15th April 2020

Advertising is declining, but people still want to hear from brands

Binge watching Netflix, DIY, home-schooling, learning a new skill, trying desperately to entertain the kids and work from home simultaneously… sound familiar?


As we live in lockdown, people are looking for practical information, tips, advice and more emotive content like human interest stories and entertainment.


It’s no surprise that people are spending more and more time online, and 45% [1] of people are increasing the time they spend on social media: 

  • Facebook +37% [2]

  • Instagram +40% [3]

  • Twitter +23% [4]

  • Whatsapp & Facebook Messenger +50% [5]


But while time online and on social media has been increasing, in the last month advertising spend has declined across Twitter (-20%) [6], Facebook and Google (-11%) [7]. It’s estimated that Facebook and Google combined will take a hit of more than $44 billion [8] this year.


Let’s take a look at why this is important: 

1. People still want to hear from brands 

37% [9] of people in the UK have started using a brand because of how they have behaved in the pandemic. People still want connections, they want to understand what is happening and what it means for them in their daily lives (78%) [10]. They want to be reassured and informed about what brands are doing (75%) [10] and better still, how they are helping. But most importantly, people do not want to see brands exploiting the situation (74%) [10]. Brands that do this will see widespread backlash and may see longer-term implications if the situation isn’ t corrected. 


Engaging communities makes recovery easier 

64% [8] of people in the UK say how brands behave during the pandemic will impact whether they buy from them after.


Brands that continued to engage and invest in their audiences during the 2008 recession saw a recovery that was nine times faster [11] than those that didn’t, meanwhile 60% [12] of brands that went ‘dark’ during the recession saw a decline in at least one brand metric.  


2. Decline in word of mouth can imply presumption of failure

Research shows that when word of mouth conversation around a brand declines, people often stop thinking about buying it, or presume failure [12]. For strong brands this can make recovery period harder and for weaker, more commoditised brands this can have longer-term financial implications. 


We’ve taken a look at the research around how online behaviour is changing in the wake of Coronavirus and created a report that shows the trends and what this means for brands in the short-term lockdown and longer term recovery planning. You can download the full report here.



  1.  GWI, 2020

  2.  TechCrunch

  3. Kantar via WARC

  4. Vox

  5. Facebook blog

  6. TechSpot

  7. Needham Analyses via CNBC

  8. TechSpot

  9. Edelman Trust Barometer 

  10. Kantar via WARC 

  11. Kantar via WARC

  12. Excerpt from Marketing Week 

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