Our 2021 Marketing Predictions

Change is coming. Here’s what we expect.

by Tate Morgan

Future Forward Thinking

Quick Insights


    • Short-form digital content and platforms dedicated to those pieces will be a key piece of the marketing puzzle.
    • Legal changes and technology advancements are forcing marketing innovation.
    • After the long social drought caused by the pandemic, marketers have an opportunity to win via personal connection.

With less than a month left in 2020, marketers are actively setting goals for next year. To build a solid marketing strategy, it’s imperative to look into main digital advertising trends.

While reducing the buying power and increasing online activity, COVID-19 taught digital marketers a variety of new lessons. Companies that managed to reinvent their marketing tactics are already reaping the benefits.

In 2021, as the pandemic starts to subside, digital marketing is likely to take a new turn. Let’s take a closer look at top 6 advertising predictions to factor into your campaign.


1. Short-Form Digital is Key

Short-form or “snackable” content has been gaining significant popularity over the past several years. Since the audience is generally starved for time, marketers are going out of their way to shrink the content while maintaining its high value. That’s where videos come in.

At the end of 2019, 66% of video advertisements were 30 seconds long. By the end of 2020, they are getting even shorter. According to Facebook, 47% of the value in a video ad is delivered in the first three seconds. Long-form content can comfortably be reserved for expanding on a brand’s story.

In 2021, digital marketers should pay special attention to short-form digital advertising opportunities like TikTok and Instagram Reels.  

  • TikTok — the most downloaded app in Apple App Store has 800 million users worldwide. It offers a comprehensive ad system and a simple ad creation kit. The duration of an ad on TikTok varies between 5 and 60 seconds.
  • Instagram Reels — these 15-second videos (a play off TikTok) are easy to create with tools provided by Instagram. They appear in your feed and the Explore section. Reels are excellent for product reviews, company stories, case studies, and behind-the-scenes content.

As short-form digital is gaining massive popularity, it’s imperative to explore short video ad possibilities across available platforms.


2. Data Protection Will Force Innovations

Google is working hard to improve user experience, throwing up roadblocks for digital marketers. At the beginning of 2020, the search giant announced a third-party cookie phase-out, which is due in 2022.  In 2021, marketers will need to adjust their tactics to minimize its impact.

Basic marketing information about the user’s behavior on your website won’t be affected since it depends on first-party cookies. However, marketers who take advantage of retargeting may be in trouble. You won’t have the same opportunity to track visitors and serve up your ads when they go to other websites.

Alternatives to consider in 2021 are:

  • Device fingerprinting — tracking visitors by collecting information about their devices based on their unique configurations.
  • Pixel syncing — companies can share first-party cookie data with each other. However, this could create a big number of third-party requests, slowing down the browsing process.

It’s important to watch out for other innovations as companies will be preparing for the phase-out of third-party cookies in Google Chrome.


3. AI and Automation will Help Marketing Departments Scale

From a/b testing to competitive analysis, the majority of the 21st-century marketing processes is incomplete without artificial intelligence (AI). In 2021, marketers need to watch out for new applications of AI and machine learning (ML) to scale their efforts.

As more and more aspects of marketing are becoming automated, it’s possible to achieve better results with the same amount of resources.

Next year, it’s imperative to rethink your marketing automation processes and implement AI in such areas as:

  • Paid search ads (programmatic advertising, Google’s Smart Shopping Campaigns)
  • Customer service (chatbots)
  • Content optimization (tools to analyze popular topics and suggest headlines).

By taking a closer look at these options, you may be boosting your marketing ROI without substantial extra funding.


4. Personalization Forges Connections, and Buyers are Craving Connections

In 2020, more than 70% of consumers felt frustrated with the lack of personalization. In 2021, marketers will be focusing on improving their personalization strategies to forge closer connections with buyers.

  • Better use of chatbots (in 2021, 50% of companies will spend more on chatbots than on mobile apps)
  • More attention to predictive analysis
  • Maximizing the omnichannel approach
  • More engagement through WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and other apps consumers use frequently.
  • Increase in transparency

According to Harvard Business Review, personalization can reduce acquisition costs by 50% and increase marketing spend efficiency by up to 30%. Taking a fresh approach to it can improve the company’s bottom line tremendously.


5. Nostalgia Will Continue Capturing Attention In Aging Demographics

With COVID-19 spiking the stress level, nostalgic ads are like comfort food. Meanwhile, the frantic pace of modern life is maximizing the levels of nostalgia for the millennials.

In 2021, pay special attention to your nostalgia marketing strategy (if you haven’t implemented it yet). Here are a few things to consider.

  • Capitalize on nostalgic music (the 2020 lockdown triggered nostalgia tremendously) in your ads.
  • Take advantage of your own brand history to create nostalgia campaigns.
  • Use as many social media channels as possible. Nostalgic content has a high sharing potential.

If time travel were available, the majority of people (55%) would choose to go to the past. Next year is an excellent time to capitalize on this wish.


6. Prepare for Pent-up Demand after COVID-19

Back in spring 2020 when the pandemic started to subside in China,  local government officials opened a popular mountain attraction. People who have been sitting at home for weeks flocked to the mountains, creating huge lines. The attraction couldn’t accommodate such an influx and closed on the same day.

A similar problem could be awaiting businesses in 2021 when the virus begins to subside in the USA and Europe. The buying power could surge, leading to inflation and possible downtime for businesses that aren’t prepared for it.

Marketers will be monitoring the situation closely to adjust their campaigns to the pent-up demand in such areas as:

  • Travel
  • Essential services
  • Hospitality
  • Luxury goods and services

By starting to prepare right now, it’s possible to avoid downtime once the pent-up demand finds an outlet.


Do you need help with building a comprehensive 2021 marketing strategy? Schedule a Free 30-Minute Strategy Session with Advantage Strategies.

Copyright 2020 Advantage Strategies, LLC
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