A global pandemic, widespread social unrest and polarizing political events. With 2020 almost in the mirror, is it wise to predict what next year will bring? I think it’s worth it! Here are three big industry forecasts, based on everything that has happened this year and general trends we already see.
Digitization and diversification continue
Following widespread cuts to advertising budgets earlier this year, a rebound is expected in 2021, with Zenith forecast this advertising expenditure will be recovered by 5.8% worldwide. Brands will undoubtedly continue to shift their advertising and marketing spending from traditional media to the digital sphere, which is expected to account for 51% of 2020 ad spend. Some brands may still be wary of losses as the second wave of the pandemic sets in , we can therefore expect to see a large part of these budgets go towards influencing marketing, where brands can get their money’s worth, compared to native social media ads.
Media buying has become incredibly accessible. Editing tools and open source software make it easy for anyone to manage a creative campaign on their own, without agency oversight or advice. However, the smarter brands will choose to keep agencies and professionals in the mix so they don’t compromise on quality. Likewise, agencies will have to embrace the desires of certain brands to “tinker” campaigns and come up with solutions that combine traditional management with more practical and consultative approaches. Agencies that attempt to pretend that this diversification of media buying is not happening and continue with their typical approach will not appeal to brands seeking more creative control and accessibility and therefore may suffer in 2021.
Synthetic media will cloud the waters
Synthetic media covers everything from face swaps to archival AI-designed photos CGI influencers and fake deep videos. Synthetic media is on the rise and 2021 could bring more of this content into the daily lives of consumers through social media advertising and marketing campaigns. These tools can provide safe and cost-effective ways for brands to develop content while remaining alert to public health restrictions. Conversely, they have the potential to become weapons of disinformation, causing serious problems for users looking for accurate and authentic content and resulting in a dystopian social media experience.
These tools can have their advantages when used in a proper manner. For example, through a combination of AI and deep fake facial technology, brands can quickly and easily dub videos into thousands of languages, making content much more personalized and accessible to a global audience. However, opting for synthetic media in all facets of a marketing campaign could be risky for brands in the long run. It’s not worth turning off potential customers with videos and images that they find disturbing or unreliable. Not to mention the risk of having a synthetic video manipulated for harmful means. For these reasons, we can expect to see the brands most in tune with their audiences and the broader trends to double their content and marketing plans led by true ambassadors and influencers instead of getting involved in synthetic media.
More platforms and features come and go
Every technology or platform has its time until something else happens. Yes, some have more resistance than others, but there is almost always a “next best thing” waiting behind the scenes. Right now, we’re seeing a renaissance in social platforms and apps, especially as users seek out new, engaging ways to connect virtually. Brands and users can take their pick, and many have specific use cases and benefits to offer. However, in 2021, as more platforms emerge and we move closer to critical mass, keep an eye out for the biggest players to see how they solidify their position in the ecosystem.