Digital advertising trends in 2021

We are almost used to the fact, that we are able to change everything in just a few months in digital marketing. Only few people thought that this area could shift up a gear. This acceleration was generated by a change in the regulatory environment (GDPR, ePrivacy, CCPA, LGPD, etc.), the spread of ad blocker usage amongst users and 2020, a year where we avoided the offline world.

Browsers seem to have only responded to changes in privacy regulations and user behaviour. I believe that in 2021 significant changes in privacy will determine digital marketing.

One of the hottest topics in data privacy is the dismissal of third party cookies. This wave was triggered by browsers Firefox, Safari and Opera to make this ‘untraceability’ easily accessible and apparent to users. In 2020, we got to the point where it was not only available, but it became the default setting to disable ad tracking codes in most of the browsers. It comes as no surprise that Google also falls into line, and the world-leading browser (60%+ market share) Chrome will eliminate third-party cookie storage in the beginning of 2022. In the middle of 2020, Apple took this to the next level and by announcing the AppTrackingTransparency framework, which will come with the iOS14 update. It controls data collection in mobile applications on the operating system level.

Do not get me wrong – we, at our agency group consider data privacy highly important. However, as the average user has not been provided with the right information regarding measurement codes for online ads, these appear to be evil and to be avoided. It also leads the users to the misbelief that an ad-free internet then will be born. Not to mention that it also keeps several advertisers in uncertainty, who have spent loads of money over the years on adtech developments or on gaining the knowledge on that area.

‘Free internet’ is a false promise to users. And for the advertisers, there is no reason for concern, because we can be sure that there will be a new adtech solution to replace third party cookies, or maybe it already exists.

Top trends induced by privacy changes

Here are the most prominent changes in digital marketing due to privacy reasons:

  1. Brand building steps to the foreground. Brand value and brand positioning never really disappeared, but both were a bit overshadowed over the years in the development of digital data-driven direct marketing. Brand building can remain independent from data driven marketing. A strong brand means a great deal when it comes to sales or just non-paid website traffic.
  2. The efficiency of cross-platform and cross-device measurements will deteriorate. As advertising and analytical systems will obtain less data about users to work with, it will become more difficult to report on the overlap on different platforms with each of our campaigns. Data modelling will determine the reports on our digital campaigns, not the actual results.
  3. The importance of first party data is on the rise. Advertisers have to rely on data that they have collected themselves to evaluate their campaigns. Information about user behavioural and campaign efficiency must be extracted from data collected in CRM and other in-house systems.
  4. The role of global advertising platforms will be strengthened. We can be sure that Google and Facebook will maintain their position. They already have an immense amount of user data, and they also have their own platforms, which allow them to create so-called ‘walled garden’ systems with only limited access for advertisers and other adtech providers.


Mobile is all about speed now

For years, everyone has been talking about the importance of mobile friendly websites, but speed ​​has played a secondary role so far. Now it is unnecessary to talk about whether you can browse a website on a mobile phone, because it has become a basic user expectation. So, the page load time is getting more important if it is not already very import for users.

2, 3, 4, 5G. The decades behind us are full of technological advancements, and each meant a huge leap in data transfer speed. People got used to getting everything right away: packages ordered from web shops are being delivered within just a few hours, looking for an information is just an internet search away. So why should they wait for loading webpages? Of course, the fact that a user has a fast internet connection does not mean that the required website will also load fast. It is a two-way communication. Webpage load time needs to be improved. If the landing page is loading slowly, the budget spent on online ads may simply be a waste of money, because the user might never arrive to the page after clicking the ad.

Increasing share of digital ad spend

2020 has brought about major changes in purchasing and content consumption patterns. Plenty of companies have been forced to digitalize. Even if we can return to the “offline world” in 2021, these digital transformations will not disappear without a trace. For this reason, the share of digital ad spend is expected to increase in 2021 as well. In addition, if the presence of advertisers in the digital space increases, while advertising platforms operating in the auction model continue to strengthen, we can easily come to the conclusion of increasing in prices.

We are looking forward to the changes in digital marketing in the next period. We are sure it will be full of challenges; however, we can rarely experience such major changes within a sector. How do you prepare for the challenges ahead? Share it with us and shape digital marketing within the region together!

Dániel Villányi, Head of Digital, Café Communications (Hungary)

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