Just 4% of Australians think brands should pause advertising: new research

Just 4% of Australians think brands should pause all advertising during COVID-19, according to new research conducted by programmatic video company Unruly.

48% of the 3,000 people surveyed said they want ads to make them feel informed, 34% want brands to make them happy, 24% want funny ads, and a quarter want to know how advertisers are supporting their staff and customers during the pandemic.

The desire for a sense of safety and normality was also highlighted in the results, with 15% of respondents stating they want brands to provide a sense of continuity and normality.

Content consumption has unsurprisingly spiked with people in lockdown conditions. More than half of those surveyed are spending more time cooking, 42% are spending more time on home improvements, and 33% said they have been reading more.

Heath Irving, head of programmatic and partnerships ANZ at Unruly – which News Corp sold to ad tech business Tremor at the start of the year after acquiring it in 2015 – explained that the results prove that consumers still want to see ads, but the way they’re consuming is different.

“The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in rapid, unprecedented changes in consumer behaviours and their preferences across Australia,” Irving said.

“The vast majority of consumers still want to see ads, but the key to success is in the content and the way a message is conveyed.

“The magnitude of these changes requires brands to be nimble in adapting their advertising strategies to maintain and grow connections with consumers, provide support and minimise disruption to performance.”

Big chunks of people are spending more time on mobile phones (33% of people overall, and 72% of people under 45), connected TVs (28%), and laptops (26%), and using those devices to consume primarily news. 56% reported that they are more likely to watch the news – and metro audiences for news programs have jumped accordingly – compared to 54% watching more TV dramas and 54% watching more comedy.

The release of the data coincides with research coming out of the Design Business Council, Streamtime, and Never Not Creative. More than 150 businesses participated in a survey that revealed 40% are actively questioning the viability of their business.

Wright said many agencies are doing what they can to help each other

Some respondent companies surveyed reported up to a 60% drop in revenue, while 42% think the pandemic will mean a permanent change to business models. Almost a quarter said they will continue remote working practices even once restrictions are lifted.

Design Business Council’s Carol Mackay said she was buoyed by agencies that are refocusing and and recentreing during this uncertainty.

“It’s really encouraging to see how design agency owners are using this time to focus on their business. Devoid of that relentless sense of urgency, they’re determined that it won’t be ‘business as usual’ on the other side,” Mackay said.

“They’ve time to question what’s working and what’s not. And they’re picking up the phone to call and build stronger bonds with their clients. Some have even spoken of clients being more open to new ideas, or offering to find projects to help their agencies survive the crisis.” 

Streamtime’s Andy Wright, who is also the founder of Never Not Creative, added: “It’s nice to see a little of the competitiveness drop off and hear how willing we all are to share stories and coping strategies to pull through this together as a community.

“Hopefully by publishing some of these stories we can spread the ideas throughout the industry and come out better for it on the other side.”


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