The Advertising Trends To Expect in 2021

Colin Barnard is the commercial director at Criteo ANZ. Here, he runs through the advertising trends we can expect in 2021.

There were many things about 2020 that no one could have predicted. From the global pandemic that completely changed our way of life to even the unlikely comeback of QR codes – the constant change of this year has forced advertisers to step back from their well-planned marketing strategies and adjust moment-by-moment.

Despite there being many unknowns, there are several trends impacting the current state of consumer behaviour and the advertising industry that help us predict what we’ll see next year and allow advertisers adjust accordingly.

As we count down the days until we can say “goodbye and good riddance” to 2020, it is comforting to look at how much we already know (and can prepare for) in 2021.

  1. Exponential eCommerce growth will continue

While eCommerce was already crucial for advertisers, this year’s quarantine lifestyle led to an influx of online shoppers. According to Criteo’s Post COVID-19 Consumer Survey, 2-in-5 Australians (40 per cent) discovered at least one form of eCommerce they want to continue using.

This increase is driven from both existing online shoppers buying more, as well as new online shoppers who have been pushed out of their “in-store comfort zone” due to necessity. These new digital shoppers represent a massive opportunity for advertisers to expand their existing audiences on digital channels.

  1. Advertisers will increase investments in digital advertising

Our Peak to Recovery Survey shows the majority of Australians (77 per cent) say they’re likely to keep purchasing from the new online stores they discovered during the pandemic. Given this, we can ascertain that advertisers will follow suit and invest more in online advertising.

To do this, advertisers will increase their spend across digital marketing channels such as virtual events, paid display, and content marketing. It is safe to assume that the number of advertisers who increase their digital spend will grow.

  1. Connected TV will become a marketing mainstay

Like the steady rise of ecommerce, the use of connected TV (CTV) and over-the-top (OTT) devices has been trending upward in recent years, but the pandemic has accelerated this growth and shown how vital it is for advertisers to engage consumers on these devices.

The bottom line for advertisers is that consumers are migrating to CTV and OTT – and advertisers need to meet them there. More people using CTV and OTT devices means more hours of content watched on those platforms. According to recent IAS research conducted in August, over 4-in-5 Australians (83 per cent) have access to a connected TV device, with 78 per cent increasing consumption of streaming content and 49 per cent signing up for a new service during the course of the year.

  1. Industry collaboration towards new identity solutions will kick into overdrive

2020 saw many advertisers focus on brand safety by taking a stand against platforms that failed to manage the spread of misinformation and hate speech by becoming more intentional with where they invest their advertising dollars. Brand and safety will stay front and centre with advertisers increasingly leveraging solutions that help them better control their ad placements to safeguard their brand’s image.

One of the paramount initiatives is the development and adoption of a future-proofed solution for online identity that isn’t reliant on cookies or large tech players with vested interests. This affects the entire industry – advertisers, publishers, AdTech partners, and consumers, so everyone is invested. In 2021, we’ll see more industry collaboration towards new identity solutions.

  1. In-store shopping experiences will become even more seamless.

While eCommerce trends took center stage in 2020, in-store shopping is still a priority for consumers, and thus will continue to be a focus for advertisers. Consumers are increasingly feeling more comfortable shopping in-store due to restrictions easing across the country.

What will change about the in-store shopping experience, beyond increased sanitation, is that it will be optimised for consumers to spend less time inside with features such as digital transactions, “buy online, pick up in store”, and cashier-less checkouts.

The key for leveraging these predictions in the new year will be to keep strategies nimble, leaving room to adapt to the unexpected. And while New Year’s Eve may look and feel different than it ever has before, there is a lot to look forward to in 2021, and I’m confident that advertisers will be able to stay strong and succeed, no matter what happens.

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