By Rishi Saxena, Head of Measurement MENA, Facebook

Across the world, communities are experiencing the impact of COVID-19. As a key part of communities, businesses are faced with a challenging climate, and an even greater need to make careful, impactful business decisions. A key issue marketers and strategists are facing when making these decisions and adjustments is an unprecedented change in consumer behavior. 

Rishi Saxena, Head of Measurement MENA, Facebook

However, these shifts in consumer habits may not extend past the current environment and reality, and so it’s important for brands and businesses to evaluate the measurement strategies of their ads to ensure that they are gaining a true understanding of the impact of today’s conditions while not developing an inaccurate view of long-term behavior. 

That is why brands are now shifting their ad approaches and dynamics as their media spends and strategies are also inevitably being impacted. For example, 89% of advertisers say they have taken action with their budgets in response to COVID-19, with 45% saying they have adjusted media type usage or shifted budget among media types.

But as those ad strategies transform and adapt, brands remain conscious of the fact that people still expect to hear from them, especially now during these uncertain times. According to a recent Kantar study, 92% of people surveyed thought businesses should continue to advertise during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Therefore, as businesses seek to navigate this difficult time, alter media strategies and determine which marketing activities are most worthwhile in light of ever-changing consumer behavior, gaining an accurate understanding of ad performance and measurement is now more important than ever. 

Simplify Your Strategy 

Now more than ever, businesses must meet their customer needs and understand the impact being driven by Facebook and other marketing partners. This doesn’t mean you should abandon your existing approach to measurement. Instead, simplify your strategy and continue to use your organization’s sources-of-truth measurement strategies (like lift testing) in order to understand overall marketing impact, and make optimizations as usual. However, given the profound changes that are happening to our day-to-day lives, be mindful that performance may be unusual, and consider how likely test results can be generalized to business-as-usual contexts.

Re-Evaluate Tests Designed To Inform Future Decisions 

When determining whether insights from tests conducted during this time can be generalized and used to inform future business decisions, consider the extent to which current conditions are impacting results. Heavily studied and reproduced findings that inform best practices and optimal spend categorizations are likely safer to generalize compared with tests designed to inform future strategy. Typically, advertisers across industries have extensively tested auction best practices and conversion optimization over click optimization, so they’re more likely to be generalizable and are likely to hold up. But more contextually sensitive tests, like determining how a newer ad product performs or optimal frequency, should be deprioritized.

Use A/B And Multi-Cell Lift Testing To Optimize Quickly

Testing can help you adapt your ads and optimize your strategy for the current environment. Quick learning can be impactful for targeting changes, or developing new creative approaches. Remember these sorts of quick tests may produce insights relevant to today’s conditions but not to future behavior, so once the current climate normalizes, remember to re-evaluate winning ad experiences. A/B tests let you change variables, such as your ad creative, audience or placement, to determine which strategy performs best and optimize your current campaigns. A/B testing helps ensure your audiences will be evenly split and statistically comparable. Add a holdout to your A/B test to make it a multi-cell lift test and measure incremental lift on a cost-per-conversion lift basis. 

Consider Impact By Industry 

Different verticals and products are facing starkly different realities, and their measurement strategies should be adjusted in turn. Other companies may be completely dark due to lack of supply or demand, and may want to consider other ways to stay engaged with their audiences

Evaluating Your Measurement Strategy 

Measurement can help your marketing meet the current needs of your customers. There’s no one-size-fits-all measurement approach for these fast-changing times, but you know your business best: The right strategy depends on your goals, your customers, and the marketing conditions for your industry. By evaluating your measurement strategy, you can consider the costs and benefits of different testing strategies, and better understand which marketing activities are currently most worthwhile to your business. This kind of evaluation also allows you to identify tests that are most applicable to the current climate, as well as the tests that shouldn’t be used to guide longer-term strategic decisions.

Now Is The Time To Lean Into Measurement

Ultimately, marketers need to embrace measurement rather than fear it. During such uncertain times, you need as much insight and data as possible to know if you’re getting it right. Testing and measurement will allow you to make data-driven decisions on where and how much to invest to get the best results. In a crisis like this, timelines are running on weeks and months, and conditions can differ dramatically by location. Our most advanced advertisers are doubling down on short testing to help guide them at this time. Test quickly and test often to allow you to adapt your strategy as the situation changes.

If you’re looking for further guidance, Facebook has shared guidelines on how advertisers should adjust their measurement strategies to account for the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in a new report, Adapting Your Ad Measurement Strategy for COVID-19 Impact.