Top 3 Digital Ad Industry Predictions for 2021 – Have They Held True?

Early into 2021, many advertising and ad management industry predictions revolved around a boom in digital media spend and the increased popularity of local. But have these predictions held true so far? Especially following a tumultuous year?

Even though we’re at the halfway point of this year, some predictions are already coming to fruition, especially as new distribution channels, including ATSC 3.0, present TV broadcasters with expanded opportunities for addressable advertising, and digital audio continues to experience significant growth.

Below are a few key industry predictions that were made heading into 2021, with assessments of how much they’re holding true halfway into the year.

1. 2021 Will Present an Incremental Opportunity for Automation

The prediction:

2021 is going to be tough for broadcasters as they look to place finite inventory in an industry with limited advertisers. This creates an incremental opportunity for automation and remote capabilities since fewer individuals are on site. To keep systems running smoothly, stations can’t miss a beat. They must ensure that Toyota doesn’t run next to a Ford ad or that an Anheuser commercial doesn’t air during children’s programming. Traditionally, all of these operations took place at the station, but automation improves the delivery of remote options that are so pivotal to 2021 success.

As we push on through 2021, reducing these friction points and potential mishaps remains critical, and automation is still a key solution. To continuously improve workflows and enable success, broadcasters must address pain points within the current media buying and selling process by implementing automation wherever possible. A few processes you can automate now for immediate impact include:

  • The import of electronic material instructions.
  • The ingestion of creative materials, which reduces manual input and associated errors.
  • Order validation to reduce blind spots.
  • The creation of airtime reports.

2. New Distribution Channels Give Way to Targeted Advertising

The prediction:

Heading into 2021 a leading trend will be the ability to target a specific consumer with a more personalized message. Personalized advertising has been a major push for various industries over the past decade, and as the convergence of linear and digital continues, alternative platforms are more widely used to distribute this content and deliver an intelligent, addressable message.

According to a recent Forrester report, addressable TV is a key priority for brands as they look to control their message across media. Consumer demand for video continues to grow, even as their consumption behaviors change, leading to further extension into more diverse media channels. In fact, 46% of brands surveyed identified optimizing new media distribution channels as a primary media objective in 2021.

In terms of new distribution channels, OTT, CTV, and MVPDs are already notable. ATSC 3.0, or NextGen TV, will also become more important throughout the year, as increasing station deployments mark a significant development in addressable advertising for over-the-air broadcast TV.

3. Audio Consumption Is Forever Changed

The prediction:

Spotify, Pandora, and other similar platforms were already taking over as primary listening channels for consumers rather than traditional, terrestrial radio. But now with the rise in remote work and fewer people in their cars than ever before, the hit is even more dramatic and further affected by the growing popularity of podcasts. Audio consumption is forever changed as the world may never return to the “normal” office commute. In 2021, traditional radio will have to change its model and offer more streaming capabilities along with quality content consumers want to hear in order to remain relevant.

According to the 2021 Infinite Dial report, weekly audio listeners will reach 193 million, or 68% of the US population, in 2021. This is up from 169 million in 2020. The report also indicates that weekly podcast listening will increase to 80 million (28% of the population), up from 68 million (24%) in 2020, while smart speaker ownership will grow to 94 million (33%), up from 76 million (27%) last year. Among people who work from home, 49% own at least one smart speaker. And a full 88% of Americans over the age of 12, or 250 million people, now own a smartphone.

Clearly, audio consumption is forever changed, and this remains as true as ever as remote work continues. With that said, streaming and podcast audio present incredible revenue opportunities but a comprehensive platform for managing and monetizing all digital audio content is the only way to fully realize that potential. These modern technologies allow for extended content across formats and platforms to increase listenership and maximize revenue.

While some predictions remain to be seen, others are holding true as the year progresses. New distribution channels are critical, audio consumption will likely never return to what we experienced before, and local TV continues to increase in popularity. These changes may present some unique challenges, but they also present key opportunities for the entire media industry.

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