Can You Trust Forecasts Post-COVID?
I’m not talking about weather forecasts, but I’m pretty sure you can’t trust weather forecasts. What this blog is about is trusting all kinds of forecasting right now.
We are just coming out of a novel pandemic. A “novel” coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. It’s so new, little is known about how this coronavirus acts. We also don’t know the long-term impact this virus will have on our economy, societal behaviors and habits. Take a look at these two charts. The first chart with black bars was released prior to the pandemic declaration. It shows relatively constant TV ad spending. Now look at the chart 1.5 years into the “novel” pandemic. We have a relatively sizable dip down in 2020, followed by much lower predictions going forward.
I don’t blame eMarketer for missing the pandemic. We all did. What I’m worried about is the lack of forward-looking information around a pandemic like this. Too much is novel. To predict spending to 2024 seems like a fool’s errand. Too much is changing in marketing to look that far down the road. What if social media bans political ads? What if there is a second wave or a variant that is worse than COVID-19?
There are too many “what ifs,” and digital is still disrupting categories. So what’s the answer? Keep long-range planning to one to two years. The bounce from the 2020 COVID crunch on the economy, markets and individual habits is a huge unknown.
Remember, COVID-19 was a novel virus — everything old is new again.
Mark Mathis III is chief creative & strategy officer, partner and cofounder of AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising.