The first half of 2020 will forever be known as a period marked by the initial spread of coronavirus into a pandemic, and as weeks turn into months, it's clear the effects will be long-lasting. For mobile marketers, these changes have accelerated previously existing trends and calcified them into a new normal.
Key to this evolution is the heightened mobile usage spurred by stay-at-home orders, rising unemployment and social distancing. Certainly, mobile usage has steadily risen for years, but it's now shifted from a preferred channel to an essential one. Mobile usage is up during typical working hours, as many people are working at home or are out of work entirely. Likewise, video and gaming on mobile devices have also seen upticks, leading to pricier rates for mobile ad engagement.
A rising tide has lifted all boats, but not equally. Social media engagement has increased for the first time since 2017, but Instagram and Snapchat have fared better than Facebook. Still, Facebook has used the opportunity to shore up its platform with acquisitions. And the flashiest entrant into the mobile world, Quibi, has seen its value proposition undercut by the pandemic, to say nothing of increased competition in the streaming world.
But as stay-at-home mandates are lifting and the mood around the pandemic has changed, consumers want a return to normalcy in advertising. For brands, normalcy might look different as community-building shifts from in-person to online.
That new normal must also reckon with issues of racial equality, which have come into starker relief as the movement for racial justice has accelerated during the pandemic. It's a movement that is happening in the streets, but also on social platforms, which have come under fire for profiting from hate speech.
Below is a collection of the major pandemic-related developments that demonstrate what the new normal may look like for mobile marketers.