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  • Frank Gussoni

“Coronavirus Correlation” Virus Makes the Case for Media Timing Argument

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

It sounds very strange to begin by saying that the Coronavirus actually solidifies media placement and seasonality strength but actually it makes a great argument for it, due to the parallels.

For years I have argued with many in the industry and some clients that a multi-layered media approach is typically the best approach, and to go further, that the way tactics are stacked including but limited to daypart mix, behavioral patterns, along with the seasonality of the media source can wildly alter the degree of success or failure to a campaign.

Say what?

For years I have preached that most mediums have their stronger times and weaker times. Times during the day, during the week and during the year. It’s just common sense but many agencies and clients never think of media that way and that is a mistake and it’s a big one. So, I’ll explain using what I have coined as the “Coronavirus Correlation”.

As you might imagine during this difficult time, my phone is ringing off the hook, with clients asking me for advice. What should they do? Should they continue to run? Should they cancel their buys? Should they shift their media? I’ve been asked every question and honestly, like everyone else, I’m flying with no handbook on this one. We have never dealt with a situation like this one, but it helps demonstrate some valuable media points.

Situation #1

Presently very few folks are going to work via their car or mass transportation due to the virus.

Media Example: (Day and Behavioral Patterns) One of our clients who practically makes his entire living on radio by communicating with working, middle to upper income males 50 – 65 has already seen his business in a single week screech to a halt and his phones go silent. Due to the virus, more people are staying home and not working from their usual location. Thus, rush hour traffic has diminished greatly and so have the number of people in their cars during both the AM. and PM. rush hours. This is a good example of a few things.

1.) Radio still works if you have the right audience.

2.) There are more advantageous dayparts than others. For an older demo, drive times typically cost more because those stations have their greatest listenership during those periods. Now, if it was a youthful station then nights and weekends maybe just or even more beneficial.

Solution: We are now dashing around trying to get him on multiple TV networks, OTT and CTV for the foreseeable future. He has realized that most folks are home and probably spending significant time in front of their TV sets and tech devices.

Situation # 2:

Presently the majority of folks are bunkered down in their homes, unable to do much. They are watching TV and video for longer periods of time.

Media Example: (Seasonality) TV viewership spikes during colder months. The same reason sweep-weeks occur during this period and rates are based on those benchmarks. There are many more hours of dark and it’s colder outside, so there are considerably more people in front of their sets earlier in the evenings and weekends, for longer periods of time. Sounds logical, right? But many outlets and agencies act as if this isn’t the case.

To further make the point we have another client, a bank. With the Fed changing rates so often and so significantly we seem to be changing interest rate copy or pulling their ads entirely from the newspapers every week. But their TV buy started a week before the lock down and their phones have been ringing off the hook. Their SVP said they are so busy with refi’s and new account activation that they are only able to handle the new influx by appointment only. Their TV ads presently show their loans, drive-ins, personal service and their true convenience, not their phone app or their newest tech.

Solution: Gladly walk away from print and leave TV and video as is.

Situation #3:

The Coronavirus has everyone locked in. How effective would an out-of-home campaign be with no one on the roads? Not very!

Media Example: (Traffic patterns daylight and behavioral patterns)

This mimics another seasonal condition. My agency buys a significant amount of Out-of-Home. Unless it’s necessary for a retailer to run during the Holiday Season, we always suggest for any client that their OOH layering occur after day light savings time and preferably not start until late April. (Geographical locations must be taken into consideration. NJ. for example, is very different than FL.) Why do I make such a recommendation? The reason is simple.

1.) Many more hours of day light to see the boards, and believe it or not, many boards are still not illuminated, especially in more rural areas.

2.) There are considerably more people driving and traveling about in warmer weather than the colder months.

3.) They’re traveling approximately 50 more miles per week during the warmer season. Delivering more board exposure and greater EOI’s on every board.

Solution: No rearranging needed at this time, since all our clients OOH buys don’t start until early May of this year. Let’s hope for all our sakes, we don’t need to adjust them!

And, the examples don’t stop there and aren’t only tied to traditional media either. Digital, mobile, Pureplay, CTV, OTT are just as seasonal and even further impacted by the device being reached during specific seasons.

So, that bank I spoke about earlier is using OTT and CTV right now on big screens but as the weather gets warmer we’ll switch their video and digital messaging to untethered devices and disconnect from smart TV for three months, when people are out and about more, watching a game at the ballpark or tanning on their favorite beach.

While the Coronavirus is an extraordinary situation and no one knowingly could have timed its arrival, and its severity overwhelms typical media strategy issues, its timing aligns well as examples of common-sense media buying.

Maybe it would be helpful if we used more precaution and common sense with both. Stay well world!



President & Founder of A3 media.

We’re Type A. We transform media from an expense into a smart investment.

Frank’s Take provides uncommon sense media buying advice for regional and mid-market businesses.

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President & Founder of A3 media. We’re Type A. We transform media from an expense into a smart investment.

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