Retail Prepares for a Covid-Inflected Holiday Season

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the shift from brick-and-mortar commerce to digital transactions. It has also forced brick-and-mortars resisting the hybridization of their own businesses to adopt digital methods, turning restaurants and apparel stores alike into both brick-and-mortar establishments and online sellers.

Against that backdrop, retail’s biggest quarter will present novel challenges this year. Retailers will need to optimize for online transactions and contend with fragmented national and global landscapes where it may be safe to go to stores in New York but not in Los Angeles.

Coronavirus Boosts OTT Viewership and Opens New TV Ad Opportunities

To be sure, kids are not the only ones spending more time staring at the TV screen. The coronavirus has catalyzed a golden age for TV viewership and non-traditional formats such as over-the-top viewing in particular, said Sean Buckley, COO of global video advertising platform SpotX.

SpotX announced a strategic investment in CTV and OTT-focused ad serving platform SpringServe Monday. I checked in with Buckley to find out how the partnership will benefit both companies and how the coronavirus year has affected TV viewership as well as video advertising.

Brand Safety During Rapidly Changing Times

Our country has gone through several critical moments in recent history, navigating our way through a pandemic and undergoing a racial and cultural revolution. We’re seeing support from individuals and organizations large and small, but we’re also starting to see some tone-deaf content or misaligned messages as well. With everything going on, brand marketers need to be present and smart in regard to where their messages go and what they’re saying.

Local Businesses Face Negative Reviews Due to Coronavirus Safety Requirements

Google has taken several important measures to assist businesses during the pandemic, but none so far can prevent customers angry about coronavirus-related restrictions from lashing out at businesses attempting to follow public health best practices or the letter of the local law. “The review space has never been harder than right now,” wrote GatherUp co-founder and reputation management expert Mike Blumenthal.

But there are also possible strategies for survival.

Influencer Marketing Stands Out during Pandemic

Covid-19 is capable of producing a special kind of advertising fatigue in which consumers tire of receiving a maelstrom of indistinguishable messages from brands: This is an especially uncertain time. Here are the precautions we’re taking. This is what we’re doing to help out.

It’s not that these messages aren’t necessary, especially as they relate to safety precautions. The fatigue comes from the unrelenting sameness and impersonal character of the content. That’s where influencer marketers can prove to be a brand’s special weapon, and a new report by influencer marketing platform Linqia suggests marketers are capitalizing on the channel.

The Video Ad Market’s Challenges and Future

Short-form video platform Quibi drew a slew of mainstream headlines beyond advertising trade publications for far underperforming expectations. The platform’s execs blamed its relative failure on coronavirus. 

While coronavirus alone may not explain the fate of Quibi, the virus and related drops in economic and social activity have left the video ad market in a paradoxical state. Viewership is up; ad demand is down. To explain the state of the market and where it’s headed, Tal Chalozin, CTO and co-founder of video ad platform Innovid, spoke to Street Fight.

How Video Can Significantly Boost Your Covid-19 Marketing Strategies

While many companies focus on the power of digital technology as a replacement for face-to-face events, there is an unparalleled opportunity for businesses to use video as a means to engage, communicate with, and retain customers during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Here are a few ways to integrate video into your marketing campaign.

States are Reopening. It’s Time to Start Thinking About OOH Again.

Ultimately, we know that people will go back outside. And they’ve already done so, with the average distance traveled amongst Americans up at least 28% since the first week of April, according to Geopath and Intermx. With more consumers back out on the roads, OOH will rebound to “become more valuable than ever.” Now is the time for agencies and brands to get ahead of competitors, revisit their OOH strategies, and smartly phase them back into plans.

Here are five things to consider.

The Changes Mobile Publishers Must Make during the Economic Recovery

As we modify stay-at-home orders, the news is mixed for mobile publishers. Content consumption during quarantine rose as much as 80%. But advertising has suffered — 38% of advertisers halted all advertising, while 45% paused mid-campaign. It’s an ugly paradox — consumers value their mobile devices more than ever, but publishers are struggling to monetize that value.

Here’s how mobile publishers should prepare for the uncertain road ahead.

MarTech Firms Pivot to Meet Post-Pandemic Demands

The marketing automation company Act-On Software is relaunching today with an affordable solution for companies that are bogged down by budget cuts and lay-offs due to Covid-19 shutdowns, but they’re not the only company making big changes.

In fact, Act-On is just one of a number of martech firms gunning to help businesses as they emerge from Covid-19 shutdowns. Jungle Scout has released a solution for brands leveraging the power of Amazon, Agora.io is expanding its reseller partnerships, and BounceX is using SMS to help retailers recover revenue lost because of Covid-19. Act-On is refining its approach to marketing automation, with new product capabilities meant to drive personal product engagement and a tighter focus on helping marketers evolve their businesses.

With Covid Insights Tracker, GroundTruth Looks to Democratize Location Data

GroundTruth’s new Covid-19 Insights tracker gives brands a way to track foot traffic down to the zip code level. The tracker is updated weekly, with the ability to search for daily foot traffic across a number of categories, like auto dealers, banks, restaurants, and retail.

Data comes from the 30 billion annual global visits GroundTruth observes on its platform. The company uses indexed foot traffic to demonstrate the relative increase or decrease in visits to different places of interest, with weekly and daily charts depicting foot traffic indexed against average weekly/daily visits starting from December 30, 2019.

The Impact of Covid-19 on Local Search for Healthcare

On March 20, the Google My Business team announced they would disable reviews and Q&A (since restored) in order to conserve human and machine bandwidth for critical updates. New listing creation and verification was also temporarily disabled. Google made these moves, in large part, in order to ensure that listings in critical categories, especially healthcare, would remain up to date.

The Google My Business product team also rushed to create new features in response to the crisis, such as a “temporarily closed” flag in the GMB dashboard and prominent attributes showcasing the availability of services like pickup and delivery. Healthcare was a primary focus in this phase of new feature development, which is still ongoing.

As Retail Reopens, Voice Tech Takes Center Stage

Voice technology has been on the verge of going mainstream for nearly a decade. Despite big players like Amazon and Google launching their own smart speakers, and millions of consumers using the devices in their homes, investors in the voice technology space have been patiently waiting for the spark that would set off a new touchless world.

That spark is Covid-19.

Social Conversion Rates Climb During Covid-19

Covid-19 has changed the social media playbook, but brands who’ve been quick to adjust are seeing social conversion rates continuing to climb.

In an analysis of data pulled from more than 120 retail websites, the digital experience solutions company Episerver found that social conversion rates have increased steadily during Covid-19 shutdowns, from 1% in April 2019 to 1.2% in April 2020.

The Importance Of Marketing Localization During Times Of Disruption

In 2020, organization and transparency will be key for retail marketers. In the short term, retailers must identify and optimize existing technologies to stay afloat. In the longer term, the focus should be on evolving shopping behavior and enabling transformation through technology. Knowing that Q3 will be a critical quarter for retailers as Covid-19 lockdown policies begin to lift, retailers must plan their comebacks now, and that begins with a strong digital approach. 

Covid-19: How Brands Can Adapt to a Shifting Landscape and Changing Consumer Behaviors

All generations, especially more technically adverse baby boomers and those older, have tried out delivery apps such as GrubHub or UberEats to get their favorite restaurant food delivered and grocery apps to have food and household items safely delivered. These newly formed habits may not be as intensive when we return to our “new normal,” but the depth and breadth of social media and digital usage will stay. Consumers aren’t going to uninstall Instacart after social distancing is lifted if they’re now accustomed to the convenience of ordering groceries online. That leap has been made, and while they may not use it every time they shop, consumers will continue to use it, when needed. 

With all these changes, it’s important for brands to shift their social media strategy to meet the demands of consumers and connect with them in the channels they now frequent more often. Here are some of the key shifts to keep in mind.

mobile notifications

Brands Are Pushing More Notifications During Covid-19. Here’s Why

According to a benchmark study of more than two billion app installs, recently released by the notifications and customer engagement platform Airship, users are quicker to click on notifications now than before the pandemic began. Thirty-two percent of website visits by opt-in users in March were from direct opens of web notifications, as direct open rates for mobile app push notifications reached their absolute-highest average rate in more than four years.

Location Data Companies Rise to the Challenge of Covid-19

The location data market has responded to many external pressures in recent years. Guided by new privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA as well as operating system updates by Apple and Android, the industry has put the consumer back at the center. The old days of capturing data and selling to ad tech firms without permission are over.

These shifts are good news for society. But they are also good news for the location industry, which has pivoted to thrive in this new world where squeezed supply impacts the quality of location data.

Now, Covid-19 has presented a new challenge, with movement data restricted to unprecedented levels. So, how are location data companies responding to the crisis?

Essential Business Foot Traffic: U.S. Grocery Store Trends

This article takes an up-close look at foot traffic to what may be the most critical of essential businesses: grocery stores. 

Grocery stores are crucial during the quarantine and will remain so as areas of the retail economy reopen and as we enter into a recovery period. According to the National Grocers Association, grocers are especially adept at making and executing contingency plans in the event a disaster strikes. This involves coordination with myriad producers, distributors, and wholesalers throughout the supply chain. It is no small task keeping eggs, milk, butter, and bread in stock and on the shelves of your local supermarket.

GMB Insights Reveal Pandemic Search Trends for Multi-Location Brands

Given the dominance of Google as a tool for local search, and given the fact that Google provides a richer set of search and engagement metrics for each of its business profiles than any other publisher, we thought it would be worthwhile to examine Google My Business data as an indicator of consumer search trends during the time of the pandemic.

The verticals that are booming in the pandemic period, with major gains in overall GMB activity, include pharmacies, banking and finance, hardware and home improvement, general retail, gas and convenience, and grocery. Those whose struggles are borne out by significant GMB activity decreases include restaurants and eateries, branded retail, and hotels and accommodations.