Building Trust During a Pandemic: Ensuring Reliable Brand Experiences

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the lives of millions of global consumers throughout 2020, brands are tasked with being in touch with their prospects and customers in a deeper, more one-to-one way, which builds more trust. This coupled with a challenged economy means that brands will need heightened levels of efficiency in advertising and creative strategies that address both the short and long-term changes in how people live and consume.

While the “north star” for brands establishing relevant experiences with their customers will not shift, the industry should however expect changes as stay-at-home consumers shift their media consumption and opt for connected devices and streaming services, such as Tubi and Hulu, among others. A recent TransUnion survey found 56% of US consumers have increased their use of streaming services since the onset of COVID-19 in March. Having a consistent voice in the marketplace as consumers adjust their media experiences should be backed with a deeper understanding of the audience and precise data that establishes their identity.

Direct to consumer is a categorical example of the type of brand that has become particularly adept at identifying a customer base, reaching them across channels, and engaging them in relevant and direct ways. The COVID-19 era offers brands –even non-digitally native or smaller ones– the opportunity to jump in where other advertisers are missing the mark, with a net effect of leveling the playing field.

Advanced TV advertising focused on customer centricity can deliver these customized experiences, and build loyalty as long as they are based on accurate data to align timing and circumstances. In the end, delivering meaningful and reliable content during difficult times can help brands build greater trust, and long-term loyalty.

Consumption Shift

The nature of Connected TV consumption patterns changed abruptly in recent months, rising 26% in America within just a matter of weeks during late March 2020. This shift has been fueled by the extended time people are spending at home. The trend of Connected TV growth is likely to continue well into 2021 as consumer habits persist and the possibility of extended longevity of the pandemic.

According to research from streamer Tubi, Connected TV viewing has grown during the pandemic to 8 hours a day for many consumers. The practice of binge-watching on rainy weekends has spilled over into a day-to-day routine that is less weather-related or seasonal and more fixed. In fact, TransUnion’s survey found that since the pandemic, consumers are not only streaming more content per day, but 45% of those consumers also expect those activities to become a permanent part of life moving forward.

Combining Short + Long Term Strategies is Key

Brands are aspiring to establish a consistent one-to-one conversation and connection during the COVID-19 crisis that holds true through both the pre and post-pandemic times. While purpose-driven advertising is an important trend in the short-term, having a deeper understanding of audiences can help inform how a strategy shifts over the long term.

According to a recent study from the IAB, more than one-third of advertisers are adjusting their in-market tactics, and are increasing audience targeting (+38%) and OTT/CTV device targeting (+35%).

Over the long term, these strategic shifts likely point to a need to be more data-driven and agile across continued changes in connected consumer experiences.

Identity Signaling with Data

Knowing about the individuals behind the device becomes increasingly important for companies needing to survive a challenged economy. The traditional TV targeting proxies of age and gender are being replaced with a more data-driven approach as technology enables the connection of signals across devices, household composition, location, and more helps distill the people in the living room viewing the content.

When these signals are rooted in offline data, such as understanding historical name and addresses, brands gain a more comprehensive view of consumers over time. Identity graphs provide signals, like a common IP address, mobile advertising IDs, and hashed emails that can be combined with other data, such as demographics, hobbies and interests, automotive ownership, to build a more accurate and comprehensive view of consumers.


As the challenged economy tightens budgets, advertising efficiency will rise to the top. Consumers are spending more time in front of their Connected TVs and a wider array of streaming services. These audiences should be portable across digital ecosystems, from Facebook, to Amazon and OTT/digital services.

During these uncertain times of COVID-19, brands looking to deliver reliable experiences can adjust their strategies to ensure a complete picture of the audience and deliver more relevant messages that help build trust. They can better achieve this by leveraging precise data for targeting and personalization in the short term while building towards a long-term strategy addressing how identity underpins the full customer journey.

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