The ways in which consumers absorb media has evolved significantly since the start of the pandemic. A recent Kantar study found that marketers “plan to increase their allocations to digital channels including online video, social media, display, branded content, streaming and podcasts” as a result of consumers’ shifting habits. According to eMarketer reporter Allison Schiff, overall digital ad spend is expected to increase by 7.5% in 2020. This ongoing evolution of the digital-first consumer has forced major brands — like Procter & Gamble (P&G), Under Armour and Pepsi — to prepare for a long-lasting change, altering advertising approaches to meet consumers where they are spending time and drive advertising results while maintaining campaign transparency.
P&G, A Strong Proponent Of Digital Advertising, Increased Ad Budget By $100 Million Last Quarter
P&G has made significant investments in its digital advertising strategy since the start of the pandemic, as consumers continue to rely heavily on the brand for its health and hygiene products. Most recently, the brand revealed it had made an incremental $100 million investment in its advertising efforts during the last quarter. “For P&G, it is a time to move forward — not retreat — in ad spend, especially as consumers continue to spend most of their time at home, consume more media and keep the pandemic front of mind,” said P&G chief financial officer Jon Moeller.
P&G’s latest earnings report revealed the brand saw a 9% revenue spike in Q1 2021, with ecommerce in particular growing by nearly 50%. Supporting its growing success in ecommerce, P&G shared the brand “prefers a channel-agnostic approach that helps the company find success with packaging, communication and value that is right for each channel.”
As many consumers continue working from home and limiting grocery store runs, P&G is positioning itself — and its products — for success by investing in its digital ad spend as its audience relies more on online shopping and digital-first options. “We think [Edward Jones thinks] P&G had the foresight to recently change its structure to help prepare itself for a more digital-grocery-shopping and digital-marketing future. The pandemic has accelerated these trends faster than we [Edward Jones], and likely many others, anticipated,” noted John Boylan, senior equity analyst at Edward Jones.
Under Armour Relies On Digital Advertising Efforts After Initial COVID-19 Effects
Under Armour is one of many major brands working to bounce back from the effects of COVID-19, after the brand experienced an initial 23% revenue loss during Q1. In response to these challenging times, Under Armour began heavily investing in its digital-first approach to reach consumers and win back sales. According to its Q2 2020 earnings report, Under Armour is “focused on elevating our digital connection with our consumers,” noting that the brand is “accelerating digitization of our go-to-market process.” The company has reportedly spent the last three years revamping its digital strategy, but has sped up these initiatives since the pandemic began.
Under Armour’s latest digital initiatives include:
- The Focused Performer: The company is pulling first-party data from its hub of fitness apps — including MyFitnessPal, MapMyFitness and more — to launch individual consumer profiles, honing in on shoppers with “a competitive mindset or athletic pursuit.”
- Updated Ecommerce Site: Paul Fipps, Under Armour’s chief experience officer, shared the newly enhanced Under Armour ecommerce site now “aligns with the majority of our global ecommerce business on one platform.”
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Program: Created to grow engagement with customers, the CRM program will allow Under Armour to manage and analyze its customer interactions in order to keep a steady flow of communication with its audience — before, during and after the moment of transaction.
“Under Armour is in the midst of shifting from a product-led approach to customer-led as the company focuses on the intersection of consumer products and backend technology,” added Fipps.
Pepsi Expands Streaming & Digital Footprint
As the pandemic continues to drive many consumers indoors and online, major CPG brands like Pepsi are moving their advertising efforts in the direction of digital and streaming platforms. “We recognize how much of a shift we’ve seen and an acceleration that we’ve seen in streaming viewership over the past few months, especially in light of COVID,” said Kate Brady, Pepsi’s head of media innovation and partnership development. Adding, “What we’ve seen is a rapid acceleration in our shift in investment away from traditional linear to more streaming, digitally native platforms.”
In addition to some major ad placements — like its ongoing sponsorship and large-scale campaigns for the NFL — Pepsi is introducing strategic partnerships in the streaming world. At the start of the pandemic, Pepsi sponsored a worldwide broadcast in support of the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, arranged by the World Health Organization (WHO). More recently, Pepsi announced it had “run pilots” with smart TV provider Roku.
MarketingDive reporter Peter Adams noted, “As personalization, localization and addressability climb in importance for PepsiCo, Brady suggested that digital channels are better suited to deliver results compared to traditional media.” With its continued investment in digital advertising, Pepsi will have an increased opportunity to effectively target various audiences and leverage their first-party data to be more thoughtful with their messaging and offerings.
Digital advertising’s ability to provide clear results and campaign transparency was evident long before the pandemic. As consumers continue to gravitate toward online and personalized options, digital advertising strategies will be leveraged by brands on a much larger scale. Brands like P&G, Under Armour and Pepsi have shown that by embracing a digital-first approach across multiple channels, advertisers can reach consumers at the right place at the right time, while driving (and easily tracking) ROI and consumer loyalty in the long-term.
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