The Lowdown: 22.09.2020

Updated: Oct 20

M.i. Media's round-up of the latest market, industry and media trends.

The UK's advertising recovery, "consumption amnesia" and what we've missed from the office plus Insta, You Tube and down the tube - all in our latest Lowdown!


AA/WARC forecasts faster UK ad recovery

Advertising's recovery from the Covid induced slump will be slightly faster than expected according to the latest Advertising Association/Warc Expenditure Report. Q3 is on course for a 20.7% decline (vs 24.3% previously predicted) with Q4 is set for a drop of 6.7%. For 2020 as a whole, WARC expects an annual decline in UK ad expenditure of 15.6% to £21.4bn, but a fast recovery in 2021 with a rebound of 16.6% growth predicted.


Keith Weed, the Advertising Association's president commented "Advertising connects people with brands and services. Without advertising, people do forget [about brands]. We're not going to get the economy going again without the one positive tool that every business has, which is to advertise."

Lockdown has resulted in "consumption amnesia"

Lockdowns have the potential to change previously ingrained habits according to Benoit Wiesser in an article for WARC.


If "66 days of reinforcement is enough to create a new habit, 66 days of atrophied or neglected behaviour is enough to end an existing one."


Prolonged lockdowns across the world has resulted in collective consumption amnesia. Going to the gym, shopping in certain retailers, consuming particular media; many old habits have been broken so that they are no longer habitual. Brands may no longer be able to count on previously embedded behaviours but the current fluidity in consumer habits should also mean new opportunities for brands to attract new users.


"Did I used to go to buy a coffee or a smoothie before work...?" Remembering our pre-Lockdown habits.

Seeing work friends vs early alarms - what we've missed about the office

A recent Dettol ad on the tube network encouraged a lot of debate around what people missed about the workplace.

Above: The much debated Dettol Back to Work London Underground ad


Following M.i. Media's own return to the office, this recent YouGov poll piqued our interest, indicating that we are most likely to have missed seeing each other, having meetings in person and a bit of a gossip.

At the other end of the spectrum, plastic plants and early alarms are less fondly remembered, as are it seems the boss's jokes!

YouTube Shorts - a challenger to TikTok?

As reported in the Search Engine Journal, Google has announced its plans for short-form video content with YouTube Shorts: "“Shorts is a new short-form video experience for creators and artists who want to shoot short, catchy videos using nothing but their mobile phones".


YouTube Shorts lets its video creators create and upload videos of 15-seconds or less, stitch shorter clips together and add music to videos from YouTube’s library. Unsurprisingly, YouTube Shorts has drawn comparisons to the leading short-form video app TikTok and their decision to launch its beta in India, where TikTok has been banned, is unlikely to have been a coincidence.


You Tube's 2 billion monthly active users could lend it a competitive advantage versus TikTok's 700m, offering a potentially far greater audience for content created which should make Shorts quite appealing for creators to tap into and monetise.


Value to the fore in grocery this Autumn

The latest report from Kantar implies that the Government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme not only helped restaurants and bars capture consumers spending but also slowed down the growth of the take-home grocery sector as supermarkets' wine and beer sales dipped month on month in August. Meanwhile, as a nation we had clearly been letting ourselves go, as sales of hair styling products were 17% higher in August than July, hair removal treatments were up by 11% and deodorants also up!


Online grocery shopping continues its rapid growth (up 77% YoY across last 4 weeks) with Marks & Spencer's new partnership with Ocado the fastest growing. However, given the challenging economic climate, retailers are turning to value propositions to keep consumers on side. Promotional activity is back to the highest level since February and focused mainly on straightforward price cuts. Autumn seems likely to see grocery price wars.

How to make Instagram activity work harder

WARC has looked at the popularity and engagement rates of brand posts on Instagram.

Based on data from Socialinsider and Bannersnack, carousel posts that contain a mix of image and video content are the most popular with consumers. Their engagement rate (likes and comments per 100 followers) of 2.33% exceeds carousel posts only containing video content (1.86%) or only images (1.80%):

While over 1/3rd of brand carousel posts use just two pieces of content, the engagement rate is higher when eight or more slides are used. This data suggests that brands should either focus on 2 or 3 core pieces of content or provide a more detailed post with 8 or more slides to help maximise consumer engagement.

Meanwhile if it's consumer comments you are after, video content is the answer. Video carousel content attracts a median number of c.26 comments versus 16 on mixed carousel posts.

Down the tube?

It's a bleak picture for TfL at the moment. Ad revenue was down 90% year on year in Q2 and Talon Outdoor’s Ada device data shows that TfL’s Tube network audience has been the slowest part of the UK OOH sector to recover.  Audience levels plummeted during lockdown (down 83% in April, 77% in May, 67% in June) and though numbers are improving (down 58% in July and 51% in August), they are still well below base levels.


An eerily empty tube network but Londoners are starting to return to the tube.


Commuters have been slowly returning to the network as more businesses return to their London workplaces but behaviours differ from pre-lockdown with commuter rush hour now more elongated. With the Covid 19 infection rate rising and guidance on WFH vs the office shifting once more, advertising exposure on the underground is likely to remain suppressed.

Re-thinking travel marketing in 2021

Steve Keenan focuses on how the hard hit travel industry can drive growth in 2021 in WTM's article' Ripping up the travel marketing manual for 2021'.


Travel is not expected to return to "normal" for five years. With staycations having increased at overseas tourism's expense, destinations are marketing to their own residents (e.g. Australia's 'Stay Here This Year' campaign) while others like Japan are using geo-targeting technology to discount holidays in areas unaffected by COVID-19.

Tourism Australia's 'Stay Here This Year' campaign


Though domestic tourism is expected to continue to flourish, there will be pent-up demand to really get away when overseas holidays can go ahead. To counter continued uncertainty, tour operators have started selling holidays for more than a year in advance. While gite/cottage/villa operators are expected to gear up their "safe but relaxing" holiday marketing where families and friends can form their own bubble.


Next year more than ever, a reputation for good customer service will be key. With many would-be travellers having experienced confusion and frustration at changes of plan, brands trusted to pick up the phone, listen and issue refunds will be the beneficiaries.

M.i. Media is the media agency for clients seeking greater performance, impact and return from their advertising spend. Click here to get in touch.



© 2020 by M.i. Media

Google Partner.png
LW_logo_london_rgb.jpg