How do advertisers feel about their work?

Thinking and acting from the customer in the corona pandemic

The novel corona virus and the associated disease COVID-19 have turned our world upside down. All areas of our life are affected, from health and work to lifestyle and culture. In the affected countries, many people are now working from home. In stationary retail, however, many shops are temporarily closed.

Like most companies, when the pandemic emerged, Criteo saw a need to prioritize the health and safety of its employees. As soon as the security of our team was guaranteed, our business continuity plan went into effect immediately, ensuring the security of data center operations and customer support while maintaining internal processes. In this way we have created a solid basis for the continuous continuation of our business. Advertisers are currently facing unique challenges. We want to support them in protecting their employees and their brands while maintaining their income and share of mind.

COVID-19 is having a huge impact on our global systems. The disease has caused all advertisers, large and small, to reevaluate their strategies and adapt their plans as quickly as possible to the new norm of social distancing. While some aspects of their strategies can change, advertisers must continue to think and act in a customer-centric way. In doing so, they should focus on the specific concerns of consumers in connection with the corona pandemic.

The key question for advertisers is:"What can my company and my brand do to improve the lives of customers during this time?"This question is not in itself new to advertisers, but it does need to be reconsidered from the perspective of the pandemic. This task may be easier for brands that manufacture vital quarantine materials. But it is also valuable for brands that offer safe, ready-to-ship gifts that consumers use to keep in touch with their friends and family, or for brands that educate people on how to optimize their financial planning and stay optimistic in these challenging times.

The question of value is different for every advertiser. As in any situation, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, putting customers at the center of your strategy helps you understand their unique value and align your messages with them. So how can advertisers continue to be customer-centric during the corona pandemic while remaining as compassionate as possible towards their customers?

Focus on high performing marketing channels

At the moment, every euro invested in marketing counts more than ever. Because of this, it's critical to focus on the channels that are performing the best and leverage the data necessary to succeed on those channels. The strategy should encompass both the open internet and the walled gardens of search engines and social media to ensure that you can reach your target audience potential. Advertisers should concentrate on addressing target groups digitally across all devices. This is how you reach the right audience with the right message at home.

Even omnichannel advertisers can redirect their customers in stationary retail to their online shops. This leads to a massive increase in web traffic both in the online shops and on the websites of independent publishers, because this is the only way that customers can get the supplies and products they need while at the same time complying with social distancing guidelines. This development should also send a clear signal to online retailers to open the native advertising inventory on their websites so that brands can position themselves where they are most likely to be seen. In return, brands should include these retail websites in their current marketing mix.

Tailor your advertising messages to the immediate needs of consumers

The status of the corona pandemic is constantly changing. Hence, consumers make decisions on a day-to-day basis. Advertisers can follow suit by focusing on the here and now. For brands, this can mean that they have to carry out campaigns in the Upper Funnel so that they don't lose awareness. Direct response advertisers, on the other hand, can advertise products that play the most important role in current life, such as food or entertainment products. Some brands may decide to pause their current advertising strategies. But in doing so, they risk losing their reputation in the market and missing out on potential sales at this crucial time.

Regardless of what strategies advertisers use, it is still important to show thought leadership and think about consumers. Focus on what is really important to your customers. It has never been more important than today to address the right people with the right message at the right time. Advertisers have the opportunity to spread their value-driven messages on a large scale by taking advantage of key moments such as updates on delivery options or the availability of products that are in high demand.

Creates positive brand awareness wherever possible

Much is uncontrollable in a global pandemic. Brandscan however, control their reaction to what is happening. For example, shipping times and services can be delayed and interrupted to ensure the safety of the deliverer. Advertisers and retailers can adapt to these changes by keeping up to date with the best security standards and transparently communicating what they can do. They should also communicate possible problems with shipping.

Always remember: this pandemic is driving many people out of necessity to shop online even when they usually don't. These consumers may not know what to expect from online shopping. Establishing these expectations is a positive step in building trust. Consumers will remember how brands treat them in these times. This plays a decisive role in customer loyalty after the crisis has ended.

It is closely monitored how brands react to the pandemic. Advertisers who make a contribution to society therefore collect points from consumers who care about the values ​​of a brand. The tourism industry has suffered major losses due to restrictions on air travel, hotels and cruises. But advertisers in this industry can now take the opportunity to analyze the various scenarios and prepare properly for them. For example, a Deloitte study on travel trends in Spain predicted that domestic travel and tourism would open up again in the summer. Internationally, however, this will take significantly longer.

In the meantime, brands in the tourism industry are doing what they can to help. For example, the Four Seasons Hotel in New York provides free lodging for medical staff. In order to ensure a positive perception of the brand, advertisers in all categories should also take measures for brand safety to ensure that their name does not appear in connection with harmful content about the corona virus.

Increase your efficiency through automation or managed service teams

Unfortunately, the reality of these challenging times is that advertisers may not have the infrastructure to work from home with a workforce or to maintain their value in a social distancing economy. This could force them to downsize their teams significantly. Optimization in all areas therefore helps to maximize output without overloading internal resources.

This can include strategies for the automatic management and optimization of advertising campaigns, e.g. the use of instruments such as automated bidding to keep the cost-of-sale under control. With automation, advertisers can continuously increase campaign performance and at the same time have time to concentrate on other priorities. Advertisers can also use their partners' managed service teams to maintain business continuity and access expertise to optimize strategies.

These times are unsafe for everyone. Our world is facing extremely real changes that will affect us all. The best we can do is communicate with each other continuously, prepare for different scenarios, and be agile enough to adapt quickly to the challenges. In order to properly prepare for these scenarios, it makes sense to analyze data to determine the effects of the corona pandemic on your own industry.

The Criteo Shopper Graph gives us a unique perspective on how the pandemic is affecting consumer behavior. This graph represents a network of 20,000 retailers working with us and includes transactions from more than two billion users across all devices. This gives us real-time insights into shopping trends around the world, including hundreds of products and categories in all industries.

With the help of this extensive shopper data set and our dedicated Criteo teams, we continue to monitor the changing trends in the retail industry and continuously offer our customers new analyzes, for example in our weekly blog entries, on our coronavirus dashboard and in the COVID- 19 resource center on our customer platform.

We hope that this information will help our customers to assert themselves successfully in the market despite the turmoil caused by the corona virus. In the last few weeks we have also brought our customers together for virtual crisis discussion rounds. We will continue to do this, because this way we can support you in exchanging experiences and best practices.

This pandemic will also pass. But customers will remember which brands supported them in what form during this crisis. At Criteo, we will probably be working from home in the foreseeable future. But we're prepared to help advertisers send the right message at the right time to their prospects. Whether this advertisement shows the product urgently needed during social distancing or conveys a positive message from a trustworthy brand: We see it as our mission to support advertisers in offering their customers as much value as possible. And we are proud of this task.