Digital Advertising Trends 2021 – Mid-Year Report (Infographic)


2020 was a disastrous year for the global advertising industry. In the US alone, an estimated $26 billion in lost revenue is expected as the shadow of the pandemic threat hangs over the heads of various industries and economies across the world.

The first half of 2021 witnessed many shifts in trends, strategies, and tactics many players in the advertising industry have started to adopt. Social distancing and lockdown restrictions forced consumers to shift towards virtual means of engagement and communication with brands, businesses, and other people. This signaled marketers to adopt a digital-first approach to advertising.

With online access available to more than 60% of the world’s population, it is a logical choice for advertisers to keep pace with new trends, accelerate their adoption of new technologies, and realign their campaign towards a robust digital strategy more than ever.

Digital Advertising Trends 2021 – Mid-Year Report Infographic

Goodbye Cookies

This is not a dietary reference but rather a reference to the small sections of code called Cookies that websites place on online visitors’ browsers. Such codes provide a means of collecting data about how the user interacted with the website. Cookies were developed as an audience-targeting tool with the intent of providing online users with a more personalized experience while browsing through sites.

Data regulations and concerns of privacy breach however clamored for the restriction on third-party (3P) cookies, prompting Google to end their support for 3P cookies by the year 2023. What this means is that marketers would be forced to adopt a Cookieless Advertising strategy and more creative and innovative means in their advertising campaigns.     


The Rise of Programmatic Advertising

Probably the most exciting and most promising trend for advertisers in 2021 is the rise of the AI-powered Programmatic Advertising. Harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence to automate the ad-buying process, it would be a whole lot easier for advertisers to reach highly targeted audiences.


Video Advertising through Connected TV

Watching television is still a daily staple among many homes, as evident in the more than 80% of adults in the United States watching TV each and every day. The pandemic however became a catalyst to the shift in viewers’ preference, with more than 40 million viewers opting to cut their cable TV subscriptions and move towards Connected TV.

Connected TV basically refers to any time of viewing device – game consoles, smart TVs, streaming players, and other similar devices – that connects to the Internet, allowing users to watch TV shows, movies, and other video content. This includes Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms and services like Hulu, Sling, Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.


Advertising in e-Commerce

Social distancing and limitations to physical interactions prompted consumers and businesses to rely more on online purchases and e-Commerce platforms for their needs. A massive 40.3% increase in the US e-Commerce market in 2020 witnessed the highest growth rate in more that 20 years. This figure is expected to increase even more towards the end of 2021.

  • Towards the end of 2021, it is estimated that the number of online buyers worldwide will reach figures of over 2.14 billion. By 2040, this figure will grow so much that as much as 95% of purchases will be transacted online
  • E-Commerce sales reached revenues of up to $4.28 trillion back in 2017. With the continued growth of this sector, revenues are expected to reach figures close to $5.4 trillion by the year 2022.
  • With various e-Commerce platforms available, you can reach your targeted advertising audiences through the following:
    • Display Advertising

    • Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

    • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

    • Social Media Ads

    • Native Advertising

    • Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

    • Remarketing

    • Video Ads

    • Programmatic Advertising

    • Mobile Advertising


Advertising in Social Media

With physical interactions and social events restricted or limited, people have no choice but to resort and spend more time with the most probable alternative – social media.


Advertising Using Interactive Video

Online users are inundated by a host of passive advertising daily that they have become desensitized with the concept and are not attracted to such tactics anymore. As much as 82% of these users, particularly from the Gen Z categories, are desensitized to a certain degree that they skip or ignore social media ads altogether.

To address this, advertisers are shifting to the more interactive forms of advertising such as Interactive Video Ads as replacement for static display advertising – and they are getting tremendous positive results:

  • According to 88% of advertisers, Interactive Ads allow them to differentiate themselves from their competitors. That is why as much as 68% of digital marketers believe that it is important to include interactive advertising in their campaign mix.
  • Online users spend up to 47% more time viewing interactive video ads than standard non-interactive video ads. This results in up to 9x bigger impact on these online users’ purchasing intent.
  • Because of these, an Interactive Video ad will generate as much as 7x more conversions than a standard conventional video


Advertising in the Native Format

As much as people are desensitized with too much advertising, they naturally do not want to be directly marketed to. They usually frown upon on disruptions to their online experience. They would skip over various ads by default as if it is the most natural thing to do.

So, how do marketers counter this? Through Native Advertising

  • Because native advertising matches the look and feel of the publishing platform’s existing content, they do not deter user’s attention as much as standard display advertising do. That is why native advertising can generate greater than 53% more attention from users than standard banner ads
  • A recent survey from Time Inc highlighted that native advertising are preferred by up to 90% of Gen X, Gen Z and millennial internet audiences over traditional ads. The more creative and unique these native advertising are, the higher their chances of catching attention.
  • Global native advertising spend is expected to increase by 372% from its 2020 level of $85.83 Billion, to $402 Billion by the year 2025


Advertising in Mobile Platforms

The pandemic caused online users to rely on their smart phones and mobile devices much more than their previous normal usages. A clear indication is the staggering 91% of social media users accessing their favorite social networks through their mobile devices.

This should signal businesses and marketers to give more effort in reaching out to their targeted audiences via mobile advertising.

  • Mobile advertising spending reached figures of up to $200 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach the $247 billion level by the year 2022
  • Mobile advertising ads account for the majority of ad revenues on social media platforms. Social media ad revenue through mobile reach figures of up to $40.35 billion in 2020, and this is expected to increase significantly to $47.71 billion by the end of 2021.
  • Top mobile advertising formats include the “Story” ad format that has grown tremendous popularity in SocMed platforms like Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, and YouTube. The preferred ad format is the vertical 9:6 ratio which suits most mobile device screens perfectly well.


The Takeaway

Just like everything else in the current world, Digital Advertising experienced tremendous disruption due to the pandemic. Businesses and marketers have no choice but to quickly adapt or else changes in consumer purchasing behaviors will leave them eating dust left behind by their competitors who quickly adapted.

The introduction of new technologies and the dominance of video and the mobile platform are among the digital advertising trends that businesses and marketers should explore more, integrate into their advertising strategies, and retarget high-value audiences that will ultimately deliver more conversions.  

Jomer Gregorio

Jomer B. Gregorio is a well-rounded expert when it comes digital marketing. Jomer is also known as a semantic SEO evangelist and practitioner. Check out our Digital Marketing Services today and let us help you in achieving positive and profitable results for your business.