May 18, 2020

The Impact of data as a decision-making tool during COVID-19

The Impact of data as a decision-making tool during COVID-19

Mi9 and our parent Nine in Australia were both affected by the emergence of the COVID-19 crisis in our respective markets and the resultant decline in revenue as advertising campaigns were paused and reassessed, particularly at the commencement of Alert Level 4 and full lockdown.

Like many, if not most, businesses, Mi9 was asked to reforecast the remainder of the fiscal year (July 2019-June 2020) in a situation the world hasn’t seen since at least the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 or, more accurately, the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918. 

Without any institutional memory or easily accessible templates to manage through a crisis of this magnitude, I have been guided by data. One benefit of a business based on programmatic advertising is the availability of real-time or near real-time data. This has enabled me to understand revenue trends on a day-by-day basis and provide forecasts using the most up-to-date information available. Where programmatic data didn’t provide the full picture or a more subjective viewpoint was needed, we asked our clients for feedback to fill in the blanks.

I appreciated that any experience I or the team had was unlikely to be completely relevant in a dynamic and truly global crisis of this nature that was challenging politicians, medical professionals, scientists, economists and many others. To navigate our way through we would need to “feel” or “sense” the environment around us and the only way to do that was with a continuous flow of objective and subjective data to make the best decisions possible at the time.

We have also taken the most conservative view of the data available, planning on a worst-case basis to avoid being surprised on the downside, and hopefully delivering some upside in reality.

The COVID-19 crisis is not over globally or locally, but New Zealand has thankfully managed better than most and we are now progressing to a less restrictive Alert Level 2 from 14 May. Mi9 continues to recover in-line with the broader economy and I’m pleased to say that our use of data to inform our decision-making during the worst of the crisis has seen reality broadly reflect our analysis, and our planning in an already challenging situation not made more difficult by surprises on the downside. I hope this continues as New Zealand and the world makes its slow recovery from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

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