Medialab April Trends Tracker

Medialab Trends Tracker Internal

A year ago, we were encouraged to Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, and Save Lives, as the country went into its first full lockdown. It is doubtful that any of us thought we would be marking the anniversary of that moment in another lockdown. But here we are and thank goodness it is easing. And while many of us have been stuck contentedly, or frustratedly, at home, the world around us seems to be spinning faster and faster. The Oscars have swung round again but seem much less captivating. In stark contrast, the nation received the news of the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at the age of 99, making him the longest-serving royal consort in Britain’s history. The trial of Derek Chauvin continues. The memory of Sarah Everard still burns bright. Closer to the world of media a new lexicon emerges: the cookie apocalypse, Google Chrome FLoC, Data Bunkers, Non- Fungible Tokens. As Winter ends, we wish you a happy and healthy Spring, and provide some food for thought in our April Trends Tracker.

Audience Data

The pandemic has widened existing gaps further. Data from the ONS from March showed that the UK household saving ratio rose to a near record high in the final quarter of 2020. However, it is the middle to highest income quintiles that are driving this rate up. For those lower income households, the coronavirus crisis has increased debt. As the economy readies for a re-bound H2 2021, it is important that organisations position for growth if their audiences have been able to save.

Looking at media usage, lockdown exacerbated generational differences in ‘time spent’ across different media types. Social media scores highest for 16-34 years olds, whilst Commercial TV occupies the largest media share for 55+ year olds. But as generational media consumption polarises, it is important to recognise media that still offers broad reach. Whilst Out of Home/Posters (OOH) clearly took a hit in lockdown, and social media is crucial for younger audiences, TV still drives broad reach across age groups (Touchpoints 2020).

There is a marked disparity in interest in returning to pubs after re-opening for outside drinking, with 48% of 25-34s claiming to want to go to a pub in April, compared with 30% of 55+s. The appetite for mass participation events is much the same, with the Spring Enthuse Donor Pulse showing many under 54s keen to return to events this year, whilst the older audiences less so (Show chart).

Media & Marketing News

Nielsen has confirmed the top 10 advertisers by media spend in the UK in 2020. Notable in the list is the extent of government spend (at No1) and spend by Public Health England (at No 4). Unsurprisingly, given lockdown, the rest of the list is made up of entertainment, FMCG, home delivery, and food retail.

Kantar’s Media Reactions survey of global marketers shows that all digital channels saw a net increase in media spend and resource allocation due to COVID-19, a shift that looks set to accelerate further into 2021, especially for online video. Accompanying the growth in digital advertising is change; at the epicentre of which is a “cookie-less” internet, recently covered in Medialab’s Speakers Corner event. Google Privacy Sandbox marks the shift from tracking by default to privacy by default online. It is billed as a new initiative aiming to provide “a secure environment for personalisation that also protects user privacy” and expected to be completed in 2022.

In other news, Marmite launched their new chilli flavoured variant with a set of innovative OOH special ‘exploding’ builds (Image), which has also been extended to a social campaign on Instagram and Facebook. Deliveroo partnered with Wolf Blass, allocating a complimentary bottle of Wolf Blass to accompany selected meals delivered. On the theme of partnerships, Cadbury’s teamed up with Google Street View to host a virtual Easter Egg hunt across the world, and with Age UK in a campaign designed to unearth the remarkable stories of older people’s lives, many of whom often go a whole week without speaking to anyone.

We hope you find our April tracker useful. This is a summary from a more detailed COVID Tracker. If you are an advertiser and would like to access the full version, please contact our Integration Director, Nick Parker, at

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