Advertising in 2021: Key ideas agencies should keep in mind

In a post-COVID-19 world, advertising shifted focus from hard-selling to building a customer base and loyalties. In 20201, brands will have to continue to apply these learnings.

In retrospect, 2020 has left behind a trail of learnings and underscored the significance of resilience to steer through uncertainty. In advertising, the focus has shifted from hard selling to building a customer base and loyalties.

Empathetic communication, leveraging of technology for customer-centricity, and a sense of giving back to the community have also gained precedence. The onset of 2021 also triggered a wave of optimism due to anticipated economic stability following the vaccine availability to tackle COVID-19.

How brands continue to build upon and apply their learnings will be the factor to watch out for during 2021.

Here are five key ideas that advertising agencies must keep in mind to accelerate their growth this year.

Evolution should be the core philosophy

If there is one major lesson that 2020 taught, it was about survival. Evolution emerged as a panacea to navigate through unprecedented time. COVID-19 prompted many firms to go back to their drawing board to rethink their business model and organisational structure.

Going forward, advertising firms that embody adaptability and flexibility in their core philosophy will maintain a competitive edge over their peers.

Though putting both short-term and long-term strategies will still hold relevance, the extent to revisiting these policies will define the competitiveness of the advertising firms in 2021.

Seamless execution of ideas to be the key

The major part of 2020 led to the disruption of fixed policies and strategies. Agencies that adopted out-of-the-box- thinking and went the extra mile to deliver tangible outcomes stood out from the clutter.

This trend will hold weight in 2021 as well. Seamless execution of ideas and campaigns across platforms to drive tangible outcomes, be it customer engagement, generating sales leads, or building a brand recall, will be the differentiator for advertising firms.

Digital-first approach

The COVID-19 pandemic has inevitably accelerated digitisation. A Gartner report estimates that paid, earned and owned channels accounted for 80 percent of the budgets.

Going forward, digital will no longer be just a platform or a medium but a core component of the overall marketing mix. In 2021, digital advertising will account for a substantial portion of the marketing budget.

However, the digital-first approach does not imply the swansong of OOH marketing. Omni-channel marketing will continue to thrive with emphasis on digital strategy to tap the millennial and tech-savvy audience.

‘Humane’ advertising

The COVID-19 pandemic witnessed brands adopting humane communication and a helpful approach towards customers to sail through uncertainty. Empathy, rather than hard-selling or generating customer leads, has gained precedence.

Brands need to keep in mind that customers are human beings and tailor their communication accordingly. 'Humane' advertising will be the key to gaining customers' trust and securing their loyalty in 2021.

This approach implies embracing customer-centricity as the ultimate objective to thrive amid competition. Similarly, the role of social initiatives with a sense of giving back to the community will influence brand perception.

A Zeno 2020 study has highlighted that customers are 4x times like to purchase from brands oriented towards a purpose.

Uncertainty to the centrepiece of advertising

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the global economy and led to the rupturing of globally established practices and policies. The pandemic has taught us the lesson that uncertainty is the only constant thing and firms should gear to adapt, evolve and thrive.

Going forward, advertising firms must internalise uncertainty as the only certainty and place it at the centre of their survival and expansion strategy. This realisation has led to the precedence of the short-term strategy over long-term ones. It has also necessitated firms to anticipate a crisis in advance and devise appropriate contingency solutions to mitigate it.

Advertising agencies must accept and internalise change as an integral part of their strategy, embrace customer-centricity at the centrepiece of their strategy and adopt the out-of-the-box approach to make advertising campaigns resonate with the target audience.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)


Updates from around the world