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6 Ways the Media Industry Has Changed Due to COVID-19

Sarah Hartland | Industry Analysis | 30th June 2020
6 Ways the Media Industry Has Changed Due to COVID-19

The media industry continues to feel the effects of the COVID-19 public health crisis, and while economies around the globe have begun to reopen, ‘business as usual’ won’t resume for quite some time, if ever.

The pandemic’s long term impact on the media industry is not yet clear. While some publishers may not survive the disruption, others may experience a boost to their revenue due to factors such as higher digital subscriber numbers and fewer competitors.

Regardless, the industry landscape has already begun to shift. In this article, we’ll explore 6 ways that the media industry has changed due to COVID-19.

1. Publishers must get clear on their competitive advantage

Advertisers’ marketing budgets have decreased on a global scale, which means it’s especially important nowadays for publishers to clarify their competitive advantage to retain and attract advertiser dollars.

Going forward, brands will become more discerning with their ad spend, so publishers must focus on delivering strong business outcomes to help advertisers stand out in their respective industries.

2. Accurate reporting has the spotlight

The importance of accurate reporting was underscored more prominently than we’ve seen in recent years during the thick of the COVID-19 crisis. This is still top of mind for the public as businesses have begun to reopen and need to communicate health and safety information.

More than 70% of adults in America believe that media outlets have changed the way they report the news due to the pandemic, according to the Pew Research Center. In addition, the majority of Americans believe the media is delivering essential information about COVID-19 (59%) and that news coverage has been mostly accurate (49%).

3. Streaming video demand is impacting content production

On a single day in early April 2020, Americans consumed 27 billion minutes of streaming content on TV, the equivalent to 50,000 years’ worth. Last year, the amount of content consumed during an entire week sat at 70 billion minutes.

“In my career at Nielsen, I’ve never seen such a rapid change impacting everything that we’re doing,” Brian Fuhrer, SVP product strategy at Nielsen, said during a webinar hosted by Variety and Bitmovin.

Over-the-top (OTT) media producers can navigate the increasing demand for content by tapping into their existing content and looking for ways to repurpose it or introduce it to different audiences. The OTT industry must also keep an eye on the competitive landscape, as many players will be looking to capitalize on the spike in audience attention.

4. Brands are doubling down on video advertising

Advertising revenue across online platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Snapchat has begun to stabilize after nose diving in April. Three main factors are driving this resurgence: new video production, growing audience numbers, and advertisers seeking to re-engage with their audiences on a platform that fosters emotional connection. 

“We’re starting to have some discussions around what are mid- and upper-funnel tactics to implement now to help performance as we come to the holiday season,” Katy Lucey, director of paid social at Tinuiti, told Digiday.

Publishers have an opportunity to appeal to advertisers who are currently enjoying lower production costs and sell advertising space that brands may not otherwise have been able to book. Media organizations should also focus on strategies for promoting advertisers’ user generated content, which is currently a prominent trend in the B2C marketplace.

5. Precautions for advertising shoots increase liability

Photo and video shoots for ads have started to kick back into gear as public health restrictions are being lifted around the globe. However, several parties involved in the production process—including advertisers—face challenges around liability and insurance.

“Production must be a forward-thought to any brief now, requiring us to re-look at our tool set. No more ‘we’ll figure it out’,” Peter Williams, executive producer of BBH LA, told AdAge.

6. The gaming industry’s customer base is expanding

Video game creators have seen increases in revenue over the course of the COVID-19 lockdowns, as housebound Americans look for ways to stay entertained. It’s clear that video games offer opportunities for publishers and advertisers.

Microsoft’s Game Pass service reached 10 million subscribers in April, and multi-player gaming was up by 130%, reported The Washington Post. Nintendo’s Animal Crossing game also saw success, selling 13.5 million copies between March and May.

“A person who was playing zero hours a week and is now playing one or two—you may have won them over forever,” Michael Pachter, analyst at Wedbush Securities, told the Post.