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What A Pandemic Taught Us About Media Plans

10.15.20 Sarah Kutz

“Let’s do exactly what we did last year!”

Said no good marketer, ever… especially when it comes to media planning in a pandemic.

While this year may have been unpredictable, 2020 has offered a case study in media planning pivots! Pivots we can learn from and use to adjust 2021 media plans for the better.

Understanding your target audience and their media consumption habits is a critical step when it comes to media planning. And it can’t be overstated how important it is coming out of a year that has been like no other and headed into a year that will likely continue to be unlike any experienced previously.

To illustrate this point, let’s look at the general, non-ag consumer:

  • Shifted to working from home. More time for in-home media consumption!
  • Spent less time driving to/from work. Fewer billboards and radio, more streaming ads and music.
  • Had more free time. Picked up a magazine they may not have touched in the past six months.

As you start looking ahead to your media plan for 2021, consider what’s changed for your audience. Here are four considerations:

  1. Digital is a must

Nearly 70% of dairy farmers and 80% of hog producers report spending up to 5 hours per week online.¹ And, multiple studies show digital consumption is 30% higher than pre-pandemic levels.²

The point? Your audience is online — now more than ever — and your advertising should be, too.

Social media channels, streaming video and music, games, online news sources and podcasts have all experienced an uptick in usage in 2020. No matter the channel, digital media buys can fit nearly any budget and should be a focus in 2021.

  1. Meet your audience with the right message

Our worldview has changed, and in many instances, so have our priorities. 2020 was a year of adjusting and shifting to meet the changing landscape. In 2021, it will be important to meet your audience where they are in the moment — physically and emotionally.

We saw brands like Lysol make the most of emotions by pivoting messages. Instead of advertising products (which were long gone and would have caused more frustration), Lysol shifted their messaging to share helpful tips on diluting products and properly using disinfectants. We also saw brands fall flat on their face. Progressive Insurance launched commercials depicting their recognizable characters enjoying karaoke night at a local establishment while many viewers were under shelter at-home orders.

It’s essential to know your audience’s mindset to deliver a message that resonates. And if you don’t know, it’s okay to ask. Talk to your customers. Review industry trends. And apply learnings to your media plans.

  1. Measure and adjust

Monitor how customers and prospects are engaging with messaging. Is there an increase in website traffic? Is there an uptick in online sales? Be focused on where you are seeing results and adjust as needed. For example, if a digital ad is generating high traffic — put more dollars behind it. Or, if the message works, see if it works in another channel. Find successful media placements and amplify them. And never be afraid to pivot — if a placement isn’t delivering value, don’t hit auto-play for the next 11 months of the year.

  1. Mix in traditional media

Don’t overlook traditional media. It may seem like the world has moved more to digital in 2020 than any year prior with students taking part in virtual learning. While that may be true, according to a 2018 report by the Federal Communications Commission, 19 million American rural households didn’t have access to affordable, high-speed internet. Traditional media can help deliver your message.

Here are a few traditional options to consider:

  • Television: Viewership increased when pandemic restrictions began and has maintained momentum so far.
  • Print: With more time spent at home, newspapers and magazines delivered to mailboxes remain an important advertising avenue.
  • Radio: In rural areas, farmers can struggle with cell phone reception and internet speed connections, relying on radio to keep them up to speed on local news and information.
  • Outdoor advertising: Customers still drive to the local feed dealer or farm store. Find a billboard en route to either location and share your message there.

What else has changed about how your audience consumes media? These considerations are a starting point to help you adjust your approach, stay visible and deliver an impactful message to your customers.

Need a fresh perspective on your media plan? Contact us today.


¹ Connectiv 2020 Media Channel Study; Hog operations; 196 respondents

² Comscore Media Metrix Custom Reporting, 2020


Sarah Kutz
Sarah Kutz