- Ads related to COVID-19 often perform better when part of news programming, according to MediaScience's in-home audience survey of viewers exposed to ads from Ford, Amazon and Domino's that was shared with Marketing Dive.
- Both traditional ads, which often showed people not practicing social distancing, and COVID-19 related ads were tested as part of two content environments: primetime comedy programming and news. Domino's COVID-19 related spot saw a 9% lift in news media compared to its standard ad. When Ford's COVID-19 ad ran during comedy programing, this negatively affected the purchase intent and brand sentiment.
- The research also found that advertisements with COVID-19 messaging may have more impact than traditional ads, with Amazon's COVID-19 ad delivering a 90% lift compared to its traditional ads.
Brands are struggling to find the best way to address COVID-19 in their messaging, recognizing that it's a sensitive topic but also that they may have useful information to provide. The MediaScience report suggests that marketers need to keep context in mind when messaging around COVID-19, as ads related to the pandemic often performed better when part of news programming better matched the context of the ad's messaging. This is reflected in the findings that Ford's COVID-19 ad did not play as well during a comedy program, whereas the Domino's spot performed well during news content.
Creative execution is also important for COVID-19 related ads, according to the research, which found that informational-style ads, such as ones announcing a restaurant's drive-thru service is open, generally performed worse than ads with an emotional appeal.
The findings echo those of a recent report from Ace Metrix, which showed that ads with emotional pulls are the most effective COVID-19 ads. For instance, Verizon's "Pay It Forward," which celebrates the hard work of small businesses, was considered the most empowering ad with COVID-19 messaging. Honda's "Working Together," which focuses on community empowerment against the virus, ranked No. 2 on the index and Anheuser-Busch's "One Team," also celebrated the efforts of individuals to work toward a greater good and ranked No. 3.
Given the significant impact the health crisis has on consumers and society, a key takeaway for marketers from the research is the importance of testing ads as brands continue to explore the right messaging, context and creative execution. The wrong context or creative execution could impact a brand's equity with consumers in the long term.