Predictions: Buy Direct On Google, Verified Reviews, Data Security, Cookieless Standards

Zoom became a verb in 2020. Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook will be in better shape next year than most companies. The five are expected to generate "an additional $160 billion in combined revenues, as the world struggles to get past the pandemic.

Amid a pandemic, the online industry — advertising and marketing — moved at warp speed, forming a work-at-home and play-at-home culture that propelled ecommerce and online services, such as video streaming and conferencing.

China shut down manufacturing in July and locked down residents by closing stores and borders, stalling manufacturing and causing a shortage of some products, such as Sony's and Microsoft's game consoles.

On the innovation front, cloud services jumped in acceptance to support ecommerce and streaming video. Consumers faced new realities, like buy more online and pick-up curbside. Restaurants reinvented business models with online ordering and delivery options. Google aided brands, such as L’Oréal, to implement augmented reality to help consumers try on makeup in the colors they love.



What’s in store for 2021? Here are some predictions from experts across the industry.

Verified Reviews, Data Security, Cookieless Standards: Greg Sterling, vice president of insights at Uberall, believes marketplaces, consumer platforms and vertical sites will increasingly turn to verified purchaser review models to combat fraud and review manipulation. Consumers will become more sophisticated and discriminating about data security, privacy and transparency. The advertising industry will standardize around two to three methods for personalization, retargeting and attribution, but Apple’s mandatory permission-to-track rule, taking effect in 2021 and have a materially negative impact on in-app advertising on the iPhone. 

Buy Direct On Google: Ashley Fletcher, vice president of marketing at Adthena, not only believes consumers will begin spending more money on Google, buying direct from brands, he also thinks snippets and rich results will become a bigger focus on its search engine result pages, presenting addition risks for organic search. Today, only paid ads appear higher than snippets, meaning users dedicated to finding organic results have to travel further to reach them. To find success in the evolving search landscape, advertisers need to focus on leaning more heavily on PPC to rise above organic results and ensure on-site microdata works properly as a way to appear above competitors in snippets.

Clouds Are Lifting: Verizon Media’s Iván Markman, Chief Business Officer at Verizon Media, said smartphone use is forecast to account for 50% of global internet traffic in 2022, with nearly 80% of that mobile traffic for video. The deployment of 5G is central to that growth, as greater bandwidth and speeds will trigger greater demand for high-quality video content, services and experiences. To fulfill that demand, content delivery networks become crucial, and demand for CDNs will skyrocket in 2021 as 5G scales further. He also believes email will replace cookies as the debate between open source identity and walled gardens continues.

Share of Search Replaces Share Of Voice: Anand Siddiqui, global vice president of insights and analytics, Captify, thinks the industry will see an evolution in the type of metrics brands used to measure the impact of advertising. For example, volume alone should not be a proxy for intent. He expects share of search to replace share of voice when measuring interest and intent. Share of Search answers “why” and “what happens next” as consumers move further through their purchase journey, giving brands a much more immediate view of the world.

Data-driven TV Becomes Standard: Cathy Oh, global head of marketing and analytics at Samsung Ads, believes that while linear addressable TV never realized its full potential, streaming in just a few short years forged ahead. Streaming has proven its one-to-one reach, and in 2021 the industry will start to see more collaboration around standardized measurement and attribution. TV marketers will prove sales attribution vs. modeling. They will use advanced technology and AI to find new audiences and opportunities that traditional TV can’t support.

Brands Gain Device Options In Which To Advertise: Lenovo’s Dilip Bhatia, chief customer experience officer at Lenovo, says expect to see dual-screen configurations, growing and new folding form factors, such as on-screen keyboard inputs and voice-to-text tools, that are less reliant on a physical keyboard. Bhatia also believes connectivity will break free from WiFi as 5G becomes more accessible, making consumers and workers more independent.

AsA Service (AAS) Business Model: Lakshmi Srinivasan, global head of TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) Interactive, believes companies will expect CMOs to make the digital-first business model work. This is an enormous multi-stakeholder agenda change. They will need to step into the CEO’s shoes to plan and execute. Expect consolidation of in-house efforts and “As A Service" outsourcing across creative agencies, technology and business ops domains. CMOs will prove themselves as CGOs, displaying a new integrated mantra of marketing-led sales and service, as opposed to the traditional approach of marketing as the enabler and sales functioning as the driver.

Increase In Self-Service Models: Melissa Burdick, president of Pacvue, believes the surge in ecommerce shipping and returns will require companies to develop self-service models. The increase in gift cards sold during the holiday season will lead to an immediate shortage of products, increase in production by brands and constrains on fulfillment. Convenience will push the self-service model.

Privacy Becomes Differentiator, For Now: Dan Clarke, president at Intel-backed IntraEdge, believes the California Privacy Rights Act, which passed in November, will have a significant impact on brands as publishers and advertisers. It may result in better advertising by improving the quality and relevance of ads, encouraging all to make privacy requests a prominent part of their consumer interactions.

Growth Of OOH Driven By Other Tech:  Christina Radigan, CMO of the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA), believes the advancement in technologies like augmented reality, 5G, and the heighted consumer adoption of QR codes will drive engagement in OOH channel. As a result, digital OOH will continue to proliferate. Its ability to generate revenue for transit authorities, municipalities and even smart cities will be drivers next year and beyond.  

Be well. Stay safe.

I'll meet you back here in 2021.

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