4 Predictions for Digital Advertising in 2021 | PRO Insight

Inside Roku’s Quibi Deal – and the Streaming Platform’s Surprise Content Play

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4 Predictions for Digital Advertising in 2021 | PRO Insight

With new services launching, audiences won’t want to keep paying for individual subscriptions

2020 was a year like no other, and 2021 will very likely be a strong contender in its uniqueness. So many forces will be in play, including fear and strife, optimism and re-starts. While we may be leaving a year of “the new normal,” a new “new normal” awaits us.

Here are some of my observations and thoughts on what to expect and, more importantly, how to navigate:

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Rise of advertising video on demand

By now it’s old news that consumers are flocking to streaming. With it, a plethora of subscription video on demand (SVOD) services have emerged from Disney, Paramount, Comcast, Warner Media, Discovery and it seems many more to come. At the same time, individual household economic stress, as well as SVOD saturation, will be catalysts for more advertising-based video-on-demand (AVOD). 

With new services launching, audiences won’t want to keep paying for individual subscriptions. So AVOD, which is already growing very fast and is predicted to grow by 17% globally in the next four years, is set to benefit from this subscription fatigue.

Take Pluto TV, for example. In March, as COVID-19 took hold, the number of active monthly users spiked 55% from 2019. Similarly, in September, Tubi reported that its monthly active users hit 33 million, up 65% year-over-year. With this explosion in consumer engagement opportunities, managing connected TV (CTV) campaigns effectively becomes more of a challenge, not to mention the additional opportunities that household addressable advertising brings. And this is only talking about the evolution of CTV.

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Pent-up demand for digital out-of-home ads

Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) advertising is also set to explode in 2021 via a combination of pent-up demand, as millions are expected to be vaccinated by the spring and summer and the growing availability of DOOH inventory through programmatic channels that make it easier for advertisers to buy. It creates lots of new meaningful opportunities to engage consumers, yet at the same time, adds complexity to an omnichannel transaction. 

That complexity will continue, with deeper integration of native formats, dynamic ads, augmented reality (AR), audio and more. Lots of very exciting and valuable opportunities, yet a lot more to navigate. For buyers to take full advantage, they’ll need to be able to access inventory programmatically, alongside other media types, including desktop, mobile, DOOH, audio, extended reality (XR) and beyond. Technology platforms will also have to make it easier to plan, buy and manage TV inventory types alongside one another.

Hybrid subscription model may emerge 

The streaming wars reached an epic crescendo with the emergence of a host of SVOD services emerging and the Warner Bros. surprise announcement that all of its 2021 film slate will be moving day and date with HBO Max.

Fierce competition and the explosion in consumer engagement opportunities have made CTV the epicenter of ad sales. 

This year, we’ll see major brands radically alter their ad spend from the TV Upfronts, in favor of more flexibility and greater investment in streaming and CTV. One side effect: Managing CTV campaigns has effectively become more of a challenge, and buyers will need more clarity. With the rise of content costs, I wouldn’t be surprised to see premium services test a hybrid model with ads and subscriptions, too. After all, Wonder Woman isn’t cheap.

While there is still a lot of uncertainty when it comes to the pandemic, I expect the above trends to shape the market. Some of these gained momentum throughout 2020, but 2021 will be a game-changing year.

Iván Markman