Viewers Favor Spots That Acknowledge COVID Crisis

More people are spending time watching TV and streaming video because of the coronavirus crisis, and, according to a study conducted by Comcast’s FreeWheel unit, those viewers are open to advertising while sheltering in place.

The survey found that more than 80% of consumers said they’re spending more time with video since physical distancing began to slow the spread of the virus, with 32% saying they are watching “a couple hours more per week” and 22% saying they are watching between 1-2 hours per day more.

During this additional time at home, consumers say they are most often watching news (49%), comedies (48%) and dramas (41%).

From a commercial perspective, more than nine out of 10 consumers said they believe it’s appropriate for brands to advertise on TV and online video during the pandemic.

And nearly 60% of consumers think that brands should be incorporating COVID-19 specific messaging into their ads, now. Most warn that this should be done in a tasteful manner but 40% said there was a positive affiliation with brands that are marketing during these times.

“They want a nod to the times in which we’re in, whether that’s the full spot dedicated to narrative around how we are supporting customers or supporting those on the front line and giving a sense of positive feeling that we’ll get through this together. Obviously we see a lot of this,” said Mark McKee, senior VP, head of U.S. commercial, FreeWheel.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to change your whole spot, but just understanding that the times are different might require a different cut of that creative than you would normally run,” McKee said.

Being visible is important to consumers during challenging times, he added.

FreeWheel is helping clients change their creative to better reflect the time, McKee said. It is also being flexible on both the tech side and the media side to make sure advertisers can support their business.

Consumers were also asked what types of ads they are most open to seeing now. The top category by far was food and beverage companies (51%), followed by financial (28%) and technology (24%) companies.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.