What’s New in Digital Media:
Trends in 2021 and Beyond
The digital age is upon us. It has been for some time. When COVID-19 spread into a global pandemic, the ubiquity of digital media accelerated much faster than many anticipated. What was once a leisurely luxury quickly turned into a life necessity. Being stuck at home for a year will do that. While the end of the pandemic will signal a return to business as usual for many aspects of daily life, digital media won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. How has the pandemic altered the course of digital advertising from our previous report 2020 digital Media Tends? While our recommendations still hold true, we’re sharing a few additional observations no one could have predicted. Here are some of the post-pandemic digital media trends that will continue shaping our world in 2021 and beyond.
Shopping Through Your Screen
In a surprise to no one, e-commerce exploded in 2020 and 2021. Online shopping wasn’t just easy, it was safe. Consumers grew increasingly more comfortable shopping online as the pandemic went on. In early 2021 the EY Future Consumer Index found that 60% of U.S. consumers are visiting brick and mortar locations less often than before the pandemic and 43% shop more often online for products they would have previously bought in store.
It’s no wonder why 2020 was the fastest US e-commerce growth rate in 10 years. Its 31.7% year-over-year increase from 2019 nearly doubled the second-highest growth rate of 17.8% in 2011. Apparently, retailers took notice as they invested about $10 billion in e-commerce acquisitions, and partnerships from May to July 2020.
With today’s consumers making more online purchases than ever before, companies need to start focusing their digital media efforts on their e-commerce presence. Consider what e-commerce options your company should offer. What role does your e-commerce functionality play in your customer’s journey? Are there exclusive offers available online only? Can your customers earn loyalty points by shopping online? Consumers now expect an omni-channel customer experience that’s personalized and engaging across all screens and devices.
Lastly, companies will want to place an emphasis on shipping and delivery. Restaurants should make sure their food travels well (nobody likes soggy fries) and their wait times aren’t too long. Retail shops need to ensure their product is delivered when it’s promised, while having a friendly return policy.
The Digital Couch Potato
The only thing better than sitting on your couch binge-watching a show is laying in your bed doing the same. The pandemic forced us all to fall deeper in love with digitally streaming our favorite TV shows. In fact, 78% of U.S consumers were using a subscription video on demand service in 2020. This was an increase of more than 25% in four years. As a result, people started cutting the cords to linear TV. In 2020, more than six million U.S. households canceled their pay TV subscriptions. Furthermore, TV ad spend dropped 15%, its lowest level since 2011.
This trend likely won’t go away anytime soon. Netflix alone has more viewers than cable and satellite combined. Other streaming platforms are making a push to gain more viewers as well. Both HBO Max and NBC’s Peacock launched during the pandemic. In addition, movies that would usually debut in theaters were going straight to streaming services. All of these numbers, stats and facts point to Connected TV keeping its momentum in 2021 and beyond.
Media planners and buyers will need to adjust to this shift. Marketers should consider buying time on Connected TV. With so many consumers watching Connected TV, it’s important to be where your customers are. Review the demographics and media habits of your customer base to see how you can incorporate Connected TV into your media plan.
All The Way Live
The lockdown brought forth a lot of innovation in the entertainment field. And it was needed. People were craving ways to pass the time as we were all stuck at home. That’s when live streaming took off. Digital live streaming web series like Verzuz, where hip hop artists went head-to-head performing their songs, drew big viewership numbers. But Verzuz was just one example. Google, Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitch all saw a huge rise in their live streaming viewership. Viewers love the authenticity of the live content.
Live streaming is also highly engaging. People can comment on what they are watching, as well as interact with the streamer or with other viewers. A survey conducted by Vimeo Livestream and New York magazine found 82% of people prefer live video to social media posts. Live streaming was thought to be a (temporary) replacement of sorts for in-person shows. Instead, it’s here to stay and brands should take advantage.
The same survey revealed that 80% of audiences would rather watch a brand’s live video than read its blog. If your brand decides to use live streaming as a form of digital advertising, there are some things to consider. For starters, make sure its creative content is worth watching. No one will want to watch your livestream if it’s just one long infomercial. You’ll also want to make sure your stream is buttoned up. Invest in production quality with appropriate lighting and good sound quality to keep viewers engaged and tuned in.
Remember that every detail reflects on your brand image. In addition, make sure you give yourself a chance to succeed and promote your stream. Start promoting in advance to get viewers excited. Lastly, look for digital advertising opportunities on other popular livestreams to gain new, relevant audiences.
The Time Is Now
Like it or not, the digital takeover is here. To stay in the game, your brand will need to adapt to the times. Despite the seismic shift of consumers to only 36% of businesses are currently investing in digitizing their customer journeys and business processes to help attract and retain customers. Businesses can get a competitive edge by doubling down on investments now. Review and analyze your digital media advertising to see what you can improve upon. It’s an exciting time to be in marketing. Make sure you capitalize on it for 2021 and beyond.