Emerging stronger from lockdown

3 min readMay 20, 2020

Brands owning the conversation with their most engaged audiences is key to achieving speed, quality and value.

Lockdown has forced consumers, media-owners, and brands online, but has the destination changed?

Brands able to contain the impact of lockdown, are those with a strong balance sheet, who already made the transition to digital operations with diversified business models, or were fortunate.

Those emerging strongest will be those with the agility to operate diversified business models on demand, driven by real-time, first-party data decisioning, operating with speed, quality, and value as part of their everyday operations.

Markets constantly evolve but Q1 was clearly unprecedented resulting in online and social engagement surging including Twitter by 24%, display ads -17% at Facebook when brands went dark, Netflix subscriptions increased +27%, and Amazon eCommerce +24% despite fragile supply chains.

Volatility makes forecasting difficult but indications are that Q2 will be +11% or online and social engagement , sharp falls in display advertising to -55% being forecasted by NYT, which programmatic isn’t going to fill, subscriptions continuing to rise with eLeaning at 2.9x, and eCommerce continuing to grow reaching CAGR 14.9%, particularly as supply chains catch up. There are forecasts of a strong recovery in Q4, but with limited visibility beyond Q3, as Governments seek to restart economies, what’s your forecast?

Lockdown has accelerated change. The remaining analogue companies will have furthest to travel, but virtually every media-owner and brand has invested in digital operations, and must now contemplate writing off the legacy balance sheets investments that were barriers in the past, to achieve the agility to operate diversified business models on demand.

The challenge is real-time first-party data which is the prerequisite, which is the game changer for media-owners and brands.

Brands owning the conversation with their most engaged audiences have the advantage in exposing real-time first-party data that enables audience profiling to personalise every phase of audience engagement to support diversified business models, typically in categories including paid services, advertising, data, and eCommerce, that need to be enabled on demand.

NYT has reportedly reached data independence, to rely on their own first-party data arising from 5m digital subscribers and more registered users offering selected segments to advertisers in a proven subscription-advertising model and innovation using podcasts.

Now, more than ever, media owners and brands have an opportunity to to reach the destination quicker, emerge stronger, based on trusted quality content and scale, selectively using a new generation of collaborative plugin services, moving the creative, content, distribution on the brand side of the equation redistributing the value of brand-audience engagement.

Brands owning the conversation with their most engaged audiences, is the key to achieving the agility to operate diversified business models on demand. The destination hasn’t changed, but the arrival date has moved forward, and brands able to operate with speed, quality, and value will emerge stronger.

Simon Hellier is CEO of GlobalDrum.




Empowering brands to take back ownership of the conversation with their most valued audiences