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Internet advertising in 2021 - what to bet on? 

04 February 2021

Updated: 22nd September 2022

Reading time: 7 min

Webdesign Thinking

It would be a truism to say that last year was a time of changes. However, it cannot be denied that 2020 turned business and life upside down in many respects, while in others it strengthened the already existing trends and behaviors. What, as marketers mainly focused on online advertising, should we pay special attention to in the next 12 months? What can we expect from 2021, and what are the changes caused by?

Combine channels 

The key to effective marketing in 2021 and in the following years will certainly be the ability to combine various marketing tools. Google Ads, Facebook Ads, remarketing, content marketing, positioning (SEO) and many other measures - all skillfully unified, has much more power than any, even heavily funded, channel used separately.

Let's analyze an example - a potential customer is looking for valuable information about the products they are considering. By entering a keyword to the search engine, the user finds an extensive and substantive article on a given topic. The combination of content marketing and good positioning of the website in Google provided the first contact with the brand. Thanks to this, the client also found our remarketing list, so we can "speak" to him using Google Ads, programmatic ads on various websites and many other methods.

Is this anything new? Definitely not, but each subsequent week increases the effectiveness of such actions. Marketing carried out by multi-channel to some extent also protects us against a catastrophe in case of limiting the reach or even blocking the account in a given advertising medium. Algorithms are getting smarter, but they still make mistakes, especially in combination with unclear service regulations or the maliciousness of competitors. 

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Bombard with message

The data clearly shows that the frequency of ad serving is more important than originality. The marketer does not have to be a narrative ninja or decade visionary to achieve good results, although of course creativity is always a value. The key is, however, that the brand is always next to the customer, reminds about its existence, allows it to be noticed and finally grabbed. The vast majority of customers usually buy products on impulse, not "strategically", although all of us - after all, we are customers ourselves - often think the opposite is true. 

Can such an offensive irritate the client and make him feel negative at the very thought of a given brand? Sometimes it is, but it is very rare. Whether we like it or not - continuous presence with the customer is still an unambiguously effective method of digital advertising.


Optimize your ads 

The benefits of ad optimization cannot be overestimated. There are more and more advertisers, so the accumulated marketing budgets are growing, and the advertising space is not growing at such a fast pace. This means that the brand will lose the range and sales results by spending the same amount of money as last year. A larger budget therefore needs to be allocated just to maintain current results. Another option is to increase the effectiveness of your activities by optimizing your ads.


Adapt to changes in social media

Social media has moved towards even more elusive content. TikTok, intended for the publication of short videos, was the most downloaded application in the world in the first quarter of 2020. Portals such as LinkedIn and Twitter have introduced their copies of the Stories format in recent months and allow the publication of posts that disappear after 24 hours. This trend is sure to increase. For marketers, it is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you will have to constantly renew messages, because they quickly escape both from the Web and from the memory of potential customers. On the other hand, however, competing brands have the same problem, and thanks to the volatility of content, there is always free space for marketing.

The most important thing in social media is to understand the communication code of a given platform - it seems obvious, but every website, and even every form of internet expression requires different means. The mismatch between the message and the medium is a simple recipe to burn through your budget.


Learn marketing and encourage your marketers to do so 

Marketing is a constant change. We have to adapt to rapidly changing legal regulations,  technological innovations, sociological trends and current events. We have to accumulate universal knowledge, but at the same time be up to date.

Especially at the beginning, it requires a shock dose of information, but it provides a great foundation for effective marketing. You don't have to do everything yourself, but thanks to learning the basics you will know what can be potentially effective for you, and it will be easier for you to control the people who do it.

Remember, however, that neither you nor any of your employees will achieve spectacular or even average results individually. Marketing is a team game today more than ever. This is due to the huge variety of channels that - as I mentioned earlier - must overlap in order to achieve the goals. Each of the channels requires a certain specialization - you cannot be an orchestra man and master them all. Not in 2021.

It would be a truism to say that last year was a time of changes. However, it cannot be denied that 2020 turned business and life upside down in many respects, while in others it strengthened the already existing trends and behaviors.


A year of great changes 

The pandemic will have repercussions in 2021, and probably much longer. Even if various industries fully returned to their activities in pre-pandemic form, habits could change permanently - the popularity of remote work, the development of e-commerce, streaming films. Exodus to "online" promises to be something more permanent than a temporary solution. Alan Jope, president of Unilever, announced recently that the company will permanently change the model to a mix of stationary and remote work. Lots of other companies will surely follow. Time will show - there are too many variables in this phenomenon to judge.

The pandemic has also intensified the development of crowdfunding platforms that would probably have been on an upward wave even without it. Nevertheless, in recent months we could observe spectacular successes of Radio Nowy Świat and Radio 357, but this is only the most visible tip. Thousands of creators and entrepreneurs created profiles or enlarged the group of supporters on many portals, from Patronite to Buy Me a Coffee. Some did it to develop, some - to put it brutally - to save themselves.

This trend has been very noticeable in recent years, but the ban on the organization of concerts or performances also forced artists (let me simplify, because this does not apply only to artists) to change the narrative, which, paradoxically in many respects, brought the creator and the recipient closer to each other.

During the pandemic, both companies and customers also put a lot of emphasis on various CSR actions. Of course, the vast majority of such initiatives are not particularly honest, but a low-cost promotion which in many cases - especially in the influencer marketing world - has been discovered and publicly stigmatized.

Contrary to appearances, however, rumors about the death of influencer marketing are greatly exaggerated. The most glaring instances of disrespect for the viewers will come up from time to time, it's a natural part of business. A large part of recipients, seeing the cooperation of a given person with the brand, will think twice about the sense of possibly entrusting their time and money for these specific products. It does not change the fact that a well-planned and implemented cooperation still has enormous marketing potential and can bring great results. It is enough if it is carried out transparently and creatively.

Last year we could observe several high-profile actions based on real-time marketing. And every time it was the same - an explosion of popularity, a very short window to creatively "stick" with your own reference, and then a few days of completely reproductive tormenting the topic by subsequent companies and, consequently, a gigantic weariness of the audience. RTM can bring very good ranges and tangible benefits, but let it be real-time, based on marketing brilliance. 


The internet is changing

Recent years have seen a steady increase in public awareness of the collection and security of personal data. High-profile books such as Edward Snowden's "The Non-Volatile Memory" or Christopher Willie's "Mindf*ck : inside Cambridge Analytica's plot to break the world", the documentary "The Great Hack" and other products have made their way into pop culture and have achieved some effect in increasing public knowledge about how the internet works. The topic of online privacy is raised more and more often not only in the context of not dragging out personal materials, but also of avoiding data collection by internet companies. TikTok has received financial penalties from the US and South Korea and is under several investigations. The most recent example may be the definitely negative reaction of WhatsApp users to the planned changes to the regulations of this application - this is a matter from just a few weeks ago. Projects such as the privacy-oriented Brave browser or the independent search engine DuckDuckGo are getting more and more popular.

Speaking of browsers, for nearly a year now, Safari and Firefox have been blocking most of the so-called third party cookies, that are stored under a different domain than that of the website we are viewing. Google plans to introduce the same in the Chrome browser, which is dominant on the market - according to announcements, it is to take place at the turn of 2021 and 2022 at the latest. This is a huge change that will strongly affect online profiling - Chrome has about 60% of the browser market share.

The second issue is the susceptibility of social networks to account takeover - more and more Internet users are aware of this, even if the popular saying is true that the user is usually under the weakest protection. The April hack into Twitter, during which criminals gained access to the account of Barack Obama and many other famous people, echoed high. Cyclical break-ins of politicians' accounts also take place in Poland. These are the things that cause widespread hype and undermine the credibility of social networks or messengers. After all, we give our privacy away to them on many levels - I am very curious in which way the relationship between the service provider and its user will evolve.

Author: Adam Kubaszewski

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