The 8 trends media execs are hoping to ride in 2021

The Drum 13 Jan 2021 08:00
8 trends media execs hope to ride in 2021

Bloomberg, Sky, Jungle Creations and more talk us through the media trends the industry should be focusing on in 2021.

With the commencement of a new year, media predictions are stacking up. Differentiating this pile is the fact that, after a period of unprecedented change, the big thinkers have been unable to trot out the same old ideas.

2020 was a game-changer in almost every sense, with 76% of the media execs polled by Reuters Institute saying the pandemic sped up their digital transformation plans. Lo and behold, the UK’s Reach group posts record digital growth in the fourth quarter of 2020, evidencing this pursuit.

If 2020 was a year of challenges, 2021 offers many opportunities. The Drum has quizzed the best in the industry about the trends those in the media should be aware of. But which will win the day?

Focusing on your strengths

Duncan Chater, head of sales for Europe at Bloomberg Media, says focusing on the group’s strengths helped guide it through a tough year.

Its focus was to ensure it was an easy partner to do business with within a virtual environment. “We worked hard to improve our processes and systems to speed up our response times and deliver more value around our data and the insights clients could draw.”

TV adapts

For example, Sky News saw record consumption figures. On-demand consumption was up, as was time with TV.

The conditions propagated fertile soil for many D2C brands that were buoyed by the lockdown of the high street. They were baited also by the move towards shorter advance booking deadlines.

Scaling up audiences in news

In particular, a big move for The Sun owner this year looked to be the expansion of its digital audio offering. Carter says: “With our Wireless radio business, for example, we had to adapt and innovate quickly. When live sport stopped, our TalkSport stations pivoted to bring the sports community escapism and camaraderie, Virgin Radio became the home for entertainment and we launched Times Radio to keep the nation informed against a backdrop of misinformation, fake news and the pandemic.”

“We’ve equally shown our support for the wider industry through our major investment into The Ozone Project, the UK’s leading high-quality digital advertising environment. We’ve seen a fourfold increase in revenues, with a lot more to come.”

Andrew Newman, chief executive of, reflects that over the last year, while the out-of-home medium was often starved of audiences, work was done to improve and digitize the output.

The Drum previous listed some of the top dynamic out-of-home campaigns from 2020. QR codes, weirdly enough, are predicted to “become a staple part of out-of-home campaigns in 2021” because of the adoption of track and trace and as a new means of sampling products.

The increased digitization of out of home inventory also means more stock can be bought programmatically, bringing the medium more in line with digital buying. Jean-Christophe Conti, chief executive of VIOOH, says: “In an uncertain and increasingly digital-first world, the need for flexibility and data-driven campaigns has arguably never been greater and will continue to impact the future of out-of-home. I expect the uptake of digital OOH to gain pace in 2021.”

For this to be fully realised, the industry will have to move towards some form of standardised measurement.

“This use of data to create a detailed picture of audience activity in near real-time will give confidence to brands that their ad spend in 2021 is being delivered with maximum impact.“

Social matures

Chapman says: “With more people online and on social than ever before, we’ve seen a huge uptick in viewers and followers over the last year and on some platforms as much as a 30% increase.”

Gaming catches eyes

Tobias Knutsson, chief commercial officer of Adverty, says that “savvy brands quickly learnt they needed to shift increased spend to in-game advertising to get a slice of this lucrative pie“.

Tapping into gaming culture occurred mostly on mobile, but adjacent platforms like Twitch also saw growth.

Budgets are still under pressure and the recovery may not be as fast as many would hope. With this in mind, agile teams operating across the industry should consider finding their perfect match.

“Brands have quickly learnt the importance of redistributing their marketing spend and this led to a range of often high profile partnerships coming into play this year. A key takeaway from 2020 has been the booming partnership economy, illustrated by creative pairings such as Hello Fresh and Craft Gin Club, whose collaboration provided additive value for customers and increased performance for both brands.“

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Bloomberg MediaJungle CreationsReuters InstituteReach groupDuncan Chater
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