Media Channel And Market Predictions For A Hopeful 2021

As we cross the threshold into an optimistic new year, predictions around the ad marketplace and channels are told by media experts on the agency side, from a multi-industry POV.

Trends have evolved and emerged in 2020, and while their permanence remains unclear, the marketplace is forever changed, as are the players within it.

These predictions for 2021 touch on user consumption, brand participation, and the resulting economic impact of those things -- across TV, streaming/OTT, digital, audio, and OOH channels. 

Some top-line predictions on macro-level channels are found below. But the trends will dive deeper.

  • Video (Linear): Marketplace pricing rebounded more quickly than most pundits predicted. After several soft quarters, pricing spiked due in part to poor ratings performance in prime and cable due to the lack of original, scripted content which was stunted due to production delays. With the networks relying heavily on repeats, ratings cratered and put artificial upward pressure on sports avails as marketers clamored for make-good weight. Many marketers also proactively shifted budgets away from entertainment and into sports which further impacted sports and caused them to sell out prematurely. Although schedules for entertainment and sports will normalize heading into 2021, we expect upward inflationary pressures to continue.
  • Video (Streaming): The pandemic accelerated the migration toward more streaming consumption. Streaming services saw rapid growth in the first half of the year but have since slowed as we approach year-end. While outright cord-cutting has seen an uptick, most U.S. households still consume a mix of both MVPD and SVOD subscriptions. We expect streaming and OTT platforms to continue to grow into 2021.
  • Digital: Overall, we can expect a growing digital ad market for 2021. Vaccines, a recovering economy, and our lives returning to a “new yet more familiar” normal will impact digital. Digital consumption will continue to rise and evolve, as will consumer spending between brick-and-mortar and e-commerce channels. These factors will elevate brands’ competition for user attention more than ever, especially in the second half of 2021, leading to digital inflation.
  • OOH: As companies evaluate (and re-evaluate) re-opening plans, the once expected 9-5 work week becomes a thing of the past in favor of hybrid models: balancing employee flexibility with overhead cost savings. Thus, hyper-local and suburban OOH such as billboards, posters, and DOOH formats will remain more relevant than ever. City centers, mass transit, and destination OOH will continue to struggle, but create opportunities for savings and negotiation. 



The predictions are intended to help marketers prepare for another unpredictable year, in which profitability will depend on how quickly we can all plan, replan, and replan again.

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