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When COVID-19 hit the U.S., the financial markets felt the hit too. Many companies responded by pausing budgets and advertising campaigns to focus on immediate business needs during the early weeks of shelter in place. This is shifting again.

Bombora is a trusted partner of ours and we use their data to keep a close eye on the market through their surge data on advertising related topics. Their data has given some strong insights into the health of the advertising industry over the past several weeks.

It is no surprise that during the first few weeks of “Shelter in Place,” the advertising industry halted. Most brands were not focusing on their advertising, but on business critical changes like turning an in-office team to remote employees, assessing how their business will be impacted by the changes to the world with the Corona Virus, what technologies they need to support the new way their business is running, etc.

What is surprising is the quick bounce-back of the advertising industry. It is no secret that strategies, messaging and media mixes have had to shift. This week’s Bombora report tells us that lots of brands are hitting the ground running to further amplify their messaging and getting their messaging to the right audiences. While you may not be experiencing this shift directly in your role or at your company, the shift is starting to happen.

This really the tale of Two Cities, “It was the worst of times, it was the best of times.”

Many brands technologies, products and solutions are truly needed right now to support this new environment. They are working tirelessly to support the growing needs of their customers, establishing quick wins, trying to find the most efficient ways to scale, and looking for the best ways to spend money. They are ultimately doubling down on their core and working to expand.

Then there are the companies who are struggling to stay alive during this time. They are also working tirelessly, but their focus is to stay afloat. They are trying to avoid lay-offs or having to make tough decisions, pausing budgets and hiring, reallocating resources and rethinking financial investments.

Regardless of which city you find yourself in, these changes have happened suddenly and massively. Quick and efficient pivoting is essential for survival.

Many brands have very talented in-house teams and deep agency partnerships, but the data also tells us that many brands are on the search of help from new agency partners for their evolving needs. This begs the question: What do brands need the most from their agency partners?

The CMO Council’s Marketing Supply Chain Report, “Understanding the Critical Factors to Achieving Marketing Supply Chain Operational Effectiveness and Optimization” tells us that “Just nine percent of senior marketers believe traditional ad agencies are doing a good job of evolving and extending their service capabilities in the digital age.” Since most offline advertising is shifting to digital, the need for agencies to evolve their strategic digital offerings to their clients is more pertinent than ever.  The 250 Senior Marketers responding to the CMO Council survey also ranked the top five causes of pain and friction in their agency relationships:

  1. An agreed upon set of analytics and metrics that defines success and failure
  2. Limited knowledge and comprehension of the client’s business
  3. Lack of value-added strategic thinking
  4. Pricing and budgeting issues
  5. Integration of marketing plans and services

To provide the most value during this unprecedented time, brands need the most support from their agency partners to help them quickly, effectively, and strategically evolve their digital approach to connecting with their customers from messaging through to digital execution. Perhaps, a new evolved partnership will be the outcome: one where brands will be able to trust their agency partners to act quickly when business priorities shift. After all, we are in this together - now more than ever.