As the pandemic pushed people to stay inside, advertisers were forced to pause product launches and reorient messaging. Now, as theaters, gyms, restaurants and beaches start to reopen in many parts of the country, advertisers are ready to start anew; 90 percent of advertisers that planned to launch products or services in 2020 say they will introduce them in the second half. That’s according to the fifth wave of Advertiser Perceptions’ report on the pandemic’s effect on ad spending.

As they try to make up for lost time, advertisers are poised to treat Q3 as the start to a lengthy recovery. The data show that 51 percent of advertisers plan to resume or ramp up ad spending in Q3 while 13 percent have already resumed activity. On the other hand, 28 percent plan to accelerate spending before the end of June. 

Advertisers also signal a readiness to move ahead with previously planned product launches in Q3 and Q4. While 48 percent of respondents postponed new product and service launches until the second half of 2020, 41 percent will proceed with new product launches as planned. Just 11 percent of advertisers canceled new product/service launches for 2020.

Though the findings reveal advertisers are ready to embrace Q3, many are unsure how to shift away from COVID-19 messaging. For example, while 58 percent say it’s time to replace COVID-19 messaging with product-specific ads, 43 percent are having difficulty producing new creative; whereas half of them aren’t sure what their new message should be.

Rewriting the post-COVID-19 playbook also presents a challenge. Just 29 percent have a strategy in place for the new normal, compared with 52 percent which say they’re still working on one.

Regional differences in reopening the economy are also affecting how advertisers move forward as 68 percent of respondents say that such differences are making it hard to plan national campaigns. 

To ensure regional relevance, brands should look to media with brand reach and targeted, digital platforms such as television and social media. On that note, 64 percent of respondents expect media and ad tech partners to be flexible when it comes to pausing or shifting spending as needed.  

As live events remain canceled for the most part, 75 percent of advertisers are willing to accept alternative content and media in the place of canceled live programming.

Over the past three months, 40 percent of advertisers have relaxed their own media return on investment (ROI) goals and over a third have lowered their media return on ad spend (ROAS) goals. Still, many say they’re raising the bar to make up for the downtime.

Advertiser Perceptions surveyed 151 advertisers comprising 34 percent marketers and 66 percent agencies, from May 18-21.