The 3 biggest trends that should be on every marketer's radar for 2021

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This article was first published by Adweek.

Advertisers and marketers are familiar with disruption. But in 2020, disruption wasn’t dictated by a new medium. Instead, marketers and advertisers had to make massive adjustments to existing efforts to reflect a new reality.

In 2021, privacy and regulation will continue to shape ad tech, the presence of ad fraud will continue to drain ad budgets and marketers will continue to grapple with the seemingly increasing pace of change in these areas while preparing for a post-pandemic reality. Ad execs and marketing leaders to have their eyes on the following:

New privacy efforts will disrupt ad tech

A year ago, privacy predictions were largely tied to regulation. This year, however, tech giants are taking the lead on privacy by limiting cross-site tracking—Apple through its strengthening ITP and Google with the promised sunsetting of third-party cookies.

These moves will cause significant disruption when it comes to measurement and attribution. Businesses that rely on tracking mechanisms to provide services and data to advertisers such as retargeting companies, data miners and demand-side platforms won’t be able to operate. This shift will cause a sharp demand for better measurement tools and partners as marketers try to find new ways to define success.

What it means:

Advertising will need to work harder when it’s not as targeted. Marketers need to test these new tools and measures while they can still track and attribute conversions to verify effectiveness.

Also check out: Mapping marketers’ next moves in tech’s privacy-focused future

Invalid traffic will compromise more ad spend

A recent report by HP identified ad fraud as one of the most lucrative and easiest-to-commit forms of cybercrime, and Covid-19 made it easier. Many businesses new to digital advertising have been pumping their money into campaigns to keep business coming in this year, unaware that up to 30% of their spend is wasted on invalid traffic. Additionally, the extreme changes in consumer behaviour have made it even more difficult for sophisticated digital marketers to tell if, and to what extent, fraudulent traffic is impacting their performance.

What it means:

The Covid-19 crisis has exacerbated invalid traffic. The noise of so much change has made it even harder for businesses to determine whether traffic fraud is actually present. When online advertising is increasing in importance but decreasing in the budget, it’s essential for marketers to get an understanding of how to maximize advertising effectiveness.

Apple slices a bigger piece of the search pie

TrafficGuard has recently observed a sharp increase in activity from bots deployed by Apple. This indicates the company is upping the ante on web indexing to compete with the likes of Google and Bing. Building their own search engine may be a preemptive strategy by Apple in the face of the antitrust suit that questions the legality of that exchange. It is logical for Apple to be building its index for use across other products as tech plays an increasing role in our homes and lives.

What it means:

Watch this space! Apple will likely continue to make Google the default search engine in their devices until it is deemed anti-competitive if it ever is. I doubt that will be in 2021.

A new year usually requires some new thinking by marketers and advertisers, but this year, the rapidly changing landscape requires a much larger shift in strategy. There are a lot of moving pieces in the advertising landscape that could change reality overnight—teams can’t afford to be caught off guard in 2021.

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