Industry executives share their 2021 predictions across marketing, advertising, and mobile after what has been a turbulent year

Greg Wasson, Co-Founder and Chairman, Cooler Screens

“Smart brand marketers looking to get ahead in 2021 must deliver the right offerings and messages to consumers in places they are already engaging with brands. Take in-store grocery shopping for example. Consumers make decisions about the products they buy and the brands they support every time they step inside a grocery store. And in 2021, this is one place consumers will frequent. Brand marketers need to leverage 'last mile' impressions delivered in-store, at the moment of greatest potential impact to sway a purchase. The brands that do this are going to stay relevant in the new year.”

Luke Taylor, Founder and COO, TrafficGuard

“A year ago, a privacy prediction might have been more focussed on regulation. Today, we are seeing the tech giants taking the lead on privacy by limiting cross-site tracking – Apple through its strengthening ITP and Google with the promised sunsetting of third-party cookies. Once these measures are in place, regulation can almost stand down completely because the tech will make it near impossible to violate related regulations. For ad tech, this means disruption. Some businesses that rely on tracking mechanisms to provide services and data to advertisers such as retargeting companies, data companies, and maybe even some DSPs, won’t be able to operate. New types of tech will evolve to help marketers measure performance and marketers will shift the ways that they measure success.

“If they haven’t started yet, marketers need to be testing these new tools and measures while they can still track and attribute conversions to verify effectiveness in this current, trackable environment. In terms of advertising, marketers need to gain a better understanding of context to guide their future strategies and put more emphasis on creativity to cut through when their audiences aren’t as targeted as they once were. Advertising will need to work harder when it's not as targeted.”

Joey Leichman, VP of Buyer Development, OpenX

“Traditional identifiers will (maybe) go away. Third-party cookies and Apple's IDFA are both scheduled for deprecation in 2021. For many months, marketers have been actively canvassing the landscape for post-cookie user addressability solutions. Assuming both of those identifiers are jettisoned as planned, the search for the right solution for a company’s unique set of needs will only intensify in 2021.

“Advertising around COVID-related news content will be less taboo. With COVID-19 no longer novel (no pun intended) and a presumably staid political administration entering office, media buyers may relax some existing policies concerning displaying ads on COVID-related news content (whereas our recent Harris Poll report showed 40 per cent of marketers took proactive measures to ensure their brand would not be placed alongside COVID-19 news). The big winners? News publishers, who've long struggled with monetizing their sizable traffic.”

Palmer Houchins, VP of Marketing, CallRail

“QR codes are on the rise because they provide consumers contactless delivery, pickup and payment options — necessary for our current public health protocols. Brands should use this adopted consumer habit to their advantage by tracking engagement via their advertising and marketing tactics. For instance, marketers could use QR codes in 2021 to track engagement via product packaging, direct mail and OOH ads to mirror consumer behavior and better understand what’s working and what’s not. This will put additional information about products and services in the hands of consumers and help marketers improve their strategies in the future.”

Clint Tasset, President and CEO, Adswerve

“First-party data will be the new goldmine of digital marketing strategy. As privacy regulations gain momentum across the country, organizations are wasting no time to steer clear of third-party data at the risk of legal ramifications and public scrutiny. This means that in 2021, we will see a shift toward greater reliance on first-party data -- and as more businesses focus their digital marketing tactics around first-party, we’ll see greater investment in contextual advertising and machine learning.

“Contextual campaigns allow advertisers to target their key audiences more directly than traditional audience-driven approaches, which is exceedingly critical as the market grows increasingly segmented. And machine learning will allow marketers and advertisers to better optimize the content they deliver to consumers and glean better data based on how users actually interact with their content, whether that’s a retargeting ad or a website landing page.

“First-party data will take new shapes as marketers are forced to squeeze the juice out of what its insights can offer to brands. One example of this is with the outdoor CPG brand we’re working with to organize its first-party data. This is collated from the brand’s brick-and-mortar and eCommerce storefronts, to drive better business outcomes by understanding upselling/cross-selling opportunities through what the data tells us, which is all housed on the cloud in a Marketing Data Warehouse, which we manage for them. These first-party insights can then be used to acquire new customers through data overlays with first-party data provided by walled gardens, such as Facebook, Google, Verizon Media, and soon big-box brands like Walmart, which we can expect will market themselves as media companies of their own quite soon (many already have the groundwork laid for this B2B business offering).”

Dan Frohnen, CMO, Sendoso

“In 2021, partnerships between SaaS companies are going to thrive and relationships will matter so much more. Increased shared marketplaces, such as Salesforce AppExchange, will benefit the tech industry as they allow for companies to co-sell and co-market together. Expanding integrations and APIs make us more interconnected and better together. It helps to streamline business operations and allows for ease of integration, automating tasks and improved services. Having an API-driven strategy also creates more engaging experiences for customers and prospects while enabling the delivery of services such as personalization and data collection.

“Shared marketplaces will rise over the next year because the shift to remote work, and thus remote prospecting, has made it harder to catch the attention of customers and prospects. Marketplaces give marketers and sellers access to a variety of SaaS tools, from direct mail to sales enablement, that help them rise above the high-volume of digital noise we’re experiencing.”

Marissa Aydlett, CGO, Showpad

“Adaptability will be a key factor in 2021. Things will continue to be in a constant state of flux and, as leaders, we need to focus on how marketing can be a catalyst for change to maintain growth. 2020 awarded us an opportunity to reflect on how we were operating, internally and externally, to serve both our employees and our customers. Having tackled the shift to virtual work and digital buying journeys this past year, we now have the opportunity in 2021 to take advantage of our learnings and re-evaluate how we’re spending our time. Specifically, marketing has an unprecedented opportunity to empower and enable our sales, marketing, and customer success teams to work together and drive revenue, while simplifying and strengthening the buying experience.”

Katie Madding, CPO, Adjust

“With revenue in the video streaming segment expected to grow to $30.4 billion by 2024, the opportunity that over-the-top (OTT) media affords mobile marketers is enormous, yet largely untapped.

“Whether in the living room or on the move, mobile is an increasingly important component in the OTT mix. Recent research conducted by Adjust showed that younger consumers lead the pack in mobile streaming, with Gen Z and Millennials most likely to pay for streaming and on-demand entertainment services than any other generation.

“And as mobile marketers tap into OTT and ratchet up their spending on advertising for user acquisition, the question for 2021 is really how they’re spending and how they attribute users. Many companies are investing heavily in OTT, but often have no way of understanding what drives value — measurement is the answer.”

Alberto Jurado, Head of Performance, Tappx

“Over the last few years, the ad industry has complied with GDPR and CCPA protocols. Now we have iOS14 upon us, which had its initial release postponed from autumn 2020 to 2021.Once again, all industry actors will have to adjust to this new challenging situation, this time on a global scale, whilst trying to convince users about why sharing data can add value to user experiences.

“2020 has been the year in which advertisers and attribution platforms alike have taken a firm stance against click spamming, install hijacking and other bot-traffic indicators. Some advertisers have been setting impossibly high KPIs, due to the ever-escalating situation of mistrust between advertisers and publishers. Advertisers will demand more transparency, and consequently publishers will do too, by running campaigns with more realistic KPIs if advertisers can access healthy inventory that doesn’t cannibalise their organic traffic.

“In order to attract high value and profitable users, it’s critical that the acquisition funnel starts by impacting the right users, at the right times, with the right creatives to generate meaningful engagement from day one.

“Considering these challenges, the key to success in 2021 will be to partner industry players that facilitate the use of smart technology to help us make better data-driven decisions.”

Rob Fagnani, Head of Business Development,

“Unprecedented shifts in consumer behavior due to the pandemic have left many companies scrambling to figure out effective ways to connect with their customers to build trust and remain top of mind. Marketers have increasingly leveraged their first- and zero-party data to glean insights, and the need to generate insights at the individual level vs. segment level has become all the more important.”

“The pandemic threw a wrench in traditional segmentation models that measure recency, frequency, and spend. Marketers have realized that they need tools that allow them to more nimbly respond to changes in customer behavior. Expect that marketers will increasingly partner with their analytics teams and leverage tools that more dynamically build segments and customer audiences based on more granular criteria that informs customer context.”

“While digital advertising for customer acquisition has become incredibly efficient, the campaign process for customer loyalty and retention offers and promotions at most companies is still very slow and manual. Marketing organizations still need to manually build offers, from constructing segments, mapping creative assets, and QA’ing content, and measure results and decide what to offer their customers next. With continued pressure on marketing budgets, marketers will invest in ways to automate their process to move more quickly with less resources.”

Patrick Johnson, CEO, Hybrid Theory

“This year has been an exceptional learning curve for the industry. While nobody could have predicted the pandemic or ever be prepared for such an event, it’s proven that as an industry we can adapt no matter what the obstacle may be. I believe this is due to the impressive collaboration and partnerships that exist. Many brands have quickly adapted their marketing strategies to be agile in reacting to how consumer behaviour changed. With that came a renewed need for strong partners who could support brands in understanding and reaching their audience. We have all learnt to think smarter and combine the assets and resources we have available to achieve the goals in front of us – whether we use in-house or outsourced support.

“This hybrid model was recently recognised as part of the IPA’s report into the future of agency-brand relationships, defined by combining multiple agencies with a brand’s in-house team for strategy and execution. This year has propelled this model into the limelight and I anticipate we’ll see the hybrid approach adopted by many more brands and agencies in 2021. Long-lasting trusted partnerships built on transparent relationships are essential for survival as the industry strives to bounce back from the effects of the pandemic. Whatever the next year brings, I look forward to being part of an industry that will continue to come together in the face of challenge.”

Damon Reeve, CEO, The Ozone Project

“Putting aside the macro-events such as Brexit and a looming post-COVID recession, 2021 will see digital advertising will continue to be impacted by the findings of the ISBA/PwC report into transparency in the programmatic supply chain. Advertisers are rightly demanding greater accountability from their digital partners, and as a result we will increasingly see trusted, safe and known environments become even more valuable to brands. This will mean greater investment in quality content environments powered by premium publishers and content creators.

“At the same time, we’ll see more organisations grapple with the challenges and opportunities the demise of the third party cookie is creating. Those with an abundance of first party user data - such as premium publishers - will become even more integral to the advertising mix, as the richness of this data becomes increasingly important for consumer targeting. The value of contextual capabilities will also grow as brands look for alternative ways to target their consumers.

“The third-party cookie cull will also force the digital measurement debate to the fore of many conversations. With less deterministic data available, the sector has a great opportunity to demonstrate the full spectrum of what digital advertising can deliver. There will be greater focus on real business outcomes and brand building capabilities while aligning with the range of measures used to determine the effectiveness of other media channels - rather than purely looking at ad tech metrics.

“As one data source crumbles, any replacements will come with greater ethical scrutiny. While the industry matures and user privacy comes front and centre, the digital advertising industry should no longer need to rely on legislation like GDPR to tell us whether we should be pursuing a particular data strategy or not. Many of these decisions will be codified into our values and those that don’t put the customer first, should expect to see their businesses challenged.

“Finally, and from an Ozone perspective, we expect our sector to take great strides in bringing the advertiser and publisher relationship closer together. Much of this will be as a result of the advertisers’ need to work with trusted, known environments, while at the same time publishers are making it easier for brands to connect with their customers, through simpler buying routes and alternative ways of targeting at scale.”

Harmony Murphy, GM Advertising UK, eBay

“If there’s one thing we’ve learnt this year it’s to expect the unexpected and, with brands facing lots more uncertainty in the year ahead, they should be prepared to adapt their strategies as necessary. Next year, it’s going to be the most agile and in-touch brands that will remain a step ahead. These brands will be the ones that tap into the freshest data to understand ongoing changes in consumer behaviour, readily reassess and pivot their strategies and continually engage consumers with relevant, empathetic messages, whichever way the wind shifts. And while the market conditions might be tough, there’s no doubt we’ll see many marketers thriving and adapting amid the adversity.

“Third-party cookies have been incredibly powerful tools for marketers over the past 20 years – and are still very useful today. But change is long overdue. In 2021, brands and publishers will look to explore more sophisticated and effective methods of targeting using ‘definite’ first party data, instead of ‘maybe’ first party data, and the cookie will continue to decline.

“Instead of relying on quick wins, a cookie-less, premium, user first experience is a move in the right direction for brands. After all, this is what advertising is about: quality engagement with consumers that helps them and genuinely delivers ROI for the brand. It’s about engagement and relevance, not irritation. In the year ahead I hope to see more brands and publishers invest in new technology and strategy that allows for more meaningful, interesting ads.”

Mark Inskip, CEO UK & Ireland, Kantar (Media Division)

“In a year of enormous instability, planning campaigns has never been so challenging. Economic uncertainty coupled with constantly changing COVID restrictions and consumer behaviour clearly makes for a difficult decision-making climate. As marketing and advertising teams have looked to build flexible, informed strategies, quality data has proved invaluable. And with so much at the fingertips of so many, just having data isn’t enough – a real recognition of the need for actionable insight is growing.

“In 2021 we can expect to see more and more teams across the industry forcing their existing data to work harder to inform investment decisions. Rather than drowning in a data lake, the focus will be on distilling down data into meaningful sets which can be easily managed and – even better – pooled with other sources to provide richer, more impactful insights.

“As uncertainty is set to stick around, those brands which invest in making their data smarter, will be best equipped to understand the impact of their marketing and communications, and make informed, intelligent decisions through 2021 and beyond.”

Joel Livesey, Lead Senior Director, Inventory Partnerships, The Trade Desk

“This year, each of us has spent more time tucked away inside the four walls of our own houses than we would ever have imagined. Inevitably, all that sofa time has driven people to consume more at-home entertainment and Connected TV (CTV) viewing has boomed as a result. Flexible on-demand viewing and huge libraries of premium content proved too much to resist for most of us.

“As we all know, where consumers go, advertisers quickly follow – so we can expect 2021 to be a huge year for advertising on CTV. Brands are increasingly recognising the value of CTV’s more flexible buying environment, compared to the upfront model. When consumer behaviour changes drastically month to month as government restrictions shift, ad campaigns can’t afford not to change with them.

“Our research revealed that 84 per cent of Brits are open to adverts on CTV channels if it means they can watch an episode of their favourite show for free, without interruption, afterwards – so it’s clear the appetite for appropriately delivered ads is there. With popular paid-for subscription channels like Netflix and Disney hiking prices, that hunger for free, ad-funded content amongst consumers will only grow and advertisers should be ready to seize the opportunity. In this industry, CTV advertising may well be 2021’s golden ticket.”

Britt Mills, Senior Director of Customer Experience, Mobiquity

“In 2021, we will see a dip in customer satisfaction. Companies rushed to market with new digital solutions out of necessity and customers were satisfied with the initial products. However, as customers continue to use these tools, are store associates prepared to sustain the positive experience? To avoid a dip in customer satisfaction, brands must continue to enhance their initial contactless experiences to accommodate customers’ increasing preference for digital shopping.

“Mobile experiences will become tailored to a wider audience through increased adoption. One size doesn’t fit all. The Baby Boomer and the Gen Z user have significantly different usage patterns in a mobile app and UX and UI teams will need to take this into account as digital solutions become commonplace in the shopping experience. Making apps as intuitive as possible will satisfy a wider audience and increase satisfaction across generational groups.

“Change management needs to be a top priority. A lot of retailers rushed to market in response to COVID-19 to provide mobile experiences that prioritized safety and contactless interactions. Now brands are trying to balance speed to market and operational readiness. Many brands went full speed ahead without taking operations and associate investments into consideration. Through better employee training in 2021, brands can make sure their five-star app isn’t ruined by a disjointed in-person experience.”

Simon Landi, Managing Director, Access

“2021 is going to present new challenges for brands trying to connect with, and influence, all audiences who have forged new shopping habits and upped their expectations when it comes to how brands engage with them, but a particular focus will need to be on how to win the hearts and minds of Gen Z.

“An increasing regard for eco-consciousness and social equality has put extra pressure on companies to showcase their contribution to fighting widespread social issues. Gen Zs favour brands that show this and, given how quickly loyalty is won and lost with this generation, there are major risks for those who backstep or falsely commit to these values. Cancel culture is a real thing - and the boycotting of Oatly (following allegations that a private equity firm who owns a stake in Oatly has contributed to deforestation in the Amazon) proves this.

“Brands aren’t just marketing to a generation of colourful, tech-elite trendsetters anymore – they’re dealing with informed, vocal users who want to change a world that’s rapidly changed them. Brands will need to learn when to take a stance on the issues and when to take a back seat or risk being cancelled.”

Vladimir Khudyakov, CEO,

“Where 2020 was harsh for many industries, programmatic advertising actually benefited. For example, many users changed their social habits due to the many lockdowns and instead, go online for entertainment, shopping and socialisation. That resulted in a substantial increase in mobile apps usage and online spendings.

“It will be fair to say that Apple’s announcement of IDFA deprecation has shaken the mobile programmatic market, even though they decided to postpone the changes until “early next year”. This delay gave the industry more time to prepare for the changes, but the transition period to the attribution through SKAdNetwork will be lengthy and we might see the market stall when it happens. This is because many performance-centric mobile DSPs are heavily reliant on behavioral user graphs built on the basis of IDFAs.

“Nevertheless, this year has been full of M&As, one of the most sound deals happened before Apple’s announcement – Twitter acquired CrossInstal – a mobile performance DSP to strengthen their demand side. And another just recently – Beeswax – a programmatic in-house bidder was acquired by FreeWheel. I expect this trend of market consolidation to continue in 2021 around programmatic platforms, AI-as-a-service, UA automation, and incrementality measurement and hyper casual game titles.

“Finally, I see more game and mobile app companies require data and cost transparency from programmatic platforms to effectively spend and measure the impact of marketing channels. That gives me the confidence to forecast the increasing adoption of programmatic in-house platforms, both on mobile in-app and web in 2021.”

Jürgen Galler, Co-founder and CEO of 1plusX

“Throughout 2020, the Industry has been looking at alternatives to fill the gap cookies will leave once they are phased out, and publishers and marketers are still grappling with the question of ‘what’s next?’. There’s been lots of conversation on whether contextual targeting is an adequate solution, with some industry players indicating that it’s still a work in progress. But in reality, significant advancements in marketing technology over the last few years, in particular AI and predictive analytics, has allowed the development of more accurate and agile contextual targeting tools.

“In the coming year, as the industry learns to transition from behavioural analysis to more privacy-led alternatives, there will be increased focus on contextual intelligence as an advanced targeting model. This will allow publishers and marketers to combine their first-party data with more in-depth, real-time contextual analysis, and to glean crucial consumer insight from it.”

Nickolas Rekeda, CMO, MGID

“Google’s Chrome phasing out of third-party cookies and Apple’s deactivation of IDFA are clear signs that industry players will need to learn how to market in a world of unidentified users – and some companies are already investing in alternative tools to replace cookie-based targeting. Without a universal identity solution in sight, contextual intelligence will emerge in 2021 as the leading targeting strategy for the post-cookie reality.

“Contextual targeting as a concept isn’t something new. But its further integration with AI technology will allow publishers to understand whether website content is relevant both in terms of brand message and site visitor’s interest, as well as analyze how specific content surrounding – such as page sentiment, visual components and language nuances – affects the probability of a person interacting with similar content and the reasons behind it.”

Enrico Vecchio, CTO, Audiencerate

“It goes without saying COVID has caused a stir in the advertising industry, however, rather than focusing only on the current situation, it is important we keep looking toward the future and prepare for the anticipated recovery of macroeconomic conditions in 2021. The pandemic has proven marketers need to be faster, smarter and more versatile than ever before, and as needs and behaviours of consumers continue to change rapidly and unpredictably, real-time audience insight is an important piece of the puzzle.

“While recent technological advances have vastly improved the efficiency of data on-boarding, many marketers still have to wait weeks before they can tap user profiles, and months before they can see the results of their efforts. So, to stay ahead of the competition and the ever-shifting climate, it is vital marketers strengthen their data monetisation strategies with sharper and tailored capabilities to deliver more impactful and competitive campaigns, in the fastest times possible.”

Pablo Dopico, Head of Brand & Agencies EMEA, VidMob

“The pandemic has underscored the need for performance-driven creative solutions that are backed by technology in order to change at the speed of culture, reflect the nuances of the environment it is in, and be developed quickly at scale and across many collaborators. ‘Data helps win creative arguments’ has been a popular argument in 2020 and we expect this approach to continue in 2021 when economic recovery will inspire brands to test and innovate; the adoption of data-inspired creative is likely to accelerate exponentially next year.

“Using more of a brands’ own, ethically acquired data, will be essential – especially as there will likely be a shift to sell directly on platforms to reduce consumer journey friction. As a result, smaller and well-crafted platforms may offer advantages for those looking to hyper-target specific audience niches.

“With so many online shopping – and gaming – experiences still marred by non-mobile-friendly user interfaces and excessively long conversion journeys, a move towards zero friction is going to be key. Brands that make a determined effort in reducing steps and improving mobile conversion experiences will be the ones that benefit from exponential growth. It’s been a long time coming, but hopefully the surge in online shopping during the COVID-19 era has acted as a catalyst for this much needed improvement in consumer experience.”

Chris Hogg, Managing Director EMEA, Lotame

“In a frenetic newscycle, digital advertising remained true to its obsession with the third-party cookie’s imminent demise. Google Chrome’s announcement in January of its plans to remove third-party cookies set off a firestorm of confusion and panic. In the months since, a conflation of third-party cookies with third-party data and privacy has proliferated, with the cookie becoming the punching bag in digital advertising. We don’t expect 2021 to deviate from that headline dominance as various players across the ecosystem claim cookie independence and revel in the cookie’s demise. On the flip side, advertisers will ramp up pressure on publishers to meet their various tracking, targeting, and measurement needs.”

Shirley Smith, Sales Director, Flashtalking

“In the coming months, we will discover if the ad tech ecosystem is capable of self-regulation and self-organisation around the new privacy paradigm, and if it has the creativity and ingenuity to find better solutions that don’t compromise on core values.

“With Google, Facebook and Apple under scrutiny from antitrust regulators in the US and Europe, the digital monopolies could be facing a year of reckoning, and one that the rest of the industry can – and should – view as an opportunity to get their foot in the door for an equal cut of the programmatic action. Across all channels and formats, the virtues of transparency, interoperability, and openness will be viewed in a new light.

“We are already seeing promising signs that the independent players are stepping up to the challenge, by modernising their own offerings and providing a real alternative to the walled gardens. 2021 could be a pivotal year for our industry, and see changes that will impact the ad tech landscape for years to come.”

Farhad Divecha, Managing Director and Founder, AccuraCast

“Cookies, as we know them, will stop working on most browsers in the next two years. However, brands will still be able to track potential customers and I predict that the Facebook marketing API will become more popular in 2021 – it is one of the most promising solutions in a world of cookie-less browsing.

“Discovery Commerce is a system of tools that anticipate customer needs and match products with the people most likely to buy them. It is key to turning awareness into demand and is definitely a trend to watch in 2021. Brands can ensure they are ready for Discovery Commerce by enabling discovery on relevant formats, implementing the right tracking system and building effortless transaction facilities for your customers.”

Elie Kanaan, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer, Ogury

“Thanks to documentaries like The Great Hack and The Social Dilemma, consumers have awakened to the value of their data and the protection of their privacy. They are also experiencing digital fatigue due to the significant increase in time spent online and in front of screens this year. However, most consumers understand the value exchange. Ogury research found 70 per cent of consumers are willing to receive a certain amount of useful ads in exchange for free content. Consumers also don’t hate all digital advertising, only useless and invasive ads. Moving forward, brands must address the authentic engagement consumers now crave like never before.

“2020 has seen a major shift for the advertising industry with Google committing to phase out third-party cookies and Apple announcing changes to the Identifiers for Advertisers (IDFA), which requires developers to explicitly ask consumers to consent to be tracked. Assuming many consumers would decline, this move will block and essentially end this practice. Without third-party cookies and IDFA, it’s understandable that advertisers might feel left in the dark. But these are the types of challenges that foster innovation. Relevance will no longer be equated to personalisation. And contextual advertising, however improved, won’t be enough. This means a new approach will emerge that meets advertisers’ need for performance and protection.”

Justin Taylor, Managing Director UK, Teads

“Brands have been doubling down on quality across the board in 2020. Firstly, with the creation of some amazing digital experiences, from both branding and performance perspectives. During lockdown, digital adoption has taken a huge leap forward. We are now seeing the next creative dawn in performance advertising moving from unlikeable ads which deliver results, to impactful ads that still deliver results but also create great user experiences. Secondly, while misinformation has been rife, brands are ensuring their media spend is funding a more responsible ecosystem as they look to reset in the new year.

“I predict we will see the continued evolution of the agency model in 2021. Agencies have proven their value during lockdown, while brands have had to adapt and restructure. As a result, agencies will need an increased focus on technology and data partnerships, securing accountable and guaranteed outcomes for clients, while ensuring they get the right balance between brand and performance advertising.

“As regulatory bodies and tech giants call an end to third-party data, the industry will increasingly rely on probabilistic and synthetic data to increase targeting relevance, with the best solutions using large scale contextual data, which delivers high accuracy levels with minimal consumer data use.

“With the possibility of a Brexit deal and a COVID vaccine on the horizon, consumer confidence will grow and hopefully restore spend into the economy. This upswing of positivity, I predict, will continue into next year.”

Max Flajsner, Director of Innovation, Incubeta

“2021 is set to be a rollercoaster year for the marketing industry. With the prospect of a vaccine around the corner, we can expect to see a splurge in marketing activities later in the year as brands gain the confidence to invest more to ensure their status as a major player in the “new normal” ecosystem. Expect to see an explosion in marketing spends and focuses shifted to market share gains as soon as there is confidence in the vaccine.

“Until then however, with vaccine development & distribution timelines unknown, looming closing dates for job protection schemes and volatile COVID-19 restrictions, we should expect an unsettled Q1 at least. Advertisers will be looking to marketing partners to give them even more certainty in the value of their activity, both through technology and in general ways of working. As a result, we can expect to see incrementality and accountability being pushed to the forefront of conversations.

“Partners and technologies which can prove incremental value will be in high demand as advertisers look to ensure their limited ad budgets are being utilised to drive maximum growth. We can also expect advertisers to demand more in terms of risk sharing with their marketing partners. Given the level of uncertainty surrounding what 2021 has in store, tech platforms, media owners and agencies will need to be more flexible in their terms to give brands the comfort and confidence to spend more. Large minimum spends, terms, and inflexible retainer models will need to be adjusted to more performance-based models as brands demand more certainty and accountability from partners.

“Fluidity is the name of the game for 2021 in an enthralling year where we could see devastating lows, but also record-breaking highs when it comes to consumer demand.”

Ben Barokas, CEO and Co-Founder, Sourcepoint

“Even as the industry continues to wrestle with the challenges associated with COVID-19, we’ve seen significant evolutions in consumer data privacy. With tech giants such as Google and Apple making a concerted effort to bring privacy to the forefront of their products, operations and marketing, industry players need to pay careful attention to these trends and ensure that they are accounting for the implications of these important changes in 2021.

“The strong industry reaction against Apple’s announcement that the IDFA will become opt-in for all users, and Google’s plans to phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome, provide great examples of how complicated it is to balance consumer privacy and the benefits of personalisation. I believe that 2021 will be a year during which platforms, digital properties, and brands will strive to innovate the way they are establishing a value exchange with the consumer, and we will witness the strengthening of consent-based marketing and advertising.

“As regional privacy regulations continue to roll out in Australia, Canada, Brazil, and around the globe, we’ll also see an increasing focus from advertisers and agencies on collaboration with publishers to ensure that global campaigns are achieving compliance goals, as well as performance targets. It will become increasingly complicated for advertisers to understand the level of compliance across their campaigns they are running. As a result, I expect that in 2021 we will see greater collaboration between advertisers, agencies and publishers to ensure the safe and ethical use of data.”

Zara Erismann, MD Publisher Europe, LiveRamp

“Throughout 2020 the move away from third-party cookies and the growing focus on consent has seen marketers continue to rethink how they build relationships with their consumers. There is growing optimism surrounding the use of addressable solutions, which allow ad buyers to reach consumers based on known attributes that are actively supplied with permission and consent.

“Building an addressable audience allows marketers to run highly targeted campaigns and brings publishers and advertisers closer together. This approach also benefits users as it places data privacy controls in their hands. This goes a long way to restoring the trust that has been eroded by the lack of transparency inherent in the use of cookies, and even certain device IDs.

“Consented consumer relationships enable publishers to better connect their inventory to advertiser demand and offer marketers a more effective experience that drives improved campaign performance. Advertisers gain from better ROAS overall: more accurate audience reach, reduction in wasted ad exposures, and far deeper insights into everything from user behaviour to user preferences. On top of this, readers benefit from more personalised experiences that are tailored to their preferences.

“As ad buyers see the direct impact these elements have on their return on ad spend, we are likely to see more and more open internet programmatic budgets shift to people-based campaigns over the next 12 months.”

(As published on Mobile Marketing)