The effects of Covid-19 on Digital Media consumption

The novel coronavirus is undoubtedly affecting the economy. But does this mean the end of the world? 

Far from trying to capitalize on the situation that we are going through right now, companies must accept this new reality and adapt their marketing strategies to the new-established consumer behaviors.

With the disappearance of all channels related to live events and conferences, and the ever-growing barriers to physical business, companies’ ability to digitalize their marketing strategy will be the deciding factor to whether they will make it through this time of uncertainty.

We are here to show you the immense opportunities that lie in the online universe, through a curated series of articles.

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Covid-19s effect on the Digital Market

First and foremost, let’s understand what is going on in the digital media market. There are many anomalies taking place and it is inevitable to assume that Covid-19 will lead to big economic losses for both big and small companies.

Many advertisers have pulled marketing budgets to save in costs because of the uncertainty, and others are hesitant to advertise alongside coronavirus discussions for fear of associating their brands with a sensitive topic.

Photo by Марьян Блан

As people are confined at home and have limited mobility, outdoor advertising has been hit hard. Think about public transportations ads. If people don’t use shared commuting services, then your company will get fewer eyeballs looking at its commercial messages.

Cutting digital expenses, such as Facebook, Google ads or influencer collaborations, may also sound like a reasonable measure to be taken in favor of the short-term financial-well being of the company. However, making your brand disappear during this difficult period would imply missing out on a major opportunity to reach your target audience, right when your customers and stakeholders need it the most.

Making your brand disappear during this difficult period would imply missing out on a major opportunity to reach your target audience, right when they need it the most

There has been a massive increase in Digital Media consumption. And the term ‘Digital Media’ comes in every form. From Instagram to podcast audio formats, long and short video content platforms, along with instant messaging services or mobile apps.

No wonder why while the stock market is suffering from a major decrease, online-based services, such as streaming platforms, are seeing the paid user’s base grow in a way they would never dream of.

Photo by Neonbrand

So, what are the online figures Covid-19 has left for now?

We know that people are furiously washing their hands and keeping safety distances, if not forcibly confined at home. But now, let’s try to understand how the crisis is affecting their digital consumption behavior.

Here are some key takeaways on how internet users are behaving online:

  • There has been a notorious growth in the use of mobile devices, according to App Annie. Daily time spent on mobiles in China jumped to five hours a day on average from January to February, which means an increase of 30% from the previous year. Italy, with the second-highest concentration of confirmed cases as of March 15th, also had the second-highest increase at 11%.

  • Keywords related to finance, media and basic supplies such as food and healthcare have grown in organic search according to digital marketing guru Neil Patel.
The effects of Covid-19 on Digital Media Primetag Blog

Traffic Growth or Decline Due to Covid-19. Neil Patel.
  • Facebook has reported a major increase in traffic on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger,  as well as having more people actively use its feeds and stories on Facebook and Instagram.

    In the countries where the virus has spread the most, total messages have increased by more than 50% over the past month. Voice and video calls on Messenger and WhatsApp have more than doubled in those countries.  

    In Italy, particularly, the amount of time that users spend on Facebook platforms has increased by 70 percent since the coronavirus was detected in the country. Visits to Instagram and Facebook Live have also doubled in one week, as shared by the company. In addition, messaging increased by more than 50 percent, and time on group calls (calls with three or more participants) grew by more than 1,000 percent over the last month. 

  • Twitter has increased the number of active users by 23 percent. As shared by Reuters, the total active daily monetizable users (mDAU) inside the microblogging platform has boosted to 164 million quarterly.

  • Video sharing platforms are also on a rise. On TikTok, videos using the hashtag #coronavirus are up to 5.5bn total views on the app. In the case of Youtube, the spike of views has been higher than ever such that Google is temporarily defaulting all videos to standard definition for users across the globe. The measure comes as an effort to reduce the difficulties of internet infrastructure
The effects of Covid-19 on Digital Media Primetag Blog
Photo by Jens Kreuter 
  • As more people are staying home and broadcasting more video, streaming platforms like Netflix are a ‘key beneficiary’ of the behavior change in digital media consumption. According to Credit Suisse, Netflix has seen a spike in downloads of its application in regions that have been hard hit by the coronavirus, a trend that could point to increased international demand. Moreover, the platform’s shares have risen 9.2% in 2020, while those of Disney, seemingly the unbeatable entertainment giant, have fallen 40%.

  • Millennials are more present than ever in dating apps. Bumble active users grew 8% during the second week of March in the USA, according to App Annie. In-app calls and video chats recorded a 21% increase in the third week of March alone.

  • Other apps, particularly those gaming-related, have also seen a huge increase in downloads. There are currently no reliable figures regarding Europe or the US markets, but the average number of downloads recorded during the first two weeks of February in China represents an increase of 40% compared to the figures for the whole of 2019.

*Notice that we are talking about an uncommonly fast-moving situation and figures may shift drastically in little to no time.


Times are tough and digital media is more than ever serving as a distraction. The online world, with prudently-managed messaging, can be a decisive factor to help enterprises leave the ‘C’ crisis with a stronger digital game than ever before.

It would be a huge mistake for companies to try and capitalize on the miserable situation that the world is going through at the moment. However, they must accept this new reality and adapt their 2020 marketing strategies to the just-established media consumption habits.

And, if the figures displayed above serve as evidence: never in the history of Social Media has there been such an available, engaged and interactive digital crowd.

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Jone Conde

As a PR & Media Specialist at Primetag, I am responsible for enhancing the company's voice in both online and offline channels. From working at the Guggenheim Museum in New York to launching my own beer brand, I waste no opportunity for exploration.

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