Consumers still expect businesses to advertise during the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a recent Kantar study, but in order to understand which marketing activities are currently most worthwhile to your business, it's important that marketers evaluate their measurement strategies.
This kind of evaluation can help your marketing meet the current needs of your customers, and also allows you to identify tests that are most applicable to the current climate, as well as the tests that shouldn’t be used to guide longer-term strategic decisions.
Here are some considerations to take into account, when adapting your measurement strategy during COVID-19:
1. Changes in consumer behaviour
Impact to global economies and supply chains, disruptions to day-to-day life and stocking up in anticipation of diminished resources are some of the current factors that will influence testing results and potentially lead to non-representative measurement insights.
For example, a Kantar survey found that respondents in Asia say they have increased the time they spent shopping online by 32%.
The COVID-19 outbreak is also impacting digital and device behaviour. More than 200,000 people in Australia are members of over 400 COVID-19 local support groups on Facebook. And across Asia Pacific Gen Z, Gen X, and baby boomers all say they’re spending more time checking news coverage and social media due to concerns around COVID-19. This additional time online may not extend past the current environment, so it may not be representative of long-term behaviour and shouldn’t be used for longer-term strategic decisions.
2. Shifting ad approaches and dynamics
Media spends and strategies are also being impacted: Some 89% of advertisers say they have taken action with their budgets in response to COVID-19, with 45% saying they have adjusted media type usage or shifted budget among media types.
Ad delivery systems like Facebook’s can be influenced by these shifts in advertisers and consumer behaviour. While we don’t know the exact impact, we’re seeing significantly more activity across our services, which can have unpredictable effects on our advertising delivery system.
Now more than ever, businesses must meet their customer needs. This doesn’t mean you should abandon your existing approach to measurement. Instead, simplify your strategy and continue to use your organisation’s sources-of-truth measurement strategies (like lift testing) in order to understand overall marketing impact and make optimisations as usual. However, given the profound changes that are happening to our day-to-day lives, be mindful that performance may be unusual, and consider how likely test results can be generalised to business-as-usual contexts.
3. Re-evaluate tests designed to inform future decisions.
When determining whether insights from tests conducted during this time can be generalised and used to inform future business decisions, consider the extent to which current conditions are impacting results. Heavily studied and reproduced findings that inform best practices and optimal spend categorisations are likely safer to generalise compared with tests designed to inform future strategy. Typically, advertisers across industries have extensively tested auction best practices and conversion optimisation over click optimisation, so they’re more likely to be generalisable and are likely to hold up. But more contextually sensitive tests, like determining how a newer ad product performs or optimal frequency, should be deprioritised.
4. Use A/B and multi-cell lift testing to optimise quickly
Testing can help you adapt your ads and optimise your strategy for the current environment. Quick learning can be impactful for targeting changes or developing new creative approaches. Remember these sorts of quick tests may produce insights relevant to today's conditions but not to future behaviour, so once the current climate normalises, remember to re-evaluate ad experiences.
A/B tests let you change variables, such as your ad creative, audience or placement, to determine which strategy performs best and optimise your current campaigns. A/B testing helps ensure your audiences will be evenly split and statistically comparable. Add a holdout to your A/B test to make it a multi-cell lift test and measure incremental lift on a cost-per-conversion lift basis.
5. Consider impact by industry
Different verticals and products are facing starkly different realities, and their measurement strategies should be adjusted in turn. For example, the gaming industry has seen a surge as global downloads of mobile games have been growing, with weekly game downloads in March 2020 up 30% compared to Q4 2019. Other companies may be completely dark due to lack of supply or demand and may want to consider other ways to stay engaged with their audiences.
Evaluating your measurement strategy
There’s no one-size-fits-all measurement approach for these fast-changing times, but you know your business best: the right strategy depends on your goals, your customers, and the marketing conditions for your industry.
Georges Mao is the director of marketing science for APAC at Facebook