Top Digital Marketing Trends to Watch in 2021

Below are the top 4 trends that Brian Wulfe, Founder & CEO of  the digital marketing agency Effective Spend,  sees as critical to our clients’ success in 2021

  1. Short-Form Video Takes the Throne - The dramatic rise in popularity of TikTok is a prime example of users’ overwhelming preference for short video content that entertains and gets to the point quickly. Other social channels are following TikTok’s lead. For example, Instagram recently launched Reels, a new short-form video platform that it hopes will take a bite out of TikTok’s market share in the same way Instagram Stories did to Snapchat. The ad algorithms on these social platforms are also taking note, preferring short video ads that natively blend with the user-generated content rather than static content. For marketers, this means re-engineering their 2021 digital strategy with a short-form-video-first mentality. In other words, they should concept and design first for short-form video and then adapt the concept for static or other types of assets as a secondary.


  1. Amazon: Now a One-Stop-Shop for Advertisers, Too - While Amazon has long been a one-stop-shop for consumers, it’s becoming so for advertisers, as well. Not long ago, Amazon’s ad platform was almost entirely focused on direct response, transactional advertising. Over the last year, Amazon has considerably diversified its ad format and placement portfolio, expanding to new ad units like Sponsored Video Ads, Sponsored Display Ads (On and off Amazon), and OTT ads (primarily on Fire Stick streaming apps). With these additions, Amazon has become a fully enclosed ecosystem, supporting the whole marketing funnel, from product discovery to purchase. Advertisers can use OTT and Sponsored Display to build awareness, video ads to educate and engage visitors and traditional sponsored product ads to drive transactions. In addition to its ad platform expansion, Amazon’s customer purchasing power has grown substantially, as well. For better or worse, the COVID pandemic has been disgustingly good for Amazon’s business, with its Q2 revenue increasing 40% year over year. This remarkable growth in both Amazon’s ad platform and customer base offers advertisers significantly better reach than ever before.


  1. Wide-Spread Adoption of Google Discovery Ads - Google Discovery campaigns, a new smart campaign type which serves visual ads in the Discover Feed, Google App, YouTube and Gmail, will see significantly more adoption in 2021. Google’s Android OS owns 40% of the US mobile market, providing a huge reach for Discovery Ads. Discovery Ads finally give Google the same ability as Facebook and other social networks to reach a passive audience as they scroll through their news and email feeds. In fact, Discovery campaigns have been so successful that Google will be sunsetting traditional Gmail campaigns altogether next year, as Discovery is taking over more and more of the Gmail ad inventory. But it is the strength of Google’s Discover Feed that is really driving the success of its Discovery Ads product. The Discover Feed uses signals similar to In-Market and Affinity audiences to suggest preferred content to users based on their search and browsing history. This customizes and personalizes a user’s feed without them having to do any of the heavy lifting of setting up their feed preferences. The beauty of this for advertisers is that the Discover audience is more receptive to Discovery Ads. They trust their feed to show them personalized, helpful content, and this has conditioned Discover Feed users to be more trusting of and responsive to the ads in their feed.


  1. Sharp Growth in OTT Advertising as Connected TV Becomes Mainstream - For years we’ve seen a shift away from traditional TV, with more and more consumers subscribing to a patchwork of different streaming video services. As Connected TV technology has become smarter and cheaper, Over-the-Top TV has become the new norm, with more than 52% of US adults using at least one OTT service. This trend has been exacerbated in 2020 by the COVID lockdowns. More than 25% of consumers have added at least one new streaming service since the beginning of the pandemic. This is good news for digital advertisers. OTT ad placements are simpler to purchase than traditional TV ads, cost far less to produce and run and provide the ability to reach a much more niche audience than traditional TV. While they’re still not reliably trackable, they’re quickly becoming a standard part of performance digital strategy.