How To Adjust Your Advertising Strategy for COVID-19

This article was written by Dan Hellerman, Terminus's VP of Digital Strategy.

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As news about COVID-19 began increasing worldwide, the two most common questions I’ve received to date have been: 

  1. “How will this affect my advertising campaigns in Terminus?” 
  2. “What steps should I be taking to stay proactive?” 

It’s a new world, and we’ll all need to work hard and quickly to maintain the health of our business and community. Terminus is here to help. To help answer the above questions, I am going to share what we’re seeing in our platform and not just tell you that everything is going to be okay, but show you. 

Let’s take a look at Terminus’ three ad targeting capabilities and learn how we should be adapting them to this new work-from-home (WFH) scenario:

  1. Cookie-Based Targeting
  2. International IP Targeting
  3. Retargeting
  4. Next Steps


Cookie-Based Targeting

Cookie-based is the default Terminus targeting method, enabling targeting of users’ laptops and personal devices, on their work network or at home. It also enables additional firmographic targeting, such as by title or function. This method doesn’t rely on being in-office, so these campaigns are better suited than any other account-based advertising method to reach an audience working from home or on their personal devices.  


Key Takeaways

What we’re seeing: 

  • Impression inventory across our cookie-based network is up 20-30% as employees work from home (WFH), while IP targeting is struggling to serve impressions.
  • Terminus has added more consumer-focused sites to gain additional coverage and take advantage of a spike in traffic on news sites. 

What we recommend: 

  • Terminus display campaigns in the US are automatically cookie-based - consider increasing spend on these tactics (if you are not already running Terminus display campaigns, it’s a great time to start!)
  • Extend advertising hours beyond 9-5 as work and home life continue to blend.

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As news of the global pandemic circulated over the past two weeks, we have seen a correlative 20-30% increase in impression inventory. Web browsing has naturally increased across the country leading to a general influx in available inventory as work-from-home rapidly becomes the new normal. 

Customers with cookie-based campaigns are seeing a surge of impressions as availability continues to increase (see above graph). However, as most offices are now empty, IP-based campaigns are struggling to serve impressions to out-of-office accounts (unless the target account uses a VPN).  

To help our customers take advantage of the new increase in availability, we have added some more consumer focused sites to our existing premium whitelist of publishers. Our primary goal is to help our customers through this challenging time in whatever small ways we can. 


Terminus Recommends:

We recommend increasing your ad budget to take early advantage of these shifts and, since work-life has shifted so much, extending advertising hours outside of 9 to 5. Our Digital Media Managers are available to any customer who wants to explore reallocating or adding to their advertising budget for better performance and to take advantage of increased business activity in traditionally consumer-oriented parts of the web. 

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A Visualization of Cookies vs IP Addresses

To truly understand the difference between cookie and IP performance, our product team did a few data experiments over the last week with our own office (where we are all now working remotely). In the image above you will see our office building on IP targeting. The above data, collected a few weeks ago, shows a ton of impressions (red bubbles) all emanating from a single source (our office / IP).

Taking those same cookies that served on our IP, as well as our own cookie data set around Terminus employees, we wanted to show you what those same people are doing today. In the image below, you can see that none of those cookies are on Terminus’ IP address anymore. We’ve all moved remote. 

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Here are our cookies all around Atlanta as we work from home. Say hi!

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In a case where an IP campaign may not be able to serve a single impression, Terminus campaigns can still serve plenty of ads to an account! As we adjust to all of the new challenges in our future, it’s nice to know that one thing is still working. 


International IP Targeting Campaigns

To remain GDPR compliant in territories outside of the US/Canada, many advertisers use rooftop-level targeting. We’ll share how to adapt these campaigns for today’s WFH environment and what steps Terminus has taken to ensure stable performance.  


Key Takeaways
 

What we’re seeing:

  • There has been an average drop of 28% in available rooftop-targeted impressions.
  • Our recent March Release extended our international reach, adding more coverage and advertising opportunity.
  • Enterprise companies frequently use VPNs, which means IP-based solutions (including Terminus international targeting) will still be able to target these users worldwide, regardless of remote working. 

What we recommend: 

  • Continue to monitor your performance over time. Stay vigilant on your active campaigns; pause less effective campaigns and increase spend on your higher performing ones. 

Campaigns with international IP targeting have been the most impacted from COVID-19 in terms of our ability to serve. As companies move to work from home environments worldwide we’ve so far seen an average drop of 28% in available impressions. 

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The good news is that with our increase in international coverage we completed last week we are starting to see the numbers swing back in the other direction. Additionally many of the large companies our customers are targeting with IP are having their employees log in remotely via a VPN.  

When an employee logs in by VPN it changes their IP address to the company’s, so we are still seeing great fulfillment on large companies that utilize this technology, especially in the banking, healthcare, and finance industries.  

Terminus Recommends:

For high performing international campaigns, we recommend staying the course at this moment. Should performance dip, Terminus can help you migrate some of your spend towards cookie based campaigns targeted at companies US headquarters, or take advantage of retargeting in order to better hit your engaged audiences. 


Retargeting Campaigns

This is cookie-level targeting of companies in your target account lists which have visited your website. You can maximize the powerful targeting mechanism with a simple tip listed below. 


Key Takeaways

What we’re seeing: 

  • Retargeting is still performing very well, driven by our additional cookie-based layers and household extension targeting. 

What we recommend:

  • Add household extension targeting to every retargeting campaign by taking budget from poorly performing campaigns.  

Cookie-level retargeting campaigns continue to perform extremely well with employees working from home. For advertisers looking to increase their coverage and put out more branded impressions against their target market, you may want to consider utilizing ‘household extension targeting’ which will expand your cookie pool to all the devices on a retargeted cookie’s home network. This will ensure if your user switches devices at the end of the day, such as from a work laptop to a personal iPad, your message continues to stay in front of them wherever they are. 

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Fortunately, our customers’ retargeting campaigns continue to perform across the board. They have the same benefit as our cookie targeting campaigns and are also benefiting from our increased whitelist. If you are interested in applying household extension targeting to your retargeting campaigns, please reach out to your Digital Media Manager, or Client Strategy Manager.

Terminus Recommends: 

We recommend taking advantage of ‘household extension targeting’ while everyone is working from home. This allows us to take the original cookie we are targeting and follow it across devices at a user’s home, so if they switch from their work device to a personal device to browse the internet, our ads can follow. (Note: This feature is only available to our retargeting customers and is a great way to increase coverage.)

Next Steps

Terminus is right here beside you to weather this storm. When things eventually begin to return back to normal we expect IP campaigns to begin to rise in impressions again. Cookie and Retargeting campaigns are expected to continue to grow as the duration of our work-from-home policies extends. Many of our customers have refocused spend from international campaigns towards domestic headquarters of accounts they are looking to break into, others are pausing campaigns with low numbers of international impressions to move towards companies we are still seeing significant impressions due to their use of VPNs.

Long-term, we expect the world will look a little different after this pandemic. Terminus is already developing targeting capabilities that will help make sure you can reach your audience– no matter where they are, even in a post-cookie environment.

We continue to meet with our entire platform team, our data vendors, and partners to ensure our customers have an excellent experience with our platform. If you have any questions about the content of this article or would like us to help you realign your strategy, your dedicated Terminus support team is there to help!

 

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