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Jan 11, 2021

5 Trends That Will Shape The Advertising Landscape In 2021

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If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we certainly can’t predict the future. Despite this, let’s gaze into 2021 and try our best. The following are five predictions you can expect will shape the advertising landscape in the next 12 months:

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1. Everything, virtual

“YOU’RE ON MUTE” was a common expression in 2020. But don’t expect that to go away any time soon.

Sweeping event cancellations in light of COVD-19 interrupted the way businesses traditionally conduct meetings and events. The chances are you attended a webinar, installed Zoom, or held a virtual conference last year.

eMarketer estimates that the virtual events industry will grow nearly tenfold, from $78 billion in 2019 to $774 billion in 2030. In January 2020 (before the pandemic), in-person events and tradeshows were named the most effective channel for driving conversions by 53% of US B2B marketers. This only begs the question – where did those conversions go now?

Almost every brand turned to digital channels to engage their audiences and maintain consistency in the customer journey. As a result, we predict marketers will continue to fill the void of in-person events by focusing on their digital strategy instead.

2. Connected TV for the win!

For years, Connected TV has been prophesied to be the future of television advertising. Well, that day has finally come.

The pandemic’s impact on Connected TV dominance is two-fold. Firstly, covid-19 is to thank (or blame) for the acceleration towards “cutting the cord”, as consumers abandoned traditional TV for cheaper streaming services to fulfill their entertainment needs. However, that doesn’t mean people are spending less time watching TV, in fact, the opposite is true. On average, US adults will spend 23% more of their time watching subscription OTT videos. Secondly, global lockdown measures led to a sharp increase in the amount of time people spend with digital video, totaling more than 60 minutes per day on average.

More than two-thirds (68.3%) of US households have access to satellite or cable TV, according to Nielsen. Even when times are uncertain, Connected TVs’ ubiquity continues to shine through.


3. Master your media mix for omnichannel success

Since the pandemic, brands have learned that listening is just as important as talking. That means discerning behavioral shifts among consumers, including how they shop, keep informed, and stay sane with entertainment. With publishers creating so many avenues to address these shifting behavioral patterns, compressing the path-to-purchase is the holy grail for advertisers.

According to Google, multimedia campaigns have greater effectiveness than single media campaigns and each channel you add to your mix can improve ROI by up to 35%. In addition, ads that are longer than 1 minute in duration see the highest ROI, reinforcing the need for engaging creatives such as video.

Hootsuite asked marketers what their most important social media goal is for 2021. A majority of respondents said that increasing the acquisition of new customers and building brand awareness was at the top of their list. Integrated campaigns are 31% more effective, therefore, an omnichannel approach to your media mix is an easy way to achieve these goals.


Discover how illumin® can build omnichannel customer journeys in minutes with its intuitive drag-and-drop user interface.

4. The rise of e-commerce and direct-to-consumer channels

In today’s world, brick-and-mortar retail is limited by the number of customers per store, unpredictable supply chains, and strict health guidelines. Lockdown orders halted the growth of the retail industry, posting an increase of just 0.8% in 2020, the lowest in years. Not only did the coronavirus shine a light on emerging consumer shopping trends, it accelerated them dramatically. As a result, brands need to reach their audience through digital channels.

That doesn’t mean ecommerce through marketplaces like Amazon or Walmart is the only solution. Due to the pending disappearance of cookies, brands need their own captive channels to master the customer experience and obtain first-party data by having direct relationships with their customers.

In IAB’s final impact study of 2020, they discovered more than one-third of advertisers want more first-party data and digital media is set to represent more than 70% of their total budget in 2021.

5. Partners in growth

We all know that two hands are better than one. Applied to advertisers: two brands are better than one. Last year, Linkedin declared 2020 the year of brand partnership dominance, citing innovation in new media and publishers to drive collaborations.

Then covid happened.

Fortunately, the sentiment still rings true, but in an entirely different way. Now, brands must partner with technology to enable the tools for digital success and take control of the customer journey. That requires a critical understanding of your audience towards their path to first purchase, and to correctly identify the most meaningful real estate for your brand to occupy.

Check out our favorite brand partnerships from 2020 that just made sense:

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The three amigos: Uber Eats, Popeye’s Chicken, and well, Migos teamed up to serve the celebrity rap trio’s favorite combo meals to hungry fans while most of the world was in lockdown.

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Emergent social media app TikTok paired with Shopify to usher in the era of “couch commerce”, innovating the true definition of shoppable media.

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Another app that tapped into an existing audience was Bumble as it sought to connect with women through Cosmopolitan media and normalize “virtual dating” as a responsible alternative.

Finally, watch how illumin can partner with your advertising stack and enable a successful transformation to the digital realm in this video featuring client testimonials.

Lets Connect!

Did we miss anything? Let us know if you have a crystal ball. Connect with us on social media to stay up to date on all things digital advertising, and check out our intuitive platform illumin to take back control of the customer journey.