit is staying top-of-mind when consumers regain confidence in spending. 

Even through times of economic uncertainty, agencies and brands need to consider marching forward confidently with their marketing initiatives. Doing so helps secure new levels of share-of-voice and brand affinity and also provides them an opportunity to showcase unique aspects of their mission. By using insightful analytics solutions like multi-touch attribution, they can also ensure more top-of-funnel strategies track toward key goals and long-term returns. 

Katie Harker is Choozle’s VP Media and Operations. An experienced media planner and buyer, solver of problems, and driver of results, Katie works closely with client’s media execution and emerging opportunities at Choozle. When she’s not at work, you can find her skiing, playing tennis or volleyball, and uncorking a bottle of wine.

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