Internet Services Assessing The Consumer Usage & Ad Engagement Landscape (12th Ed.)

UBS Evidence Lab US Consumer Usage; Ad Engagement Survey data point to an increase in social media usage across all age cohorts, with percentage of respondents indicating an increase in usage outpacing percentage of those decreasing usage.

18 May 2020

How has your social media usage changes over the past 1-2 months as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak?

Source: UBS Evidence Lab

This bar chart illustrates the responses to the question asked in UBS Evidence Lab's survey, "How has your social media usage changed over the past 1-2 months as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak?"

US Digital Media Usage Remains Healthy; Trends Amplified By Shelter In Place

With the 12th UBS Evidence Lab survey, we look at social media, digital video & messaging habits of ~2,000 US Internet users to examine usage trends on digital platforms. Overall, social media continued to be a net share taker within users' consumption mix and time spent figures, reflecting COVID-19 stay-at-home measures, show strong growth across all properties (bucking recent survey signs of maturation).

Ad Engagement Mixed To Stable; Platform Innovation Key To LT Pricing

With respect to ad engagement, the latest survey indicates fairly mixed trends across all platforms for year over year ad engagement despite continued ad innovation from the various platforms. Based on our ad industry work, we believe that this collection of digital platforms provide advertisers with a return on investment (ROI) that still outperforms traditional media properties. Similar to a theme that we heard from companies during earnings season, we see ad units more aligned with direct response budgets (including quantitative measurement) as currently taking demonstrable ad budget share.

Recent March/April Trends Better Than Feared; Signs Of Progress In May Off Lows

Based on company disclosures during Q1'20 earnings season & recent advertising industry conversations, we think a few key themes have emerged: a ) most every digital advertising platform saw rapid and pronounced deceleration from late February to early April (~2500-5000 bps decel in growth rates); b) April has shown relative stability in terms of ad budgets (albeit at levels very dependent on platform/product); c) direct response ad budgets have been more tactical in capitalizing in lower ad unit prices while brand ad budgets continue to trend at -30-35% year over year; d) wide dispersion exists among end industry verticals (eCommerce very strong ~+50% YoY vs online travel spend down ~80% year over year). In addition to these themes, we would share that many ad industry professionals still have little to no visibility on either the shape/slope of the recovery (especially with respect to local/SMB advertising) and that brand advertising budget might be very slow to return (as we increasingly hear less quantifiable brand campaigns might be shifted into more measurable direct respo

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