Incubeta US: 2021 Predictions

In the fourth instalment of our Incubeta Predicts series – where we asked our teams across the globe for their 2021 industry predictions – we caught up with the US team, over in New York & LA. Covering everything from Digital Acceleration and Video, to Technological Innovation and Streaming – here are their thoughts.

Matilda Rose Moir

Ed Camargo – Managing Director Incubeta US

2020 wasn’t the best of years, and while many of us can’t wait to get it in our rear-view mirror, others less so – and one industry that feels this way (outside of toilet paper manufacturers) was streaming TV. The cord-cutting started in March as consumers shifted to Hulu, Roku, Netflix, and other streaming solutions and away from cable as their main form of home entertainment. YouTubeTV, Disney+, and Peacock cemented the fact that streaming was the future. The one factor that pushed everything over the line was the disruption of upfront marketing events where traditional advertisers were presented and committed to the fall’s upcoming line-ups of content. This is no small disruption – it set up a pullback of linear TV budgets from advertisers in general, and there was digital TV as a place for those offline ad dollars.  

As the vaccine reduces the pandemic and we all return to life as we knew it, streaming TV will continue incredible growth leading to a massive shift in ad-dollars. Not only can you not reverse the shift (because consumers will not go back to the days of +$150 cable bills), but tech innovation has merged the targeting and measurement accountability of other performance channels with the impact of large screens; unskippable, sight, sound, and motion advertising. From an advertising perspective, CTV/OTT is going to outgrow all channels in 2021 with programmatic technology focusing on CTV/OTT first – not display plus video, as it is now.

Sara B. Francis – CEO Incubeta US

My prediction is twofold: 1) digital acceleration will continue, 2) video will overtake all other digital channels and personalization will be key. 

To say that digital has accelerated is an understatement. Consumers have had to live their lives virtually, and brands have had to shift to the use of virtual sales channels. E-commerce saw a decade of growth in just a few short months. The streaming wars, already underway, found a captive audience with video consumption spiking.  While many were forced to pivot, the digital acceleration in many cases simply amplified trends that had been happening over the years. And I count the spike in video to be one of them. 

Marketers have recognized the power of online video for years – as a source of online content and as a way for brands to connect with their customers. While the spike in video consumption has abated from the initial surge from the lockdown, video’s growth shows no signs of slowing down. While there are many emerging trends within video channels, the foundation has been laid. Smart marketers embraced video within their digital marketing strategy years ago and are seeing the benefits. But many are realizing that video advertising cannot be lumped into one channel and has many different behaviors. Getting this piece right requires a coordinated effort to align the creative messaging, audience mindset, and the devices they are consuming video on. 

Luckily technology exists to achieve this level of personalization. Platforms and solutions help automate the process, if not control it dynamically. We’re going to see this become increasingly sophisticated to help marketers achieve relevance in this space, even with the loss of the cookie. This will be an exciting and vibrant place for brands to connect with their audience, so stay tuned. 

Craig Brown – Head of Delivery Incubeta US

2021 is going to be a year of opportunity for the brave. Many businesses have struggled throughout 2020, reporting significant losses and low performance rates, which, as we roll into the New Year, could result in an approach of stability – slowly moving the needle.

I disagree with this approach – now, more than ever before is the time to be aggressive. The advertisers we see climbing to the top will be those that throw caution to the wind and take advantage of the economic and consumer confidence recovery at the start of the curve (which has already begun) and ride that wave to the top.

Businesses that can be flexible and agile – which tends to be smaller businesses – who take the risk, will see huge dividends and start to close the gap on some of the more archaic businesses that exist in their space. I expect to see at least one business that skyrockets globally, changing the way we think, such as Uber, Peloton, and Warby Parker have in recent years.

Kirk Kempker – Creative Director Incubeta US

From a design perspective, I predict that brands will steer away from big budget marketing campaigns and focus more on lightweight creative techniques that are scalable, customizable, and easy to create. If we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s that brands can still be successful without spending the time, money, and resources on live action filming and photography. Brands will begin to rely heavily on computer generated graphics, low-resolution user generated content, and other post production techniques to edit existing, or build new campaigns from. 

This variety of approaches will establish space for more mixed media that combines creative, data, and emerging technologies. Expect to see more blending of different visual styles and methods of storytelling. These differences will lend themselves to omnichannel marketing campaigns that engage customers at various touchpoints to create one unified experience. As a result of starting with editable media, individual channels can easily be customized and tailored to reach specific audiences. 

John Cawdery – CEO, Incubeta US

2020 was a landmark year for digital, and as we move into 2021 we’ll continue to see brands grow their investment in the digital space. We’ll also undoubtedly see the digital landscape shift and change – becoming more complex, as privacy concerns shape our advertising approach. From the loss of the third-party cookies, to IDFA restrictions in iOS 14, advertisers will need to rethink the way they interact with audiences and face these challenges head-on. This is especially true as federal policy on privacy may gain more traction in Washington – spurred on by a new Democratic president.

Technological innovation will be a driving force in this effort,  as it will help ensure that marketing messages are more timely and relevant, which consumers have come to expect. We’re also likely to see a shift towards targeting contexts rather than individuals, as there will be an even greater emphasis on consent-driven advertising in the New Year.

To view the full series, visit Incubeta Insights

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