As a result of the economic disruption caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we’ve seen a huge number of brands scale back their marketing activity. 62 percent of marketers have admitted to changing their marketing strategies due to COVID-19, only 14 percent of marketing campaigns are now continuing as planned in the UK, and imagery of human interaction has declined by almost 25 percent in social ads.
Impact of the coronavirus crisis on TV advertising
One area of marketing that has been particularly impacted by the crisis is TV advertising. With crews grounded, production studios shut and corporate video firms either working from home or furloughed, brands have been simply unable to create TV ads in the traditional format for their products.
This has had a massive impact on the revenue of TV networks. Since the crisis began, we’ve seen broadcasters encourage brands to advertise on their channels—Channel 4 [UK] has cut late booking fees and other broadcasters are offering brands first preference on important slots, such as Christmas, in exchange for taking spots in May.
But it seems these efforts have been in vain. Despite drawing in near-record numbers of viewers, ITV announced that it is expecting a decline in advertising revenue of at least 10 percent in April—this is compared with 2 percent growth in March.
Why brands should use influencers in TV ads
With expensive, high-end campaigns impossible to shoot and budgets running low, brands that wish to produce TV ads during the coronavirus crisis could turn to influencers for content.
The reasoning behind this shift is clear—influencers are skilled at engaging audiences and can produce a diverse mix of unique, high-quality creative content that can help brands cut through in today’s congested market. Also, the production of influencer-led TV ads will be faster and more cost-effective than traditional formats—which will be highly desirable for most brands given the current economic climate.
Consumers find influencers trustworthy and persuasive
However, the reasons why brands should use influencer content in TV ads extend beyond production costs. Consumers trust influencers and find them persuasive and authentic brand spokespeople.
Our recent whitepaper found that over a quarter of consumers in the UK and U.S. trust influencers more than high-profile public figures and celebrities. The research also found that content creators have a significant influence over the spending habits of younger consumers in particular, with 60 percent of 16-24-year olds crediting influencers with purchases they’ve made in the past six months.
The combination of trustworthiness and influence should make content creators an attractive option for brands looking to save cash and generate revenue via TV ads during the coronavirus crisis.
What does the rise of influencer-led TV ads mean for the future of marketing?
An unexpected outcome of the ongoing crisis is that social trends we were seeing pre-COVID-19 are accelerating. Changes in consumer behavior that would have normally taken years are now happening in a matter of months.
One of these trends is a preference for user-generated content (UGC) or influence-led content over celebrity-endorsed content in TV ads. For instance, a recent study by Ogilvy found that the NHS and UK Government ‘Stay at Home’ ad and Dove’s ‘Courage is Beautiful’ ad were among the top five most emotionally engaging COVID-19 related ads in the eyes of consumers.
With influencers increasingly using more professional equipment to ensure higher-spec content, they are well-placed to continue this shift towards UGC and influencer-led content in TV advertising post-COVID-19. Using superior equipment, such as drones, means that influencer content can easily translate into other formats, such as billboards or video commercials.
We are in an unprecedented period of history—the coronavirus crisis is causing economic disruption around the world and brands are understandably becoming anxious and tightening the purse strings. However, brands need to explore all the alternative options before they completely disappear from the public eye. When it comes to TV ads, influencers offer brands the ability to create a low-cost, influential and emotionally engaging ad to help them cut through the noise and boost revenue during this turbulent time.