Coronavirus Pandemic Impact On Ad Spend And Earned Media Values

Stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, people have been forced to live life online, resulting in a counterintuitive effect: a surge in social media usage but a drop in ad demand, inventory pricing and earned media values (EMV). 

Preview data from the upcoming Ayzenberg Earned Media Value Index (a.EMVI) indicates significant pandemic-related decreases across all measured platforms, in the 18-40 percent range for key metrics including VPM (value per thousand impressions), VPV (value per view) and value for various engagements (comments, likes and shares). 

According to Vincent Juarez, Ayzenberg CMO and a.EMVI author, the trend was first identified in preliminary analysis of the healthcare, gaming and consumer electronics verticals. The trend is expected to carry over to the retail, automotive, travel and other key verticals his team is currently evaluating.

Depending on the specific industry vertical, earned media actions and actual social content engagements could be higher than ever, especially with content related to the current pandemic. However, values are down because paid social inventory is more readily available in the auction-based pricing system. “It’s basic economics: An over-supply of inventory, coupled with a drastic drop in marketing budgets and inventory demand, made the price drop inevitable,” Juarez tells us. 

Given the pandemic’s volatility, Ayzenberg’s findings could shift in the coming weeks. What isn’t changing is the rate at which brands are slashing ad budgets, thereby further affecting EMV. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, eMarketer lowered its 2020 global ad spend forecast from $712 billion to $691.7 billion. On earnings calls, brands across many different sectors have called out reductions in marketing spend while others implied marketing budgets will remain unchanged. Uber, for example, said in a period of just two weeks it will have pulled back $150 million in incentives and marketing. In addition to pausing all hiring, Zillow has paused most marketing spend. Darden Restaurants, Marriott and Williams-Sonoma have also dramatically reduced ad spend. 

On the other hand, Slack will continue running ad programs and marketing programs while General Mills’ cited brand building as a long-term investment with plans to continue building its brand “in appropriate ways.”

Social media usage is soaring as people seek out ways to stay connected. New data from Kantar revealed WhatsApp saw a 40 percent increase in usage. The Facebook-owned app has grown by 51 percent in countries already in the later phase of the coronavirus crisis. 

Still, the rise in social media usage has been offset by a decline in EMV on top paid platforms like Facebook and Instagram, in part due to platforms giving users more control over ads. For example, Facebook rolled out tools to allow users to stop seeing ads based on advertisers’ Custom Audiences. It also introduced a new tool that let users reduce the number of political and social issue ads they see. The platform decided against ads in WhatsApp Status, the app’s version of Instagram and Facebook stories.

“We’re seeing that values are going down on some channels because advertisers are pulling out and saving their money. But usage of these platforms is up significantly. That’s why you’ll see depressed ad spend in most of the social platforms’ forecasts,” Ayzenberg associate director of marketing science Piotr Urbanski tells us.

According to an Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) survey of US media planners, buyers and brands, digital ad spending in the US is projected to drop by 33 percent between March and June. While travel and leisure, experiential and the automotive industries grapple with the financial burden from coronavirus, gaming is seeing newfound growth. For March Twitch reported a 20 percent boost in traffic, or 1.1 billion hours watched. Consumers’ natural propensity to start gaming has led some marketers to cut advertising.

“The increased demand for home-based entertainment, streaming, connected TV services and gaming are ‘givens.’ What isn’t a given is how marketers in verticals such as gaming are going to react. Will they increase ad budgets to chase demand or cut back and rely on organic demand, owned channels and earned media to further justify budget cuts?  It’s a fine line based on survival vs. being overly opportunistic and risking backlash during this unprecedented social crisis,” Juarez says.  

Ayzenberg is currently updating the a.EMVI to reflect changes in Q2 2020 with the coronavirus pandemic in mind.

Created in 2016, the a.EMVI provides marketers with an industry-standard resource for valuing engagement and earned media on top social platforms.

If you’re interested in seeing how your social campaigns stack up, developed the Social Index tool with the goal of becoming the industry standard for measuring earned media value (EMV) and campaign ROI. 

Social Index 2.0 leverages a combination of expert analysis, machine learning algorithms and vast amounts of proprietary and public data. The index helps brands and agencies take engagement and earned media ROI measurement to the next level.

For more information:

What We’re Reading–Week Of April 6th

Our weekly roundup is complete. Here are the most pressing marketing insights from this week.

Marketing Teams Are Finding Out What Their Martech Can Do Right Now
Marketing Land

Simplifying is the byword here. TapClicks SVP of marketing Daryl McNutt is interviewed about how to maximize the tools and platforms your teams already have in use without adding more processes.

Why it matters: As budgets tighten and teams are divided into home offices due to social distancing guidelines, leaders need to find efficiencies and drill into reporting to navigate this crisis.

How To Manage Your Stress When The Sky Is Falling

Harvard Business Review

Remember to breathe, connect with others and find purpose during times of extreme stress. It helps.

Why it matters: Perennial advice that we should embrace, especially after the coronavirus pandemic subsides.

Teen Spending Hits Lowest Point In Nearly A Decade As Coronavirus Concerns Grow
Marketing Dive

A dive into the latest semi-annual survey on Gen Z habits from Piper Sandler.

Why it matters: “Nearly half (47%) of Gen Zers said they believe the economy is getting worse, and the coronavirus ranked as No. 2 among the group’s top social and political concerns of the moment, falling only behind the environment.”

How Marketers Grapple With Shrinking Budgets Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Marketers are dealing with the limitations of short-term planning due to the inability to focus on more than a month or two ahead.

Why it matters: CEOs, CFOs and chief media officers are finding their roles changed in light of shrinking budgets.

VSCO CMO Shares The Keys To Building Iconic Brands

VISCO CMO Tesa Aragones shares her experiences building iconic global brands such as Nike, Volkswagen, Apple and Bacardi.

Why it matters: Tesa shares insights on the importance of brand values and a full-funnel marketing approach, as well as her career trajectory and time spent at major global brands.

Everything Will Change Forever After Coronavirus…Won’t It?

Marketing Week

Some marketers thrive off the biased belief that the coronavirus pandemic could forever dramatically change the future but in reality, “the only thing that is going to really change dramatically after coronavirus is the number of columns from hacks predicting everything is going to change.”

Why it matters: Marketers should approach consumer sentiments carefully, avoiding surveys that ask them what they will do in the future if certain things happen as a result of the pandemic.

How The Travel Industry Can Recover Through Marketing 


Coronavirus-related travel losses will amount to a $910 billion hit to the US economy, according to the US Travel Association. 

Why it matters: CEO of travel marketing firm MMGY Global Clayton Reid says travel brands should use this time to engage their best customers and grow brand awareness.

How To Keep Your Team Motivated, Remotely

Harvard Business Review

An HBR survey of 20,000 workers worldwide and 50 major companies found that between teleworking or working in the office, working from home was less motivating. When people had no choice in where they worked, total motivation dropped 17 points.

Why it matters: During crises, people tend to focus on tactical work rather than adapting to solve more important problems. Leaders should give employees opportunities to work on challenging issues. Teleworking weekly routines should include both tactical work and adaptive performance.

The Consumer After COVID-19

Marketing Dive 

Retailers are uncertain how the pandemic will change consumers’ attitudes about in-store shopping. 

Why it matters: Retailers will have to figure out how to express a sense of structure and calm in their stores after the coronavirus pandemic.

Communicating In A Pandemic: Andrew Cuomo’s Keys To Success

Provoke Media

Andrew Cuomo has maintained constant, simple communication with the public about the coronavirus.

Why it matters: What makes Cuomo’s communication so effective is that it’s filled with data, practical examples, sincerity, empathy and timeliness. 

Doing Their Bit In A Crisis: Mondelez, Co-op, Bacardi, John Lewis

Campaign Live UK

Amid the coronavirus crisis Mondelez has repurposed its 3D-printing-technology to create medical visors for the National Health Service; Bacardi committed £1.5 million to an initiative called #RaiseYourSpirits supporting independent bars and bartenders by letting them serve customers via delivery; Co-op pulled its Easter ad campaign and instead donated £2.5 million worth of airtime to promote hunger and food waste charity FareShare’s work; John Lewis Partnership is designing and installing an area in the NHS Nightingale Hospital in London where medical staff and volunteers can unwind in between treating coronavirus patients.

Why it matters: According to recent data from GlobalWebIndex, only 37 percent of consumers want brands to continue to advertise as normal. 

Dove Puts New Face On ‘Real Beauty’ In Salute To Health Workers


Dove’s new ad campaign features healthcare workers’ faces marked by their protective gear amid coronavirus. The ad broke initially in Canada and the US and will be followed by ads customized for other countries with local photos. The US version of the ad includes a tagline noting Dove’s donation to Direct Relief.Why it matters: Proving its agility, Dove pulled its current ads for their lack of relevance. The brand still champions tackling beauty self-esteem issues but it’s adapting workshops which were originally created for schools and public organizations for home use.

How Top Marketers Are Navigating Advertising And Management During COVID-19


In response to COVID-19, Postmates launched a new campaign called #OrderLocal featuring celebrities praising their favorite restaurants, Talkspace launched a 16-day program in addition to its usual subscription service that helps people deal with coronavirus concerns and Bud Light created a new concert series and tracker for which restaurants and bars have take-out service.

Why it matters: How brands strike the right tone with ads and marketing efforts amid coronavirus will determine how consumers view them in the long-term.

How To Establish Marketing Authority In A Niche Industry


To establish authority within the digital marketing sphere, companies must choose a niche industry that’s booming and requires services, stick with the chosen niche, do more than clients expect and track data on services they’ve provided them.

Why it matters: Focusing on a single market builds a company’s credibility thereby allowing it to scale to other related niches. 

Companies Can’t Ignore Shifting Gender Norms

Harvard Business Review

Over 12 percent of US millennials identify as transgender or gender non-conforming and 56 percent of Gen Z know someone who uses a gender neutral pronoun.

Why it matters: Acknowledging new perceptions about gender will allow a company to create products and experiences for a growing body of consumers that don’t believe in traditional conceptions of gender.

Don’t Panic—Adapt To Strengthen Your Brand For A Recession


Many brands are exhibiting short-term reactionary behaviors in response to the coronavirus pandemic: reduced marketing budgets, furloughing marketing teams and going dark on advertising. 

Why it matters: According to intelligence from Analytics Partners’ ROI Genome, in over 100 cases, more than half of brands saw improvements in ROI during the last recession; brands that increased media investment saw about a 17 percent growth in incremental sales; brands that removed media investment suffered an 18 percent loss in incremental sales; and two-thirds of losses in incremental sales during the last recession were driven by lower investments while one-third was driven by lower consumer demand.

With In-Person Shoots Out Of The Question, Advertisers Turn To CGI


Due to the coronavirus, advertisers are pausing in-person commercial shoots and turning to production companies with computer-generated imagery, visual-effects and animated capabilities to complete campaigns already in progress or create entirely new campaigns.

Why it matters: A surge in demand has led some CGI production companies to put on workshops to guide clients through the number of options available to them for creating campaigns remotely.

Facebook In The Age Of COVID-19: Users Are Online, But Will Advertisers Pay To Get To Them?

“While usage has skyrocketed in countries hardest hit by COVID-19, those same countries will contribute to an online-advertising pullback that undercuts results.”

Why it matters: “Facebook has especially felt the pinch on cost-per-click (CPC), the amount an advertiser pays a publisher for every click on an ad and a key determinant in how much Facebook charges brands to show their ads on Facebook’s digital properties.”

Marketing Ventriloquism: Lessons Marketers Can Learn From Political Advertising
Ad Age

Three ways marketers can shape their brand’s narrative, beyond traditional advertising, to master marketing ventriloquism.”

Why it matters: “Marketing ventriloquism,” in short, is characterized by the author as “communicating through voices other than their own.” Brands can take a lesson from political advertisers who employ newsjacking, crisis communications and endorsements. 

Comms In The Age Of Coronavirus: When To Stick With The Plan … And When To Chuck It

Know when to pause the product launches and pivot your comms plan. As in, right now if you haven’t yet.

Why it matters: Unless your communications are finely tuned to the current crisis, you may need to scrap them. Brands that don’t may seem tone-deaf at best.

What Nearly Every Leader Forgets To Say During A Crisis

Leadership is more than setting the big vision, especially in times like this.

Why it matters: Don’t forget to armor your teams with a plan forward, not just platitudes.

Brand Marketing Through the Coronavirus Crisis
Harvard Business Review

A handful of Important tips that can inform brands on the actions they need to take to “serve and grow their customer base, mitigate risk, and take care of their people.”

Why it matters: Sensitivities are raised during times like this and we’re likely to see longstanding behavioral changes due to the nature of the pandemic. Proceeding with an abundance of care and empathy and planning for what’s next should be front and center for brands right now.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly reading list is updated daily. This installment is updated until Friday, April 10. Have a tip? We’re looking for must-read articles related to trends and insights in marketing and media. Let us know at

Byrider Selects Walter Scott As New Chief Marketing Officer

This week in marketing leadership moves, Byrider names a new CMO from Advance Auto Parts, Tim Hortons hires Jason Cassidy as head of marketing strategy, Zoom brings on Alex Stamos as an adviser for its new security board and L’Oréal promotes Shelly Chiang to CMO.

Byrider Names New Chief Marketing Officer

Byrider, a buy-here, pay-here dealership franchise company, has picked Walter Scott as their new chief marketing officer.

Scott has an extensive background at Advance Auto Parts where he most recently served as SVP of professional marketing and solutions as well as CMO. In the chief marketing officer role, he led the retail consumer experience and professional marketing for Advance and Carquest brands, according to his LinkedIn.

Jason Cassidy Is Appointed Tim Hortons Head Of Marketing Strategy

According to Strategy, Jason Cassidy is joining the Tim Hortons team as head of marketing strategy and category management. Cassidy will oversee the company’s Canadian strategic development and 12 people across the business’s category management, calendar lead and consumer insight teams.

Previously, Cassidy served as director of marketing for KFC Canada and held a similar leading marketing role at Pizza Hut Canada.

Zoom Hires Former Facebook Security Chief Alex Stamos As Adviser

According to Reuters, Zoom is bringing on former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos as an adviser. Stamos will be a member of Zoom’s new advisory board which aims to tighten the app’s privacy and security measures, for which it has received widespread criticism recently.

The board, which includes executives from Netflix, Uber, VMware and Electronic Arts, will advise Zoom CEO Eric Yuan on privacy issues.

L’Oréal Promotes Shelly Chiang To CMO Role For APAC

Marketing Interactive shares news about Shelly Chiang’s upward movement at L’Oréal Asia Pacific, noting that the 16-year veteran of the personal care brand is taking on the role of chief marketing officer.

Previously digital director for the APAC region, Chiang is replacing Daniel Chan who is vacating the role after three years.

Virgin Fest Appoints Former EDC Marketer As CMO

According to Variety, Virgin Fest has named Steve Levy CMO, making him the sales and marketing lead for the brand’s live event portfolio including Virgin Fest and Kaaboo. Virgin Fest is scheduled for June 6 and 7 at Los Angeles’ Banc of California Stadium + Expositions Park.

Levy was previously head of marketing and digital for the Electric Daisy Carnival since 2017.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly careers post is updated daily. This installment is updated until Friday, April 10. Have a new hire tip? We’re looking for senior executive role changes in marketing and media. Let us know at

Job Vacancies 

Chief Marketing OfficerMotorolaChicago, Illinois
VP, Marketing SoundtracksDisney Music GroupBurbank, CA
Head Of MarketingAspyr Media, Inc.  Austin, TX
Chief Marketing OfficerNew York Public Radio New York City, NY
SVP, Marketing And CommunicationsPBS SoCal  Burbank, CA

Make sure to check out select job vacancies on our Careers page.

YouTube Lifts Monetization Ban On Coronavirus Content

This week in social media news, YouTube officially lifts their ban on COVID-19 content, TikTok shares their relief efforts, Pinterest releases new ways to shop and highlights small businesses in the process and Twitter begins to allow some brands to reference COVID-19 in ads.

YouTube Ends Monetization Ban On COVID-19 Content

According to an update from Search Engine Journal, YouTube’s recently published help document authorizes content that references or features COVID-19 for monetization, so long as it upholds “Advertiser-friendly and Community Guidelines.”

Why it matters: While the monetization ban had already been lifted or select channels, the change has now been rolled out throughout the platform.

The details: While YouTube is opening up monetization for ads featuring COVID-19 mentions, there are still conditions that could lead to ads still being ‘out of bounds’ for the platform. Namely, the ban still affects content deemed distressing, misinformative or featuring a prank/challenge related to the pandemic.

TikTok Pledges $250M For Critical Coronavirus Relief

A press release from TikTok outlines the nascent platform’s COVID-19 relief efforts.

Why it matters: As outlined in the press release, TikTok’s president echoed the fact that these are challenging times for everyone. “Alongside businesses, governments, NGOs, and ordinary people across the globe stepping up in this critical moment, we are committed to offering the very best that we can to help out humanity.”

The details: Alex Zhu, President of TikTok, outlined the pandemic relief efforts the platform is involved in, including donations to the TikTok Health Heroes Relief Fund, TikTok Community Relief Fund and the TikTok Creative Learning Fund. In addition, the platform is helping SMBs restart and rebuild with an allotment of $100M in ad credits.

Twitter Removes Users’ Ability To Control Mobile App Ad Data

Twitter is making updates to its data sharing policy to utilize information such as in-app ads and unique IDs of devices.

Why it matters: The update will improve Twitter’s usage tracking issues and problems with its Mobile Application Promotion (MAP) framework, which, according to The Verge, recently led to a huge miss in earnings.

The details: As Twitter notes: “Twitter shares certain non-public personal information with certain digital advertising platforms to help measure and optimize the effectiveness of our efforts to market Twitter on those platforms. […] These advertising platform partners act as data controllers for this information.” Twitter shares this information with Facebook and Google. What users will be able to control is whether to share non-pubic data to improve Twitter’s marketing activities. 

Facebook’s Ad Review System Fails To Spot Coronavirus Misinformation

Consumer Reports tested Facebook’s ad review system by setting up a made-up organization and creating ads containing misinformation about the coronavirus. Facebook, failing to notice any violations, approved all the ads.

Why it matters: Though Consumer Reports pulled the ads before they were published, the test exposes holes in Facebook’s artificial intelligence-enabled ad review process to prevent misleading claims during coronavirus. 

The details: In March, as a result of the crisis, Facebook announced it was sending all global content reviewers home with the intention of relying on automated review systems.

Instagram Rolls Out Desktop Direct Message To Some Users

According to Business Insider, many users are starting to notice Instagram direct message on desktop after Instagram announced it was testing the feature in January. 

Why it matters: The ability to direct message on Instagram will be particularly useful for brands looking to stay connected with customers amid coronavirus.

The details: Many users have taken to Twitter to share the discovery of having access to Instagram direct message on desktop. Instagram confirmed to Business Insider the feature isn’t available to the entire global community but that it’s working on it.

Facebook Gaming Launches Tournaments Feature 

Facebook has released a tournaments feature that lets gamers create brackets, manage participants and organize tournaments.

Why it matters: Head engineer of Facebook gaming Mina Abouseif says Facebook noticed many users were using Facebook events, pages and groups to promote gaming tournaments but the “landscape was very fragmented.” After the pandemic made it apparent that tournament organizers were shifting online, Facebook decided to release the feature early.

The details: With the new feature anyone can organize or play a tournament while simultaneously watching the game. Facebook built fundraising tools into gaming videos to allow creators to support charitable causes. Tournament organizers are required to coordinate matches in a game and report the results of the match.

Facebook Releases New Messaging App For Couples Called Tuned

Called Tuned, Facebook’s new app for couples comes from its small team established last year, New Product Experimentation (NPE), which creates new social media products from scratch, as reported by The Information.

Why it matters: Tuned is the fifth app from the NPE team since it was formed in July 2019. Other apps from NPE include Hobbi, a Pinterest-like app for collecting images of creating hobbies; Whale, a meme making app; AUX, an app where users try to get their song on a group playlist; and Bump, a chat app for connecting nearby students with each other.

The details: On the app store, Tuned is described as such: “With Tuned, you can be as mushy, quirky, and silly as you are together in person, even when you’re apart. Creatively express your love, share your mood, exchange music, and build a digital scrapbook of your special moments.”

This week in social media news, Pinterest releases new ways to shop and highlights small businesses in the process, Twitter begins to allow some brands to reference COVID-19 in ads and Snapchat adds an AR donation tool for coronavirus relief.

Pinterest Adds “Shop” Functionality To Search To Highlight Small Businesses

Pinterest added functionality so Pinners can shop directly from Pins, on boards, from search and through new browsable recommendations, according to their latest press release.

Why it matters: Pinterest released insights noting that “7% of top searches [on the platform] are unbranded, meaning people come to Pinterest to shop for generic terms and not specific brands, leveling the playing field for businesses of all sizes to be discovered.”

The details: Pinners are now able to shop directly from a board, search and pins while also providing a blue check mark to denote trusted partners on the platform.

Snapchat Launches AR Donation Tool For COVID-19

Snapchat launched its first AR donation tool today to encourage support for COVID-19 relief.

Why it matters: Snap Inc.’s director of creative strategy, Jeff Miller, puts it like this: “Over three quarters of our Snapchatters engage with AR each day, so we built a global experience based on this behavior to draw the connection between loose bills and real change.”

The details: Snapchat is now allowing users to use the app’s AR camera technology to scan 23 international currency notes across 33 countries, which then triggers an AR visualization of ways their donations can support the World Health Organization.

Twitter Loosens Ban On Coronavirus Ads

Twitter is now allowing some brands to mention COVID-19 in their ads, a move that revises the platform’s stance on blocking all mentions of the virus within promoted tweets.

Why it matters: Brands that need to deliver crisis communications through Twitter can now breathe a little easier if their content meets Twitter’s qualifications.

The details: Twitter will allow ads mentioning COVID-19 if they are related to “adjustments to business practices and/or models in response to COVID-19,” as well as “support for customers and employees related to COVID-19.”

Pinterest Releases Monthly Trends Report

Brands have been requesting information on how people are using Pinterest during coronavirus so Pinterest adapted its monthly trend report to focus on “Pinners’ needs during this crisis.”

Why it matters: With rampant layoffs and business closures, brands are in need of ways to connect with their consumers. Pinterest’s trend report could help brands tailor content to what Pinners want to see and shop.

The details: Pinterest released its top searches across its global audiences with numbers calculated from search activity over the last few weeks. Searches for home bodyweight workouts are up 205 percent, self care at home saw a 332 percent increase, work from home with kids is up 1,657 percent, searches for yeastless bread recipes are up 4,400 percent and home haircuts saw an increase of 417 percent. 

Google, Facebook Share Location Data To Help Plan Coronavirus Containment

Google and Facebook have started sharing location-tracking data with various global authorities to help inform their coronavirus containment strategies. The US has been reluctant to follow in the footsteps of some Asian nations that have used smartphone location data to track those infected with coronavirus. 

Why it matters: Providing authorities with an even more in-depth level of data tracking may be helpful for planning social distancing orders but could also lead to new concerns about people’s privacy and rights.

The details: Data released by Facebook and Google include no personally identifying markers, however, it does track people’s movement. According to Reuters, Facebook has shared mobile location data with US cities and states as part of its nearly year-old Disease Prevention Map program. Google also released its Mobility Reports in 131 countries and regions, showing foot traffic trends at different locations over time.

ZmURL Tool Lets Users Customize Zoom Link Previews

According to TechCunch, a recently launched free tool called ZmURL lets users customize Zoom invite URLs with a headline, description and image that appears when shared across social media. The tool also lets users require attendees RSVP to Zoom meetings by entering their email address.

Why it matters: ZmURL can help protect users against “Zoombombing,” the act of malicious actors tracking down public Zoom calls and bombarding them with profanity and offensive screenshared imagery, a common occurrence since the pandemic began and as Zoom’s daily user count has surged from 10 million to 200 million.

The details: Software engineers Danqing Liu and Victor Pontis built a beta of ZmURL and tested it with some yoga instructors who found the tool useful in promoting events and collecting RSVPs. To use ZmURL, you create a generic meeting link on Zoom then input it into ZmURL, which generates a shorter URL. 

Twitch Reaches Record-Breaking 1.1 Billion Hours Watched in March

Last month Twitch amassed 1.1 billion hours watched, the largest number of views in the platform’s nine year history.

Why it matters: With social distancing orders in effect, many are stuck at home and are turning to live streaming platforms for entertainment or to experiment with broadcasting.

The details: Twitch grew from 982 million hours watched in February to 1.1 billion hours watched in March, equating to a 20 percent growth.

Short-Form Video Platform Quibi Launches 

Created by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, Quibi will offer movies, reality shows and news programs for mobile, with all installments coming in at 10 minutes or less.

Why it matters: Quibi’s launch during the coronavirus crisis means it must compete against streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, which have seen an uptick in viewership recently as people remain in quarantine.

The details: Quibi’s offerings span three categories including movies that will be released in chapters, documentaries and unscripted reality shows and quick-hit news and sports reports. The app costs five dollars a month with ads and eight dollars without ads.

Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, April 10. Have a news tip? We’re looking for changes to and news surrounding social media platforms as they relate to marketing. Let us know at

How To Lead Compassionately In The Time Of Coronavirus

Coronavirus layoffs surge across the US, overwhelming marketing leaders on how to proceed in the face of uncertainty. The Harvard Business Review (HBR) recently published a story entitled, “The Coronavirus Doesn’t Have To Equal Layoffs” sharing tips on how to lead compassionately amid coronavirus. We spoke with executive coach and founder of MER Leadership Design Marie Elena Rigo about how to apply these best practices in the real world. With over 25 years of experience as a leadership and executive coach, Marie Elena sees the HBR article as an opportunity to embrace a growth mindset. Here she shares recommendations on how leaders can thoughtfully navigate layoffs, if need be, and maintain open communication with employees.

The HBR article says, “those who manage the economic effects of this crisis in a clear and compassionate way create more value for their companies and will come out of this pandemic stronger than ever before.” What’s the first step leaders should take to achieve this?

As an executive coach, I see this as an article on leadership and an opportunity to embrace a Growth Mindset. Be intentional—responding versus reacting means slowing down enough to make sure you are making decisions from the rational part of your brain (prefrontal cortex) versus the area that holds fear (amygdala). It’s critical for leaders to recognize their “responsibility” as Steven Covey defines it: ability to respond. Reflexive actions can mean rash decisions and in an ever-changing landscape like the one we are in, what you think you know today will be different tomorrow.

How To Lead Compassionately In The Time Of Coronavirus
Courtesy of Marie Elena

The article also says higher management should consider crowdsourcing with employees. What’s the best way to go about this?

Yes, ask staff about their ideas and create a clear container for the feedback. Give them available options and ask if there are others they would like the company to consider.  Then, once agreed upon by senior leadership, give them a choice (if this is possible). This creates a sense of control and empowers them to choose what is best for them in their situation—versus having something “done to them.”

What are some ways leaders can compassionately manage the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis?

Be transparent: Sharing higher-level financials and relevant information about areas of the company that might be affected will help employees process real information versus creating their own version of the truth—which often results in a negative future fantasy, one more dire than the real information. Additionally, lead by example: If the company is cutting costs and cutting staff, leaders should be the first to reduce their compensation. It’s important that the ratio is higher for more senior-level employees because it’s a percentage of their salary. Stepping up in this way shows staff that leaders are not immune and are willing to weather the storm with others.

How should companies approach layoffs if they must make them?

Be clear, kind and definitive. Be willing to be vulnerable and show your human side. That’s a big part of empathy. If you must do layoffs, HR will provide the words. And, remember that the words are only seven percent of what the listener takes away. Your tone, volume and inflection are 38 percent. Body language, eye contact and facial expressions are 55 percent. So, just as Maya Angelo said so astutely, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

How To Lead Compassionately In The Time Of Coronavirus
Courtesy of Marie Elena

What are some characteristics of a successful leader that are especially important during a time like this?

Avoid polarized thinking. Any good problem-solving strategy includes multiple options. When the brain is stuck in fight, fright or freeze, it seems like everything is black or white. Get in a room with your trusted colleagues and advisors and brainstorm ideas. Know that there are always many more options available than what you initially thought. 

Remember to also stay centered. Slow down. Create time to think. Do your five-count belly breathing, take a walk, avoid the news, meditate—whatever keeps you grounded and connected. It’s from this space that possibilities show up. This is because you are able to see things from a different point of view when anxiety and fear aren’t running you. Remember your mindset and be willing to shift your lens. Twenty percent of the workforce may be losing their jobs, but 80 percent are keeping them.

What are some books or resources senior management should reference to navigate the crisis effectively?

Acquisitions, Funding And Transitioning To VR

This week we saw Apple showing interest in NextVR, Strivr receiving a $30M series B funding, and a whole lot of verticals taking to VR in these social distancing times. VR is still on the rise and it’s poised to go front and center as people look for ways to pass the time inside.

Apple Interested In NextVR, Strivr Hits Series B Funding

What’s happening: NextVR, a VR platform for live sports, music and entertainment, is being eyed by Apple. NextVR is said to hold more than 40 patents, and this could be Apple’s primary goal. Strivr, who develops enterprise software for training employees through VR, receives $30M in series B funding. Strivr has 22,000 VR headsets in the wild with 1.6 million sessions.

Why it matters: Between acquisition and big funding, we’re seeing that VR is still very important in terms of growth. While it’s uncertain that Apple is looking to get into the VR hardware, content, or is just after the patents, it’s a good indicator that everyone is looking to see how virtual reality can impact our world and how we do business.

Nascar In Virtual Reality

What’s happening: With social distancing, we’re seeing a new surge in digital sports. Nascar for example has started eNASCAR, a virtual racing experience with the pros. The first week saw 903k viewers and the second week reached 1.3 million on FOX Sports.

Why it matters: While everyone is relegated to staying home, many sports are looking to virtual reality to help keep entertainment and live sports alive and well. While we don’t all work in the sports industry, this is a good reminder that no matter what market you’re in, you should consider looking at VR as an opportunity to help reach your audience during this isolating time. Not only does it help you stay in contact with your target market, it provides your audience with a way to virtually get out of their homes. 

DTC Ecommerce Sales To Reach $17.75 Billion In 2020

EMarketer has released an inaugural forecast on direct-to-consumer ecommerce sales showing that sales will grow by 24.3 percent to $17.75 billion in 2020, up from $14.28 billion in 2019.

EMarketer defines DTC companies as digitally native brands that began as independent online retailers selling directly to consumers. The estimate excludes travel and event tickets, payments, food and drink services, gambling and other vice good sales.

Despite strong DTC ecommerce sales growth, eMarketer says brands should anticipate hardships in the coming months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Sales will continue to shift from nice-to-have products to must-have products, with D2C brands falling under the nonessential category. Disruptions in the supply chain are also likely. That will mean slower shipping times, normally a distinguishing factor for D2C products,” eMarketer senior forecasting analyst Oscar Orozco says.

EMarketer’s data suggests that from 2016-2019, DTC ecommerce increased at three to six times the rate of overall ecommerce sales. Due to intensified competition and maturing of the sector, however, the researcher says DTC’s growth in 2020 is less than two times that of total ecommerce—24.3 percent vs. 13.2 percent, respectively. Other reasons why growth rates are starting to moderate include the rise of acquisition costs, tighter funding and more focused profits.

This year DTC ecommerce sales will account for 2.6 percent of the US ecommerce market, indicating most retailers’ struggle to capture significant market share. Led by Amazon at 38.7 percent, the top 10 ecommerce brands will represent nearly 60 percent of ecommerce sales in 2020. 

EMarketer estimates 87.3 million people ages 14 and older in the US will buy on a DTC platform this year, up 10.3 percent year over year. Additionally, DTC spend per buyer will grow 12.7 recent to $203. By 2022, the researcher says the number of DTC ecommerce buyers will reach a new milestone, 103.4 million. 

A mix of new buyers entering the DTC segment and increases in purchasing per shopper will contribute to DTC brands’ future ecommerce growth.

Report: 60 Percent Of Marketers Plan To Increase Influencer Marketing Budgets This Year

Originally published on ION.

(Editor’s Note: Though Linqia conducted its research before the coronavirus pandemic, marketers can still glean valuable insights from the report.)

Influencer marketing is gaining more traction as nearly 60 percent of marketers plan to increase their budgets in 2020. The same percentage think influencer content performs as well as or better than their branded content. This is according to Linqia’s “The State of Influencer Marketing 2020” report which explores how this year will bring influencer campaigns more accuracy in measurement and sophistication in strategy.

Linqia’s findings indicate an increased frequency of influencer marketing campaigns with a higher percentage of campaigns always on. In 2019 about 20 percent of marketers ran six or more influencer marketing campaigns and nearly 20 percent of these campaigns were always on. Marketers who ran 11-15 campaigns accounted for nine percent in 2019, compared to three percent in 2018.

Marketers are also allocating more of their budgets to influencer marketing with 11-25 percent planning to spend over 40 percent of their digital marketing budgets on influencer marketing. Twenty percent of marketers say they’ll spend between a quarter to half of their budgets on influencer marketing campaigns.

The trend of leveraging micro-influencers (5,000-100,000 followers), those who have smaller but more engaged audiences, will continue in 2020. Seventy-seven percent of respondents said they want to work with micro-influencers, 64 percent are interested in working with macro-influencers (100,000-500,000 followers) and 31percent want to work with mega-influencers (500,000-5 million followers). The percentage of marketers who want to work with nano-influencers (up to 5,000 followers)—25 percent— was higher than that of marketers who want to work with celebrities (over 5 million followers)—22 percent.

In terms of platforms, 97 percent of marketers and agency professionals plan to use Instagram for influencer marketing campaigns. Followed by Instagram stories (83 percent), Facebook (79 percent), YouTube (44 percent) and Twitter (35 percent). While TikTok has seen a spike in usage over the last year, marketers still favor Pinterest (29 percent) and blogs (24 percent) over TikTok. The same amount of marketers, 16 percent, said they plan to use TikTok and Snapchat, respectively.

Nearly 60 percent of respondents say vertical video will be important or very important in their influencer marketing efforts this year. Still, just 30 percent of marketers plan on incorporating Instagram stories into their Instagram campaigns, indicating either a lack of understanding of stories or that creating content for stories is more time consuming.

Part of influencer marketing’s appeal is that marketers can repurpose influencer content across other channels. This year 90 percent of marketers plan on re-using influencer content across social, website, emails, display ads and other areas. Among those, 90 percent said paid social would be the primary channel followed by 72 percent for the brand’s own organic social channel. Additionally, 41 percent plan to use influencer content on their website and 30 percent plan to use it in emails. 

Though only 20 percent said they’d use influencer content in programmatic, a former Linqia study shows this venue is growing as it found influencer content outperforms branded content by an average of 2.7 times on paid channels. 

On how they measure success of influencer marketing campaigns, respondents were mixed in their assessments: 71 percent chose engagement (compared to 89 percent last year), followed by brand awareness (62 percent), impressions (60 percent), conversions (55 percent) and clicks (54 percent).

When asked what their top concern is about using influencer marketing, most chose “determining return on investment (ROI) on my influencer marketing program” followed by changes to network algorithms that make organic influencer content less visible.

(AList is published by To get up to speed on the rapid changes affecting the influencer marketing landscape, click here.)

SEO Will Be A Priority For Marketers Amid Coronavirus

New data from Conductor reveals over half of marketers believe SEO will be more important during the coronavirus pandemic. In “The Impact of COVID-19 on Marketing,” Conductor examines how marketers plan to navigate their goals amid the crisis.

According to the findings, marketers plan to reduce overall spend while increasing investments in low cost-high return on investment (ROI) channels like search engine optimization (SEO). Sixty-five percent of respondents anticipate decreases to their marketing budgets while 27 percent say they will stay the same.

Despite lowered budgets, 40 percent say their marketing goals will increase and 32 percent say their goals will stay the same. 

When asked how a global recession would affect their marketing strategy, 58 percent of marketers say they would lower their budget while 34 percent say they would increase investment in low cost channels like SEO.

Sixty-three percent of marketers anticipate SEO will become more important during the coronavirus pandemic while only four percent say SEO will decrease in importance. Data from Google confirms this finding as it shows a recent surge in searches for SEO.

Additionally, 66 percent of marketers ranked SEO as their top-performing channel in 2019. According to Forrester, marketers are moving SEO in house while nearly two-thirds already manage SEO internally. 

Though nearly half say they plan to increase marketing goals, 86 percent of marketers admit their goals will be either more or slightly more difficult to achieve. 

Conductor’s findings are based on a survey of 317 respondents in business-to-business (24 percent), retail (12 percent), healthcare (11 percent) and media (10 percent). The remaining sectors span travel and hospitality, consumer technology, financial services, insurance, automotive, ecommerce and manufacturing.

Super Bowl, Sponsorships And Agencies With Quicken Loans CMO Casey Hurbis

During this 202nd episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Casey Hurbis, chief marketing officer at Quicken Loans.

Today we talk about the Super Bowl commercial that launched earlier this year and how that came about, the relationship with Jason Momoa and the company’s partnership with the NFL. We also discuss other sports sponsorships and the impact Quicken Loans is having on Detroit.

Hurbis begins by telling us what excites him about Detroit and updating us on Quicken Loan’s success as America’s largest lender. He provides a behind-the-scenes look into the process of creating an ad for the Super Bowl and building a relationship with Jason Momoa, who had never before taken on a paid endorsement. 

Hurbis showcases his team’s ambition when discussing their approach to partnerships. He says, “We have a history of doing things that have never been done before.” They have also used these sponsorships to improve their community. Hurbis explains, “We want to be able to do good by the community but also shine a spotlight on our city.” Then we hear Hurbis’s take on running a large in-house agency. This conversation gives us a look into a brand with ambitious campaigns and a commitment to their local community.

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Casey describes what excites him and the company about Detroit. (01:58)
  • Casey tells us how business is doing. (03:56) 
  • A behind-the-scenes look at his highly-rated Super Bowl commercial. (06:22)
  • How Casey thinks about sponsorships and their potential. (14:00) 
  • The partnerships Casey has been most excited about with other sponsors. (17:39)
  • Quicken Loans has one of the largest in-house agencies in the world and they are growing. (22:05)
  • Casey’s advice to other CMOs considering an in-house model. (26:34) 
  • The advice Casey would give to his younger self. (30:56)
  • The most impactful purchase he has made in the last 6-12 months of $100 or less. (33:52)
  • Casey’s take on the top opportunities or threats facing marketers today. (35:42)

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Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.