July 19, 2024

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The trends to watch out for in 2021

  • In this new year, we want to crystal gaze into what the year has in store for the industry.
  • With the digital advertising industry changing at a rapid pace, throwing a new set of challenges every day, experts are optimistic that 2021 will be a game-changer that will help them redefine a lot of rules in advertising, with smarter marketing techniques.
  • We spoke to a few industry experts to identify opportunities that 2021 will bring forth for the industry as we move forward and here is what they had to say.

Over the past few years, the world has increasingly been moving towards digital and 2020 became the year when the digital ecosystem acquired many new users, thereby making digital advertising perhaps one of the most effective mediums to reach out to people locked inside their houses and stuck to their phone and tablet screens.

It was an interesting year for digital marketers as the nation-wide lockdown gave a push to augmented reality, mobile marketing, digital animation, video content, voice search and influencer marketing.

Despite the initial setbacks during the lockdown, consumers opened up to experimenting with digital formats, trading brand loyalties for availability of stock and performance marketing came into the picture. Digital eventually became a dominant medium as marketers pivoted their monies from OOH, print and event marketing to virtual platforms. India is now at the cusp of a massive revolution with digital making inroads and brands looking to go beyond urban markets.

While we saw digital marketing taking the center stage, the economic slowdown and uncertainty affected market sentiment, and naturally, the industry. However, during this volatile period, the industry tried to throw out the inefficiencies to make themselves more productive.

According to Statista, ad spending in the Digital Advertising market is projected to reach US$398,762m in 2021 and the market’s largest segment is Search Advertising with a projected market volume of US$171,641m in 2021. In FY2020, the revenue generated by digital advertising across India was valued at around Rs 199 billion.

In India, the digital ad revenue in the country will be worth almost Rs 540 billion by fiscal year 2024, while the television and print ad revenues were projected to reach about Rs 455 billion and Rs 276 billion rupees respectively. These numbers clearly show that India is heading towards a digital advertising future.

We reached out to experts to find out how 2020 disrupted the digital ecosystem and understand their expectations from 2021. Here is what they said:

Unny Radhakrishnan, CEO, Digitas India:



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One thing I see is that Brand Building and Creating Loyalty will become far more tougher and marketers will find themselves in trying to juggle multiple things. The reason I feel so is that the factors that influence consumer choices are getting wider and complex. First, there is this vast sea of online media – with regular cluttered media, platforms as sharply targeted media, e-com channels as media, and influencers (democratised media); second, the availability of vast amounts of information, product reviews & feedback; third, the customer/user experience at all touch points (online & offline); and fourth, the availability of products on various channels, irrespective of your geography (from e-com to the neighbourhood store on Whatsapp). Then, finally at a larger level, there is also a blurring of line between categories which are vying for the same share of wallet.

So, there is so much ‘to-do’ in a marketer’s plate to ensure awareness, availability and great experience. The underlying marketing operations will be complex and will need breadth and depth of skill sets and the ability to string it together.

Prasad Shejale, Founder & CEO, Logicserve Digital:



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Integrated Digital Marketing approach will be a game changer for brands rather than being just a nice-to-have strategy. While the post-COVID world has leapfrogged the digital growth across industries and consumers are making digital a first choice now, brands need to evolve further and implement truly integrated methods for catering to customers’ needs at every touchpoint of the customer journey. This involves a holistic strategy across Media, Creative, Data & Insights as well as Technology. That is how brands can make an impact and continue to delight the new-age customers.

Harshil Karia, Founder, Schbang:



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A big trend that will take shape in 2021 is the process of centralization of data and the creation of database. The digital departments will move beyond marketing to create centralized business data with the know-how, skills, and associations they possess. With good quality creative execution, the smart digital business professionals will pave the way to move the business table and deliver further with greater efficiency.

Chetan Asher, Co-Founder & CEO, Tonic Worldwide:



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2020 has been a year of pivots for the digital industry. Consumer habits and digital platforms are disrupting rapidly. Hence 2021 will be the year of customer experience reinvention. Traditional fulfilment channels are moving to digital, social media is a serious e-commerce platform now with platforms like Instagram moving beyond just discovery platforms, Influencer led commerce has also evolved. Hyper-personalisation both pre and post purchase journeys will become norm. The biggest trend we will see is how all these parts come together for reinvention of the customer experience and push the industry to evolve. For businesses that are adapting to digital and the ones that have matured in their digital journey, both will have to shift their lens to prepare themselves in how their consumers interact across multiple touchpoints.

Amyn Ghadiali, Vice President- Business & Strategy, Gozoop:



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You know while there are many trends like voice search, local SEO, data science, social, etc., and each one will be a great driver for the industry – I believe that the one trend which will drive all the above trends is that brands & clients will be asking a lot more from their agencies, digital in specific. The pandemic has made brands realize, even those that didn’t believe in it first – the power of digital marketing. This power is not appreciated because it was through digital that we connected in 2020; it is appreciated because it proved it can be a serious driver for business. This innate and interconnected ability of the space has got many CEOs/CFOs/CMOs interested to understand it more, and eventually harness what it has to offer. This also means that integrated solutions under one roof would be preferred, and most brands would, thus, turn to their digital agencies for support to make it happen. This trend, or rather a behavior shift, I believe, would be a great driver for the digital industry, creativity, and business in every way.

Prashant Puri, Co-Founder & CEO, AdLift:



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A couple of digital marketing trends that will increase and/or take shape in 2021. More than half of smartphone users are engaging in voice search – we see that number further growing in the next year with an emphasis on visuals (within ecommerce segment) will make SEO even more important. Google Lens is carving the path here. Influencer marketing will grow to about 15% of overall digital media budgets. 68% of consumers (based on a survey) have said that they’d like to learn about new products via short video. With video consumption is surging – we foresee advertisers (both big and small) investing in thumb stopping videos to marketing to their customer base via Instagram, Roposo, FB and YouTube. All in all, the creation of content (and content marketing) – whether long form text or video is going to become the cornerstone of all digital marketing campaign.

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