Medialab COVID Tracker | 08.04.20

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The novelty of lockdown and self-isolation is a distant memory. Reality has bitten. The economy is forecast to shrink by 15% in Q2. Aircraft are grounded. Globally, cases have passed one million.

On a human level, new behaviours are settling into habits. Communities and communal thinking are flourishing. Parents have home-schooled. Grandparents have Zoomed. We have drifted down Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and found there is plenty of meaning in keeping life’s essentials going.

More brands are finding their voice in the crisis. In addition to the supermarkets we are seeing broadband providers, mobile phone companies and charities (amongst others) adapt their messaging to show how they are keeping the essentials of life going. This week, we are taking a look at four media channels which have experienced some of the biggest changes.


Across the spectrum, all areas of media are being impacted, due to shifts in consumer behaviour. In TV for example, the marketplace is experiencing the biggest changes that we have seen in 40 years; which will inevitably and eventually swing back the other way leading to fast and sustained price inflation when the lockdown lifts. But, at the moment, publishers and advertisers have had to and have been reacting quickly. Channel 4’s new cooking show, Jamie: Keep Cooking and Carry On, was created in just 3 days, and reached a total audience of 6.3 million in its first week. And following the closure of cinemas, Sky are making a selection of cinema titles available early though Sky Store.


In Print and Online Publishing, The Ozone Project reports that clear trends are emerging with huge increases in consumption of content regarding Coronavirus (reflecting trusted publishers’ importance in conveying accurate news), to content consumption across the board as people also seek respite and levity. However, the market has been hit from a revenue perspective whilst readership remains strong, but distribution pressure grows. Supermarket sales of printed newspapers are showing signs of falling which is partially being offset by sales in convenience stores.


Radio remains in strong health from a listening and revenue perspective, with a number of advertisers coming to radio to take advantage of its low CPT and high flexibility. This is in some small way offsetting the significant number of cancellations and deferments. Looking at streaming platforms and Spotify, in the main they are not reporting spikes in audience at this early stage, but have remained consistent over the last 2-4 weeks. Within that there are a couple of very specific podcast categories which are showing spikes, like self-improvement (wellness, meditation) and entertainment (sports, comedy).


And in social, Facebook claims to have helped over a billion people access authoritative information and health resources via its Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information Centre and educational pop-ups. In many of the countries hit hardest by the virus, total messaging has increased more than 50% over the last month. From a connectivity perspective, in group calling (calls with three or more participants) increased by over 1,000% during the last month.

For marketers there are decisions to weigh up. The crisis is unprecedented but so too is the opportunity to grow and maintain low cost share of voice. Media owners are finding multiple ways to help advertisers. The risks to market share and brand health of going quiet for long periods remain as strong as ever.

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