Nearly three quarters of advertising executives think coronavirus will have a greater impact on US ad spend than the 2008 financial crisis, according to a new survey from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), “Coronavirus Ad Spend Impact: Buy-Side.”

Seventy percent of media buyers have adjusted or paused their short-term ad plans for March-June. Seventy-three percent said the pandemic will impact their 2020-21 upfront spend commitments, estimating a 20 percent drop from their initial plans. 

The short-term impact is the greatest for traditional media as 39 percent of marketers have reduced ad spend for traditional media versus 33 percent who have decreased digital ad spend. In addition to the slightly less negative impact on digital spend, the findings suggest a faster rebound for digital in Q2.

Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of respondents have paused all advertising spend for the remainder of Q1 and Q2. Another 46 percent of respondents are adjusting ad spend for the rest of Q1 and Q2. Impact on Q3 and Q4 spending is expected to be more modest.

In response to the pandemic, 63 percent of advertisers are also changing their messaging, resulting in a 42 percent jump in mission-based marketing and a 41 percent increase in cause-related marketing.

Over a third (35 percent) of advertisers are also adjusting their in-market tactics, leading to a 38 percent increase in audience targeting, 35 percent rise in over-the-top/connected television targeting and 34 percent increase in mobile/tablet device targeting. 
Findings are based on answers from 390 respondents comprised of media planners, media buyers and brands spanning multiple categories, between March 18-24.