- June 1, 2021

2021 – a new dawn; but is it day zero, or can we look back too?

Toby Crisp
Toby Crisp
Vice President Client Insights

I have worked in London for almost 20 years – some 12 years ago I moved out to the suburbs and now consider myself a commuter. However, when pressed into a response when filling out the 2021 census a few months ago, I said that I worked remotely. Since March 2020 I have only visited the Comscore office in London three times. Why is this relevant? Well, in the 12 years I have commuted, I have visited the National Rail website or used their app literally thousands of times; but over the last 12 months, I’ve visited it on fewer than a dozen occasions.

When the UK’s restrictions are lifted on June 21, 2021, and a return to the office becomes a reality, as an agency or advertiser it could be very important to know how many people you are likely to reach on their commute with an online ad campaign. If I look only at a recent month of data, I would assume that circa 2m users visit the National Rail website or app in a month. However, if I look further back, I can see that regularly over 4m people per month accessed the site to check train times. Being able to reach that many like-minded people would suddenly make advertising on the National Rail site a far more palatable proposition.

Looking more broadly than at my anecdotal commuting example, the travel industry as a whole has changed unreservedly over the last 15 months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Without using historical data as a benchmark it will be impossible to tell whether we’ve entered into a world of the new normal or if we’ve returned to levels that the industry had been at pre-pandemic. Again, if we look at a long term trend it’s possible to assess where we are now, and where things might end up.

We can see that the travel industry rebounded solidly last summer, and as restrictions are eased, we must assume that the increase that we’ve witnessed since February of this year will continue – taking our total travel audience well past 40m users in the coming months.

Sticking to the travel/commute theme, the way we consume news has changed - no longer is it the preserve of killing time on the train on the way to/from the office – news is now always on, and we are consuming more than ever. A trend of a year would not show this. If we look back over the last 12 months it looks like news consumption has decreased – this is only because a year ago we were at the start of the pandemic, and daily briefings were commonplace, with millions tuning in whatever time of day they occurred. Looking back over the last 4 years we see a different picture. A fairly steady increase in the amount of people consuming news content online – a sharp increase in March and April last year, but the long-term trend remains – more people are getting their news fix online than ever before.

While the coronavirus has been a black swan to modern society, without both short- and long-term data to analyse, it is possible to be blindsided by many black swans at once…something that could easily be avoided. Having consistent, trustworthy data at hand can only help to make navigating the brave new world we find ourselves in.

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