Media in 2021: Context to take centre stage

Where ads are placed will take on greater importance in 2021 marketing plans. So what are the implications?
03 December 2020
Media Trends Predictions Context
Duncan Southgate

Senior Director, Creative & Media Solutions, Kantar

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With media consumption habits shifting dramatically and many media budgets shrinking, advertisers are realising that where they place their ads plays an increasingly important role in maximising effectiveness. This was underlined by WPP CEO Mark Read on a recent Future Proof podcast: “Context has clearly become a lot more important. Channels have taken on much more of their own personality, and so ads on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter need to be somewhat different, because those channels play a somewhat different role in people’s lives, they talk in a different way, they have a different tone of voice.”

In our 2021 Media Trends and Predictions I foresee three implications of this increased focus on context.

1. Accelerated adoption of new formats

In a quest for differentiation in increasingly cluttered media environments, advertisers and agencies will accelerate their adoption of the latest media channels and formats. The recent Kantar Media Reactions study showed that newer digital contexts such as TikTok, Twitch, Instagram and Snapchat are popular advertising environments among consumers.

More brands will therefore seek to enliven their campaigns by incorporating relevant influencers and the interactivity and engagement of new formats such as hashtag challenges. For example, the UK clothing brand River Island ran a Glowing Out TikTok challenge, which resulted in 76,000 videos being seen by 17.3 million users.

Talking about the importance of tailoring across media in another Future Proof podcast, Huw Griffiths from UM Worldwide said: “We’ve seen time and time again that the most impactful way to work is to embrace the uniqueness of a platform and do something that is truly customised.”

2. Continued growth in proven online video formats

Online video will be the single biggest winner in 2021, and there will be continued growth in many of the proven and established higher-reach digital video environments like YouTube and Instagram. However, currently just 49% of advertisers are confident about how they are tailoring creative executions to different channels, so brands and their agencies will invest more time and effort in careful adaptation across the major digital contexts.

Advertisers will be striving to recreate the magic of ads such as Milka’s ‘Unsung Hero’ Christmas YouTube commercial, which won the inaugural Kantar Creative Effectiveness Awards, and is a great example of emotionally engaging to capture attention and “beat the skip”.

3. Alignment of purpose and personality

An increased emphasis on brand purpose will result in advertisers and agencies holding media partners to higher ethical standards than ever before. They will be seeking like-minded corporate partners, media environments that are trusted by both consumers and marketers, and also looking to align their desired campaign messaging with similar media brand personality traits.

In Australia, Hyundai partnered with NewsCorp to create a three-part content series that showcased their environmental commitment. With our help, NewsCorp could prove the content series successfully drove purchase consideration and established Hyundai’s eco credentials.

This increased focus on the role of context will also impact measurement approaches. We expect to see further adoption of our fast-growing Context Lab quick-turn testing approach for digital environments. Rather than wait weeks for campaigns to complete, advertisers will be looking to understand which ads and content elements are most strongly building their brand in the first few days of their campaign. Since many brands are juggling large numbers of ad units across digital contexts, we also expect to see behavioural engagement-based optimisation increasingly blended with these brand-lift measurement approaches.

Before even starting this campaign-level optimisation process, more advertisers will likely be taking stock and rigorously examining media personality data to see whether they are working with the right media partners for their brand messaging in the first place.

Explore the full Kantar Media Trends & Predictions 2021 report here.

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