The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on publishers’ short-term ad revenues, as brands and marketers pull back on spending and reconfigure their budgets. A survey conducted in March 2020 by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) found that a higher percentage of news publisher respondents had dealt with pauses, adjustments and cancellations of campaigns compared with their non-news counterparts.
In late April, Insider Intelligence spoke with Ken Blom, senior vice president of ad strategy and partnerships at BuzzFeed, to learn how advertisers have reacted to the pandemic and what may change going forward.
Insider Intelligence: How have advertiser attitudes changed since the beginning of the outbreak?
Ken Blom: We’re certainly out of the phase where advertisers were saying, “Let’s pause, and we’ll get back to you.” The conversation is now about going live again with different creative. This isn’t everybody, but many brands have taken the necessary number of weeks to tweak their creative and their approach. They now know a little bit more about what their ask is. Before, the uncertainty was so great, it was hard for anyone to make the decision to keep spending or not.
Insider Intelligence: How are brands thinking about advertising around BuzzFeed content right now?
Ken Blom: Some of the insights that we’ve seen from advertisers who are willing to spend is that no one wants to be opportunistic at this time. And I think that has been changing week over week—that is, what “opportunistic” even means. You do see a lot of advertisers wanting to ride along with quarantine content, but there is a narrative that is shifting a little bit. Normally, advertisers know exactly what they want to say and come to BuzzFeed to make more content or seed this content out. But they don’t know what their message is right now, so they are looking to the publisher for those ideas and insights.
Insider Intelligence: Have you seen clients avoid advertising alongside news, in favor of lifestyle content?
Ken Blom: News is typically harder to sell, so it’s not too dissimilar from pre-pandemic times. That may be an advertiser being overly cautious or being concerned about brand safety. There’s a debate about “coronavirus” as a keyword and whether it should be blacklisted. It’s in every article, so it’s hard to say that it’s not brand-safe—but some advertisers may feel that way, and you’re going to have to be flexible.
Insider Intelligence: Are there any silver linings to how BuzzFeed has had to adapt during this time?
Ken Blom: There’s more storytelling to be done now that businesses need to reinvent themselves. We had a great partnership with dating app Bumble, which needs to reinvent what dating is like when it’s done via video calls. So, we created a series of videos to help explain some of its new products to users. As new behaviors are happening, it’s a really interesting time to experiment.
Want to read more stories like this one?
Insider Intelligence analyzes the media and marketing industry and provides in-depth analyst reports, proprietary forecasts, customizable charts, and more. >> Learn more about what we have to offer
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .