As we came out of April we would usually be thinking about media plans for June; as a short term agency we don’t tend to plan too much ahead so are used to working short term. This year however, we are looking at May and forecasting for Q3 has gone completely out of the window. This is the ‘no plan media plan’: no commitment, no budgets, no pressure and I quite like it.
Every client is in a unique situation right now, all have challenges (some greater than others) but there are opportunities too. We have found that by taking each week (and sometimes each day) one at time, we can maintain a steady flow of spend, look at results as they come in and make a decision about what to do tomorrow based on these.
So how did April shape up? Some clients have had to fully exercise the furlough scheme as it makes no sense for them to try to operate in the current market, so they are ‘on hold’ but actually still receiving a steady flow of interest for when they can function again. Others have remained fully functioning as a business, despite not being able to sell, and used the time to ‘tidy the classroom at the end of term’ poised in a very strong position to hit the ground running as soon as they can. We are still running ads in their key titles at much reduced rates to maintain momentum.
Finally, we have the ‘operators’ – those who have been able to function (albeit with some adaptions and restrictions) with staff working from home, factories running with half capacity, deliveries no longer being signed for and people’s acceptance that delivery does not have to happen the next day. For some the main issue has been stock: things selling too well and reduced ability to re-stock; but for a number of our clients we have seen our best ever results from individual ads. With buying rates at rock bottom, circulations still strong and engagement still high it is very much possible to get amazing results from advertising.
So what about May?
With some lifting of lockdown what will be the impact? I don’t know – but I do believe that the majority of people will still favour mail order over standing in a queue outside a shop, 2m apart, 1 person at a time. Socially distanced shopping will remain only for those shopping for necessities or for those who have a really strong desire to obtain something particular – there is no real pleasure to be gained from retail shopping for the foreseeable future. Beyond that we will continue to monitor daily as the responses and the deals come in – the beauty of direct response is you get to see exactly what your £1 spent has generated so you can justify (or not) the next ad.
So no predictions for the future just yet – except perhaps a baby boom in the New Year – as among the busiest websites currently (gardening, home learning and DIY) are Love Honey, whose sales are doing particularly well during the enforced ‘stay at home’!
Alice Buttling, MD & Media Director