Assessment Suggests Advertising Market May Have Hit Bottom In April; Now Rebounding

Advertiser confidence is on the rise according to investment advisory firm Pivotal Research Group’s second quarter media report. The report’s 2020 estimates are largely in the range of where companies indicated they were pacing for the quarter in April and early May, with the expectation that there is likely an increase in revenue numbers in the range of at least four-to-seven percent.

“We think that April increasingly feels like the bottom, and the linearity of the quarter appears to be much better in May, with expectations for continued rebound into June,” says Michael Levine, senior research analyst, internet and media.

Levine adds, “Marketers continue to watch some of the same things investors and consumers have been tracking: COVID-19 case growth and the pace of reopening. They largely appear to be tracking the pace of broader economic reopening. The world seemingly stopped in mid-March/early April, but following this, a tale of two different marketing cohorts emerged different dynamics—brand marketing and direct-response marketing.”

Direct-response marketing has been surprisingly resilient in Pivotal’s findings. A combination of lower media pricing, offline stores being shuttered and a captive consumer with more idle time on their hands was, as the report described it, “was a perfect storm.” Levine says, “We heard through late April/early May from some native-DTC [direct-to-consumer] ecommerce brands about successive daily record levels of spend combined with incredibly robust conversion rates.”

He adds, “We think that the pricing tailwind for DR brands has weakened and are hearing vignettes about pricing down 10 percent from pre-COVID-19 levels, but we have been surprised to hear about heightened levels of spend. As more of the states begin to re-open over the course of June, it will be fascinating to see how the DR channel responds.”

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