TV commercials and online ads are losing their influence during COVID

by | Aug 24, 2020 | Marketing, Public Relations

The COVID crisis has changed America and the world in many ways, and new research from New York tech PR agency MACIAS PR reveals a shift in the way we interpret media ads. The firm’s new study suggests TV commercials and online ads are losing their influence over consumers, even as news consumption rises during the pandemic.

A staggering 70 percent of survey participants said TV commercials no longer influence them to buy products. Roughly 45 percent said positive online consumer reviews and positive stories on the news influence them the most when it comes to buying a new product or service.

Mark Macias, CEO of MACIAS PR, said his agency conducted the survey to gain better insight on where consumers are paying attention.

“Exposure for the pure sake of exposure no longer equates to sales,” said Macias. “This survey reinforces that most Americans tune out or walk out of the room when commercials come on TV. When it comes to maximum engagement, our survey suggests news content is where consumers are most engaged.”

A closer look at the consumer survey and attitudes toward advertising

Roughly 67 percent of the survey participants said they are consuming more news, or about the same amount of news since the coronavirus pandemic unfolded. Meanwhile, 16 percent admitted they don’t watch any news.

And when commercials come on TV, 36 percent of Americans surveyed said they grab their cell phone or laptop and multi-task during commercials. Another 17 percent said they fast-forward through the commercial, while 10 percent say they walk out of the room to finish a task. Just 10 percent say they watch the commercial.

Roughly 42 percent of all survey participants said online news is their primary source for information. Another 19 percent of consumers turn to local news first, while 9 percent get it from cable news.

The survey found newspapers continued their decline with consumers

Only 4.5 percent said the local newspaper is their first choice for news. Radio or podcasts rounded out the bottom with only 3 percent of participants saying they get their daily news from this broadcast medium.

Macias said this consumer survey reinforces the marketing trend that content marketing and PR are becoming more influential in this cluttered media market.

“Millennials, Generation Z, Generation X, Baby Boomers—it’s a fragmented consumer market and each group requires a customized approach,” said Macias. “If you’re trying to introduce new customers to your product or service, strategy and approach will make the difference between success and failure. All consumers are oblivious to advertisements, but at least for now—news stories and online features still move the needle when it comes to influencing behavior.”

The online survey was conducted July 15-16th, and involved more than 2,000 Americans who answered questions detailing the best approach to get them to buy new products.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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