FreeWheel Real-Time Insights, April 28, 2020: Consumer Survey

New Survey from FreeWheel Reveals 90% of Consumers Say Brands Should Continue Advertising During COVID-19 Crisis

According to the survey, consumers also think brands should incorporate COVID-19 messaging into their ads.

NEW YORK, April 28, 2020 – Today, FreeWheel, A Comcast Company (Nasdaq: CMCSA), released the results of a new survey of over 1,000 consumers on their changing behaviors and attitudes towards advertising in light of COVID-19 events. The results showed that 91% of consumers believe it’s appropriate for brands to continue advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic, with about half saying they believe it’s appropriate only with “certain types of ads.”

The survey, conducted using a SurveyMonkey Audience panel of U.S. consumers 18+ years old, also revealed that nearly 60% of consumers believe brands should incorporate messaging around COVID-19 into their ads. But discretion is needed: most consumers – about 50% – agree that brands should only do so “if it is tasteful.”

“We are facing unprecedented times, and it’s more important than ever to partner with advertisers to solve the unique problems facing the industry today,” said Mark McKee, SVP, Head of U.S. Commercial, FreeWheel. “The survey tells us that consumers are open to hearing a brand’s message, so we’re working with our advertiser clients to reach their audience in the most meaningful and impactful ways possible in today’s new media landscape.”

When asked about their feelings towards brands that advertise in the current environment, over 40% of consumers say that when brands incorporate COVID-19 messaging into their ads, it can result in positive feelings. Though again, consumers caveat that messaging must be sensitive, with 29% saying that ads with COVID-19 messaging only gives them positive feelings if done tastefully.

The survey also asked consumers about their media viewing habits as they spend greater amounts of time at home. Nearly 80% total said they are watching more TV and online video since the start of COVID-19 social distancing, with 32% saying they are watching “a couple hours more per week” and 22% saying they are watching between 1-2 hours per day more. About a quarter say they are watching more than 2 hours per day more. During this additional time at home, consumers say they are most often watching news (49%), comedies (48%) and dramas (41%).

Consumers were also asked what types of ads they are most open to seeing now. The top category by far was food and beverage companies (51%), followed by financial (28%) and technology (24%) companies.