Ben Young
Ben Young
March 31, 2020

Last Updated: Apr, 24th.

This post collates the latest data, research and insights in how Covid-19 is changing media. For our regular datapoints on why content – view here.

We’ll open with this quote from BBH, small decisions here have dramatic consequences down the road.

“Protect Budgets. Brands that reduce their spends during times of recession often come out the other end weaker. Every business will have its own unique features but history tells us on average marketing budgets should be protected, not raided for recovery.” –BBH

If you have any data, analysis to add, tweet us @giveitanudge



People are working from home, productivity hasn’t taken a dent with people delivering on the core work but less time in meetings. 

People are using the time and being at home, to start streaming earlier in the day, spending more time shopping, focusing on personal finance, social media and gaming. Covid-19 is driving news traffic. At home delivery and alcohol is up. The challenge is, with more attention, ad rates are down but so is conversion, people are taking longer to convert. Thus the savvy market has to be nimble.


On branded content

On podcasts

  • Podcast downloads are down 10% but unique listeners are down 20%. Mar, 29.
  • “Last week, during the week, user sessions for the Overcast podcast app were down about 20% from recent normal levels, according to the app’s developer, Marco Arment, citing Apple’s analytics. But weekend usage, so far, seem unaffected”. Via NewConsumer. Mar 27.
  • “Weekly podcast audiences decreased 8% last week, on a week-over-week basis, after decreasing 2% the prior week, according to Podtrac”. Via NewConsumer. Mar, 27.
  • Podcast growth by category from Podtrac, News up 67%, Business 39%, Government 31%, Comedy 29%, Science 27%, Kids & Family 24%. Mar, 29.


On digital usage

  • Verizon sees Finance content up 95% and News up 58%. Via Verizon, Q1 2020 earnings.
  • NYTimes puts together a summary of the changes, as of today. CNBC is up nearly 100%, NYTimes/WashingtonPost up 50%.  Apr, 8.
  • Slack users are being active for longer, up to 12.2 hours/day in NYC. Apr, 7.
  • Remote workers had a 4% increase in average daily time spent on their core work and an 18% decrease in time spent on communication (compared to office workers). Via RescueTime. Apr, 1.
  • People trust ads on news sites 4x more than social media. Via Taboola. Mar, 31.
  • From Comcast: Peak download time pre March 1st, was 9pm, now it is 7:30pm. VoIP and Video Conferencing is up 212%. VPN traffic is up 40%. 38% increase in streaming and web video. Mar, 30.
  • Comscore reports surging levels of in-home data usage. Gaming consoles (+48%), smart speakers (+44%), streaming boxes/sticks (+38%) and connected TVs (+37%) all saw significant year-over-year upticks. Mar, 24.
  • Internet usage was up 20% after the pandemic declared a national emergency. Mar, 17.
  • Captify study of onsite search behavior. CPG/FMCG up 728.7%, Home delivery up 58.7%, Pharma up 38.1%. Travel down 30%, Events down 215%, Luxury down 76%. Mar, 13.


“It is going to accelerate the shift towards digital. We’re seeing 10 years of innovation crammed into four weeks.” -Mark Read, WPP CEO.

Via Paul Gubbins.


On ad revenue and rates

  • Gupta Media is sharing this public dashboard on Facebook Ads. At time of posting, CPMS are down 48.9%, Cost per link click are down 36.4%, CPVs are down 46.9%
  • Analysts expect overall global ad revenue to be down roughly 4.4% for 2020 because of coronavirus, excluding cyclical events like the election. Digital to still grow 3.9% against 11.4% expected.
  • Overall acquisitions costs are up 28%, driven by a drop in conversion rates. Driven mostly by current users, who are browsing around more. Via Social Fulcrum.


On B2B

  • 26% of software buyers expect no change, 40$ spending more, 18% less and 15% unsure. The ones with no change voiced no change in software usage, already prepared for remote. Via Emarketer, Apr 7.
  • ^ Same study, noted 81% of businesses were concerned about an upcoming recession.


Consumer changes

  • 77% of consumers want brands to speak to how a product can be helpful in their lives. Via eMarketer.
    • A March 2020 survey by GlobalWebIndex asked internet users in 13 markets whether brands should continue advertising as normal. Nearly four in 10 US respondents ages 16 to 64 agreed, and a similar share (35%) were neutral, compared with 28% who disagreed. (The global results were on par with those in the US, at 37%, 36% and 27%, respectively.)
  • Stackline shares the top 100 growing and declining products on eCommerce.
  • 80% of 25-to-44s said they were worried about their “personal financial situation,” vs. 78% of 18-to-24s, 74% of 45-to-64s and 62% of those 65 and older. Via Emarketer. Apr, 9.
  • New York Times gets in to consumer spending decreases. Apr, 11.
  • Consumption of vices are up. Apr, 5.
  • Personal Finance has become a priority via Affectv. Consumers are taking more time making online purchases. Suggests there will be pent up demand for travel. Mar, 20.
  • Data on the decline of public transport usage. Via TransitApp.


On investing through a downturn

  • Brands that cut most took 5 years to recover / Brands that go dark suffer significant brand declines / Reductions create short-term returns but significant long-term losses / Strong brands recovered 9x faster in the financial crash. Via @jdaykin, Mar, 25.


If you’d like an insights session discussing this. Contact us.


Hero image by by Austin Chan on Unsplash.