The new year is already three months old. But let’s be honest: Who cares at this point? More than ever we learn that time really is relative. On March 11th 2020 Covid-19 was officially declared as a global pandemic. This is exactly one year ago today. So we thought: Let’s have a look at one year in a global state of emergency.

Ever since Covid-19 took over our lives, it’s hard to put time into digestible units like months, weeks or days. We now live in times that are better measured in walks taken, zoom calls attended and amount of banana breads baked. We went back and analysed: Which debates and questions do readers care about then? And looking forward: Which topics, people and debates will 2021 bring? Read Sabrina Faramarzi (Editorial UK & US), Torsten Schlegel (Editorial DACH) & Sophia Grützmann (Branded Content DACH) take.

The year zero

One year living in a pandemic was draining. Never before did a topic move so many people, so intensely for such a long time. Corona affects all areas of life. This is also reflected in the perseverance with which the issue has held up with both our publishers and brands. How do I act around other people, when do I get my vaccine and did I buy enough soap? Since March last year, one question has been running through our heads, and our publisher network: How worried are you about Covid-19? This is how our readers felt over the year:

Uncertainty, worry, glimpses of hope: We lived through all of the emotions. Sometimes within a week, sometimes within one hour. As unsettling and stressful the year has been, there have also been positive developments: Our polls, more than ever, gave publishers a real sense of how their audiences were feeling and what information they needed to know. By using Opinary, newsrooms asked questions that were clicked by 13 users – per second! That’s journalism with real-time feedback.

Are we more united or more polarized than ever?

In everyday life, a lot of empathy and community spirit was needed. But how did readers also show more unity online? In our UK and US partner network we saw – contrary to recent years –  all in all, that people are actually becoming slightly less polarised, which is a rather positive turn to the recent years of mass polarisation. 

Our German publisher network paints a different picture: Especially  the confidence in the handling of the crisis by the state and federal governments divides the readership in the course of the year. What do you think:

What else …

With a topic as big as Covid-19 it’s hard for other topics to compete for our attention. Solely the US election was able to – internationally – snap us out of our trance. No topic was as engaging as questions about and around Donald Trump. From tax returns and voter fraud to impeachment: The Donnie did not disappoint and had users equally engaged in our UK, US and DACH markets. His predecessor did not yet manage to reach Trump’s potential at least in that sense: His polls perform with much lower engagement.

Aside from politics, this pandemic year some of our partners also brought up some of the biggest questions in life: Huffpost UK asked their readers, if they think there’s intelligent life on other planets, Stern asked their audience if they’re satisfied with their life and ntv wanted to know, if their readers were satisfied in life. Refreshingly normal, isn’t it?

Will 2021 just be a remake of 2020?

Every day publishers ask – with and through Opinary – their readers online, how they feel about topics. So we tried to predict what comes next. 2021 will most likely seem the same as 2020 with lockdowns, but a lighter, more practical approach will be taken by governments, people and institutions – which has already been highlighted in conversations around things like a “zero covid” strategy. I think people are getting angrier and want clear solutions, whilst governments are doing their best to avoid third waves, so we’ll likely be seeing that play out further in 2021, including how strategies around how to get everyone vaccinated will change across the year, says Sabrina Faramarzi (Editorial UK & US). Maybe we’ll even get a comeback of the roaring Twenties.

The virus itself doesn’t care about calendar years. So, Torsten Schlegel (Editorial DACH) doesn’t believe we’re going back to “business as usual” as some German politicians might wish for. For the state and federal election, how politicians navigate the topic of Covid-19 will be crucial for success in the elections in spring and fall. Opinion and behaviour on Corona will be pivotal for eligibility.

Brands need to find new ways to reach their audiences. Now that we’re one year into home office and social distancing, old advertising channels might be outdated, says Sophia Grützmann (Branded Content). Only the brands who are able to approach the target audiences’ needs and pain points creatively will succeed.

Last but not least: Our predictions for the biggest comebacks this year

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. I am really interested in seeing what they get up to next. Our Royal polls have some of the highest engagement rates – more than any other topic – and people from both sides of the pond are always interested in their affairs. 

Sabrina Faramarzi
Editorial UK & US

From Seoul to LA and now Europe: I think this is the year mainstream music in Europe can no longer ignore the cultural phenomenon that is Kpop. No other genre has managed to market themselves this successfully.

Sophia Grützmann
Branded Content

Stranger Things was the curtain call for the 1980s. Next up is the big comeback of the 1990s – in movies, music and pop culture. It’s been simmering for a while but it will come to full force this year

Torsten Schlegel
Editorial DACH

What’s next?

It’s been one hell of a year. Will we be right in our predictions for year two with Covid-19? What do you think the new pandemic year holds for us? More info on the last year’s biggest topic like Covid-19 or the US election, you’ll find on our blog.

Stay safe & stay sane!