The intent of this post is to start collecting a perspective on what is happening in the digital marketing ecosystem and US economy for our clients and everyone who is thinking and considering how this international pandemic will impact digital marketing and sales efforts in light of the breaking news and activity around this virus and it’s spread. I’m planning to update this post daily with what I see to be some of the most impactful news and insights on what is happening around the globe and in B2B digital tech. I hope it is helpful to you and your team in planning your next steps.
Day 15: Wednesday 4/1/20
“Some horrible days ahead”. A paraphrase from our president as the CDC and Whitehouse release notes on projected pandemic peak occurrences in the next days as we find out how social distancing and other strategies pay off to flatten the curve.
Keeping up with the general pace of news and marketing trends feels like a unending race that was expected to be a sprint. Marketing and advertising is very low on the priority list as companies are still try to navigate the general slowdown on the economy. Many are using the existing channels to help keep awareness up and stay engaged with their audience, yet the buyers are fewer in many markets.
With all the projections on the pandemic coming out in the past days, it does not seem like normalcy with occur in Q2. Peak values and downturn may occur through May into June. This is going to be an extended challenge to all businesses and markets. The CARES act will be a help to many, but true hope is only in the defeat and reestablishment of the markets after this has passed.
The news has slowed down as well. The frenetic pace has given way to the long winter of isolation and bedding down in our homes to see how this comes to bear on the market. We are all trying to help each other, and hopefully there is enough of us left after this to help and be helped.
Day 15: Monday 3/30/20
We are entering into the third week of isolation here in the US. In Maryland specifically, today our Gov. Hogan put into place a statewide “shelter-in-place” order that would make it criminally liable for those traveling outside of the house for non-essential reasons.
We are bucking in for a long month of continued growth and spread of the coronavirus. Dr. Birx predicts up to 200,000 U.S. coronavirus deaths ‘if we do things almost perfectly’ . Doing this perfectly sounds like a very tall order for a nation of over 600 million people, considering compliance at this point has been moderate. The scramble for hope in medicines continues as FDA approves emergency use of malaria pill for COVID-19 treatment.
- Coronavirus safety drives strikes at Amazon, Instacart and Whole Foods
- Macy’s to furlough most of its 130,000 employees after being forced to close its 500 stores | Daily Mail Online
- Johnson & Johnson lands $1B government deal to boost coronavirus vaccine capacity
Total cases reported as of Monday Afternoon; 156,391, over 2K deaths. (NYtimes)
Day 12: Friday 3/27/20
NYTimes staff along with a team of epidemiologists put together this interesting case and model for the spread and its containment. It has an interactive slider to help you see what another 4 weeks of isolation could do for the US outbreak.
(Lost time to make all the updates.)
Day 11: Thursday 3/26/20
The rise of the entrepreneurial spirit. Countless companies are stepping up and innovating their business models to adjust to support the COVID-19 effort. Here is a short list of the most notable. But hundreds of breweries and distilleries are creating hand sanitizer and other companies are creating masks to help the effort.
- Dyson and Gtech answer UK call for ventilator design and production to support COVID-19 response | TechCrunch
- Tesla CEO Elon Musk: New York gigafactory will reopen for ventilator production | TechCrunch
- Distilleries producing hand sanitizer to help with coronavirus pandemic
And in similar fashion after 9/11 and rightly so, the american medical worker is the new hero of the day. Businesses are following suit supporting as they can.
- Krispy Kreme giving free doughnuts to health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic
- Starbucks gives free coffee to first responders | WSTM
Virus Stats: More than 68,440 cases have been reported in the US as of Thursday afternoon. Deaths have surpassed 1.5% of tested cases. (CDC)
Day 10: Wednesday 3/25/20
The internet is starting to show some cracks and loads as multiple reports and companies try to change settings to deal with the online volume. One of the articles goes to shed some light on the issues and why we might see more of this in the future, esp. if this type of home-based living continues and massive internet usage follows suit.
- Game downloads will be throttled to manage internet connections (TechCrunch)
- 88 out of top 200 US cities have seen internet speeds decline this past week, 3 cities by more than 40% (TechCrunch)
- Microsoft throttles some Office 365 services to continue to meet demand (zdnet)
- Netflix has outages (variety.com)
- To maintain bandwidth amid coronavirus pandemic, YouTube limits video quality (FoxNews)
- Why the internet (probably) won’t break during the coronavirus pandemic (Vox)
We are starting to see reports that the market for advertising is slowing down. Two reports highlight ad spending cost, which are usually the first of advertising budgets to be cut, are declining. From my own experience, marketing and advertising budgets are being cut or considering evaluation until a more solid understanding of where the market goes in the coming weeks. I call it a “retraction” as budgets are being pull in, not cut completely as a moderation is being applied to the overall approach to the market until we get a real sense of when this might end.
School are closed in MD for another 4 weeks, as Gov. Hogan extends the school closure until April 24th.
We have a bill. The bipartisan efforts are producing a bill that is developing by the hour in the depths of the government.
- Declining ad rates may signal a reset for startup SEM strategies (techCrunch)
- Facebook is both benefiting and battered by the coronavirus impact (MarketWatch)
Virus Stats: More than 54,453 cases have been reported in the US as of Wednesday afternoon. An 8x increase in one week. (CDC)
Day 9: Tuesday 3/24/20
We have a date? Trump pushes to get the work world back by Easter, and the opinions fly as NY is seeing doubling rates every 3 days. The US reaches #3 in overall world cases.
The general sentiment is that we’re all waiting, wanting business to get back to working. Marketing efforts are still riding rough as they are trying to get things detailed on when this is back to normal.
- Jocko’s Tips for working from home (FoxNews).
- Ford to 3D-print face shields, help create respirators and ventilators (CNET)
- Coronavirus causes Waffle House to close 365 locations (FoxBusiness)
Day 8: Monday 3/23/20
This will be the week of the winnowing. Companies will move from reaction to proactive into cutting costs and creating stability in operations as the weakest and most affected businesses have fallen. China is reporting a surge in the economy now that they are getting back to work, seeing a rise in many sectors of business. Could we start thinking in this same way as a nation?
The issue remains, can a debt laden economy and businesses survive the unknown in the weeks ahead? Does labor become more reactive and flexible? Does this create a massive gig economy in the end? Does this change the small businesses focus on growth to sustainable long term cash vs revenues?
We are all wondering will this two weeks of isolation be the end of it? I think not. I think we’ll have another two weeks with changes in the overall structure of the economy. It might actually be better if they (government) put out a date in the far future to allow for a right size compensation/relief package and encourage the long term commitment vs the daily unknown of our current situation. What would you do if you knew we’d all be back to work and business “as normal” on May 1st? How would that change your view of right now? It wouldn’t change much except I’d stop thinking about today and start planning for tomorrow.
In marketing, the world is online. There is massive user and impression counts going on in the online forum. If you want to be noticed, there has been no better time. Of course this comes with a rub. The rub is this, very few people are buying. People are still buying, but only in sectors that are either booming or seeing positive impact or no impact from this event. It’s still a worthwhile investment to be online right now, and its producing return. You just need to know how to be in the right place at the right time.
The US turns full focus on the government response and incoming stimulus to help the thousands of businesses that have been impacted and continue to be impacted by #socialdistancing and other measures of shutdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.
- Zillow suspends home buying due to COVID-19 (TechCrunch)
Day 5: Thursday 3/20/20
The marketing push has started as I’ve seen more messaging now start to blend the lines between “we’re here to help” in a crisis mode, to “we’re here to help you with our products and services” under the blanket of the consumer concerns and fears around the virus and its implications. Tisk tisk…
The media-fueled panic continues to push our attention to social media and outlets to try to track this pandemic on our soil, while businesses have been heads down all week trying to keep employees and businesses operating. The big fear – cash flow – and how to keep receivables and payments moving in a time of uncertainty.
In digital marketing, media placements online are doing boom business right now as the internet usage has increased. No stats in the US, but the UK reports a 30% surge in internet use from one provider.
States are following NY, by considering stay-at-home orders.
- Mac and others are continuing to push out products in our work-from-home economy, yet sales might be stifled
- Netflix, Amazon Prime Video to slow down streaming so internet doesn’t overload (CNet)
- Cuomo orders New Yorkers to stay home and non-essential businesses to close (The Guardian)
- ‘We’re all going to get sick eventually’: Amazon workers are struggling to provide for a nation in quarantine (TheVerge)
- WhatsApp Is at the Center of Coronavirus Response (Wired)
Virus Stats: More than 15,000 cases have been reported in the US as of Friday afternoon. (CDC)
Day 4: Thursday 3/19/20
The US is starting to focus on trying and testing associated drugs, like a malaria drug. The climate in the state of MD continues to tighten as our Governor decides to close the airport to non-ticketed travelers, and all malls and public venues to close today at 5.
Cases in the US continue to rise as more infections are noted as testing becomes more widely available. Its a critical time in the spread of the virus, and more so the testing of the virus.
The long awaited strain on the internet is showing some cracks as governments in the EU start to monitor the amount of traffic used by streaming services such as netflix.
Microsoft teams rolls out a background noise filter as the competition between work chat platforms heats up.
- Netflix urged to slow down streaming to stop the internet from breaking (CNN)
- Daily Crunch: Facebook and Twitter fight coronavirus misinformation (Tech Crunch)
- COVID-19 checklist for businesses: How to manage your online presence and keep customers updated in a time of crisis (SearchEngineLand)
- The Dos And Don’ts Of Marketing During A Global Crisis (adExchanger)
Virus Stats: More than 10,000 cases have been reported in the US as of Thursday afternoon. (NyTimes Interactive Coronavirus Map)
Day 3: Wednesday 3/18/20
We entered into the third day of the #remotework and #quarentine in the US. There is a sense of adjustment with much of the concern still on when this might be over and how fast and severe the virus is spreading in the US. Many are calling for more dramatic measures, while many abroad are not taking the quarantine seriously.
The President of the US invokes “Defense Production Act” to improve the availability of supplies toward fighting the pandemic in the US. While in the same day working with Canadian officials to close the US-Canadian border to non-essential traffic. And the long awaited 2020 US census has stop operations until April.
Stocks reach a new low as the market volatility continues. Industries in the entertainment, travel, restaurants and tourism are bracing for the unexpected. Simon, the largest owners of shopping malls in America announces a closure of all properties at 7pm today.
Layoffs and limiting of time and other employment strategies are driving many to the unemployment offices, breaking the tech that supports it in Colorado.
On the marketing side of things, every technology company and services seems to be releasing “A letter of concern from our CEO” and is filling inboxes creating a bit of a backlash. Companies that were once serving in the background have brought attention to their unsubscribe links and subsequent bad taste and appeal to a false sense of caring.
- 13 Ways Businesses Can Use SEO & Marketing to Combat Coronavirus Impact (Search Engine Journal)
- LinkedIn Reaches 675 Million Members, Continues to See ‘Record Levels of Engagement’ (Social Media Today)
- “ZoomBombing” Becomes a thing (TechCrunch)
- Slack unveils its biggest redesign yet (the Verge)
- Google halts upcoming releases of Chrome and Chrome OS to keep things stable for everyone working from home
Virus Stats: 7,047 cases have been reported as of this, Wednesday afternoon. Deaths increasing show a leaning toward 60+ and those with existing health issues. (NyTimes Interactive Coronavirus Map)
Day 2: Tuesday 3/17/20
More responses are coming from tech companies who are sending out emails and communications on “being here to help” and make the transition to work from home life. What makes the situation more complicated that a voluntary work from home situation is that the public schooling systems are closed, leaving many parents battling both working from home and the unusual life at home during the week with the kids.
Phishing scams and internet hackers are presenting threats to information and systems as most of the world turns to the internet for just about everything. They are even trying to hack the US health administration systems.
The state of Maryland, under the direction of Gov. Hogan, has moved to prevent any utility from being disconnected during this time and many americans start to feel the impact and layoffs and releases from work begins in earnest.
- Coronavirus and Ecommerce: It’s complicated (Marketingland)
- Martech brands offer breaks, new tech for businesses to manage coronavirus impact (MarTechToday)
Virus Stats: 5,303 cases have been reported as of this afternoon. (NyTimes Interactive Coronavirus Map)
Day 1: Monday 3/16/20
This is the first day of the MD state isolation and postponement of schools. This two week forced isolation pushed most of our New North team into #remotework.
Social media is teaming with #WFH and #remotework hashtags as most of the US is moving to remote work. Much of the white collar workforce has had the ability, yet many sectors are facing this new challenge.
The general response from tech brands is a response of “We’re here to help”. Here are five companies that are giving away free tools to help the push towards an economy and workforce moving online and in the home.
- B2B turns to digital marketing in the wake of coronavirus outbreak (Clickz)
- Marketing events in the time of Coronavirus (thedrum)
- What The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Means For Marketers (Neil Patel)
- Your 2020 Crisis Marketing Strategy (Martech Advisor)
- A regularly updated list of marketers’ response to Coronavirus (AdAge)
Virus Stats: 900 new cases are added to the talley on M0nday (NyTimes Interactive Coronavirus Map)