In COVID-19

The Verto Analytics COVID-19 Tracker continues to provide insight on different service categories: how online services are seeing increased use during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how offline places are losing across the board.

Context

Previously we shared early insights on recent offline and online consumer behaviors. This post will extend our insight into consumer behavior during the COVID-19 crisis using our passive online/offline data. 

We at Verto use our single-source measurement panel to quantify offline and online consumer behavior—all passively. Our great community of consumers opt-in for market research purposes, and we anonymously track their movements in the physical world. We then tie all that data to an offline place taxonomy and enrich this data by combining it with data about online usage across all of the same consumers’ digital devices.

Food and Eating

Let’s start by exploring the food and eating category. Again, we all know there are many places to eat—from fast-food chains to restaurants of all kinds. Over the past decade, however, food ordering apps like Foodora, Wolt, and many others have allowed consumers to order food and related items online—typically through a mobile device.

This category is super interesting as we see that, while the number of offline/physical restaurant visits went down 50% (hitting bottom in April) that number was more than offset by a dramatic increase in the number of people using food ordering apps during that same time. The online/mobile food apps/services category had already increased 50% in March but then went up 83% (compared to January) in April, and still stayed high through May and June. If any services have benefited from the opportunities provided by COVID-19, it’s online/mobile food/eating services!

Travel

Now, let’s turn our attention to travel—with hotel and motel visitations standing in as the proxy for offline/physical travel. After all, for travels of all kinds (sports, business, leisure, gourmet tours) of any significant length, consumers need to stay in hotels. For our online equivalent, we look at the sites and apps used to book flights, hotels, etc.

As shown in the chart, the online portion of this category went down, but not a lot, with only 4% fewer visitors for online travel in June, compared to January. People are still exploring travel (perhaps booking them for the future), but the online services in this category have been apparently used to modify itineraries or cancel old reservations. While there is online visitation, the actual revenues or activity may be delayed.

The offline travel trend, however, went down perhaps more than any other category. Put simply, people are not traveling during the COVID-19 crisis outside of essential travel. In the U.S., physical travel went down 44% in March and 71% in April before rebounding a bit in May and June. In the end of H1/2020, there were 50% fewer people traveling compared to January. This is a big decrease in monthly travelers, not to mention the decrease in frequency of travel or money spent!

Entertainment

Finally, let’s explore the entertainment category. For this, we picked movie theaters as our offline proxy, comparing the number of people going to movies every month against online entertainment (video streaming, etc.).

This chart shows a drastic comparison. Basically, by April, the number of monthly movie theater visitors had decreased to zero (since everything had been  closed). And even though some theaters are now open again, June 2020 still shows a 95% drop in monthly visitors compared to January.

As one could assume, however, the online entertainment category is shining, with no change at all in monthly users over the months. Unlike with online food ordering apps/services, however, there was no counterbalancing increase in monthly users. People are sticking to entertainment content with their smart devices and PCs, and the already-vast user pool has been steady over the months—with no declines but no increases, either.

Conclusions

In all, these comparisons are interesting. Putting the consumer into the center, with Verto’s Smart App online/offline passive measurement panel, we can see how the same consumer is changing behaviors with his online devices vs. offline visitation in different commercial and non-commercial places; and, looking at the trends over the months, it is clear that most online categories have dramatically and consistently beaten their  offline equivalents. Those differences may be huge (as with the food/eating category; less dramatic but still significant (as with shopping); or catastrophic (as with movie theaters). Our panel can provide insights and trending across both online and offline behaviors, and can enable journey studies and other findings based on hard passive panel measurement. 

Stay tuned for more insight about offline vs. online!

And, if you want to tap into more of our research, statistics, and analyses of the impact of COVID-19 on consumers’ usage of online or offline services or brand visitation, please contact us and let’s talk more!

Background

Verto Analytics (Verto) operates a passive metering panel that provides researchers, advertisers, and publishers the data they need to keep up with the rapid and changing pace of consumer media consumption on every app, device, service, and platform. The Verto cross-device panel is an ongoing, longitudinal panel that captures a wide breadth of behaviors—all enriched to clients’ behavioral analysis or custom survey studies.

Our single-source, passive metering data sets provide researchers, advertisers, and publishers the information needed to understand the full digital footprint of the U.S. population. Understand and investigate competitors and different market opportunities; fill in the gaps for subscription, adoption, and purchase journeys; and identify ways to increase customer engagement and loyalty. 

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