James Arnold, Chief Digital Officer

Thankfully, 2020 is now officially over and good riddance. I don’t want to get into all of the ways that 2020 was terrible, and I don’t have to. It was a global pandemic. So, unless you are from the past or an alien, you know that we are now celebrating like it’s 2021!

With that in mind, there are at least ten areas to watch in digital marketing, media and sales as we head into 2021. I covered them through The Rooster Cast and have pulled them together for you here. Enjoy!

  • 5G — 5G or fifth generation cellular wireless network connects mobile devices faster than any previous networks. It’s cloud base makes it expansive. It’s power makes it, well, more powerful. A more expansive and powerful connection to the internet means our audience will rely even more on digital information, our ads can be more immersive and interactive and the data transactions will be even speedier, allowing for a more personalized experience.
  • Analytics — We’ve lived in click-infested waters for far too long and only the advanced marketers were adept at inserting conversion pixels. Maybe it was because the metrics were so slow in getting to us or maybe it was just being busy — marketers typically do four or five jobs, right? Whatever it was, we didn’t push hard enough.
  • Artificial Intelligence — Some are already putting the AI flag in the ground and calling 2021 the year of AI. There are a number of reasons for this.
  • Connected TV — Every programmatic vendor has spent 2020 promoting connected TV. Why? Video performs and having new video offerings is exciting. Add to it that linear television is tanking, pointed down 16 percent into 2021. We could see connected even up with linear by 2024, possibly sooner if brands like Netflix ever offer an ad-supported model.
  • Data — A study in 2020 about marketers and data found 44% of data goes uncaptured and 43% of what is captured goes unused. The problem is two-fold for digital marketers: You need the people to work with the data and the tools to work with the data people and to see the data.
  • Messaging— Email and mobile messaging are expected to increase by 40 percent next year as marketers work to coax activity through outbound means, and both of those mechanisms have proven track records. Mobile, specifically, commands ridiculous open rates in the 90 percent range with engagements in the 5-20 percent realm consistently. Marketers have been skittish but the response is just too great to ignore.
  • Privacy — The need for privacy and data legislation was created by a digital industry unwilling to police itself. The answers from Europe, Canada, California and other locations have been somewhere between idiotic and insightful. There’s no stopping it, although 2019 and 2020 gave us glimpses that maybe a lack of enforcement would weaken all the banter. Nope.
  • Programmatic Advancements — The wild west like freedom of programmatic is coming to an end with the unemotional ruthlessness governments often use to quash rebellions. Sheer might smashing the formerly secretive but sketchy practices of the major programmatic players. Fraud, data breaches, data misuse, unfollowed privacy policies, etc. They all added up to major changes in 2021.
  • Social Media — 2020 brought us an ad boycott of Facebook, the threatened U.S. destruction of TikTok, numerous trips to Washington and, toward the end of the year, serious threats against Facebook’s social media monopoly. It also brought us a growth in usage for almost all of the platforms, led by TikTok, Facebook and Parler, putting social media on a dangerous level heading into 2021.
  • Virtual Events — Virtual events are more an emerging tech space out of necessity. The pandemic and its effects will continue into at least Q2 and many are already saying the live event world won’t return strongly until 2022. That leaves us with Zoom, GoTo Meeting, On24 and others to pick up the slack (pardon the martech pun). New players will join the fray with new approaches and new tools. We’ve seen how the whole industry turned on a dime to combat security issues. But with major event players putting their full weight behind these tools, look for the event space to continue as the most rapidly growing digital marketing and sales sector we have.

So, welcome to 2021 and let’s get after some of these things.