Privacy and Data:
- The Cookie Crumbles – With Google following on Apple and Mozilla’s steps and putting in motion plans to phase third-party cookies, marketers will have to reassess how they track and target customers. Apple’s coming changes to its Mobile OS tracking policies will only compound the problem for brands. While we don’t know exactly what will replace third-party cookies (i.e. Sandboxes, FLOCs, etc.), content will be king and contextual targeting will make a comeback.
- GDPR and Privacy Regulations – The effects of GDPR have been felt far beyond the EU as brands embrace it as the gold standard to safeguard consumers’ privacy. In the US multiple states have introduced laws similar to California’s CCPA. Furthermore, Japan, India, Canada, Brazil and Korea have passed privacy laws similar to GDPR. In 2021, governments across the world will continue to enact stringent privacy laws.
- First Party Data and Universal IDs – These changes will force brands to either develop robust first-party data assets or be at the mercy of Walled Gardens—likely both. 2021 will see significant investments in the technology infrastructure and partnerships needed to build these assets. Another way to counter the Walled Gardens will be to use Universal IDs from vendors such as The Trade Desk, the Advertising ID Consortium or ID5. However, until an industry standard is accepted, identity management will be something marketers will have to focus on.
- Headless Commerce – Headless commerce, which is the decoupling of backend and frontend operations, is a must of any brand that wants to compete in digital commerce. One area where marketers need to quickly pivot is social as it has it shifts from being a mostly brand channel to becoming a performance medium. For more on headless commerce, see my other post.
- Direct to Consumer – One of the doors that headless commerce opens, is that it makes easier to CPG brands to bypass retailers and sell direct to consumers. From Procter & Gamble to Colgate, CPG brands are rushing to build the infrastructure needed to reach consumers directly. This will also require that CPG marketers expand their skillset.
- Retailers as Media Networks – Another trend that will continue to proliferate is that of retailers becoming their own media networks. This is a strategy that Amazon mastered early on and now other retailers (i.e. Home Depot, Target, Walmart, Instacart, etc.) are trying to mimic. These retailers are now becoming mini walled gardens. In 2021, the retail media landscape will continue to fragment and marketers will have to deal with a more complex media landscape.
- Connected TV – Connected TV is expected to grow 30% to 205 million users by the end of 2021. With a myriad of vendors now offering solutions that allow for the delivery of targeted content both dynamically and programmatically, marketer must rethink content and strategies.
- Supply Path Optimization – Although it is not something new, the proliferation of SSPs and DSPs has made programmatic supply path optimization (SPO) a priority for 2021. SPO has two major components. On one hand, it consolidates and prunes inefficient SSPs. On the other hand, is uses machine learning to determine the most optimal path to inventory.
- Business KPIs – As the current recession puts pressure on marketing budgets, marketers are demanding that programmatic strategies be optimized to business performance indicators and not simply impressions, clicks or engagements. Machine learning now gives marketers to optimize their media buys based on content, product inventory or profitability.
- Dynamic Content Optimization – Investments in technology and data will not only allow marketers to identify the right consumers but also to deliver content and messaging dynamically and at scale through Dynamic Content Optimization (DCO). Today, this is easier than ever for both small and large brands. For example, marketer can use solutions from Adobe, Salesforce, and Oracle to dynamically manage content in their digital properties and at the same time use solutions from Flashtalking, Jivox and Sizmek to optimize their media content.
- Organic – Creating, managing and optimizing organic content should be at the top of any marketing strategy for 2021. One catalyst for this will be Google emphasis on its EAT (Experience, Authority and Trust) algorithm. Under EAT, Google will give higher ranking to pages that demonstrate relevant quality and context. Another catalyst is the reduction in paid media and marketing budgets due to the current recession.
- Streaming and Video – The pandemic has brought streaming services, video content and video chat technologies to the forefront. Two trends are of note. First, streaming has become nearly universal so it must be part of every marketer’s strategy. Second, the subscription model will not be enough for all players to survive. Thus, advertising opportunities will be abound and the largest of these streaming services will become walled gardens. Finally, the introduction of 5G technology will mean that streaming content will be increasingly consumed through mobile devices.
- Retail – Google might still be king of the hill when it comes to search but it is no longer the only name in town. In particular, when it comes to products 54% of searches now take place through Amazon. As more retailers become media networks, search strategies can no longer focus solely on Google and must include a multi-pronged approach.
- Voice – 50% of consumers a currently use voice search and by the end of 2021 sales of smart speakers will surpass that of tablets. Marketers will have to rethink their keyword query strategies and take into account speech patterns as they integrate voice into their search marketing strategies.
- Visual – Given that 90% of all information processed by the brain is visual, Visual Search is the natural evolution of where consumers are going. This is already the case in 2021. For example, there are over 600 million visual searches on Pinterest every month and Google Lens has reached 500 million downloads in the Play Store. Marketers must now take into account how consumers visually search and how the consume/use visual search returns.