Centre stage

Creative context takes centre stage

Why marketers must adopt new media channels and formats into their brand strategy

With media consumption habits shifting dramatically and many media budgets shrinking due to COVID-19, where should advertisers place their ads to maximise effectiveness? Realising anew that where their ad appears is just as important as what it says, advertisers and agencies are swamped with choice. But there’s conflicting and contradictory evidence about which placements work best. How can marketers design the right media mix and optimise content across all channels?

The media landscape has never been so volatile, nor required more agility. Context is more important than ever as media spend shifts rapidly across channels, largely in line with media consumption trends. With smaller budgets, digital media channels are winners with almost all online media formats seeing increased shares of investment thanks to bigger online audiences. While TV media consumption increased during stay-at-home1 measures, advertising spend reduced (although we expect it to bounce back in 2021).

This volatility has reduced advertisers’ confidence in their overall media mix, with only 49% of advertisers saying they currently feel confident, down from 56% in 2019. But it’s not dampening enthusiasm for change, with 53% of marketers now ‘more willing to try something new’. Nearly all marketers, 96%, believe that the pandemic will have long-term strategic implications on their activities, primarily an increased focus on campaign effectiveness and more investment in digital media for greater agility.

The latest developments in digital contexts should appeal to advertisers, with TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat being popular advertising environments for consumers. They each deliver a significant opportunity for brand building too. The competitive threat of TikTok has been acknowledged by Facebook (which launched Instagram Reels in response) and Google (which launched YouTube Shorts in India where TikTok is banned). It remains to be seen whether influencers and users will prefer the latest challengers, or whether TikTok will continue its rapid rise.

What does this mean for the future of marketers?

In a quest for differentiation in increasingly cluttered media environments, advertisers and agencies will be forced to adopt the latest media channels and formats more quickly. Content creators will need to focus their efforts on the platforms that provide them with the best value, rather than trying to customise content for every platform.

Online video will be the single biggest winner and there will be continued growth in higher-reach digital video platforms like YouTube. Brands will seek to enliven their online video campaigns by working with relevant influencers and making the most of the engagement that hashtag challenges bring. Meanwhile, the audio renaissance will continue with host-read podcast advertising alongside inventory on podcast networks.

Increased emphasis on purpose across all channels will result in advertisers and agencies holding media partners to higher ethical standards than ever before. They will be seeking like-minded corporate partners as well as media platforms that match their own brand-level aspirations.

Read more of Kantar’s Media Trends and Predictions 2021

  1. Kantar Media Reactions 2020

Duncan Southgate


published on

18 December 2020



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