How Coronavirus Impacts Advertisers | What Does Data Say?

The year 2020 was supposed to be a good year for the advertising industry. Unfortunately, coronavirus came and brought uncertainty and anxiety not only in the advertising industry but in our everyday life– canceled travel plans, conferences, increased demand for pharmaceutical products, and more.

According to our data compiled in March 2020 we will share statistics on how coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected three advertising industries– airline, pharmaceutical, and travel. We are going to compare the data for 2019 and 2020 during the first quarter.
*Data are updated each week.

Let's start!

How does COVID-19 affect the advertising industry in general?

By the end of Q1, publishers' ad revenues are expected to drop by 10%, according to the New York Times due to coronavirus.

Furthermore, a lot of businesses were affected by the cancellation of global conferences like:

  • Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona;
  • F8 conference in San Jose;
  • Google I/O 2020.

So what are the consequences?

Disappointment, a lot of expenses, and loss of potential clients.

Bruce Biegel from Winterberry Group's said that if you are a marketer or a supplier, you have to think about contingency plan while the hype is around coronavirus: "You don't change what you're doing, but you start to make sure that you're doing the right scenario."

Google shows a great example by switching Cloud Next ’20 conference to an online environment. Another option is to postpone the event.

"Digital advertising might be more vulnerable because digital ad spending can be canceled more easily than other media," writes The Wall Street Journal.

Now let's continue with statistics

Changes in the Airline Industry due to COVID-19

At the beginning of February (2020), coronavirus started to spread through Europe and the USA. Since COVID-19 transmission happens from human-to-human a lot of countries made strict rules in order to slow down the tendency of the disease. One of these rules was to close the country borders including air transportation.

In February the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicted the revenue loss for the aviation industry $29 billion for this year. But now the latest update from IATA predicts a $113 billion revenue loss in the worst scenario. Meaning if the restrictions and border closing will continue the revenue loss will continue to increase.

So for how many ad impressions advertisers were spending money in 2020 and 2019?

According to our data below, we can see that in 2020 advertisers were spending less money on the airline industry's ad impressions compared to 2019. Since we are comparing the paid ad impression change per each week of 2019 and 2020, we can see the most significant drop in 2020 week12. Advertisers paid only for 10K ad impressions, which compared to 2019 week12 is almost 22 times less.

We also wanted to look at the total number of paid ad impressions in 2019 and 2020. For now, the airline industry is experiencing a 40% loss of paid ad impressions compared to 2019. And according to Similarweb.com statistics, last week air travel industry publishers experienced a drop in their website traffics of almost 35%.

These data bring even more attention to the fact that the airline industry really needs financial help from governments. Meaning, not only to cover the losses caused by COVID-19, but also to keep as many employees as they can during this difficult time.

Paid Ad Impression Change in the Pharmaceutical and Travel Industries

Let's start with advertisers in the pharmaceutical industry.

Due to coronavirus, we obviously thought that advertisers in the pharmaceutical industry would be buying more impressions.

And we were right!

In 2020 paid impressions increased by almost 10%, compared to 2019. Moreover, we can see that starting from week 5 there was a significant increase compared to 2019. And according to media, this was the time when Covid19 reached Europe.

So what about the travel industry?

According to data, we see that paid impressions in the travel industry decreased by 26% in 2020.

Final Thoughts...

Comparing all the results above, we conclude that in 2020 advertisers in the airline industry has experienced the most significant decrease in paid impressions from the two other sectors we compared.

Regarding the traveling sector, advertisers bought less ad impressions in 2020. But at the same time, paid impressions have increased for advertisers in the pharmaceutical industry.

However, if one industry pays for fewer impressions, then another one will buy more. In the end, it's hard to predict the overall impact coronavirus will have on the advertising industry.