DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions
Conclusions of the webinar DIRECT TALKS From Home 02: “Communication and Advertising in the Region #COVID19”
As expected, the western part of the region has, as a result of COVID-19, seen a change in consumers’ habits, brand communication, as well as operations of agencies. Zagreb is slowly recovering from an earthquake, after which electricity has not yet returned to certain parts of the city. In Slovenia, citizens are traditionally disciplined, and in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where restrictions on movement were introduced later, television viewing time is breaking all records. Isolation and working from home have to an extent resulted in a more intensive communication with clients in DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions and Ascanius Media affiliate offices, as well as a great need to use this momentum to use well the change of consumers’ habits in brand communication.
The second DIRECT TALKS From Home webinar was attended by:
Jovan Stojanović, CEO, DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions
Tihana Tais, Managing Director, Ascanius Media Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bojan Popović, Managing Director, Ascanius Media Slovenia
Dražen Bračić, Managing Director, Ascanius Media Croatia
Nevena Kurtović, Managing Director, Fusion Communications
The media: Focus on non-corona content as well
“In Serbia it seems that things are slowly returning to normal with regard to atypical media consumption habits resulting from the first reaction to the pandemic, so television viewership is lower than in the first weeks of the pandemic, but there is still a noticeable increase in visits to websites, which now goes even above 30%. It’s certainly noticeable that people are starting to turn to more normal topics,” Jovan Stojanović says.
22 March, as it turned out, was marked by a record high jump in television viewership, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina, whereas the websites in Croatia set the new records. “After the earthquake, the servers of some portals crushed down, as the traffic increased by up to 75%. It is a normal thing that TV content has grown in viewership, but it is interesting that last Sunday after lunch, the video of the semi-finals of the World Cup in football from two years ago was aired on TV and was viewed by 350 thousand people,” Dražen Bračić said.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the leader in the Western Balkans in terms of hours spent watching television, television was watched by almost 3 hours longer that day, or as much as 8 hours and 25 minutes. “On average, television viewing increased by 30% and site visits by about 40% in the days after the pandemic erupted. As a standard, info and educational programmes, series and films, as well as streaming platforms, have grown,” Tihana Tais said.
On the same day, in Slovenia, where the population spends an average of 3 hours and 45 minutes in front of the television set, there was a measured viewership of over 6 hours, which then declined, but still remained a whole hour above average.” We have a huge increase in digital contents, with up to 40% more unique users, and a significant increase in the number of open pages and time spent on websites. The focus is, of course, on corona-related content, but not solely corona-related; we have an increase in cuisine and similar content,” Bojan Popović said.
According to Nevena Kurtović, social networking is everywhere on the rise, where even those who have been occasional visitors now go there more often to get informed. Corona has returned social to social media, as people are increasingly active in online communication, there is a large increase in news feed visits, and Facebook is most commonly used by older generations to reach out to friends and family. “The Millennials are listening to music and exploring the journeys, so the reading is not about corona only. Consumption of online video content is growing on all networks, humour holds a good position in terms of the content being watched. Interestingly, 76% of people say they will keep the habit after the pandemic, as well as reading books online,” Nevena said.
New products and emerging campaigns
According to Bojan Popović, advertising in several advertising categories has fallen in Slovenia, but certain categories have nevertheless grown, such as pharmacy and certain segments within food and telecommunications.
“In Bosnia and Herzegovina, pharmaceutical advertising is growing by over 700%, Confectionary & Sweet snacks is growing by over 35% and FMCG Retail by over 30%, whereas tourism and catering are falling, as well similar categories. Interestingly, we have an increase in advertising for weight loss products, compared to March last year,” Tihana Tais said.
In Croatia, categories such as the automobile industry and the banks have stopped advertising. “I’ve spoken with a colleague from the Croatian Association of Communications Agencies (HURA), where we came to the conclusion that some brands stopped advertising because they did not have advertisements ready. Those that had people in ads that are not in nature, in groups, and at parties could certainly use that content, Dražen says, citing that the cleaning category grew 25%, while pharmacy is recording a 3% increase. It is noticeable that content finally comes into focus and shows its full potential.
According to Jovan Stojanović, this is the right time for proactive brands to come up with new products, as is the case with one disinfectant manufacturer that designed just the right thing – a new product that is in high demand right now. It will definitely change consumers’ habits and this will change for good. Brands need to tailor their communication, but not stop it.
“You have an example where a retailer made a brand new video with its employees in a short time. So, it can be done. 78% of consumers expect companies to care about employee health, 77% expect brands to tailor communication in terms of how useful a brand is in this situation, 70% expect an encouraging tone of advertising, and only 8% expect brands to reduce advertising. This is a message to advertisers, there is no risk,” Stojanović said.
“Foreign media report that half of humanity is sitting at home, that’s the unreal audience we have. Practically, the game is a kind of “communication game”, Nevena Kurtović said, adding that many brands that based their communication on the “share” momentum quickly managed to adapt, giving the example of domestic brands Nectar and Jelen beer, and platforms such as “We have better news” where positive information is marketed.
Where next and what can the profession do?
According to panel participants, this is a great opportunity not only for brands, the final digital transformation, but also for everyone in the industry to become even more honest partners with each other in terms of solidarity, listening to problems and finding ways to get everyone out of this situation.
“So much has been adapted in 14 days that I am sure brands and industry will adapt,” Dražen Bračić said.
According to him, the HURA has been in existence for over 20 years, has six full-time employees, gathers 41 largest agencies, has a budget of over HRK 2 million. “Its impact was seen first when we had a crisis in which advertisers began to withdraw budgets after a clumsy statement by a government official, and returned them after a rapid intervention by the HURA and an apology from the minister himself,” Dražen Bračić estimated and said that Croatia is working to preserve the industry, which also includes research agencies whose data we use.
“We need to focus on the positive things. We see on a daily basis the opening of online shops, which under normal circumstances would not enter e-commerce and that is what is positive about all this. I am optimistic about the transformation of our entire industry,” Bojan Popović said. According to him, an interesting campaign was launched in Slovenia in order to point out the importance of advertising. “The message is: if you turn off an ad, nothing happens, but if you turn off the entire advertising you not only turn off the industry, but also the people behind it, the people who generate the content that is consumed so much,” Bojan said.
“It is only at this moment that we realise that we can do a lot more for brands,” Nevena Kurtović said. Some words that are crucial in communication today are those that have been lost, namely empathy, solidarity, as basic human values. I hope that through PR and brand communication, it will return to people,” Nevena said.
“According to all research, consumers respond well to advertisements because they feel that everything is normal. This is slowly becoming understood by advertisers as well. We have an example of one client postponing all campaigns, and now it’s back with new briefs. Many brands abruptly stopped advertising because they were unsure about distribution. Now that demand has stabilised, brands are thinking about how to continue and we need to help them,” Tihana Tais said.
According to Jovan Stojanović, governments support the industries that are most important to their country. What is less understood is that the advertising industry drives the entire economy, enables the demand for products to increase, to launch the entire production chain. “We have talked about it within the International Advertising Association (IAA), and this is certainly the topic on the agenda on what tools the state can use and which as professional associations we can stimulate advertising. I have a feeling that the media are aware of the situation and that they are ready to help the advertisers on their part because they can not do without each other,” Stojanović concluded.
See the full webinar here:
The next Zoom webinar will be held on Friday, 10 April, themed “CSR and how socially responsible are we at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic?”