Incubeta UK: 2021 Predictions

With Christmas just around the corner, Incubeta is excited to introduce our latest series; Incubeta Predicts, where we asked our teams across the globe for their 2021 industry predictions. 

Matilda Rose Moir

Our first piece in the series caught up with the UK team – covering everything from Cookies & Privacy to SEO and Digitalised Engagement – here are their thoughts.

James Sleaford – Managing Director DQ&A UK

After 2020 I’m not sure it’s safe to make predictions with any real confidence!   The economy will get moving again, and those businesses who embraced and accelerated digital change will be the ones to prosper.  Approach to customer privacy and data collection will return to the forefront of the industry, as conversations move away from lockdowns (and dare I say it,  Brexit) and I, personally, will be fascinated to see how the US Department of Justice’s scrutiny of the Tech Giants develops.  Closer to home, and in fact in the home, how our teams work and how we recruit has changed forever.  Businesses will be battling to find the right operational models which balance productivity with flexibility, and we can expect to see a flurry of acquisition activity around collaborative platforms and tech.

Max Flasjner – Director of Innovation UK

There are still so many uncertainties coming into the new year. The various vaccines offer so much promise, but how will the rollout go? How will the economy recover and what will happen to job retention schemes? I expect to see budget holders demanding far more in terms of accountability and proof of incrementality from partners in the early part of the year – analysing how they can spread their risk.  That being said, with consumer confidence and the economy rebuilding later in the year I expect to see a mass rush to open up budgets and capture market share in the next (excuse the term) “new normal”.

Claire Burgess – Head of Biddable UK

2021 is going to be a critical year for everyone and will be the real turning point for many businesses. Throughout 2020 people have been forced to turn online, and 2021 will be all about taking those learnings – from a digital first approach – to build a true ‘holistic strategy’ where online and offline work together seamlessly. Companies can’t go back to their approach of 2019 as the user certainly hasn’t. People’s lives have changed and with it comes the expectation that 

companies have also changed to be faster, easier and more accessible than ever before.  The biggest challenge is going to come later in 2021 when we are up against tough YoY targets, and looking at things at a “channel” level will not suffice. For businesses to survive their brand needs to be seen as one, moving with how the customer has changed over the last year – prioritising measurement, customer journey analysis and incrementality as key focal areas for 2021. 

Damien Bennett – Director of Strategy UK

2021 will be the most important year in the short history of digital marketing.  I believe this for a number of reasons.  Firstly, we are starting to see what the combination of machine learning and automation means for businesses, enabling them to do things far more effectively.  Those that master this combination will hold a huge advantage.  Secondly, because of 2020, digital is paramount in the mind of nearly every single CEO out there, and you can be sure that there is going to be more focus on digital in 2021 than ever before.  Thirdly, we are going to start to see the impact of various legislative changes, and what those changes mean for how the industry operates. 

Joe Comotto – Director of Search Experience UK

The potential end of an $12 billion search deal! With the increased focus from the Department of Justice into Google’s operations I think we could see the Apple Google search deal finally come to an end. There has been plenty of chat towards the end of this year about Apple launching its own search engine and whilst I don’t expect this to happen in 2021, I do think we will see a lot more from Apple that signals their intention to start making a play for the number 2 search engine. The end of the search deal could signal the start of some well needed competition in the search engine space.

Luke Judge – UK & US CEO

2021 will undoubtedly see the continued acceleration of digitised engagement between businesses and consumers. Rather than being based on urgent need – as we saw in 2020 – this acceleration will likely be based on a realisation born out of this year,  that investing properly in digital experiences can no longer be deferred. Simply put, consumers will expect faster, better, deeper and more fulfilling experiences across more platforms (web, app, messenger, social) than ever before. 

We’ll see winners 🏆 amongst those who put an agile and scalable digitized content programme at the heart of their customer experience, and who are ready and able to deploy their messages quickly and effectively across an increasing number of touch points and formats. Going into 2021 video content across platforms and ad formats will outpace most advertiser’s ability to keep up.

For many businesses, putting the customer at the heart of their strategy will be a priority, and in that we’ll see brands adopting direct-to-consumer strategies urgently. In part to de-risk the reliance on our fragile retail ecosystem, but largely to have increasing ownership of the customer experience and, bluntly, their 1st party data. The fuel of future growth.

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