Skip to content

Major Trends in Advertising and
Marketing for 2021

Advertising & Marketing Trends – 2021

Advertising and marketing trends change constantly. We have compiled these articles so you can keep up-to-date with the latest digital trends for 2021.

[1]With smart technologies and platforms evolving, the marketing and advertising industry is poised for considerable change. Even as some of the old forms and practices continue, a few new ones will also appear and crystallize into established practices eventually. In an age when Digital Darwinism – a phenomenon wherein society and technology evolve faster than companies’ ability to adapt – is at full play, brands must keep pace with the upcoming new trends while retaining the ability to capitalize on existing trends. In other words, keeping an eye on the latest trends is the key to staying ahead of the curve.

With the explosion in social media and instant messaging platforms usage, especially on internet-enabled smartphones, some of the trends and formats likely to prevail and gain traction in 2021 would include conversational marketing, highly individualized one-to-one advertising, influencer marketing, mobile advertising with in-app and in-game ads, video advertising, video-embedded display banners, native advertising, accelerated pivot to automation, programmatic advertising and even cookieless advertising, among others. The following captures some of these trends.

Experiential marketing

Experiential marketing enabling more direct and interactive communication between a brand and its audience would witness more action, especially on digital platforms, in 2021. It is not merely about trade shows and conferences but involves creating in-person, memorable interactions between brands and customers, both existing and potential. The objective is to help customers build positive associations with a brand. The XR or extended reality technologies, along with AR/VR/MR technologies that can integrate real and virtual world components, will further revolutionize how the content is created and consumed in the context of experiential marketing in 2021.

Mobile advertising

With ever-rising smartphone penetration and end-users spending more and more time on their phones for e-commerce and entertainment, including usage of videos and OTT platforms, mobile advertising will possibly become one of the biggest trends in 2021. Along with search and mobile browsers, while in-app ads and in-game ads would see heightened action, the rising story ads on social media platforms such as Instagram and others would further fuel this medium.

Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic advertising promises an exciting time for online marketing in 2021. Instead of the traditional RFPs, Insert Orders (IOs) and negotiations, AI-driven platforms would enable media purchase in a real-time bidding context with an eye on a niche audience. Over the years, it has emerged as a key digital marketing tool across the industry. An earlier estimate had predicted that about $81 billion would be spent programmatically by 2021.

[2]Improving Content Velocity and Quality to Get the Edge

More is not always better, especially when it comes to content. That’s why any strategy to scale content marketing must factor in both velocity and quality in equal measures.

If you’re putting painstaking work and attention into your content but only able to publish once a month, you’re missing out on so many opportunities to appear in search, social, email, and other channels when compared to your more productive competitors.

Even so, we know the critical importance of expertise, authority, and trust (E-A-T) in content. So there’s no point in churning out a high volume of low-quality content.

Customers Are Looking to Brands to Deliver Connected Digital Experiences

In its recent State of the Connected Customer survey, Salesforce found that 80% of customers believe their experience with a company is just as important as its products and services.

Whether they’re chatting with an AI support bot, talking to a customer representative on the phone, or dealing with sales, customers expect that agents will have access to their information.

They expect that one interaction will pick up where the other left off – that they won’t have to start all over again in each new engagement with the brand.

The same study also found 62% of customers say their experience with one industry influences their expectation of others.

Verticals that had been slower to the digital transformation table – manufacturing, construction, and agriculture, for example – are being challenged to keep pace with retail, business services, and other fast movers.

[3]Allocate some budget to cookieless awareness campaigns to reach new audiences

For a big portion of 2020, people all over the world were under mandatory lockdown. This means not going out, no malls, no stores: no window shopping of any kind for a long time. As a result, customers lost the possibility of looking around stores and discovering products they didn’t even know existed and less than they wanted them.

During lockdowns, shoppers probably received tons of retargeting advertisements showing them offers and deals on products they expressed interest in based on their browsing history. But what about new products? What about those specific articles they don’t get the chance to discover anymore? Additionally, what about those users who never allow cookies?

Personalized ads use cookies to track user behaviour, and based on that, it’s possible to target users. They are great for e-commerce stores that have an existing audience aware of their products. However, targeted advertisement encloses shoppers in a continuous loop of products they already know they like and have already probably bought.

With non-personalized ads (NPAs), you have the possibility of creating brand awareness amongst users that didn´t know your business. You can reach new audiences by showing customers products they weren’t aware of before, which could still interest them, thus increasing your potential customer base. Additionally, you will have the possibility to reach users who block cookies.

Usually, non-personalized ads have lower conversion rates. But in this era of lockdowns, when the digital ad inventory is larger than ever, you might want to allocate some budget on them to test. So in 2021, it will be more important to keep testing and measuring different campaigns and channels. As a digital marketer, it is important to keep trying new (and old) alternatives, measure their profitability and find a sweet balance between both.

2. Cutting back on social media platforms in 2021

It seems that a new social media platform is born every other minute. Nobody knows what the next big thing will be, and even when we don’t expect it, there’s another channel with millions of users that brands have to be present on.

Designing and creating fresh, valuable content for each social media platform with a constant publishing flow can be draining and an uphill battle for tiny brands. Digital marketing trends for social channels in 2021 suggest brands stop trying to maintain a presence on all platforms and focus their efforts on a more sustainable way.

Businesses need a mindset change and start prioritizing their social media. Dedicating more resources to their strategy doesn’t necessarily mean hoarding platforms. It means working more efficiently and intelligently on the specific social media channels where their audience is. It’s better to have a strong presence on 3 or 4 platforms than a weak one in all of them.

Live streams and an increase in influencer content

Stay at home orders meant events were cancelled, and consumers were unable to attend in-person events. They weren’t even able to socialize with their friends and family.

This led to an uptick in the number of people tuning into live streams, whether it was a branded live stream, a live video from their favourite celebrity, or an online workshop.

On Facebook, live viewings spiked by 50% during lockdown periods, while viewings on Instagram surged 70%. TikTok use shot up in 2020, and there’s a good chance we’ll see this upward trajectory continue to play out in 2021.

Human-drive content like influencer live-streams can create trust and tap into the ‘in-the-moment connection that 2020 consumers crave.

Amazon Live really got going during the pandemic. Influencers took to the platform to promote their favourite products during live events. What’s more, the live streams were shoppable, which meant viewers could make purchases while they were watching.

[4]More goodwill and purpose-driven missions from brands

The 2021 Hootsuite Social Trends report notes that:

“The smartest brands will understand where they fit into customers’ lives on social media, and they’ll find creative ways of fitting into the conversation.”

At the core of this is the need for transparency.

Consumers can’t connect with brands that they see as ‘shady’ or insincere. So why would they want to invest in something that they can’t trust or don’t believe in? This is why connection will be pivotal for brands that want to remain trusted sources in 2021.

Now more than ever, brands have to dig deep to find out how to flourish in turbulent times. A report from Deloitte states that to do this, brands need to “be deeply attuned to why they exist and who they are built to serve.”

We’re no strangers to seeing brands doing good things, but there will be an even bigger emphasis on this next year.


Whatever form of advertising you use, keep current with the latest trends, and if you need help, give a call today.

Article compiled by

Article reference links: