While ad spending around the world has been severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic, there at last signs of cautious optimism, according to the latest data from the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA).

It finds that, while investment is still down on pre-pandemic plans, more than half of major multinationals are now starting to increase their ad spend.

The WFA Crisis Response Tracker found 54% of respondents are no longer deferring campaigns, and that optimism about the current business environment has started to improve. Among those asked, 21% say they now feel positive, while 36% feel neutral about business conditions. That compares with only 8% feeling positive and 41% neutral in June this year, when the WFA last posed the same question.

Despite the positive data, actual spending remains lower than previously planned over the first three quarters of the year. Only online display, which is up 6%, and online video, up 9%, are seeing higher levels of investment.

Researchers based their findings on responses between September 17th to 27th from senior executives at 35 major advertisers with a combined total annual ad spend of $67 billion.

Responses highlight the migration of spending to digital. Many executives have now made “a full transition to channel-agnostic video planning, boosted their focus on eCommerce, run more virtual/digital marketing activations and influencer events and rebalanced investments between experiential and digital,” the report says.

Other channels, such as TV, OOH, and point-of-sale, are seeing some signs of a pick-up after hitting record low spending in the first half of the year, the data shows. But TV is still down 25% for the first three quarters of the year, but is up on the 33% cut in the first half of the year. OOH is still 39% down, but that’s an improvement on the 49% decline seen in the first-half of the year. Point-of-sale is down 20%, somewhat better than the 23% fall seen in the first six months.

Following online video and online display spend, influencer marketing is the closest to matching planned investment.

“We are starting to see some green shoots of recovery with more than half our members no longer holding their campaigns back as a result of the pandemic,” said Stephan Loerke, CEO of the WFA.

“There is still a lot of uncertainty though, and it’s unlikely we’ll be moving to ‘business as usual’ anytime soon. We are also seeing an acceleration of the shift to digital channels, but it remains to be seen if this will be permanent,” he added.

Sourced from WFA