The topic currently on everyone’s mind, (whether we like it or not) is Coronavirus. It might be the only thing that could overshadow politics in a U.S. presidential election year, and it’s taking over our screens.  Apart from fears of it spreading, many of us also are grappling with the impacts it has had and may continue to have on our business.

With the election and Summer Olympics on the horizon, 2020 was expected to be a big year for advertising. A large ad-buying firm had said as recently as December that they anticipated global ad spend to rise 4.3%.

On Monday, March 2, The New York Times said that it expects global advertising revenue to be down nearly 10% this quarter. The decline is due to corporate uncertainty around retail and consumer packaged goods, which often are linked to Chinese supply chains, as well as travel and entertainment. It’s hitting the advertising sector fairly hard.

Concerns about the virus have led the organizers of several major media events to cancel or shift to online.  Thus far, these events include the Adobe Summit, South by Southwest (SXSW), Google’s developer conference, F8 (Facebook’s annual conference), and Facebook’s Global Marketing Summit.

However, a decrease in activity in one area likely will mean an increase in activity in others. Containment will be a significant advertising factor. If people are spending more time in their homes, streaming services, social media and mobile games could see an increased investment in advertising, even as out-of-home advertising could see a substantial decrease. 

What does this mean for our business?

First, don’t panic. This too shall pass. The Wall Street Journal does note that digital advertising tends to be more vulnerable because it is easier to cancel than other media. That said, most analysts are hopeful that even if first or second quarter advertising budgets are cut back, we would hopefully see them return later in the year.

More importantly, in the coming months, as you monitor and adjust your mix of out-of-home and digital advertising initiatives, you should proactively look for new opportunities.  As marketers, our challenge always is to reach our audiences where they are, and if consumers are staying home, we may find paths to achieving objectives through digital advertising and Connected TV (CTV).