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Unruly, the video advertising platform that is part of Tremor International, surveyed consumers globally to assess consumer’s changing sentiment toward content amid the coronavirus pandemic finding drastic changes in daily routines for most Americans and a dramatic increase in time spent online.

“The pandemic has resulted in rapid, unprecedented changes in consumer behaviors and their preferences,” said Terence Scroope, vice president of insight at Unruly. “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 minimize disruption to performance.”

With only 10 percent of the U.S. continuing daily lives as “normal” Unruly’s findings show changed interests in advertising experiences. While 22 percent of survey respondents reporting they “want brands to share information on how they are supporting their staff and customers during this time.” An additional 21 percent reported they “want brand advertisements to include information about COVID-19,” 17 percent “want ads to provide a sense of continuity and normalcy.” The final 17 percent “want ads to be funny or positive in an effort to distract from what’s going on.”

“Despite this hard time, brands can enhance or solidify their position in consumers’ mind-sets through statements and actions that reflect their expressed desires,” Scroope said. “In our survey, we found that 49 percent of consumers want to be informed by advertising right now. That, coupled with the fact that over 40 percent of respondents wanted brands to either share how they are supporting their staff and customers or provide informative information about COVID-19, provides a pretty clear path forward in advertising approach for the here and now.”

The company’s research additionally found that just over half of consumers prefer brands to communicate through television advertisements and within the 18- to 24-year-old age range, 42 percent prefer brands to communicate through online video. Overall, 47 percent of respondents said they have increased spending time on home entertainment, with 59 percent watching comedies over other categories.

“Brands have to remember that despite consumers’ daily routines being interrupted this is still a key time to focus on long-term brand building as opposed to short-term activations,” Scroope said. “Our past research with noted academic Peter Field has validated that emotional campaigns are far more effective at driving long-term business effects such as profit, so that’s where many brands should be focusing their efforts right now.”

According to Scroope, while it is difficult to predict which trends will continue once Americans return to normalcy, post-pandemic, he believes there will likely be a movement to make up for lost time and expects we will see new behaviors take shape.

“We may find that the forced isolation may have introduced new behaviors and preferences,” Scroope said. “For example, one of the nondigital activities our survey uncovered and saw the biggest increase in was cooking, with 64 percent of respondents stating that they were doing more of it than prior to the pandemic. Perhaps this trend will continue for some, and unknown baking talents and appreciation has been unlocked.”

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