How do large events influence ROMI?

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Do you remember when GDPR was the centre of all marketing conversations? Those days seem like a calm golden age in comparison to the turmoil that was to follow with Covid. Lockdowns, tiered restrictions, vaccination programmes – it has all been so disruptive. But if we thought that marketing could start a return to stability in 2022, the war in Ukraine and cost of living crisis has proved us wrong.

In fact, we are constantly being bombarded with events that disrupt our lives. Some capture the nation’s collective imagination, such as the closing games of the Euro tournament, or announcements about energy price-cap rises. Others speak to us more personally – the London Marathon, Children in Need, or a local flood. By taking away a portion of our attention, they all tend to make marketing less effective.

Types and durations of events

Events can be classified into a number of categories, from politics to terrorism, and from finance to sport. Despite this, we often see the impact on consumers’ behaviour being much the same – it distracts and changes their usual behaviour for a period of time. In practice what this means is that they are spending more time doing something else, whether that is watching news coverage, supporting England in the pub, or spending hours online looking for a better price on a mortgage, credit card or energy bill.

Advertising while a large share of your target audience is otherwise occupied, inevitably leads to a lower marketing effectiveness. Your TV ad will be seen less and your DM will go unopened in the bin. Imagine the situation: a customer needs to switch energy provider, but they are absorbed in coverage of the Queen’s funeral. It’s an environment that even the best targeted Paid Search would struggle in.

How should these disruptions be handled from a marketing perspective? The classic response should be to downweight investment while the distraction runs its course, ramping up activity again as life returns to normal. Continuing to advertise heavily might suit those brands with larger pockets, as share of voice will improve if competitors quieten their activity. But it needs to be handled sensitively and can come at a financial cost, dragging down overall ROI.

So the question is: how long will a disruption last?

Short or long, sharp or blunt?

All disruptions can be classified in this way. The vast majority are short and sharp – good examples being our collective response to political events, from a new election to a budget. These influence our behaviour for several weeks at most. Others can take time to dissipate, influencing us more deeply and changing our behaviour for longer.

Then there are the “blunt” disruptions, with a series of events rolling over days and weeks and keeping our attention high for a prolonged period – The Queen’s funeral is clearly one.

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Some examples of each are:

  • Sharp & Short: Bank holiday
  • Sharp & long: Energy price cap increase
  • Blunt & short: Summer heatwave
  • Blunt & long: Cost of living crisis

How long will marketing be disrupted?

We can use tools such as Google Trends to investigate how long interest is being maintained: if it shows a spike over a few days it is short; but if it’s over a week or more, or if it’s zig zagging over several weeks, it’s long. Quite often, the longer this distraction lasts, the longer it will take to dissipate.

Understanding what has taken customers attention away, and for how long, is key in deciding how to programme your marketing spend.  We can also start to predict the shape of different types of distractions and forecast when customers’ attention will return to pre-disruption levels.

At Kanso we are experts in predicting how external events will affect marketing effectiveness. If you are interested in how we undertake this analysis and how we could help you plan your marketing spend then please get in touch at info@kansomarketing.com.

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