Member Guest Post with IAS – The Easing of Lockdown Restrictions Presents an Opportunity for Advertisers to Target Audiences

In this week’s member-guest post, we spoke with Nick Morely, EMEA Managing Director at IAS on Integral Ad Science’s (IAS) latest report, Pandemic Effects: What’s Next in Shifting Consumer Priorities, which highlights how UK consumer habits have changed over the past 18 months. He explores consumer priorities post lockdown and shares how advertisers should take note

Nick Morley leads the strategic development of the EMEA business at IAS, a global leader in digital media quality. He has a proven track record in launching and scaling high-growth businesses across Europe, with a decade’s worth of digital advertising industry experience. 

No one can deny that it’s been a transformative 18 months, both for consumers and the digital advertising industry. Consumers have shifted their focus toward digital and the advertising industry has adapted towards an ever-changing landscape. But what consumer habits are likely to stay and how can advertisers continue to build meaningful connections with consumers in a post-pandemic future? These are some of the questions answered in IAS’s latest report, Pandemic Effects: What’s Next in Shifting Consumer Priorities.

New UK habits as restrictions ease

Knowing the preferred activities of consumers and their plans for spending in the coming months gives brands and agencies the ability to optimise their digital campaigns. What’s more, the importance of digital advertising in the shopping experience cannot be ignored. 

The majority (92%) of UK consumers plan to continue at least one habit formed during lockdown periods after restrictions have been lifted, the study found. In fact, almost half (49%) of consumers will continue online shopping, and more than four in ten (45%) will continue using contactless payment methods. 

Despite the majority (68%) of Brits looking forward to resuming social activities as restrictions ease, two in five (40%) remain concerned over confusing or conflicting guidelines for social gatherings and more than one in ten (15%) will not engage in social activities as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. 

UK consumers have saved and are keen on spending

As the vast majority of restrictions are lifted in the UK, it’s clear that habits established during recent national lockdowns will have a lasting impact on consumers’ social and shopping activities post-pandemic.

Consumers are keen on spending as establishments open up, with over a quarter (27%) reporting more savings since lockdown, and over a third (38%) anticipating that their spending will increase in the next year. 

Retail purchases post-pandemic will be split equally between physical stores and online channels for half (51%) of consumers. Additionally, six in ten (60%) of shoppers confirmed that they will make a conscious effort to support small and local businesses.

As local restrictions are easing, people everywhere are debating what the ‘new normal’ will look like. With the majority of UK consumers looking for a hybrid shopping experience as further restrictions are lifted, brands are presented with an opportunity to align their online and offline strategies to ensure that they’re reaching reinvigorated shoppers. 

Safe and reputable sites remain key

More than half (54%) of consumers believe that online advertising will play an important role in helping them find information on the products and services available to them post-pandemic. To source this information, almost half (45%) will use search engines, while more than a third (37%) will use social media sites and apps. 

Looking ahead, one in two (51%) Brits believe that online advertisements that appear on safe and reputable sites are important. In addition, almost half (49%) of consumers want ads to be relevant to the content that they are consuming, and a similar amount of consumers (47%) want this content to heavily feature a promotional or discount message. 

Furthermore, almost half (44%) of consumers believe that online advertisements should highlight a brand’s commitment to certain social issues and advocacy, while two in five (40%) want ads to recommend products and promotions based on what they have previously purchased.

For brands, it’s clear that this is an opportunity to prioritise digital channels, while ensuring safe, suitable, and contextually relevant ads that build brand preference and long-term customer relationships.

Media outlook 

As we look ahead, it’s important to understand how media quality is impacted by global events and technological shifts around the world. Alongside consumer priorities, we also know that UK brand risk increased across all media environments in H2 2020, driven by political and societal movements during an unprecedented year. 

Our studies show that safe, suitable, and contextually relevant advertising will be important to engage and build preference among these consumers. Ad environments must be considered from both a contextual and sentiment perspective to drive a much-needed boost in post-pandemic retail revenues and capture consumer interest.

As we consider what the world could look like after the pandemic, one thing is certain: many of the newly formed consumer habits will continue to change and evolve. To find out more about how the industry can utilise these insights to drive better media outcomes, visit here.

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