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  • Writer's pictureThe Flash Team

Flash Digest: Media and Advertising in 2021

Last year’s pandemic pushed the modern world into uncharted waters. Lockdown restrictions brought global economic activity to a standstill and plunged millions of people into unemployment and poverty. Many businesses, including those in marketing and advertising, have had to rethink how to continue operations despite the health crisis and lower consumer confidence. Thankfully though, the world is on the track to gradual recovery with the rollout of vaccines now happening. The World Bank said in its January 2021 Global Economic Prospects that the international market is set to expand by 4% after a 4.3% contraction in 2020 while the Asian Development Bank projects economic growth in the Philippines by 4.5% in 2021 and 5.5% in 2022.

Our experiences from a year ago have provided us with so many insights on how society can move forward in a post-pandemic world. The most apparent development was that businesses and customers alike increasingly depended on digital media to purchase goods and services, remain informed and entertained, and transact, in light of stay-at-home orders.

We have compiled and, yes, digested some information about the state and trends of media and advertising in 2021 from several reputable sources to help you better execute campaigns for the remainder of the year.

1. The world is a step closer to becoming fully digital.

The pandemic forced the world to fast track digitalization, especially as physical distancing measures are being imposed. While revenues declined because of the pandemic, Criteo’s data shows that online sales in 2020 jumped by 14% compared to 2019. “Our lives have undergone great change, with a decade’s worth of innovation happening in just a few short months. An increasing reliance on digital media, both for the industry and consumers, is here to stay,” Kantar’s Global CEO for Media Division Serge Lupas explained in their 2021 Media Trends and Predictions. Many of the consumers’ digital-first habits will either be permanent or have long lasting impact after COVID-19.

Pertinently, Google has the numbers to prove better internet activity and penetration—now at 70%—in the Philippines mainly driven by the country's young, mobile-first population. "Mobile adoption has also progressed quickly, with 65% of Pinoys using smartphones to shop online, watch videos, connect on social media, and more," Google said.

Banking on this development, the Philippines’ central bank recently created a new licensing category for online-only banks that can offer and process financial products and services through a digital platform with no physical branches.

As regards advertising, GroupM estimates that “pure-play digital media owners will collectively capture 61% of all advertising” in 2021. Nielsen’s Heather Jordan adds “In 2021, that shift could be even more significant as brands continue to navigate uncertainty and consumers embrace their digital lives even more... As advertisers adapt to the latest ad trend and cross-media currency becomes a reality one thing is for sure, digital-first has truly become ubiquitous with advertising.” Relatedly, many companies are already leaning toward continuing remote work arrangements, Nielsen found out in its survey.

2. Driving full-funnel results is a must.

Because of last year’s experience in increased web sales, more brands recognized the importance of marketing in their organizations. According to a study conducted by Criteo, “the pressure is on for marketing teams to drive results across every stage of the consumer journey, from customer acquisition all the way through sales and retention.” This means putting focus on each level of the funnel—from awareness to interest, consideration, evaluation, purchase, and loyalty—and knowing to effectively diversify hard-won budgets across all touchpoints, utilizing omnichannel strategies and integrations.

3. Brand purpose is a top priority.

Nowadays, consumers expect more from brands. Beyond awareness and quality, customers want to know brand purpose and how this is applied in real life. “Businesses are more tuned in than ever to how they’re being perceived in a non-stop news cycle,” Criteo found out in its 2020 survey. Kantar also said that global consumers, around 63% of them, prefer products and services that “offer ways to offset their environmental impact.” Definitely, brand activism and action is the way to go. “Wishing to differentiate themselves in a saturated media environment, brands increasingly share their opinions and engage in the public policy arena,” Kantar’s François Nicolon explained.

However, brands have to keep in mind that they ought to walk the talk. “The opportunities to succeed or fail are real, and while passion for a cause may be strong, if brands are all talk and no action, their credibility will be in question. Actions speak louder than words,” Nicolon warns.

4. Beware of being silent.

“Silence is deadly.” According to Nielsen Ad Intel, it is “risky” for brands to reduce their ad spending as it can have adverse effects on brand equity and revenue. Conversely, Nielsen’s data shows that small and large businesses that chose to push forward with advertising helped them to remain top of mind for consumers amid the pandemic. General Motors, for instance, was said to have outperformed its competitors in the US last year after spending more than US$72 million in TV ads in November 2020, up by almost 200% from June 2020. It is obviously important to note that smart and bold decisions must be made by marketers in terms of shifting media spend, messaging, and tactics to make sure every penny used is well spent.

5. Campaigns have to be data-driven.

It is understandable that while economists predict the gradual recovery of markets in 2021, companies may still find it difficult or uncomfortable to pour in money to marketing and advertising campaigns. Consumer mindset has also become more critical of evaluating what brands do when it comes to social justice and environmental responsibility in light of the international health crisis. Aside from those, new media has become ubiquitous. This is why brands should use their budgets more wisely to achieve ROI or return on investment. With research and a careful interpretation of data, business executives and advertisers can better run campaigns that yield better results in all aspects of media and communications from messaging to creative optimization and platform selection. Analytics play a huge role in ensuring an ideal mix of touchpoints and channels. “Marketers have the challenging task of positioning their brands to appeal to new and constantly changing consumer needs and values, while managing smaller marketing budgets and new media usage habits,” Satya Menon of Kantar said in their 2021 predictions paper.

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