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2020 was a year unlike any other, with COVID-19 affecting so many aspects of business. And while the pandemic will likely keep impacting media and marketing in 2021, it's not the only factor to consider. Here are some key media trends to watch for.

B2B marketing will continue to evolve

We anticipate several changes to previous norms:

Trade Magazines

This traditional B2B medium took a big hit in 2020. The pandemic meant empty office buildings and mailrooms filled with unread trade magazines. In response, many publishers transitioned to digital — some of them permanently. In 2021, advertisers will use new tactics and technologies to leverage publishers' subscriber data and content to connect with audiences.

Trade Shows

They'll continue to skew virtual in 2021. For live events, look for new technologies that limit person-to-person contact. Attendee tracking will deliver peace of mind and support data collection and marketing. Many advertisers will create virtual events using data from previous trade shows. They'll promote these events through paid, earned, and owned media.

“B2P” Marketing

As more media becomes digital, there’s less difference between B2C and B2B. Enter B2P: business-to-people marketing. 2021 media trends suggest that new technology and data will support highly targeted advertising to business audiences. Using B2P marketing, advertisers will talk to individuals instead of industries. Advertisers will also focus on securing first-party data for one-to-one targeting, knowing that Google Chrome will cease supporting third-party cookies by 2022.

TV, Connected TV, and Over-the-Top

In 2021, we anticipate that B2B media trends will include B2B marketers embracing TV advertising, which used to be off-limits. With connected TV (CTV) and high-speed internet connections, users will access over-the-top (OTT), long-form content. Targeted TV commercials will let B2B marketers affordably connect with target audiences in their homes. But this tactic comes with a challenge: People often watch TV together, which erodes the one-to-one experience. Media experts can help marketers use these new channels to connect with audiences. These experts can also help decipher complicated reach equations.

Video advertising will continue to expand

For several years, industry experts have identified video advertising as one of the most important media vehicles. So, it’s no surprise that 2021 will again be the year of video. Media channels and advertisers will keep prioritizing video as user-preferred content. Video advertising will be a larger share of total spend, but this paid media strategy will be delivered in a variety of new ways:

Shorter

Shorter, more snack-sized content will appeal to the reduced attention spans of multi-tasking audiences. These shorter ads will include options for users to dive deeper into content on their own terms.

Shoppable

Omnichannel commerce has advanced shoppable media. It offers buying options within ads to shorten the customer journey. In 2021, we anticipate to see more rich media ad formats that will use video to showcase offerings. Pop-up buttons will take users directly to featured product pages.

Fresher

Many brands have embraced streaming video for events broadcast on owned channels like social media. It’s unlikely that 2021 media trends will include advertisers creating live feeds directly through video ads. Instead, we’ll likely see video ad content that's refreshed more often. This will allow for more video message testing and optimization.

Marketing budgets will become more fluid

In 2021 more than ever, marketing managers will need to justify paid media by showing a positive return on investment (ROI). Traditional annual plans will start giving way to flexible campaigns that can tolerate moving budgets. Similarly, there will be fewer “set it and forget it” plans. Instead, there will be more attributable tactics that can be tracked and optimized throughout the year.

Focus on user experience (UX) will intensify

SEO experts have long understood the importance of UX in search ranking. It is one of the 2021 media trends that will continue to influence best practices for all media and marketing. Customer journeys will be designed from a user’s perspective and include the advertising experience. This will enable more strategic paid media plans.

Paid media budgets will increase

Trade wars and the pandemic in 2020 hurt advertising budgets, but 2021 looks brighter. It’s predicted that paid media spending will increase. Bigger budgets will allow investments in new technologies to deliver OTT and short-form content, shoppable video, and even interactive or dynamic digital ads. Interactive advertising and dynamic digital ads will become more prevalent. The result? More personalized experiences, more opportunities to optimize strategies, and the ability to drive greater ROI.

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