Staying Power: How The Stay-at-Home Economy Has Shaped Digital Advertising

By Aqilliz  


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Stay at Home Economy

As vaccination numbers continue to gather pace, a number of countries around the world have started lifting COVID-19 restrictions, hoping to return to some semblance of normalcy. However, the recent spread of the Delta variant has wreaked havoc on plans to reopen, pushing both governments and companies to reinstate safety measures — including recommendations to delay the return to offices.

Undoubtedly, the rise of remote work over the past two years has made a significant, lasting impact on consumer behaviour — and this is not likely to change. The habits formed last year during the COVID-19 lockdowns such as social distancing with smartphones, video conferencing, and e-commerce will persist, and this new stay-at-home economy will likely be an important part of the new normal. With home now being the epicentre of consumers’ lives, marketers need to tailor their strategies around this new lifestyle system and the growing need for digital access, with convenience, efficiency, and sustainability in high demand.

Balancing digital and physical

For years, brands and platforms have been working on getting consumers comfortable with the idea of buying something they haven’t actually seen, touched, or tried on. Then during the pandemic, ten years of consumer adoption of e-commerce was compressed into three months, according to a survey by McKinsey. Online shopping became a necessity for consumers, who had to turn to online channels for groceries, essentials and other items. The adoption of e-commerce and omnichannel services is expected to continue rising, forecast to climb a further 16.8% this year, to US$4.921 trillion.

This boom of e-commerce and its tailwind effect on digital advertising growth left a significant impact on marketing strategies, as traditional approaches quickly shifted to focus heavily on social media, digital entertainment, and e-commerce platform campaigns. Now, as brick-and-mortar stores begin to open their doors and brands move back to having more physical interactions with their audience, marketers need to focus on creating memorable and shareable experiences for their customers — regardless of whether it's offline and online. Working in an integrated way, digital marketing can help amplify the in-store experience and complete the customer journey, with every touchpoint serving as a means to transition the consumer towards that all-important conversion.

Growth in connected TV

While viewing habits have been shifting steadily towards streaming and over-the-top (OTT) services for over a decade, the pandemic played a large role in the rise of connected TV (CTV) and accelerating consumers’ digital media consumption. With ad spend projected to reach US$19 billion by the end of 2024, the wealth of OTT and CTV advertising opportunities have contributed to its rapid growth and acceptance in the digital marketing landscape. Options like programmatic buying or working with platforms or publishers provides increased flexibility for advertisers — a necessity during unpredictable times.

Furthermore, as ad formats for CTV continue to grow and develop, marketers are presented with a unique opportunity to combine the interactiveness of digital formats with the visuals native to traditional TV advertising — allowing for the reach and quality of television while enabling the targeting and measurement potential of digital. For instance, marketers can incorporate UI and in-video banners or even show ads on pause screens or menus, with the added ability to track video completion rates and link real-time ad exposure to conversions. Advertisers can also display relevant ads across multiple devices that are connected to the same network, which can give retargeting campaigns a significant boost.

Flexibility and convenience

With remote work creating more digital audiences for brands to engage with, it’s also an avenue for marketers to create more effective and adaptable campaigns that can spread further across channels and reach larger volumes of people. For many, this provides the opportunity to pivot to digital-led omnichannel strategies as a way to drive further customer acquisition and engagement in what is an increasingly digital-first world.

Moving forward, consumer behaviour is likely to err on the side of convenience and flexibility even after the pandemic is long over. Businesses will need to invest in innovative infrastructure and solutions in order to effectively serve customers and scale their operations. Likewise, the adoption of privacy-first technology will be necessary to support a seamless and respectful customer experience throughout the shopping journey — both digital and in-person.

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