Video Trends and COVID-19

Over the past few weeks as workers across the United States have settled into new routines, social distancing and working from their kitchens, dens, basements, and even bathrooms, we have seen a dramatic shift in media consumption and habits.

  • Americans are searching for news and coronavirus information, homeschooling tips, and ‘drive-by baby shower ideas.’
  • Publisher paywalls are coming down in order to provide greater access to COVID information.
  • Out of home viewing has declined significantly as commuting and shopping ground to a halt.
  • Online shopping for grocery items and household essentials is overwhelming websites and causing delays.
  • Americans at home are spending significantly more time with their TVs and connected devices — from local news to Netflix binging.

Interestingly, linear TV viewing is slightly down in the early morning hours, as workers may be sleeping a little later since they don’t have to commute. But by 8am, TV sets are on and stay on throughout the day. Local News is an important source of information for Americans, and connected TVs are a fast growing source of entertainment for viewers of all ages.

While we all wait for the COVID-curve to flatten, we are starting to see a flattening of the curve when it comes to video viewing. Americans have adjusted to work-from-home settings and have settled into new routines. The week that ended on March 29 shows that the rapid growth in total television viewing over the past 5 weeks has slowed. Only a week before,  week-over-week increased in double digits — ranging from +12% to +42% across different demos. The following week flattened out across the board for most components of TV usage.

The current, higher levels of television usage is expected hold throughout the mandatory shelter-at-home period, and we anticipate that some of these trends may have an effect beyond the pandemic. Streaming services were in a growth mode before, and will likely benefit more in the future. There are still a lot of original programs left to binge on Netflix. YouTube continues to grow. And new services are challenging the established brands. For example, Quibi launched with a 90-day free trial, adding yet another option to the menu.

When the recovery begins, certain COVID-influenced behaviors will likely remain. People may be wary of returning to the office, large crowds, subways, sporting events, and concerts. There will be a continued need for information. According to recent research from GlobalWebindex, many people say they will continue to consume video much like they are today.

Marketers, particularly those that have halted or cut ad spending during this crisis, will need to look at the new consumption patterns and engage with their consumers accordingly.

As SVP Activation Strategy, Vaughn provides strategic direction to our agency, playing a crucial role in planning for the future growth of the agency, including molding and training activation teams.  He understands the correlation between brand, content, and channel to drive incremental, measurable results. His background in media strategy from start to finish allows him to lead his team in focusing on the acquisition of the most efficient, relevant, engaging and effective media touchpoints for client media plans, while always looking for innovative solutions along the way.

What is True Local?

At True Media, innovation is one of our four core values. Each month we award teams who demonstrate internal or client innovations, and at the end of the year we award one overall Innovation Award winner that stood out amongst other winners. This year’s Innovation Award winner is Senior Search Strategist Steve Sherfy for his leadership in the True Local initiative. 


True Local is a management services and review monitoring platform that enables you to view and respond to customer reviews in one place. It gathers information from your stores, uploads and maintains listings. This includes changes to hours, new stores, and consistent brand information. True Local also provides a single platform from which you can reply directly to customer reviews — an essential practice for improving local search result performance. 

Who Needs It
  • Any brand with brick and mortar locations needs a local SEO program which extends beyond the search platforms to other directory sites like Apple Maps, Foursquare,, Facebook, etc.
  • With Google now incorporating GMB location activity into the paid search metrics, along with the store visit conversion paid search metric, a local SEO program is more important than ever for your brand. 
Successes – Client A
  • 27% increase in total views of their listings
  • 16% increase in views on search results and a 43% increase in views on map results
  • Total interactions with the listings increased 60% with a 59% increase in clicks to the banking website, 15% increase in clicks for driving directions and an 82% increase in clicks to call a bank location
Successes – Client B

Within first 90 days on the program we were able to show our client:

  • Over 1.1MM views of their business listings
  • Approximately 12,000 store visits
  • Estimated 7,800 in-store purchases
  • Worth an estimated $297K
  • ROI of 94:1

Search Strategy Q&A

Google has been investing in its shopping products to keep up with competitors like Amazon and Instagram. Recently, Google revamped its shopping program to include visual product search, price tracking, and a “buy with Google” capability. True Media Senior Search Strategist Steve Sherfy is here to to help you understand what this means and how exactly it will effect Search Advertising. 

Q: How do these updates change the game for Search?

A: For quite some time the game has been ‘find it on Google, buy it elsewhere (either on Amazon or the seller directly)’. Other platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram have moved into their territory in the ‘discovery’ phase, but most people still fall back to the idea of searching on Google for the things they discovered on the other platforms and buying through shopping ads or buying on Amazon.  With Google adding in the “buy with google” feature, it is an attempt to capitalize further by bringing the purchase in house and away from retailer sites and Amazon as much as possible. This shows that the new battle is time on platform — with the longer the time on any one platform, the more likely that platform will be utilized through the entire buying cycle. This change illustrates that shopping has fundamentally changed and it is not going back to previous formats.  For most retail clients that means adjusting how they think of reaching their customers and earning their customer’s purchases. Optimized product feeds and shopping ads are no longer something nice to do, they are a necessity.

Q: In regards to the updates being an attempt to compete with Amazon and Instagram — who do you think will accomplish this best in terms of growth and opportunity? 

A: Google has made themselves synonymous with discovery and these new features play into the growing consumer demand for ease and quickness of purchase.  If they are able to seamlessly integrate the entire cycle for the consumer, Amazon is the most likely to feel the pinch.

Q: Google will soon be beta testing the ability to automatically optimize for brick and mortar store visits into campaign, as well as segmenting out new customer acquisition shopping campaigns from those for existing customers.  How can this help retail clients specifically?

A: Some retail clients still do not have e-commerce as a high priority, especially clients in the Farm and Home space, where many products have shipping charges that make buying online a less desirable choice.  With store visit conversions being a metric to optimize against, this can be a game changer for these retail clients, allowing them to enter into the shopping campaign space with an offline goal that can be strategize and measured.

Q: Google is also attempting to fine-tune its search results to handle more general searches. For example, broad based searches would include typing “living room ideas” or “outfits for Fall” — these searches will now result in more image-driven advertisements, along with aggregated content. How does this change how keywords are used? Will they be necessary or used moving forward? 

A: There will never be a time when keyword-based search is a necessary tactic for paid search.  However, keyword-based campaigns do need to evolve with consumer search practices along with available options for targeting.  These changes bring to the forefront the need to segment paid search campaigns by age and other demographic indicators as generational differences in online discovery and purchases have never been greater.