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Relevant Digital Oy

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Tags: Advertiser, Publisher, Relevant Digital

Gradually the year is coming to an end and our thoughts turn to the coming year. In many ways, this year has been very exceptional for all of us. On the other hand, there may have been even more time for development, but it has also had to be prioritized for those important functions that have kept the business running in the changed situation. We certainly agree that we are ready to turn the page and hope that the coming year will come with a return to a more normal life.

Despite the exceptional situation, there are themes that are most likely to be relevant in 2021. So if you are working on digital media or advertising, we think that these are some of the things you should prioritize in the coming year:


Programmatic advertising - The popularity of programmatic buying is not diminishing, but investments in it will continue to grow during 2020. Programming has become an established way of buying digital advertising in Europe, among other ways. It makes buying easier and more efficient.

Challenges in programmatic advertising can be found especially on the competence side, and we would see that in 2021 all stakeholders will invest in know-how of the programmatic landscape. The market  is already debating programmatic automation with the help of artificial intelligence, it remains to be seen whether significant steps will be taken in this area in 2021.


Cookies - Collecting user data and targeting advertising will undergo a major shift when Chrome, which controls nearly 70 percent of the desktop browser market, will block third-party cookies in the future. Google's decision to block third-party cookies from the Chrome browser will revolutionize digital advertising practices, as advertising is currently largely based on cookies. The need for targeted advertising is not going away, so in the future new means will replace the need for third-party in digital advertising.

The change did not yet significantly change the market 2020, but things continued the same way. However, beneath the surface it is bubbling, and perhaps by 2021 we will already hear something significant in this area.


Contextual targeting - With cookie restrictions, alternative ways to target advertising begin to gain popularity. The new arrival of contextual targeting has been battled for a long time, but now it’s starting to look like it’s really back in 2021. Contextual targeting means targeting based on context, i.e. those who enjoy cooking-related content, for example, could be more interested than average in buying cooking-related supplies.

However, there are also challenges associated with contextual targeting, content is often multifaceted and categorization is not always easy. The diversity of contents and the relationships between them are best valued using artificial intelligence. Many media companies offer opportunities for contextual targeting, but we would believe that there could still be room for improvement  in classifying content.


1st party data - In 2021, advertisers and publishers will also increase the capacity utilization of the first-party data. First-party data has always played an important role in advertising and customer experience in construction, but it seems that in the future its role will become more important, not least due to data protection and browser cookie limitations.

The first party data is information which is collected directly from the public or client (e.g.  web, CRM, order information, inquiries and customer feedback),  those who volunteered to interact with the company. The biggest challenge is that data is often silhouetted and combining is challenging. In 2021, leveraging our own data and building capacity will be on the agenda in many companies.


Personalization - Instead of simply considering customer orientation and an individualized customer experience in many companies in recent years, much of the development has already begun to show in practice. Personalization is no longer the exclusive right of various tech giants, but almost all companies use at least some form of personalization in their marketing efforts. The availability and number of personalization technologies used on websites has reached a level where they are finally available to almost everyone.

In the future, we will be seeing more fully personalized websites. This year, personalization is on the table in many companies as generic marketing is no longer enough and customers need to be seen as individuals. The personalization carriage has begun to move slowly, and now we have to jump aboard.


Video and mobile advertising - Video and mobile advertising are not new things, but they are likely to remain one of the major trends in digital advertising in 2021. Due to the large video offerings available online, visitors are becoming less receptive to long commercial content. Communication must be direct, fast and concise.

With platforms like Tiktok and Instagram, it is expected that the popularity of short, easy-to-produce and viewable video ads will grow significantly during 2021. Especially during a pandemic, people spend even more time on mobile devices and videos. Advertisers and the media are also aware of this and are increasing their investment in mobile and video advertising.


Ad visibility - When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of advertising, in 2021 there will be talk about viewability. Visibility, or viewability, is measured by in-screen values, which usually means the proportion of displays that have been displayed on the screen by at least 50% for the visitor. Advertisers are constantly paying more attention to the visibility of their ads. If the in-screen values are low, at least the competent advertisers may not be so interested in buying inventory. 

Many publishers have a lot to improve in terms of ad visibility and placement, and the topic will certainly be relevant in 2021. You can find a benchmark on the visibility of advertising by market on the eMarketer page here.


Responsibility and Privacy - These themes will certainly continue as a hot topic in the coming year. Accompanied by a variety of media fears, consumers are becoming more aware and interested in where their information ends up and how it is used. Abuse and illegal activities are of course a separate issue, but there is also a trend around the world where many brands have been able to harness privacy and openness to their own competitive advantage. Still in 2021 will also ensure that TCF is supported by the consent management tool for buyers and sellers of advertising space utilizing that data in marketing. (TCF, or Transparency & Consent Framework, is a industry-standard that allows consumers to obtain the required permission to exploit the data and to communicate this permission (or prohibition) in an intelligible form to the digital advertising industry.)


Interactivity and gamification - Gaming and interactive content are heavily on the wallet in 2021. Consumers are becoming more mindful of their time and the kinds of content they spend their time with. Interactivity plays a part because it attracts the attention of the visitors and offers something of value to the visitor. The root to this is the deepening of the relationship between the consumer and the brand. Interactivity can provide information about a potential customer's preferences and purchase intentions, which they proactively share. If a company is trustworthy and valued, it often involves interacting with the brand. Not everyone will be able to realize their own visions of interactive content this year, but it seems to be strongly heading in that direction. 


From our perspective, it seems that many of this year’s themes will continue to be relevant for next year as well. But in summary in 2021 alternative ways to target and measure digital advertising will be sought and built, attention will be paid to the visibility of ad placements, visitors will be valued and activated, and visitor privacy will be responsibly and openly respected.

Suvi Leino
By: Suvi Leino

Responsible for marketing and communications at Relevant Digital.


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