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New Study Shows COVID-19 Pandemic Has Had Little Impact On Ad Effectiveness And Emotional Engagement

There’s no doubt that the global spread of COVID-19 has created widespread disruption across the ad industry.

Many brands have struggled to adapt, unsure of which approach to take in response to such an unprecedented situation. Should they continue to advertise as normal? How much do they need to change their messaging? How has consumer attitudes to advertising changed?

To help, we ran a global study back in March to find out how consumers were reacting to advertising during the Coronavirus.

One key takeaway, which resonated around the globe, was that most respondents said they expected to still hear from brands during lockdown.

To take this a step further, we wanted to find out whether attitudes towards advertising had changed during the COVID pandemic.

So we conducted a study, choosing two ads we’d analysed last year using our content testing tool UnrulyEQ, and then re-tested them during peak lockdown in April in Germany.

We wanted to see whether there were any major differences (or similarities) in the metrics, including key business and emotional responses from viewers.

Interestingly, what we found was consumers’ responses to the content during the COVID crisis were very similar to what they were well before the pandemic.

The only slight differences were for key business metrics purchase intent, brand favorability and brand recall, which you can see in the second set of graphs below.

Results for key metrics

Results for brand recall

This was also reflected in the emotional responses of viewers while watching both ads, with the same three emotions coming out on top for both ads, both before and during the COVID crisis, with only very slight changes.

Results for the top three reported emotions

Again, this was the same story with viewers’ cognitive and negative responses, with each response evoking very similar reactions before and during the COVID crisis.

Results for the cognitive and negative emotions

All these findings indicate that, contrary to what many may believe, responses to advertising has remained stable.

Reducing spend during such a crisis could have negative long-term effects for brands, so media spend should at least be kept the same level.

Although producing ads during lockdown has its complications, we’ve found that many ads made during this period, which have used old footage or relied more on text prompts than video narrative, have been received very well by consumers.

You can see this through the results of several ads we recently tested that were created in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Reducing or stopping advertising all together can have a significant impact on key business metrics, especially as consumers are spending more time at home, and are likely not as exposed to your brand as they normally would be.

To find out more about UnrulyEQ, our emotional targeting and testing tool click here.