Stats roundup: coronavirus impact on marketing, ecommerce & advertising

Of course, this has wide-ranging ramifications for marketing, advertising and ecommerce – as well as a number of other sectors like travel, entertainment and FMCG.

To help marketers keep on top of what this means for them, their jobs and their industry, we’re collecting together the most valuable and impactful stats in this roundup, updated on a weekly basis since 20th March.

Read on for statistics on retail sales, adspend, streaming subscriptions, social media use, recruitment figures and much, much more.


Retail & FMCG

July UK retail footfall down 39% year-on-year despite restaurants and cafes reopening

Footfall across all UK retail destinations was down 39% year-on-year in the four weeks beginning 5th July, despite restaurants, cafes and other parts of the service industry having reopened the day before. This is according to data from Springboard, reported by the Retail Gazette.

Although footfall since the start of the coronavirus crisis remains severely down on numbers recorded in 2019, July’s decline was not as stark as June’s, which was reported to be -56.6%, suggesting a gradual recovery is being made as restrictions ease.

Highstreet shopping destinations performed the most poorly throughout July, seeing a 47.2% drop in footfall, however this was almost 18 percentage points better than the figure for June (-65.1%). Meanwhile, shopping centres were down 42%, up from a 62.3% decline in June, and therefore saw the biggest improvement in footfall out of all retail locations analysed.

By comparison, footfall across dedicated retail parks continued to measure significantly better than other retail destinations, measuring -19.9% year-on-year, which is thought to be due to a number of factors including ease of parking, outdoor spaces and larger stores.

Amazon net sales up 40% year-on-year in Q2

Bloomberg analysts originally estimated that Amazon would make $81.2 billion in revenue during the second quarter of this year. However, Amazon’s latest financial statement revealed that the company had actually totaled $88.9 billion over this period, compared to $63.4 billion in Q2 2019 – a huge 40% year-on-year growth in net sales.

This figure is despite the additional $4 billion in costs allocated during the quarter to keep its customers and employees safe from Covid-19 infection and to increase its delivery capacity. In April, Amazon claimed it was expecting a $1.5 billion loss in the second quarter due to such costs, but managed to double profit instead, from $2.6 billion in Q2 2019 to $5.2 billion in Q2 2020.

The company also stated that it had increased its grocery capacity by 160% amid heightened demand during Covid-19, causing grocery sales to triple on a year-on-year basis in Q2.

US retail sales fall 8.1% in Q2

Data from CBRE has confirmed that US retail sales fell by 8.1% year-on-year in Q2, the worst decline since Q2 2009 during the financial crisis, and down from a 1.2% growth in Q1 2020. This is despite a record 17.7% month-on-month rebound in consumer spending that was reported in May.

Non-store (ecommerce) retail sales grew by 25% during the quarter ending June, reflecting the consumer shift to ecommerce, while grocery stores and building and garden suppliers each saw a 13% growth over this period. However, sales across all other verticals analysed in the report, including fashion, food services and electronics stores were severely negatively affected. Non-farm payrolls declined by more than 11% due to high levels of unemployment in industries like hospitality and services.

Balance of UK retailers reporting growth up to modest +4% in year to July

The balance of retailers reporting year-on-year growth in sales rose to +4% UK retail sales for the year to July, up from -37% in June, as stores traded for their first full month since before lockdown began. However, this figure is expected to dip to down to -5% in August, according to the CBI, which surveyed 133 businesses across retail, wholesale and auto for its latest Distributive Trades Survey.

The surprising improvement of UK retail sales overall is thought to be mostly down to a sharp increase in grocery sales, as well as an uplift in purchases of DIY equipment, hardware and flowers and cards. Fashion and footwear brands are still facing large declines, although they have been less dramatic than those experienced in the past few months.

Balance of orders placed on suppliers are down to -14%, thirty-three percentage points up on June.

As expected, ecommerce sales remained buoyant in the year to July (balance of +48%), down by just two percentage points from June and is predicted to see a big boost in August (balance of 61%).

Three quarters of global consumers are not planning to reduce their spending during Christmas 2020

Despite many having pulled back their spending amid coronavirus and an impending global recession, three quarters of consumers around the world are not planning on reducing their spending during Christmas this year. New research from Rakuten revealed that 87% of global shoppers will still be shopping for Christmas and other seasonal holidays, and more than half (57%) expect to make a purchase on key days like Black Friday.

While 65% of UK shoppers said they had made more online purchases than usual during the outbreak, nearly three quarters primarily plan to shop online during the holiday period, suggesting we could see an even larger shift to ecommerce in Q4 than we have seen in past years. This also presents a huge opportunity for brands as they market to customers that are relatively new to online channels.

So far, 49% of UK consumers have cut back their spending in light of the coronavirus crisis, compared to 33% and 28% of French and German shoppers respectively. However, 42% of them stated that they hope to spend the same amount of money at Christmastime as they have done in previous years, while 27% look to spend more on their immediate family members. Sales and discounts are set to be the biggest driving factor of Christmas purchases in late 2020 and almost one third of UK based shoppers plan to alter when they make a purchase in order to save more money.

B&Q and Screwfix owner Kingfisher sees 225% growth in online sales in June

Kingfisher, the parent company of DIY stores B&Q and Screwfix reported a 225% year-on-year online sales growth in June across all of its operations in the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe, following an equally impressive 202% growth in May. Meanwhile, like-for-like sales increased by almost 22% in the three months to mid-July, a figure which is thought to be partially down to sunnier than average weather, as well as consumers making the most of their additional spare time to carry out home improvements.

In the week commencing 11th July alone, like-for-like sales growth across its brands in the UK and Ireland rose by more than 19% and online sales grew by 183%, indicating that, despite stores having fully reopened for some time, consumers continue to prefer shopping remotely than venturing instore. These figures are in line with other analyses claiming that DIY brands have been one of the few big retail winners during the coronavirus outbreak.

Although recent high demand during lockdown has given the company an initial boost in sales, Kingfisher’s overall like-for-like sales actually fell by 3.7% for the first six months of the year and it is unclear what lies ahead in an uncertain H2.

UK consumers spent an average of £771 on non-essential items during lockdown

Research from Barclaycard, as reported by Yahoo Finance, has found that the average UK consumer spent £771 to lift their spirits in lockdown. In total, the UK spent £40.6 billion on non-essential purchases during the lockdown, such as books, video games and subscriptions.

On average, men were much more likely to spend money, parting with £1014 over this time period, whereas women spent £572 by comparison. Consumers that live in London and those with kids under the age of 18 were identified as the two highest spending groups out of all surveyed, purchasing £2812 and £2070 worth of goods respectively. Of those who had bought non-essentials, 80% claim they will be keeping all the items they had purchased and just 6% say they have buyer’s remorse.

Nearly three in ten of all UK consumers said they had bought products which made their household happier, including takeaways, clothing, plants and alcoholic beverages. Many of the items also correlated with new hobbies undertaken as a result of extended free time at home.

Concerns over personal finances change UK spending and banking habits

As personal finances become more of a concern, 40% of UK consumers plan to spend less on entertainment following the easing of lockdown, according to the 7th wave of the Toluna and Harris Interactive COVID-19 Barometer, released on 8 July.

The data also revealed that 14% of those surveyed were hoping to spend more money in the next 1-2 months, while just 9% said they were looking to buy ‘something of significant value’ within this time period. Instead, 38% claim they want to put more money into savings, and a further 28% plan to get better at budgeting in the coming months.

Ecommerce has boomed since the outbreak began in the UK, and this has impacted the way consumers pay for goods. The study found that the online banking or use of mobile apps and payment methods has increased by 33%. Consequently, those visiting a bank branch in person has decreased by 34%, and the use of ATMs has plummeted even further (down 36%) as shops encourage contactless payment to reduce infection.

40% of those who have returned to UK shops find the in-store experience ‘less enjoyable’ than before Covid-19

Sixty percent of 1,050 UK shoppers who were surveyed for a recent study by ChannelAdvisor and Dynata claimed that they had not yet visited a shop one week after they reopened on 15th June. Of those that had, 40% said that the in-store experience was ‘less enjoyable’ than their experience before Covid-19.

Insights from the survey discovered that consumers are now finding shopping in a brick-and-mortar store less convenient, due to factors like having to queue to enter, or follow a one-way system. Forty-seven percent of those that had gone shopping in the first two weeks of restrictions having been lifted said that they had had to queue, while 26% said they were unable to try on clothes in fashion stores. Over one-third claimed they had to wait longer to checkout at the end of their in-store experiences, too.

When it comes to the future, 40% of respondents said they were planning on visiting high street shops within one month, while slightly fewer (35%) said they were planning on visiting shopping centres. Tellingly, sixty-seven percent of shoppers also said that they are comfortable purchasing from online marketplaces like Amazon, but only 29% said the same for purchasing in-store.

35% of all UK online purchases during lockdown were made via Amazon

A report from Wunderman Thompson Commerce has revealed that Amazon’s share of the UK ecommerce market rose to 35% during lockdown, up from 30% at the end of last year, highlighting the ecommerce giant as one that has benefited the most from the pandemic.

One fifth of the 2,000 UK consumers surveyed claimed that their intention to purchase from Amazon after the coronavirus outbreak ends had increased, though a similar number (21%) said that they were concerned about the company’s growing dominance in the industry.

Another online retail winner during the lockdown was Tesco, which saw a 23% rise in net perception and an increase of 9% when it came to intent to purchase post-Covid-19. In contrast, rivals Sainsbury’s and Morrisons each gained a 12% increase in positive perception.

Sixty-one percent of respondents cited free delivery as a key purchase driver, followed by availability (57%) and price (53%), while the most sought-after change to consumers’ online shopping experience was free returns.

Primark made £133m in its first week of reopening

Primark owner Associated British Foods released a statement confirming that the fashion retailer made £133m in revenue during the first week of non-essential shops reopening in England (the week commencing 15th June), putting its performance “ahead of the same week last year”.

Comparatively, in the entire seven weeks between 4th May (when the first of its stores began reopening) and 20th June, the retailer had made £322m in sales, a 12% drop on the same period in 2019.

Overall Primark revenue contracted by 75% during Q2 2020, mostly due to the company’s lack of ecommerce capability, and it is now expected to make between £300-£350 million in profit this year – which is dramatically less than the £913m profit it recorded in the last financial year.

Despite this, Primark has so far ordered £800m worth of new stock for the autumn/winter season and looks to go ahead with plans to open an additional five new stores across the US, France and Poland, among others, suggesting it is confident in its prospects for H2 2020.

Naked Wines sees revenues rise 81% in April and May

The UK lockdown has resulted in a surge in sales for Naked Wines, according to a statement made by the company on 21st June.

Sales rose 81% in April and May for the online wine retailer compared to a year ago. The company’s share price is also up 5% as a result. The lockdown is said to have also contributed to pre-tax losses halving from £9.9 million to £5.4 million for the end of March, with revenues for the financial year rising 13% to £208.9 million. Naked Wines also saw a 15% growth in repeat customers to £45.7 million, and a 2% rise in sales retention to 83%. 

Alcohol is not the only food and drink vertical to benefit from the past few months. The BBC has also reported that Premier Foods saw a 20% sales rise in the run-up to lockdown, as consumers stocked up on items related to meal preparation (such as cooking sauces, gravy and baking ingredients).

Ecommerce sales drop 54% in Europe the week ending June 21st

According to new data from Signifyd, ecommerce sales in Europe dropped 54% for the week ending June 21st, which coincided with non-essential retail opening in England.

Despite this 54% fall, overall ecommerce sales in Europe for the same week were 35% higher than they were for the first week of March, which is used as a pre-pandemic benchmark.

Meanwhile, Signifyd has reported some other changes in key retail verticals. Sales of business supplies were up 59% week over week, which perhaps indicates that shops and offices are planning to open up again soon. Beauty and cosmetics sales also increased 13% week over week, while grocery and household goods were up 12%. Home goods & decor spending fell 29% week over week.

Ecommerce accounted for 33.4% of all GB retail sales in May

In May, ‘non-store sales’ accounted for 33.4% of all retail in Britain, a month-on-month growth of 19.7%, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Non-store sales made up 11.3% of all food sales last month, up from 9.4% in April, reflecting continued high demand for supermarket delivery slots and takeaways as well as the reopening of fast food drive-throughs.

Meanwhile, almost half of all clothing, textile and footwear sales (49.4%) were non-store, a result that was arguably anticipated as brick-and-mortar stores remained shut for the entirety of May. Interestingly, ecommerce sales in this category jumped by 25.2% compared to the previous month, indicating that consumers have more intention to buy from fashion retailers now than they were at the height of the UK epidemic.

Ecommerce (non-store retail) as a total percentage of all retail stood at 19.6% in February, rising to 22.3% in March, before soaring to 30.7% in April. It will be fascinating to see how the reopening of non-essential stores will affect this figure in June and further into the future.

US retail spending rebounds by record 17.7% month-on-month in May

The US census bureau has reported that the retail industry experienced a 17.7% rise in US consumer spending during May compared to April. This sharp spike in month-on-month sales is a record, following an unprecedented dip seen towards the beginning of the coronavirus crisis in the country.

US retail spending in recent months has been considerably more volatile than records from the 2008 financial crash, causing dramatic lows and highs as the pandemic continues. It now appears that many consumers in the region are more willing to part with their cash than they were when Covid-19 first appeared, however this could be short-lived – an official recession was declared by the US government at the beginning of June.

US retail sales change over time BBC news

Chart via BBC News

While the retail spending results for May appear a positive sign for the sector, they have not been able to make up for losses seen over the past few months. Consequently, US spending has so far fallen by around 6% year-on-year.

Three in five UK consumers favoured local shops during lockdown

Fifty-nine percent of UK consumers have shopped in more local stores since lockdown, in order to help support them, according to research from Deloitte. published on 8 June. While restrictions on travel may have certainly played a part in retail habits across the country, it appears that consumers are becoming more mindful of the impact of their spending in their local communities.

Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed said that they were more likely to buy from a brand that sells products that are locally sourced after lockdown has ended than they would have been prior to Covid-19.

Meanwhile, one in five have actively stopped purchasing from a brand because of its response to the coronavirus outbreak, such as not providing a safe working environment for its employees. This figure rises to 28% in shoppers aged between 16-24, reiterating the importance of brand purpose for younger consumers.

With social distancing measures likely to stay a while longer once lockdown lifts, sixty-two percent of all respondents stated that they were more likely to spend money with companies that prioritise the health and safety of their staff as more brick-and-mortar shops reopen.

Indian, Chinese and South African consumers most likely to prioritise luxury shopping after lockdowns lift

Asia’s luxury market was growing at a rapid rate – particularly amongst China’s wealthiest young shoppers – before the coronavirus hit, and the virus doesn’t seem to have had much impact on purchase intent when it comes to such items. While 37% of Indian and 31% of Chinese consumers said they had delayed buying a luxury product, they are also the most likely to prioritise luxury purchases once their regions return to normal life, data from GlobalWebIndex indicates.

One in ten Indian shoppers said that they would buy a luxury item first, while seven percent of Chinese shoppers claimed the same. Meanwhile, thirty-nine percent of South African respondents stated they had put off luxury purchases and six percent said they would remain a priority after restrictions are lifted.

Japanese consumers were the least likely to delay shopping for high-end products during the coronavirus outbreak; however, they were also among the least likely to rush out to buy such items after it subsides.

Nordics see higher online revenue growth than UK and US over three-month period to June

While online spending has increased on a global scale throughout March, April and May, some areas have been more impacted than others, new insight from Fresh Relevance suggests.

During those three months, US online retailers saw an average 126% rise in online revenue for the same period last year, a figure that evens out poor performance in March and a strong rise in sales during May. The Nordics, on the other hand, have seen a huge and fairly consistent spike, raising its revenue growth to 166% year-on-year, while the rest of Europe has seen a smaller 115% uptick.

Impact on revenue for the Rest of World category has been particularly volatile, experiencing sharp decreases and increases throughout the last three months, but has settled on a 158% average growth.

By the last full week of May, however, both the North American and Rest of World regions had overtaken the Nordics on weekly online revenue growth.

Fresh Relevance online revenue impact by region

Chart via Fresh Relevance

As China returns to ‘normal’, its behavioural shift to online shopping continues

As China returns to ‘normal’ ahead of most other regions of the world, there are signs that consumer ecommerce habits have continued despite many physical stores having now reopened for some time. Senior managers of (one of the largest ecommerce platforms in China) Vivien Yang and Ella Kidron wrote an insightful blog post for the World Economic Forum, detailing trends in online shopping that have continued past quarantine.

For the first four months of this year, retail sales in China fell by 16% year-on-year, while online sales rose by 8.6% to $360 billion.

On the first day of’s 618 Grand Promotion in June – a huge annual sales event for the brand –  its online supermarket JD Super saw a 100% year-on-year sales increase, while fresh grocery products saw an even larger boost of 140% compared to the same day in 2019. Younger people drove a significant proportion of these online sales, with 70% of those born after 1995 now shopping for ‘necessities for the whole family’ where they were previously only buying for themselves.

It is thought that a sharp increase in ecommerce live-streaming and sales promotions, alongside wider online brand engagement borne from stay-at-home orders are the main reasons for the heightened popularity of online shopping past China’s lockdown period.

This data suggests similar trends could occur in western regions as various European countries begin tentatively lifting restrictions, accelerating consumer online shopping habits in the grocery category in particular.

How is coronavirus impacting the retail industry?


JC Decaux revenue down 63% in Q2 2020

In its most recent financial statement, JC Decaux stated its revenue plummeted by 63.4% in the second quarter of 2020, a figure it claimed was ‘historic’ for the company. OOH advertising has taken a huge hit from lockdowns and stay-at-home orders around the world and JC Decaux’s data reflects the extent of financial losses felt in the industry.

In Q2, the company reported €351.9 million in revenue, down from 1 billion during the same period in 2019. Revenue in Q1 was less badly affected, but still recorded a 13.1% year-on-year drop from €840 million to €723.6 million. Overall revenue for H1 was down by 41.6%.

When it comes to revenue via geographic area, most regions saw relatively similar year-on-year declines. France and North America faired the best with -37.1% and -38.3% revenue growth respectively, while ROW and APAC saw the worst revenue declines of -48% and -43.7%.

The company said it has scrapped its earnings guidance for 2020 in light of the ongoing disruption and uncertainty caused by Covid-19.

UK lockdown drives 48% Q2 decline in traditional ad spend

New research from Nielsen, covered by WARC, reveals a 48% year-on-year decline in traditional UK ad spend (cinema, outdoor, press, tv and radio) between 23rd March and 30th June, reducing overall spend in this area by more than £1 billion over this period.

The majority of brands studied by the research firm cut traditional ad spend during those months, although some more harshly than others. Big names like McDonalds, Amazon and Sky slashed spending by 97%, 77% and 60% respectively, while FMCG giant P&G reduced traditional ad spend by £9.9 million.

Meanwhile, organisations in the entertainment and leisure and travel and transport sectors dropped their spending by £207 million and £138 million as both industries bore the brunt of the coronavirus business impact.

In contrast, Public Health England spent a huge £43 million during the quarter, a 5037% year-on-year increase, making it the biggest spender of all UK-based organisations that have continued to advertise since the coronavirus outbreak began. Other brands that increased spending include Disney (up 962% year-on-year), Microsoft (+142%) and O2 (+65%).

Facebook ad revenue grows 10% year-on-year in Q2

Facebook’s ad revenue for the second quarter grew by 10% year-on-year to $18.3bn, despite the pandemic and recent boycotting activity which started at the end of June. The company expects a similar ad revenue growth rate for Q3, having been impacted by the continuing boycott of the platform by major brand advertisers, it said in its financial statement.

Monthly and Daily Active Users on the Facebook app were both up by 12% compared with the same period last year, reaching 1.79 billion and 2.70 billion respectively. Meanwhile, Family Daily Active People (users who access at least one app per day from Facebook’s family of apps, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp) was up 15% year-on-year during Q2, although there are signs that this increased activity is beginning to normalise as some restrictions are lifted in certain areas.

Twitter revenue slows but DAUs up 34% year-on-year in Q2

In its latest financial release, Twitter has revealed that its Monetisable Daily Active Users (mDAUs) grew by 34% (186 million) during Q2 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 – the highest year-on-year growth rate in this metric since its records began. This figure has increased by 20 million since Q1, a period which began to see rapid growth as internet users searched for the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite the large uplift in mDAUs, Twitter reported a 19% drop in total revenue (year-on-year) to $683 million as marketing budgets stopped many brands from splashing out on advertising. However, this slump could arguably have been worse, and was cushioned by the relative recovery in social ad spend compared to the last three weeks of March. For those advertisers that remained on the platform, ad engagement rose by 3% year-on-year, while cost per engagement was down by 25%.

Twitter’s CFO, Ned Segal, appeared optimistic for the future, commenting, “With a larger audience and progress in ads, we are even better positioned to deliver for advertisers when the live events and product launches that bring many people and advertisers to Twitter return to our lives.”

Worldwide social ad spend rose 26.2% in Q2 compared to the end of Q1

Worldwide social ad spend rose by 26.2% in Q2 compared to figures measured at the end of Q1, according to a new report from Socialbakers. One area of particularly rapid growth includes the accommodation industry, which saw a 151.3% increase in social ad spend since the end of March, as consumers warmed to the idea of staycations and other short trips. Ecommerce social ad spend was also up by 76.3% during the same period.

Meanwhile, cost per click on brand social ad accounts rose by 42.7%, from $0.075 to $0.107, indicating a cautious recovery which could continue throughout the rest of the year. However, average cost per click remained 23.6% lower than it was in Q2 2019.

Overall social ad spend rose steadily throughout most of the second quarter, with particularly strong performance in early June, before dropping off significantly during the final fortnight – a pattern which Socialbakers says is likely due to both the #BlackOutTuesday movement and the beginnings of the ongoing Facebook ad boycott. The North American market has been most affected by these events, seeing social ad spend increase by 91.7% between the beginning of April and mid-June but then diving by 31.6% in the last two weeks of June.

With the boycott predicted to continue throughout most of July, data suggests that ad spend will fall further throughout at least the first portion of Q3 before making another modest recovery.

Biggest recorded drop in UK marketing budgets takes place in Q2 2020

The net balance of organisations that have cut marketing budgets fell to -50.7% in Q2, down from -6.1% in Q1. This latest figure is the biggest drop recorded by the IPA Bellwether Report since the report began twenty years ago – including the Q4 2008 financial crisis when marketing budgets were slashed to -41.7%.

Nearly 64% of those surveyed stated they had recorded a decrease in marketing spend between April and June, compared to 25% who recorded a decrease between January and March. Just 13% said they had seen an increase in budget for the same period.

Drilling down, a net balance of -76.6% of organisations reported cuts to their events marketing budgets in Q2, with just 3.6% claiming they had risen. Meanwhile, the reduction in main media budgets dropped to a net balance of -51.1%, the largest decline seen by the report for this metric. Out of all subcategories in main media marketing, OOH budgets unsurprisingly were hit the hardest (-61.2%), followed by audio (-50.0%) and published brands (-49.2%).

Direct marketing and PR budgets were least affected in the second quarter, but still recorded a severe downturn in net balance to -41.6%.

14 UK automotive brand sites increased ad spend in H1 2020

Nearly half of 30 automotive brand websites (UK) analysed by SEMrush increased their ad spend during H1 2020, despite auto sales plummeting since the coronavirus outbreak began. saw the largest growth in ad spend, rising by 257% between January and June. ranked second, followed by, with 156% and 88% growth respectively over the same period. Meanwhile, saw the biggest decline, totalling an almost 91% fall in ad spend growth in the first half of the year. and both cut ad spend on their sites by a little over 67%.

Predictably, in the wider transport sector, most airline websites either froze or reduced their ad spending as strict travel restrictions were imposed. In fact, the only airline to increase spending in H1 was – by a whopping 327%. In contrast, reduced its ad spend by a full 100% over six months, along with other well-known brand websites like Flybe, Jet2 and Emirates.

UK cinema advertising revenues expected to more than halve by the end of 2020

Advertising revenues in UK cinemas were originally expected to grow by 9% to £249m in 2020 before coronavirus forced UK cinemas to close for several months. Now, they are expected to reach just £114m by the end of the year, less than half of the total ad revenue secured in 2019. This is according to Group M, as reported by the Guardian.

As blockbuster movies such as the latest installment of James Bond are being delayed or released exclusively on streaming services, box office revenues are predicted to plummet by 58% to £525 million, down from £1.25 billion last year – the lowest result in the last 24 years.

Although cinemas are set to reopen across the UK from 4th July, strict social distancing rules will continue to have an impact on revenue as fewer customers will be admitted, while the continued postponement of major releases is likely to put some off altogether.

Global ad spend predicted to fall 11.8% in 2020

Global ad spend is predicted to fall by 11.8% (or $70m) to $517.5 billion in 2020, according to the latest forecast by GroupM. This figure excludes US political advertising.

GroupM initially expected to see a growth of 4.8%, however this was then lessened to 3.9% in December 2019, following some weakening in the global economy. Now, the coronavirus pandemic has driven total advertising back down to levels seen around 2017.

It’s not an entirely gloomy picture; GroupM predicts that advertising growth is expected to rise 8.2% to reach $560 billion in 2021. An additional 4.7% growth is also expected in 2022, which would bring total advertising back to 586bn, where it was in 2019.

GroupM forecast
Chart by GroupM

55% of British consumers think brands are taking advantage of the pandemic

Research from Dynata indicates that 55% of British consumers think that brands are taking advantage of the pandemic in order to sell more products. The percentage of Brits that have this sentiment is seven percentage points higher than the average across seven countries analysed, with only Spanish consumers being slightly more sceptical at 57%.

This proves Spanish and British consumers are particularly sensitive to brand messaging, meaning it’s even more important that brands who target them are authentic in what they communicate during the coronavirus crisis.

Concerning themes that resonate with the UK at this time, more than half agreed ads that ‘communicate how a brand is contributing to the needs of the crisis’ were appealing, and 38% said that they liked advertisements that remind them of life before the outbreak. However, ads that ‘use people seen as vulnerable to the virus’, for example the elderly, were voted as unappealing by 44% of UK respondents, while images of people in close proximity to each other didn’t resonate well either.

Nearly two-thirds of US publishers are experiencing a decrease in CPMs since the coronavirus outbreak

A May 2020 survey conducted by IAB questioned US advertising sellers, including traditional publishers and programmatic specialists such as SSPs, Ad Exchanges and Ad Networks, to understand how and where US advertising is being most affected by the virus. It revealed that 63% percent of publishers in the region are experiencing a decrease in CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) since the coronavirus outbreak began. Meanwhile, 6% of US programmatic specialists have seen a rise in the same metric.

Lowered ad budgets were cited as the biggest factor, with 79% of publishers agreeing that this had had a major impact on the dramatic decrease in CPM pricing. Thirty-seven percent blamed cancelled media events, while a further 31% claimed that a lower number of face-to-face meetings was also responsible.

Display advertising has been most negatively impacted by the fallout from Covid-19, seeing around a 30% decrease in CPM rates across both mobile and desktop devices. Connected TV devices, on the other hand, have been the most resilient to pricing change at a much smaller 6% drop in rates.

Social media

Time spent on social media is on track to total 36 days per average user in 2020

Globally, the average number of hours spent on social media in 2020 is on track to total 863.8 hours – the equivalent of 36 days – per average user, according to a new report from GlobalWebIndex. However, only 14% of UK and US consumers are concerned about the amount of time they spend online.

As a general trend, social media usage has continued to plateau in most regions of the world, often differing by just a few minutes on average between 2019 and 2020. Exceptions to this rule include Kenya (+18 minutes per day since 2019), South Africa (+17 minutes), the UAE (+14 minutes) and Nigeria (+12 minutes).

While Covid-19 has seen time spent on social media spike in recent months, most of this has been driven by heavy social media users increasing their usage further, as opposed to casual or light users. These tend to be younger global demographics like Gen Z and Millennials, who spend typically 2 hours 41 minutes and 2 hours 22 minutes respectively per day on social platforms. Fifty-four percent of Gen Z consumers and 44% of Millennial consumers have been spending more time on social media since the start of the outbreak, while a smaller 27% of baby boomers have increased their usage.

However, there is evidence that these behaviours are short-lived for younger audiences. As the coronavirus crisis has progressed, the number of Gen Z spending longer on social messaging services dropped from 62% in March to 44% in May, while those of this age group spending more time on apps fell by 16 percentage points from 56% in March to 43% in May.

62% of the UK population has used video calling apps on a weekly basis since the outbreak began

Insight from Acxiom published on 15th July confirms that 62% of the UK population has used video calling apps on a weekly basis since the coronavirus outbreak began, rising to 72% on a monthly basis.

Weekly video call app use was measured at 36% before the start of the pandemic, before rising by 26 percentage points at the peak. It is now expected that 51% UK consumers will continue to use them at least once a week once the crisis is over, signalling a permanent shift in the use of video calling technology to keep in touch with friends and family.

Off apps studied by Acxiom, WhatsApp saw the highest percentage of weekly users during the peak of the outbreak at 38%, a number which is predicted to drop down to 34% (10 percentage points higher than the average weekly use pre-Covid). Zoom, on the other hand, saw the largest percentage increase in weekly users, rising by 19% from 5% to 24%.

Regular video app use post-Covid is expected to grow across the board compared to pre-Covid habits, whether on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

96% of US and UK social media users say they are engaging with influencers more or to the same extent as they were before Covid-19

Ninety-six percent of US and UK social media users say they are engaging with influencers more or to the same extent as they were before Covid-19, according to a May 2020 survey published by GlobalWebIndex and Influencer. Of these, 47% claimed to be engaging more with content posted by influencers during lockdown.

Thirty-seven percent of respondents claim to watch influencers’ live video content, while 34% comment on posts and watch Stories on platforms like Instagram. A further 41% said that they stop to engage with influencer content when scrolling through their feeds.

Baby boomers were the age group most likely to leave comments and watch live videos, but Gen Z were more likely to interact with content while scrolling, rather than deliberately seeking out the profiles of influencers they follow. One quarter of Millennials said that they frequently participate in giveaways, contests and quizzes.

These results are in line with data that suggests social media engagement has reached new heights since the coronavirus pandemic began, however influencers have been adversely affected in terms of income and the amount of sponsored content they have been able to post in the past three months.

Kids spend almost as much time on TikTok as they do on YouTube during February, March and April

Parental control software developer Qustodio has found that kids aged 4 to 15 in the UK, US and Spain are now spending almost as much time watching TikTok videos as they are watching content on YouTube, TechCrunch reports.

On average, between February and April this year, there was a five-minute difference in watch time between the two – 85 minutes on YouTube versus 80 minutes on TikTok per day – for this age group across these countries. In the US alone, when Covid-19 hit in the months of March and April, time spent on each app increased to 97 minutes and 95 minutes per day on YouTube and TikTok respectively: a difference of just two minutes. This trend was also reflected in the UK (83 mins vs. 81 mins per day), but slightly less so in Spain (75 mins vs. 71 mins per day).

TikTok has helped grow social app use in kids by 200% in 2020, up from a previous rise of 100% in 2019 when the app first started to gain traction in the US, UK and Europe. This suggests that TikTok has now become, in a matter of months, a major rival for the 15 year-old YouTube platform in the West – a competition that has narrowed thanks to the coronavirus.

Facebook Daily Active Users increase by 11% year-on-year in Q1 2020

Facebook’s Q1 2020 results have shown an increase in its Daily Active Users (DAUs) of 11% year-on-year (1.7 billion), driven by an uplift in social media engagement from stay-at-home orders in place. Its Monthly Active Users (MAUs) saw a similar growth of 10% (2.6 bilion).

However, despite heightened usage, Facebook’s ad revenue for the quarter rose by 17% year-on-year, nine percentage points lower than the 26% growth it saw in Q1 2019 vs Q1 2018. Facebook admitted that it had ‘experienced a significant reduction in the demand for advertising, as well as a related decline in the pricing of ads, over the last three weeks of the first quarter of 2020’, indicating that its revenue growth could dip even lower if ad spend remains sluggish between April and June.

In a recent blog post, Facebook stated that voice and video calling across Messenger and WhatsApp has more than doubled in areas hardest hit by the coronavirus, and that total messaging across all of its owned apps has increased more than 50%.

Instagram influencers lose on average 33% of their potential income between March & May

A new report from Attain suggests that Instagram influencers have lost, on average, 33% of their potential income due to the coronavirus pandemic, which equates to £2500 per week.

The study examined 500 influencers on the platform, ranging from micro-influencers to celebrities and found that 65% of them posted less sponsored content during the 8 weeks between 12th March and 7th May compared to the 8 weeks prior.

It also found that influencers with less than 100k followers are being affected the most, with 72% recording a drop in income, and just 16% recording an increase. Meanwhile just over half (55%) those with over 3 million followers saw a fall in earnings, and 30% reported earning more.

Understandably, travel influencers have become the worst off since the outbreak began. Seventy-nine percent are now posting less sponsored content and have had their potential income cut by a huge 47%. Lifestyle influencers came in second, with a 46% average loss of earnings, and fashion influencers have experienced a 31% loss.

TikTok downloads surge in Q1 2020, surpassing 2 billion lifetime downloads

Downloads of video sharing app TikTok surged by 315m in Q1 2020, making it the most downloaded app ever in any three-month time period, according to analysis from SensorTower. By comparison, the app saw 187m downloads in Q1 2019, resulting in a roughly 68% increase year-on-year, and a staggering 110m more than its previous record quarter which saw 205m downloads in Q4 2018.

It is now estimated that total downloads of the app have surpassed 2 billion since its launch in 2016. So far, India has recorded the most lifetime downloads of any country at 611 million, while China’s version of the app – Douyin – takes second place with 197m and the US takes third with 165m.

While it is common knowledge that media consumption has greatly increased for consumers across the globe as they stay at home, social media engagement has soared. TikTok has evidently become a progressively popular source of entertainment, as well as an outlet for creativity, for consumers at this trying time.

SensorTower TikTok downloads by quarter

Chart via SensorTower

Work management

Microsoft employees’ workdays have been on average four hours longer during Covid-19 crisis, indicating wider WFH patterns

An internal analysis on Microsoft employees’ workdays since remote working was enforced has shed light on wider WFH patterns during Covid-19. Using data from 350 employees, the company found that workdays are on average four hours longer than when based in-office, as many take longer daytime breaks for tasks like childcare and personal wellness and, to accommodate this, they begin work earlier and/or finish later.

Slightly worryingly, the number of messages sent after 6pm on workdays rose by 52% compared with pre-Covid levels, suggesting that workers are using more and more evening hours to catch up on work. This work-life balance is blurred even further on weekends, Microsoft found. Of the 10% of employees that avoided working weekends the most, typically spending less than 10 minutes online, active online time across Saturdays and Sundays tripled to 30 minutes when based at home.

When it comes to weekly meetings, these increased by 10% in a remote working environment, as quick in-person catch ups over coffee were no longer an option. Despite this, however, time spent in-meeting reduced significantly – the data revealed 11% fewer meetings that spanned 1 hour or more, while meetings that took 30 minutes or less increased by 22%. As a result, this indicates collaboration time has become more efficient since WFH became the new norm.

Zoom users grew by 2,000% between January and April 2020

Ofcom released its ‘Online Nation’ report this week, revealing how people in the UK are using the internet, as well as wider trends within the online industry.

The report revealed that while more than a third of measured time online is spent on Google or Facebook-owned sites, some of the fastest-growing services during the coronavirus crisis are not owned by Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon or Microsoft (also known as GAFAM).

TikTok is one platform that has seen a huge spike: its reach increased from 5.4 million to 12.9 million UK users between January and April 2020. Group video calling app Houseparty also saw a big increase, going from 175,000 to 4 million users. Zoom saw the most impressive growth, however, with the number of UK users surging from 659,000 in January to 13 million adults in April, which equates to a growth of 2,000%.

ofcom report
Chart via Ofcom

Professional messaging surges 120% during lockdown

Lockdown has resulted in a surge in usage of messaging apps. According to Kantar, WhatsApp usage increased by 40%, while Facebook usage increased 37%.

A separate study carried out by messaging and professional collaboration app Guild has also found a big spike in professional messaging, as people strive to stay connected with colleagues while working from home.

Guild analysed its platform data to find that there was a 120% increase in total messages sent on the professional messaging app for three months after lockdown started (on 23rd March 2020), compared to the three months before lockdown. The first week of lockdown saw a 7% increase in messaging on the platform compared to the previous week, but this had risen to 31% by week four of lockdown, before continuing to increase on a daily basis.

Just 7% of UK brands are ‘seizing the opportunity’ to invest more in marketing

Econsultancy and Marketing Week’s Business Impact Survey also discovered that just 7% of UK brands are investing more in marketing as a strategic approach during the pandemic.

In contrast, 29% of respondents claimed their approach was to ‘stay the course’ by keeping budgets at a steady level and 50% revealed they were cutting marketing budgets in order to ‘live to fight another day’. The remaining 14% appear to still be undecided, saying that it is still too early to know what strategic response to put in place.

When it comes to making these tough decisions, 27% told the survey that their strategy was instinctual. A further 13% said that they base their marketing strategy was based on data, and most (60%) claimed they used a mixture of the two.

Although senior teams across UK organisations appear understanding of the ways investment in marketing could be important during this time, there seems to be a general lack of budget to do so. Indeed, 46% maintained that if they asked to increase media spend, their leadership team would say that, while they understand the motivation, there is no cash to spend. One third also said that finance leaders would ask them to prove their case before an rise in spend was considered.

60% of large global organisations have identified new processes that they might use post-outbreak

Sixty percent of large global organisations (with annual revenues >£50m) have identified new processes that could be used beyond the outbreak, according to the phase three results of Econsultancy and Marketing Week’s Covid-19 Business Impact Survey.

Significant numbers of respondents said they had also observed new ways of working which could be used post-outbreak (82%), innovations in marketing messaging/branding (49%) and innovations in products and services (47%).

The rate at which these observations have grown since the second phase of the survey (conducted on 31st March) is encouraging. Indeed, the percentage of respondents reporting product and service innovations has more than doubled since this date, increasing from 22% to 47% and the proportion reporting innovations in customer communications has risen by 19 percentage points to 43%.

A surge in innovation could be seen as one of the few positive outcomes marketers have experienced since coronavirus spread throughout the world, and it is encouraging to see so many organisations have found new ways of working which improve on their current processes. As a result, it is possible that the coronavirus pandemic could become a primary trigger for major fast-tracked changes in the ways large enterprises operate in the future.

A fifth of large enterprises are investing in digital transformation initiatives during the coronavirus pandemic


Disney loses $4.7bn in revenue during Q2, but Disney+ subscribers soar

Disney reported a $4.7bn drop in revenue for the quarter ending June, however Ofcom data has shown rapid uptake in its streaming service Disney+ thanks to Covid-19.

Between its launch in the UK (24th March) and early July, 16% of online adults in the UK had subscribed to Disney+. The research has also confirmed that it has surpassed NowTV when it comes to subscription numbers in the UK, ranking it the third most popular SVoD in the country after Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. However, 95% of those who subscribe to Disney+ also have a subscription with at least one of these other two services, suggesting that Disney+ offers supplementary entertainment and will likely not replace them as an outright alternative.

In June, Disney+ was accessed by 32% of UK households containing children between the ages of 3 and 11, an increase from 21% in April, overtaking the reach of BBC iPlayer among this demographic, which fell from 26% to 22% during the same period. As a result, this proves Disney+ is continuing to gain momentum with families despite the easing of lockdown, and in some cases is replacing BBC children’s content.

Ofcom data also found that consumers were on average spending 1 hour and 11 minutes per day on SVoD services in April 2020, which is 37 minutes higher than figures recorded in April 2019.

News apps see 59% increase in sessions between January and April 2020

Consumers have been increasingly turning to their phones to consume news throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Now, data suggests that news apps could see a long-term boost from this behaviour, as users are still consuming more news via mobile apps than they did before the pandemic.

According to data from Adjust, daily installs of news apps grew by 37% between January and April 2020. Installs peaked in March, before returning to near pre-Covid levels in May. Daily sessions also saw a huge rise, increasing 59% between January and April. Adjust states that, while sessions peaked in April, they decreased by just 13% the following month, and sessions are still trending far higher than in 2019, or at the start of 2020.

Global use of news apps

The data throws up some interesting regional trends, too. In the US, daily sessions soared 104% between January and April, and have only seen an 8% decrease between April and May, suggesting many users have continued using the apps.

In EMEA, meanwhile, daily sessions grew by 69% from January to April 2020, peaking in March, in line with when lockdown measures came into place across much of the region. Germany and France in particular saw huge spikes in daily sessions, increasing by 75% and 71% respectively.

34% of US 25-34 year olds listen to a news-based podcast every month

Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report has revealed that 34% of US 25-34 year olds surveyed had listened to a news-based podcast in the previous month, more than any other podcast genre including specialist topics, lifestyle and sports. Meanwhile, 23% of 18-24 year olds and 21% of 35-44 year olds in the region claimed they had done the same.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, those ages 45-54 and 55+ are the least likely to listen to podcasts across the board, but there are indications that those based on current affairs are much more appealing to them. Thirteen percent of respondents from each of these age categories said they had listened to a news-based podcast in the last month compared to 7-8% listening to one on a specialist subject, which came in second place.

This data reflects the increased interest in news since the coronavirus outbreak began, particularly amongst younger audiences. While they are increasingly using non-traditional platforms such as social media and podcasts to access news content, statistics suggest that older generations mostly prefer linear TV and online publications.

Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2020 US podcast consumption

Chart via Reuters Institute

Half a billion Chinese consumers now livestream content

Official figures for March 2020 have revealed that over half a billion Chinese consumers are live-streaming content as of March this year, a rise of 163 million users since the end of 2018. The numbers are thought to have been intensified by the lockdown imposed on the region earlier this year and represent 62% of all internet users in China.

WeChat, Douyin and RED, some of China’s most popular apps and social platforms, all launched live-streaming capability during the peak of their coronavirus epidemic, and as such this type of media consumption has secured a key role in the ecommerce industry in the country.

Ecommerce now accounts for nearly 30% of all content live-streamed, outperforming sports broadcasting and live concerts at 23.5% and 16.6% respectively. Meanwhile, viewership of live gaming grew by 22 million over the last 18 months to 260 million and live host shows grew by 43.7 million to 207 million.

Employment & recruitment

Chinese economy grows by 3.2% in Q2 after record Q1 slump

China’s economy grew by 3.2% in the second quarter of this year, following a record slump of -6.8% in Q1, the BBC has stated. This bounce-back is sharper than experts originally predicted, as China begins to return to normal ahead of other regions still gripped by the coronavirus.

The ‘v-shaped recovery’ that China appears to be going through could be good news for other major markets which have yet to lift all restrictions and reboot their economies. However, despite Chinese production back in full swing, retail sales in the country still lag behind, with growth in the sector falling again in Q2.

Overall Chinese economic growth for H1 was measured at -1.6%, according to its National Bureau for Statistics.

UK SMEs saw a 28% decline in revenue between March and May

Many UK SMEs have been understandably struggling amid the outbreak, with new analysis from Xero suggesting that they saw an average 28% decline in revenue between the months of March and May.

Employment rates dropped by 6% for small and medium businesses of all industries. Job losses rose to 10.8% in the hospitality sector during April and a further 3.1% in May, making it the hardest hit of all organisations of this size. The rental, hiring and real estate sector was the second worst affected, seeing job losses increase by 6.9% in May from a smaller 3.2% in April. Geographically, the East Midlands experienced the most job losses in SMEs across all verticals.Xero revenue growth per industry

Meanwhile, late payments increased by 7.8 days, having improved slightly before the coronavirus crisis hit in March, taking the average time it takes for an invoice to be paid from 30.7 days in February to 38.5 days in May.

97% of UK marcomms workers have reservations about returning to work in an office

Data from insight agency Question and Retain has indicated that as many as 97% of the UK marcomms workforce have reservations about returning to work in an office. A recent survey was conducted of 2500 workers in the industry regarding their thoughts on working from home and returning to work post-lockdown.

Eighty-two percent of respondents also said that they were ‘really’ or ‘quite’ nervous about travelling into work after the outbreak has subsided.

When it comes to their current experience working from home, less than half (48%) claimed that they felt sufficiently connected with their colleagues, while one in three admitted that they struggle with work and life balance since the lockdown began. Furthermore, fifty-seven percent felt that there was enough clear information from leadership teams within their organisations, suggesting that companies in the marcomms sector could do much more to inform and support their employees during the coronavirus crisis than they have over the last few months.

Recruitment for London’s tech industry falls by 57%

Recruitment for permanent roles in London’s technology industry has fallen by 57% since the outbreak reached the UK. This is according to research from (as reported by technology publication Verdict), which analysed more than 5,000 London tech start-ups using its platform and others like LinkedIn and Indeed.

Before the coronavirus pandemic sent London, and the rest of the UK, into lockdown, the technology industry in the capital was home to more tech start-ups worth over $1 billion than any other location in Europe. Since then, companies in this and other sectors have seen budgets for new hires cut drastically due to slowing revenue and increasing economic uncertainty.

This is a trend occurring all around the world, as reflected by a recent study carried out by Verdict that revealed that, on average, 35% of similar companies from the US, UK, Canada and India have temporarily paused recruitment within the last few months.

82% of large enterprises globally have cut hiring budgets

A massive 82% of large enterprises (those with an annual revenue above £50m) have cut hiring budgets, phase three of Econsultancy and Marketing Week’s Business Impact Survey has found. Just 3% of respondents in this category said that they had increased spending as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

When asked “How has marketing been affected by furloughing/staff reductions compared to other divisions?”, half of large enterprises said that their marketing departments have had the same rates as others. Meanwhile, there were roughly the same number of respondents on either end of the scale (‘lower rates of furloughs/redundancies’ vs ‘higher’), suggesting that overall they have not been disproportionately affected.

However almost a quarter did believe that marketing departments had been ‘significantly’ impacted on an efficiency level due to the reduction of staff, thereby compromising their ability to achieve current goals. A further 42% stated that the ability to achieve current goals was ‘somewhat’ compromised, adding up to a total majority of two-thirds experiencing some impact on productivity.

Young people in the UK most worried about impact of coronavirus on jobs and wages

A new study by YouGov has revealed that people aged 18 to 24 are more worried than any other age group about the impact coronavirus will have on the job market in the long-term. According to figures published on 24th March, in a survey of 1,619 adults in the UK, seven in ten 18 to 24-year-olds say they worry that the coronavirus will cause higher unemployment for a long time. This figure drops for every other subsequent age group.

The survey also found that 54% of 18 to 24 year olds believe that coronavirus will affect wages in the long-term, compared with 43% aged 50 and over.

As the pandemic continues to spread, anxiety levels about the economy are rising. The number of people worried that coronavirus will cause long-term unemployment jumped from 26% to 62% in just the space of a week. Similarly, two thirds of Brits now believe there will be lasting damage to the economy, which is up from 36% a week before.

yougov stat
Image via YouGov

For more on coronavirus and marketing, visit Econsultancy’s coronavirus hub page.

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