Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Planting the flag: launching in a new market in uncertain times

By Ben Segal, Vice President, Americas, MainAd

Businesses of all sizes, shapes and colours of the world continue to be affected by the ongoing conranvirus crisis. As the pandemic pushes to redefine our priorities, dictating everything from who we socialise with to how we spend our time and money, COVID-19 is forcing the reinvention of business as we know it.

With many now starting to cast their eye on recovery, it’s imperative to look at how we can emerge from this in a more positive way. 

The digital marketing and advertising industry is no different. In fact, the impact felt within our industry has been wide-ranging and far-reaching. A recent Business Impact Survey from Marketing Week and eConsultancy reported that only 7% of UK brands are currently investing more in marketing during this pandemic, while 29% of respondents intend to keep budgets at a steady level and 50% revealed they are planning to cut marketing budgets altogether. 

The takeaway: 36% of respondents plan to invest more or maintain current marketing budgets in an effort to see through the crisis and come out stronger. 

In fact, our data shows similar patterns. We have seen positive growth based on our advertiser activity across APAC and the EU markets, where COVID-19 recovery efforts have already begun. For example, only 19% of our active clients decided to pause efforts during the peak of the pandemic in March and April, with just over 40% of active clients actually increasing sales between the first week of February and first week of April. 

Of course, this could be one of the advantages digital marketing brings. As marketers shift budgets from traditional advertising to more flexible, performance-based marketing, like programmatic and performance marketing channels, the return on investment can be more clearly defined.

The ability to hyper-target audiences with these campaigns also enables brand marketers to keep in touch with loyal customers to directly target them with positive messages and customer care in safe transparent environments. Clients are also taking advantage of the ability to use more nuanced sequential messaging and other dynamic creative units to reflect unifique circumstances. 

This directly aligns to what we have been hearing from brand partners globally – that marketers are eager to increase conversion while advertising budgets are being cut and want to ensure that they’re top of mind as consumers begin adapting to life in the ‘new normal’. And this is why we launched MainAd in the US market just last week.

Even as lockdowns began to ease and hospitals started seeing a reprieve, we spent much time debating whether this was the right time to ‘open shop’ in a new market. The old phrase, ‘there is never a good time…’ was really put to the test internally, because this really is like no other time in our lives.

However, with all of this, if we can predict a similar projection in terms of recovery for the US as we have seen across APAC and Europe, then there really couldn’t be a better time to bring our business and ethos to the US, to carve out a new space that doesn’t really exist today and continue to innovate around to scale the business and deliver great results to our clients. 

The global economy has been massively wounded by the COVID outbreak, and it will take us time to recover – that goes without saying. Our value proposition at MainAd has always been to help brands reignite their marketing strategies, putting digital advertising at the core to help them better engage with customers in a consistent way. Our solutions are firmly aligned to the challenges that marketers are facing today with decreasing budgets and increasing pressure to deliver RoI. Rarely has digital advertising – when done in the right way – ever been so business critical than right now and as we move forward into the recovery phase with this pandemic. 

We are not out to save the world, but we are passionate about our industry and its future. We are on a mission to make programmatic advertising more performance based, to help marketers better understand what is really driving their conversions at a time when many may be looking to start fresh and enter different modes of media buying, and to optimise outcomes that are most valuable and meaningful to brands.