Lab Weekly — 03/27/2020

COVID-19’s impact on podcasting, brand safety, media investments, sports media, retail foot traffic, live streaming, virtual reality, and more!

IPG Media Lab
Mar 27, 2020 · 7 min read
Photo by Tonik on Unsplash

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Lab Originals

Join us as we gauge the impact of COVID-19 on podcast listenership and examining the industry landscape with the latest data we can find.

In honor of Women’s History Month, our strategist Christina Adranly wrote for AdWeek about the digital communities that connect women for professional development and peer mentorship.

With various lockdowns and “social distancing” policies taking effect, we are seeing early signs of how media consumption and media-related consumer behaviors are shifting.

How China is leveraging its unique technology ecosystem in response and how the public is using the digital tools to explore alternative options when normal offline routines get disrupted.

Let’s take a close look at the rise of functional foods and see how they will likely evolve as technology advances.

Floor 9 Podcast

Unpacking the pandemic’s impact on brand safety, media investments, sports media and foot traffic

Welcome back to Floor 9! In response to the ongoing pandemic, we will be coming out with weekly episodes that provide timely information, market intelligence, and actionable insights on COVID-19’s impact on the media and advertising landscape. We are all in this together and want to make sure our listeners have the best information possible in order to make the tough decisions every company is facing during these challenging times.

This week, our co-hosts Scott and Adam are joined by Jon Stimmel, Chief Investment Officer at UM, and Joshua Lowcock, US Chief Digital & Global Brand Safety Officer at UM for a conversation on the current media market, sports being canceled, brand safety issues, and how the larger media industry is responding to COVID-19. Later in the show, special guest interviewer Huw Griffiths, UM’s Chief Product Officer, sits down with Foursquare’s CEO David Shim to discuss Foursquare’s latest report on COVID-19 impact on retail foot traffic.

Click here to download, listen, and subscribe!

News Analysis — COVID Edition

The 2020 Olympic Games Officially Postponed Due To COVID-19 [BBC]

Despite the resistance of the IOC, the Tokyo Olympics are now officially postponed to next year, just like all the other sports events. Pushing back the Olympics will no doubt hurt NBC — not only because the network now has to scramble to fill the air time this summer and convince advertisers to keep their Olympics ad buys, but also because it negatively interferes with the impending launch of NBC’s OTT streaming service, Peacock, whose wide release is scheduled in mid-July so as to capitalize on the Olympics content to drum up interests.

Now that the Olympics has fallen victim to the coronavirus, it will be interesting to see what NBC will do to mitigate COVID-19’s impact. As our head of strategy Adam Simon pointed out in this piece on Business Insider from three weeks ago, when delaying the Olympics was merely speculative, this could potentially be “a creative opportunity for NBCUniversal to kill the lost time with things that promote Peacock,”

Of course, NBC is not the only network that COVID-19 is causing problems for. Almost all TV productions have been halted in observance of social distancing, and the TV upfronts have been postponed because the pandemic also stopped the pilot season right in its track. Even if life goes back to normal in a couple of months, we’ll be feeling the ripple effects of COVID-19 in the media space for at least a year.

Related: ESPN2 to fill programming hole caused by coronavirus sports hiatus with puppies [MSN]; Local OTT ad spend jumps 127% as connected TV audience grows [ZypMedia]

Soundcloud And Twitch Add Tools For Musicians To Monetize Live Streams [The Verge]

With music venues and bars on lock down across the country, many musicians have turned to live video on social networks to regain some of the lost exposures and provide fans with some much-needed entertainment. By fast-tracking musicians to unlock Affiliate status and allowing them to start making money via ads as well as viewers’ tips and subscriptions, Twitch is seizing the moment to solidify its position as the go-to live streaming site and attract new talents to its platform, thus further diversifying its content beyond gaming and esports.

Besides Amazon-owned Twitch, another popular platform for live streaming is Instagram, as influencers and even celebrities go live to connect with fans directly. And people are watching: Instagram and Facebook Live views have doubled in a week’s time in Italy after the country went into nationwide lockdown, according to Facebook. Smart brands should be looking into live video content as a way to reach stuck-at-home consumers with an additional sense of immediacy and interactivity.

Related: A list of musicians live streaming performances during self-isolation [Vulture]; Chefs, DJs, teachers: the rise of the lockdown celebrity [Financial Times]; Some TikTok users are live streaming their sleep and racking up followers [New York Times]

HTC Pivots To Host Annual Conference In VR [Marketing DIve]

With hundreds of millions stuck at home, could this be the breakout moment that VR companies have been waiting for? While HTC sure would like to see that happen, it is still far from likely given that our media time, when we are stuck at home with nowhere to go, is already filled up. There is still no “must-see” VR content that can pull people away from watching Netflix or playing Animal Crossing to drop hundreds of dollars on a VR headset, especially not when there’s a recession looming. In fact, according to the latest estimates from the IDC, global shipments of AR and VR headsets will decline by 11% in Q1 and 24% in Q2 this year from a year earlier, partly due to supply chain disruption.

What HTC could end up proving, however, is that the immersive experiences that VR enables could make a fun substitute for attending business conferences and trade shows in person. There is an argument to be made about VR as a productivity tool that facilitates deep collaborations for remote workers, and that is certainly the enterprise-driven go-to-market strategy that Microsoft has been betting on for HoloLens. Still, for most people working from home, VR is far from necessary at this stage.

Related: Hospital uses VR to show how the coronavirus impacts the lungs [CNET]; HTC’s Project Proton is a preview of its next-gen VR headsets [Engadget]; HP is teasing a new VR headset in partnership with Valve and Microsoft [The Verge]

Nextdoor Has Seen Spike In Engagement Amid Social Distancing [New York Times]

While Nextdoor was not built for disaster-relief, it now offers an essential service for local communities in a time “when neighborliness is both necessary and necessarily mediated,” as the NYT writer elegantly puts it. Functioning as a virtual community bulletin board, Nextdoor is seizing the moment by rushing out a new Group feature, which enables users to better mobilize around particular topics or causes.

In our Outlook report last year, we talked about the rise of alternative social channels as the major ones turned toxic with misinformation and trolls. This year, this trend of consumers retreating from dominant social channels into either private channels or other niche online communities will likely accelerate as COVID-19 pushes more people to discover new social channels to keep themselves company in the era of social distancing,

Related: Nextdoor is planning to launch a self-serve advertising platform [Digiday]; Coronavirus is making dating a lot more complicated [WSJ]

Stats To Know:

  • Disney+ had a successful launch in Europe and the U.K., reflecting pent-up demand from parents looking for relief amid governmental stay-at-home directives. On Tuesday, Disney+ debuted in the U.K., Ireland, Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. In those seven markets, the Disney+ app was downloaded 5 million times, according to measurement and analytics firm App Annie, Variety reports.
  • A Morning Consult survey conducted March 6–9 found that 1 in 10 adults said they anticipated spending more money on movie and TV streaming services because of the coronavirus pandemic. Plans to spend more money on music streaming nearly doubled among adults between the initial March 6–9 survey (6%) and the most recent March 13–16 survey (11%).
  • 56% of consumers are happy to hear how brands are helping out communities in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey conducted on March 18 by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) and real-time market research platform Suzy. The report found that 43% of consumers find it reassuring to hear from brands they know and trust during these uncertain times. Another 40% want to hear how brands are responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, such as with cleaning procedures.

IPG Media Lab

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