IAB SEA+India - Life On Lockdown - COVID

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In a bid to better understand how the industry is being affected by the COVID-19 virus so far, we conducted a survey to better understand how corporations are responding to the global pandemic.

The survey covered key questions around company policy around containment and transmission, and provided the industry with the opportunity to share their thoughts on corporate strategy surrounding future proofing efforts. 

 

INSIGHTS AT A GLANCE

 

  • Mostly in leadership roles (with direct reports and 6 years of experience and above)
  • Respondents working at platforms (who made up just under 45% of our respondents) reported the least amount of disruption to productivity
  • Media agencies reported the most amount of disruption to working arrangements and, along with creative agencies, look set to be hardest hit by adjustments to booking requests and marketing budgets

 

WORKING FROM HOME GIVES LEADERSHIP TIME TO CATCH THEIR BREATH

 

  • Over 70% of respondents have not noticed a change in productivity on both a local and regional level
  • The 28.9% of respondents who have noticed a spike cited less commute time, more focus and earlier start times as reasons for feeling more productive
  • As a result of these insights, respondents feel a permanent reduction to travel time feels inevitable as part of long term cost reduction exercises
  • The future of marketing and advertising could therefore revolve around a leaner organisation model that prioritises generalist skill sets over deep specialisms

 

AND FROM A TEAM PERSPECTIVE

 

  • Just under 75% of respondents claim their teams have maintained the same levels of productivity in terms of campaigns and other billable work
  • Moving forward, this could strengthen an argument for semi-permanent remote working protocol (which, in theory, would reduce overheads and provide more flexible working solutions to staffing timezone-specific clients and projects)

 

AS A RESULT… TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS COULD BE HERE TO STAY

 

  • Given the concentration of respondents in the strategic regional hub of Singapore, our community has been quick to implement bans around non essential business travel and visitors from specific countries (bans that are also being upheld by border control, who are encouraging foreign nationals to return home and only essential service workers to re-enter to Singapore)
  • Just over 30% of respondents noted that their companies intended to review essential/non travel policies as a result of current bans
  • This could pave the way for a permanent shift in how companies conduct business
  • As forecasts and pipelines continue to be re-evaluated, a shift to control travel costs and increase tech adoption to cater for cross-border collaboration seems inevitable as businesses look to protect headcount in 2020

 

THE LONG TERM EFFECTS OF QUARANTINING AND CONTACT TRACING HAVE YET TO BE CONSIDERED?

  • 44% of respondent’s are already, in some cases, enforcing quarantine. Returning from a high risk country is the most popular reason for quarantine enforcement
  • This is closely followed by exposure to a person travelling from a high risk country and/or an individual with COVID-19 symptoms
  • Awareness of self care and mental well being are now being prioritised by some companies and providing teams with internal and public resources for a range of support and stimulus to mitigate the negative impacts of increased isolation
  • The effects of increased government surveillance (and with it, the release of specific personal data), could have a negative impact on trust in authorities who fail to adequately explain exactly what data is being collected was a concern of over 30% of respondents. Following Singapore’s example of a consenting, ‘opt in’ app experience will be crucial to justifying the intrusion caused by heightened surveillance policies

 

BUT MANY RESPONDENTS HAVE BEEN LEFT IN THE DARK OVER POLICY DETAILS

 

  • 92% of respondents have no clear timeline for when containment policies are scheduled to end
  • 42% of respondents are not sure what policies their companies are using to encourage collaboration
  • But, over half of surveyed companies (52.94%) are planning to re-evaluate forecasts and pipeline – suggesting that no marketing/advertising category is safe from the effects of what has become a truly global pandemic

 

CONFERENCING TECHNOLOGY AND REGULAR CHECK-INS HAVE BEEN CRUCIAL TO MAINTAINING PRODUCTIVITY

 

  • Google, Zoom and WhatsApp are the three most popular technology providers used by our community throughout the isolation process
  • Companies are responding to isolation with innovative techniques, including:
    • Daily: catch-ups and calls, check-ins with direct reports
    • Weekly: all-hands calls
    • Bi-Weekly: senior management check-ins to review company policy

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

 

(Mostly) Business As Usual: In the short term, three quarters of the industry are business as usual with many leaders are actually getting more work done.

No End To COVID-19 Containment (For Now): Most organisations have not committed to hard timelines around contingency policies and, with many respondents unclear about the exact policies implemented, the suggestion is many respondents would benefit from clearer communications roll-out.

Calls, Calls and More Calls: Conference calls and check-ins look set to dominate our schedules as businesses settle into the routine of WFH life. With no end date in place, businesses and organisations will have to take measures.

 

For a more in depth perspective from Miranda Dimopoulos, our Regional CEO, view her article here.
AUTHORS & CONTRIBUTORS:
IAB SEA+India