Perhaps the one word that is more popular than “COVID-19” these days is “uncertainty.” Marketers are scratching their heads to figure out the correct strategy in these unprecedented times; or is it unprecedented after all? Asian countries have been battling this pandemic longer than Western nations. And we can learn from their ad performance and advertising strategies on social media platforms. From platforms used globally such as YouTube to China’s equivalent of Twitter, Weibo, social media usage surged across Asia.
Here are 3 takeaways from Asia that you can use to optimize your ad performance:
Spend if you still can.
Although ads can now get more exposure on social media platforms, ad spend is decreasing in virtually all verticals. Advertisers are reluctant to launch new campaigns if supply chain shocks caused by temporary shut-downs mean that no sales will be made. Companies outside of Asia are also reducing ad spend if their supply or revenue is heavily dependent on China. For small businesses, ad spend is not even on the agenda if bankruptcy is a legitimate concern. However, on the other hand, large companies with sufficient funds could increase spending on virtual platforms as sponsorships at live events is no longer an option. This is especially true since the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has been postponed. Therefore, for companies that have efficient cash flow, now is the perfect time to increase spend on new or existing campaigns, as some of your competitors will not be able to. A well-designed ad campaign can differentiate companies in this prime time for exposure.
Drive awareness, not conversion.
Although consumers are spending more time online, it appears that they are trying to save more money. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba saw that both their Taobao and VipShop apps experienced a decline in usage time. This pattern is especially seen in luxury items. As many workers are suffering through a pay cut or lack the occasion to use products such as apparel or makeup, conversion rates are not expected to rise with more app usage. Therefore, when designing creatives, companies should focus on ads that create awareness and enhance their brand to prioritize upper funnel KPIs instead of conversion during COVID-19.
Expand on streaming platforms.
Sometimes, rotating between Facebook and Instagram isn’t enough to kill time. Streaming platforms such as YouTube and TikTok can occupy teenagers, and even adults, for hours at a time. TikTok usage in China increased by 102% as users created humorous videos about their isolation and looked for diversions to pass time. Similarly, YouTubers are releasing more content now that their schedules have cleared up. Therefore, companies could benefit from diversifying their ad placements to streaming platforms where view rates could be higher.
Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, what in Asia proves is that there’s still plenty of opportunity for brands to innovate, break through with fresh content, and build brand equity.