Contributor: Trent Emanuel, Director, Programmatic Media

With COVID-19’s massive impact on content consumption, the acceleration of non-traditional media will be more evident. CTV will see even more explosive growth in 2021. Marketers will take a bigger swing at transitioning their linear budgets to digital, in favor of more robust targeting and reaching a growing cord-cutter audience. More M&A will drive innovation and advance measurement capabilities. Traditional measurement partners (i.e Nielsen) will integrate with buying platforms, and new brand study partners that offer more real-time data will enter the market. Podcasts and streaming have drastically increased engagement time and opened up ways for more businesses to reach consumers in new settings. Spotify’s purchase of Megaphone is a clear indication that more advanced measurement is coming.

Cookie depreciation will continue to test the ecosystem’s future, creating more urgency to find a sustainable people-based marketing solution, without the reliance on cookies and device IDs. In preparation for dips in revenue in a post-cookie world, publishers and other media suppliers will build more contextually relevant experiences for marketers and consumers via first-party data. The buy side will also need to increase their capacity to collect and activate their own first-party data for more precise customer targeting, better frequency control, and to capture deeper audience insights. These needs will make CDP solutions more necessary for more marketers.

At the top of my 2021 wish list is for marketers who are executing campaigns across SEM, Social, and Programmatic to leverage cross-channel attribution and invest in understanding the holistic story on performance for their marketing efforts. The benefits – consolidating spend across channels where you can, isolating unique value, and mitigating overlap and wasted ad spend – could be huge. Second and related would be tracking all media spend in a single platform to gain insight into the different touch points across the consumer journey. Last would be for more and better lift study products to understand if users exposed to your brand messaging are more likely to convert than those who have not.


Contributor: Trey Buchanan, Senior Manager, Paid Social

2020 Truly became the year of ABM as LinkedIn started to release more and more functionality from the company engagement report, to all of the integrations for the 3rd party ABM platforms. While this will continue to be a trend into 2021, I expect LinkedIn to make a few other moves as well.

Similar to all these ABM platforms with integrations into CRMs, I would not be surprised to see LinkedIn built product functionality around CRM attribution. Especially as we move away from the cookie in the next few years, it’s going to be more and more important for these platforms to show value post-click. For LinkedIn, this will be huge to keep a seat at the table for paid media budgets. I would also expect LinkedIn to make a few acquisitions of companies around intent data. With companies like 6sense, Bombora, G2, etc getting larger, this is a market that LinkedIn surely has noticed and will want to get involved with.

Ultimately I do hope they go back to basics and do some general improvements to the platform including allowing video and image in the same campaign, and adding in more data export functionality making it easier for the day to day users of the platform.


Contributor: Elliot Gensemer, Director, Programmatic Media

In 2020, Snapchat continued to develop new options to establish its unique position in advertisers’ media mix. Snapchat’s reach covers 75% of millennials and Gen Z – two groups with growing purchasing power. On top of that, 70% of weekly Instagram users also are weekly Snapchat users – providing opportunity to both add a cost effective touch point within a quality audience and expand to new users. Unlike TikTok, Snapchat’s targeting has developed enough to include ML-based lookalike audiences to intelligently build off of high value lists. Moving into 2021, one item on our wishlist is that the efficacy of the new audience options will improve, and we’ll be continually testing with that in mind.

In addition to the growing audience and targeting capabilities, Snapchat has added exciting ad types to deliver messaging. Beyond the growing consumption and performance driven by story ads, Snapchat added both AR and Collections ads to drive direct conversions. For those reasons, we predict that this combination of improved targeting and messaging options will prove Snapchat’s ability to capture the purchasing power of it’s developing audience.


Contributor: Elliot Gensemer, Sr. Director, Account Services

2021 is the year for TikTok to capitalize on its rapidly growing user base and brand awareness success by expanding into direct response marketing. TikTok was the fastest growing app again in 2020 and is widely projected to break 1 billion users in early 2021. Purchasing power continues to increase as well, as the percentage of adults on the platform has grown rapidly. This makes it a platform that can’t be ignored as an alternative to reach users in a cost effective manner.

In Q4 2020, we have already seen developments launched to diversify options for marketers looking to test the platform as an addition to their performance media mix. TikTok launched their pixel to unlock website tracking, dynamic retargeting options and conversion-based campaign objectives. In addition, improved ad types include In-Feed, Brand Takeover and Top View as well as viral promoters in Branded Lenses and Hashtag Challenge media options.

Moving into 2021, the main items on our wishlist are improved targeting to refine delivery within the large audience available on TikTok and improved automation. Narrowing options in geo-targeting, as well as developing ML-based audience prospecting and expanding interest-based targeting will allow for more detailed persona development with matching creative.

Facebook & Instagram

Contributor: Briana Livingston, Sr. Director, Account Services

2020 was a big year for Facebook and Instagram as far as privacy and consumer/advertiser trust are concerned, and I predict these issues will continue well into 2021. I think we will continue to see Facebook take steps to address these concerns, while advertisers will continue to look for ways to diversify their media mix and ultimately become less reliant on Facebook.

Tracking and attribution will likely play a large role in conversations and planning in 2021 as well. With the roll out of iOS 14, the ability to accurately measure Facebook ads will be top-of-mind for most as the loss in attribution is still unknown.

Creative will also continue to be a huge factor in driving successful performance and scale on the platform. Video will continue to grow in popularity and as platforms like TikTok continue to emerge, having engaging and relevant messaging will grow in significance.
As far as ad formats and placements are concerned, while the Newsfeed will continue to take the top spot, we predict a big year is in store for Facebook Marketplace – expect it to grow in impression share as people look to shop local or have increased reliance on the feature. To that end, I think there will be a growth in demand for independent and local stores/brands. The idea of community is more top of mind than ever before and people are looking to support local companies.


Contributor: Alyssa Codd, Director, Learning & Development

I know we’re all growing tired of hearing about how 2020 changed both consumer and advertiser behavior, so instead I will start by talking about one thing that hasn’t changed: YouTube, and video advertising in general, is still playing a significant part in a consumer’s buying journey.

Always on my wishlist for YouTube advertising is for Google to make measurement more transparent and easy to understand, so that marketers at more performance-focused advertisers can demonstrate its impact to stakeholders. Specifically, I’d love to see the ability to segment out engaged view conversions from click conversions and have YouTube campaigns be included data-driven and position-based attribution models.

Also on my wishlist this year is for Google to level up the automated bidding capabilities on YouTube. Now that most advertisers are using TrueView for Action or the new Video Action campaign formats with automated bidding, I’d love to see the algorithms factor in view-through conversions, which would allow more data for the algorithms to use as well as ensure that they are incorporating the value of a YouTube impression in the customer journey.

Ad Creative

Contributor: Hannah Terjanian, Director, Learning & Development

2021 is the year of learning how to design performance-driving creative for emerging performance channels – Instagram Reels, TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest. Motion graphics and video ads will continue to take over feeds and be prioritized over statics.

Designers will have to be flexible, learning new ad types, standards, and best practices while designing for new ad channels, and the first second to seven seconds of an ad will be of increasing importance. It will become more and more important for brands to plan creative production that can work across various platforms to keep their brand messaging consistent.

For instance, expect UGC-style and influencer content in ad creative to become an advantage for brands who embrace it. Ad fatigue impacts the generation that’s most engaged on emerging social platforms even more, so advertisers will have to discover ways to keep them from skipping through ads by partnering with their favorite channel influencers and creating content that fits into their feed. One item on our wishlist for these platforms is to build out more sophisticated audience analytics, so that we can truly gauge what content is and isn’t resonating.

Finally, while this trend started before 2020 and accelerated during our pandemic year, brands will need to be more sensitive, aware, and value-driven with their imagery and messaging, emphasizing themes of self-care, inclusion and safety. More than ever, consumers are interacting with brands that portray their ideals and values, so smart businesses will benefit from being thoughtfully transparent and authentic in their creative, in particular diversifying their ad subjects and messaging to be more inclusive.