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Covid marketing: Real-time data is a game changer

Thanks to COVID-19, former buzzwords such as “ideate”, “pivot” and “agile” have become the new reality for all marketers. To help a business persevere and maintain its competitive edge during a crisis, marketers need to understand the importance of agility and adaptability. This enables brands to keep up with the speed of behaviour change, especially around digitisation.

The current environment has also brought about a need for agile decision-making in marketing, as consumers are shifting priorities and changing their behaviours at a never before seen speed.

Some brands have managed to separate themselves from the pack by being purposeful and leveraging insights combined with intelligence to create new forms of value for customers. Other brands should be taking notes — learning how to address the new wants and needs of customers during times of change — or, otherwise, risk being left out of the race. The big lesson from COVID-19 is that brands should leverage their data accessed through digital platforms to design an updated, more flexible marketing approach.

The power of data

New research from Gartner revealed that nearly 30 per cent of marketing leaders believe lack of agility and flexibility negatively impacted marketing execution during the COVID-19 pandemic. The same report shows that data provides a solution to being agile amid disruption.


In fact, a key marketing lesson from the current crisis is that during times of disruption and unprecedented change, marketing leaders should look to data and analytics to offer insight. This also helps avoid making errors in decision-making and adapt strategies to current demands.

A good example of the power of leveraging customer insights is Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA)’s response to customers during COVID-19. According to this April’s Ray Morgan Risk Monitor, at the height of COVID-19, CBA became one of Australia’s top-10 most trusted brands for the first time since the Financial Services Royal Commission. This was directly linked to the bank’s COVID-19 response, which saw CBA reply to customer demands and offer loan payment relief immediately.

Data – in combination with the accelerating velocity of technology – can create opportunities for brands to quickly and successfully adapt their messaging or target messages in the right place. Looking for specific audience intentions can be a simple way to utilise data to re-target. Gumtree’s Audience Insights Report* looked at 12 audience segments found on Gumtree, from Empty Nesters to Young Adults as well as Auto Intenders to uncover and analyse audience intentions further than browsing behaviour already made available to advertisers by the marketplace. The report revealed that many of its car intenders, for example, are also looking for new financial services at this time – an opportune time for financial services to be front and centre with Gumtree’s car intenders.

Real-time data changes the game

Being agile typically requires marketers to shift from conventional approaches of generating marketing content to new, tech-enabled offers. However, that’s easier said than done.

Among marketing’s greatest challenges, is the inability to foresee how customers wants, needs, expectations and purchasing decisions will continue to evolve. It’s also the inability to access data needed to make informed decisions, at speed. As a result, marketers should be prioritising spending their marketing dollars where they can get the insights they need to remain agile and relevant. First-party real time data has become an incredibly powerful tool to make that happen.

At Gumtree, for example, we have first-party data on shopping behaviours, which is based on real Gumtree users browsing, and shopping activity. Every visit, every purchase, every category searched and every advert engaged with results in insights for our partners. During COVID-19, for example, Gumtree data revealed that 77 per cent of platform users were intending to use the COVID-19 down-time to renovate or update their home or garden. Gumtree also recorded a 168 per cent increase in search for fitness equipment. Having those kinds of insights available will enable brands to plan targeted, more effective advertising strategies.

Ecommerce and entertainment leading the way

New figures from US based Advertiser Perceptions reported 49 per cent of advertisers have been taking their cues from ever-changing consumer behaviours and modifying their marketing strategy and spending to engage consumers where it matters most – online entertainment and ecommerce. In fact, 33 per cent of respondents have moved dollars to ecommerce.

Gumtree’s Audience Insights Report found that 32 per cent of its audience consisted of families with young children living at home and during COVID-19 lockdown, the brand saw a spike in search for at-home items. It’s this sort of real-time data that can help advertisers target online intenders quickly to capture attention during the search and browse journey.

Furthermore, Gumtree’s Audience Insights report also uncovered that 42 per cent of Gumtree users intended to improve their home in 2020 and during COVID-19 we saw home and garden category spike by 37% during 14 April – 4 May. Another opportune moment for real-time advertising.

The next three to six months will undoubtedly bring many more societal changes that trickle down to the marketing funnel. In today’s environment, it’s more important than ever to make decisions that are grounded in facts. Effective and swift use of data and analytics can help marketers stay anchored to their customers’ changing reality and ensure marketing strategies are timely and successful.

By Daniel Kuziow, Gumtree, Account Manager

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