Just over 50 per cent of Australians believe brands should not advertise as normal in the current COVID-19 climate, according to a new Hootsuite and We Are Social April Global Statshot report. 

The research shows only 48 per cent of Australians want brands to advertise as normal.

However, global data shows on average 51 per cent of internet users want advertising to continue as normal. The US mirrors the Australian figures at 48 per cent and in the UK 41 per cent want advertising to resume as normal. 

Globally, 5.8 per cent of females and 6 per cent of males do not want brands to advertise as normal and 34 per cent of females and 29 per cent of males neither approve or disapprove.

Heather Cook, managing director ANZ at Hootsuite said those who do not want the brands’ advertising to remain the same have most likely adopted this position from an empathetic point of view in response to the needs of the community at this time. 

“I believe that sensitivity to these needs is paramount for every brand to consider when recalibrating their commercial advertising plans in response to current market demands,” she said. 

Heather Cook, Hootsuite Managing Director ANZ. Source: LinkedIn.

Accordingly, brands seeking to relevantly engage with the market should leverage accurate and timely data to inform their advertising strategy, Cook explained. 

“Specifically, this includes an overall increase in individuals using their smartphones and nearly half of individuals indicating that they are spending more time on social media.”

Cook said as news consumption increasingly shifts from public online channels to private social messaging apps; publishers and advertisers should also prioritise reaching consumers via these apps to provide real-time, relevant information that will address their needs. 

Customers are the heart of any business, and the future vitality of an enterprise is founded upon the strength of the brand to consumer relationship. 

“Empathy is key, and listening before responding will assist brands in navigating the uncharted waters ahead through continued relevance in advertising and communications,” Cook adds. 

Growth in social media usage

As people are ordered to stay at home, social media usage has increased immensely according to the report. 

There are 3.81 billion active social media users globally, 76 per cent reported spending more time on their smartphone in recent weeks and 47 per cent shared that they have been spending longer on social media.

Facebook is the world’s most-used social platform, followed by YouTube, Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger.

Apps recording the highest monthly users include Facebook, with 46 per cent spending more time on messaging services and Whatsapp, number two in the highest monthly users. 

The report noted users spend an average of 3 hours and 24 minutes each day using the internet on mobile devices.

Consumer use of social media will evolve in tandem with ongoing shifts in the economic climate, and in response to important community needs that arise, Cook explains. 

“Presently, the data indicates that individuals are seeking a form of temporary escape through searching for humorous videos and memes, 34 per cent of females and 33 per cent of males, respectively, or seeking to learn online those simple hacks that make our lives easier.” 

Twitter reach in Australia is down 34 per cent or by 2,130,000, quarter on quarter.

Cook said reach is down due to companies revising their marcomms strategies to meet consumers where they are, whilst retaining stronger governance measures during a crisis period. 

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