How is media impacted by COVID-19? Insights from the CMA Media Council

Times are changing, and they are changing quickly. In our monthly meetings, the CMA Media Council dedicates time to discuss pressing issues. In this week’s meeting, we addressed the topic on everyone’s minds – COVID-19. The domino effect of what is happening in the wake of the virus, social isolation and a potential economic crisis is still yet to be determined, but below is a summary of our insights: 

Media consumption is meeting our assumption and hypothesizes

News consumption is up. TV watching is up. Digital streaming is allowing people to binge hours and hours of feel-good or escapist content. With more people staying inside, none of this comes as a surprise to our Council.

Our next assumption is that news fatigue is going to start to set in and people will start to do other things and consume other content. We have seen that fatigue set in weeks after previous crises when people don’t see changes or new updates. That being said, the news is more important than ever. There is a balance that people will strike that will keep them shifting between escapism and hardcore news stories.

People want normalcy, but what does that mean?

Studies from Maru Voice and Mindshare Canada speak to the anxiety and worry amongst Canadians but also the hopefulness and preparedness we have as a country. These studies show that people want normalcy again – but what is that going to be? When we emerge from social distancing, what new policies or working models will be put in place?

Going local

In Quebec, a massive campaign is underway for people to shop local and support community businesses and organizations. E-commerce will play a major role in supporting this push, particularly as social distancing protocols intensify. This is a trend that will transform how we see media as well – especially when we look for updates from local news.

Industries in crisis

O’Reilly recently announced that all their conferences are done, forever. The events and conference industry is being hard hit and is having to reinvent how to manage their formats in social isolation.

Travel businesses, especially cruises, are going to have a hard time coming back from this, as we expect people to be slow to getting on large ships that have been a focal point during the crisis. We suspect airlines will come back but will have to evolve to be more customer-centric and nimble in their operations. The travel industry as a whole will need to reinvent itself with a new value proposition.

There are industries suffering from supply chain constraints that have demand that they cannot meet . These sectors, including fashion, may face challenges rebounding when the dust settles.

Industries to watch

Telemedicine is about to transform our medical system, with patients now relying on this tool communicate with their medical team during isolation.

Real estate and law are about to become more digitized as paperwork and conversations go virtual. Our Council is of the view that these are two industries that needed this catalyst of a moment to transform and modernize.

The automotive industry is  is taking a hit now, but when normal business resumes, we imagine that people will consider a car instead of public transportation as social distancing continues to take a place in society. In turn, this may lead to a spike in radio advertising and media buys.

Across a variety of industries, many businesses will take a a direct to consumer approach and create new streams for revenue by adopting platforms like Shopify, Wix and others to build an e-commerce experience.

What is happening behind the scenes with clients, agencies and brands?

The Council recognized that in these first few weeks of COVID-19, brands are figuring out how to pull back and regroup. This was more due to the delay in creative changes to messaging that is more appropriate for the current climate. Media agencies stepped up to deliver information, service and counsel to clients Agency business is built on mitigating risk, especially in an age of brand safety. While fear overtook many of us in media and marketing at the outset, we are starting to emerge with more poise and a laser focus on what brands should be doing to manage through this crisis. Ultimately, the language that is spoken now matters more than ever to consumers, and as we continue to navigate through this uncertainty. It is crucial that the industry as a whole considers the butterfly effect of our actions today and looks at how brands, agencies and platforms should make positive ripples that will carry them forward to tomorrow.


By the CMA Media Council

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