The impact of COVID-19 is transforming millions of lives, and also causing a profound and possibly lasting change in the behaviour of business and consumers, a new study predicts.

In fact, changes have already begun, but advertisers have yet to adjust.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Media Consumption Across North Asia”, published by Nielsen Global Media, says the effect of social distancing, quarantining and staying home will have a big impact on the way media is consumed, quoting other research it has carried out in the US, which suggests a rise in media consumption of up to 60%.

The result is that “content creators, networks, studios, media agencies, advertisers and brands have significantly more opportunity to engage with consumers simply because of the clear correlation between time spent at home and media consumption”, say the authors of the North Asia report.

They looked at media consumption across North Asia (defined as: Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea), including areas first hit by the virus.

Researchers found, as expected, that media consumption has changed. In Taiwan and Korea, linear TV viewing grew both in penetration and time spent – in the first three weeks of February in Taiwan, for example, audiences grew by one million to 21 million. News content was the main beneficiary, followed by children’s viewing. TV consumption has also expanded considerably in Mainland China and Hong Kong.

Social media has become the primary source for buzz about the outbreak, with the level of social media buzz about the disease far overshadowing any other topic. Social media discussion tends to follow major announcements about local infections and states of emergency, then, following this peak, people tend to use the channel less for discussion and more for news.

Apps that cater for a new indoor lifestyle, largely in e-commerce and entertainment categories proved popular. Even in Hong Kong, a bricks-and-mortar shopping paradise, e-commerce became significantly more popular.

But, despite this higher media consumption, the report finds that advertisers have remained cautious. They pulled back on advertising campaigns, and shelved others to “bring investment in line with consumption and sentiment”.

The authors conclude this is likely a “misstep”, because the increased media time was “likely the new ‘prime’ time to brand build and interact with an engaged audience – albeit with the right tone and product/service offerings”.

Sourced from Nielsen Global Media