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Digital Advertising Trends for 2021

If 2020 taught advertisers anything, it’s how to stay on our toes and navigate the many obstacles thrown our way. As we enter 2021, we’re seeing many shifts in advertising industry trends — consumer behavior is changing rapidly, new regulations eliminating third-party cookies, and more.

We will walk you through the most monumental digital advertising trends for 2021.

Why Is Digital Advertising Important?

Almost 60% of the entire world population is online. They’re checking their emails, scrolling through social media, reading the news, and even watching their favorite shows online. Digital advertising reaches people during their daily routine and encourages them to start a relationship with your brand.

More specifically, digital advertising:

  • Allows you to effectively target the right audience: Who is your target audience? Depending on your target audience, you can use first-party data to track their habits and effectively reach them on the right digital channels.
  • Personalizes your brand experience: The right digital advertising gives your brand a personality. As an example, you’re not just a clothing store — you’re a clothing store that cares about giving back to the planet and thrives on providing your audience the means to express themselves freely.
  • Gives you access to informative data analytics: As consumers interact with the web, their interactions are tracked and recorded into databases. These databases allow you to make more informed advertising decisions.
  • Conforms to any budget or goals: Digital advertising can be as big or small as you want. You don’t have to budget millions of dollars on elaborate commercials. Instead, you can spend less than a hundred dollars bidding for advertising spaces on channels your target audience engages with.

Without digital advertising, you’re leaving a huge gap in your marketing strategy. Reach more people by developing a competitive online strategy.

In 2021, we’re seeing these trends in digital advertising:

1. Cookieless Advertising

The first trend we’re going to see in 2021 is cookieless advertising. If you don’t know, an HTTP cookie is a small piece of data that websites collect and store while a user is browsing the web. They have many functions, like:

  • Personalization: Tailor the user experience based on the user’s recorded interests.
  • Audience targeting: People with similar third-party cookies are combined into a list, which advertisers use to target digital ads and campaigns.
  • Tracking and measuring: Records the overall impact of a targeted ad on a third-party domain.

Cookies are extremely helpful to advertisers, but they present a glaring problem for users — they track so much of a user’s data that it’s considered a breach of privacy.

Because of this privacy breach, we’re seeing legal actions like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The CCPA requires brands to put a disclosure on their websites informing users of their rights and the brand’s intentions with the users’ cookies. A good portion of the web is already cookieless following Google’s 2020 announcement that a total cookie phaseout will be completed by 2022.

This requires advertisers to get more creative with how they obtain data. Advertisers no longer have access to third-party cookies, affecting behavioral targeting, ad retargeting, view-through attribution, and much more. Making up for this loss, advertisers can rely on first-party cookies, target audiences based on platforms, and benefit from publisher-ad expert collaboration.

Check out our guide on 5 Steps to Prepare for Advertising without Cookies.

One of the goals of advertising is to get your advertisements in front of the right people. Historically, this is done with manual ad insertion and negotiations with various ad networks. In 2021, make advertising a little easier using programmatic advertising.

Programmatic advertising uses artificial intelligence to automate the ad-buying process. It’s not new to the world of advertising, but more and more businesses are beginning to benefit from the easier process. Brands can choose their market, set their budget and goals, and communicate with publishers. Publishers use a supply-side platform to place the brand’s advertisement in an ad space.

There are a few types of programmatic advertising:

  • Programmatic direct: Publishers and advertisers make a one-on-one agreement of media campaign terms, and AdTech software automates the delivery and viewer data reports.
  • Real-time bidding (RTB): Advertisers can use data-driven platforms to bid on ad space in real-time. RTB works as users navigate the internet. When a user clicks on a web page, the publisher places the highest bidder’s advertisement on the web page for the user to see. The advertiser only pays when they are the highest bidder.
  • Private marketplaces (PMP)Instead of bidding on an open market, PMP allows advertisers to negotiate their advertisements in a private setting. This is most common with big-name publishers, like CNN.

Ad experts can help you find the best channels that work with your advertisement’s audience, budget, and goals. And, they can place your advertisement on ad spaces across many devices, including mobile devices, desktops, and connected TVs.

What is your target audience doing? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, they’re most likely watching television, with 80% of U.S. adults claiming to watch TV every day. Of that number, most households are consuming videos via connected TV rather than cable TV. In fact, it’s estimated that over 40 million viewers will cut the cord in 2021.

Connected TV is any movie, show, or video connected to the internet. It’s rapidly becoming advertiser’s primary source of video advertising as more households cut the cord. Common examples of connected TV are platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Sling. Also, Connected TV isn’t limited by the type of device. It can include smart TVs, game consoles, and technology like the Roku TV.

It’s estimated that U.S. adults spend over four hours watching TV every day. Connected TV advertising allows you to reach audiences while they’re watching their favorite shows, making it highly effective at targeting a specific demographic. When combined with programmatic advertising, you can target your audience using first-party data like zip codes, household income, channels, and device types.

Many brands shifted to online-based strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this shift, we are seeing a drastic growth in U.S. e-commerce, from $598 billion in 2019 to $839 billion in 2020, an impressive 40.3% increase — the highest annual growth in more than 20 years.

As expected, retail accounts for almost 77% of the total e-commerce growth rate. Amazon dominates the retail category, owning a third of total growth.

Amazon’s 2020 ad revenue grew 23.5% from 2019’s numbers, totaling around $13 billion. E-commerce experts predict that Amazon will continue this upward growth as more brands shift to digital platforms. If you’re selling a tangible product, consider advertising your product on Amazon.

There are three types of Amazon ads:

  • Sponsored product ads: Sponsored product ads use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to promote a single product. When a user searches for one of your target keywords, your product will fill the ad space on the Amazon search engine result page.
  • Sponsored brands: Also known as headline search ads, sponsored brands is a PPC advertising model that highlights your brand and up to three of your products.
  • Product display ads: Product display ads use interest and product-based targeting to promote your advertisement to the right target audience. This ad type doesn’t focus on keywords. Rather, it targets similarities between keywords and first-party data to target users.

Amazon knows how their users are buying, and they know how to target their ads to benefit advertisers. Advertise with Amazon and grow your business as Amazon expands and dominates retail e-commerce.

More people are spending time on social media than ever. Over 3.6 billion people used social media worldwide in 2020, and that number is estimated to continue growing in the foreseeable future. In 2021, we’ll see social media trends like:

  • Influencer marketing
  • Bolder online messaging
  • Inclusive and eco-friendly content

People aren’t shopping in stores or attending brand launches to the extent of previous years. Instead, customers are scrolling through social media and interacting with people they trust — influencers. Customers are relying on influencers for product recommendations, exercises, recipes, and much more. Customers are finding their own voice, too, live-streaming and sharing content with their followers. This highlights the importance of creating shareable content for your followers to engage with.

Consider 2021 to be your green light for creating bolder and more meaningful messages. Customers want an open window into the brands they support. 2020 surfaced strong emotions of cultural inclusivity and green movements, and customers want to support businesses that coincide with their personal beliefs. Be bold and transparent with your messages in 2021.

6. Omnichannel Marketing

Omnichannel marketing is a multi-channel advertising approach that reaches your customer wherever they may be making their decision. From our previous trends, we know that customers aren’t spending as much time at stores, and they’re spending more time online than ever before.

In 2021, a rising omnichannel marketing trend is video. Almost every platform — especially social media — has video capabilities.

As an example, say you’re a clothing brand posting an engaging video on your Instagram social media platform. Link each article of clothing or accessory to your website, where customers can buy your products. In this example, you reached your target audience in their day-to-day routine, then directed them to your website to secure a purchase. Consider omnichannel marketing as your meeting point between in-store and online engagement.

We’re also seeing other ways to connect audiences, like through voice-powered devices. Digital audio, which uses artificial intelligence technology, personalizes the customer experience. Use voice-powered devices to have conversations with your users and direct them to other platforms, like your social media, website, or audiobook.

People know when they’re being marketed to. And, more people are skipping over obvious advertisements by default. To counteract this consumer behavior, more advertisers are taking advantage of native advertising strategies.

Native advertisements are advertisements that blend in with the content around them.

For example, imagine you’re a consumer looking for a product on Amazon. You type in your keyword into the search engine, like “pink shirts.” On the search result page, you’ll likely scroll right past the banner advertisements to the product list, scrolling through hundreds of pink shirts. At the top of that list, however, are paid advertisements of pink shirts that look just like the non-paid search results. These are native advertisements.

Other examples of native advertising include:

  • In-feed: In-feed native advertisements appear alongside the publisher’s existing content, and matches the existing content’s look and feel.
  • Recommendations: You commonly see recommendations on content like news sites or blog posts, where the publisher places recommended ad spots underneath their main content.
  • Promoted listings: Promoted listings are similar to the example described above, where ads are placed at the top of a search engine results page. The advertisement is usually an image with a short product listing.

In 2021, we’re learning that the best way to capture consumer’s attention is by blending in and avoiding disrupting their day-to-day experience. It’s tricky to make happen but is highly effective when done right.

We’ve seen two major shifts in mobile advertising — more people and innovators are using mobile devices, and a rise in consumer-protection advances such as the iOS 14 App Tracking Transparency framework.

In 2020, we saw an increase in mobile advertising spending, growing from $189 billion in 2019 to almost $200 billion. This number is expected to continue growing, potentially reaching $247 billion in 2022. This rise parallels with the increase of ad space bidding, the beginning of a new era of mobile advertising.

Overall, we’re going to see mobile advertising intertwining with the other trends listed previously. Users are looking for convenience, so expect omnichannel strategies like mobile advertising and voice-powered devices integration. Comparatively, brands are straying away from interfering strategies like push notifications, strengthening the idea of native advertising and the approaching of customers organically.

What AUDIENCEX Can Deliver for Your Brand

We are thought-leaders that are consistently tracking current trends and looking for ways to help our customers thrive. If you’re looking for ways to strengthen your advertising strategy, reach out to one of our professionals for help — it’s what we do.

No matter where your audience is, we can reach them. We have connections with over 22 platforms, some of which include:

  • Facebook
  • Google Ads
  • MediaMath
  • The Trade Desk
  • DV 360
  • Amazon
  • Spotify
  • Snapchat
  • Twitter
  • TikTok

And, you don’t have to single-handedly decide where the best places are to reach your audience. Our experienced advertising team will provide recommendations on which platforms will best reach your customers.

Best of all, you can track your omnichannel campaigns using our inclusive reporting tools. We give you all of the information you need, including easy-to-grasp and actionable performance data.

Contact AUDIENCEX Today to Learn More About What We Can Do for You

Are you ready for the power of X? Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you. And, learn more about 2021 advertising trends by visiting our blog!

Get the Guide: 5 Steps to Prepare for the Loss of Third-Party Cookies

In preparation for what’s to come, we’ve created a guide with 5 ways to plan your programmatic advertising strategy without the use of third-party cookies.

Fill out the form below to download the guide.