Marketing and Crystal Balling

If marketers were to stock up on crystal balls and become clairvoyants, what might they see in the months ahead for their brands and clients? Many surveys have been conducted since the pandemic began in an effort to predict the marketing future for industries.

While some findings contrast with others, there is unanimity in other areas like increased consumer dependency on digital platforms, more diversity and inclusion among brands, and heightened data privacy for consumers. Yet the results of an Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) study of brand and agency media buyers, planners, and marketers in November delivered some surprising results.

Major Challenges

While most respondents agreed that ad tracking and data privacy would be major challenges in 2021, 31% of media buyers said they didn’t know if their clients or companies clearly comprehended the consequences they’ll be confronted with if customers begin blocking or terminating identifiers and cookies. An earlier article looked at Apple’s new policy that will affect brands and platforms marketing to users of their IOS 14, IPad OS14, and tvOS 14 devices.

Data Privacy

At a time when consumer awareness and anxiety are high, brands need to make special and extra efforts to reassure their customers that they value their data and inform them on what they’re doing to protect it.

This new Apple policy comes against the backdrop of more than a third of respondents telling IAB that they need more first party data while earlier surveys reported increases in data privacy concerns. All marketers know the chances of resigning a customer who opts out are extremely small since all chances of future communication must then be stopped.

The pandemic not only heightened consumer awareness and concern, but with many children doing virtual learning during the pandemic, parents also expressed concerns about their children’s online safety and privacy. 52% told educational tech company EdSurge that school administrators are just as responsible for their children’s data privacy as they are.

Minority Ads

The other interesting discovery by IAB is that half of those surveyed said they were looking to place more ads in minority-owned media companies and platforms. However, an equal percentage (50%) of marketers also said they didn’t know if their company had such a list they could rely on. Brands intent on doing this might identify minority leaders in their community and industry who could advise them and provide more insight into this. They could also be invaluable as a review panel that could offer ideas about new ads aimed at minority audiences.


In its report, IAB said its research found that 71% of U.S. media budgets this year will be in digital media. Four areas will dominate — social and paid at 16% each, display at 14%, and video at 13%. Their results also showed that advertising on traditional media would be 5% lower than in 2020.


Connected TV (CTV) like Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Xbox, etc. and Over-the-Top (OTT) media services were also seen as more valuable than traditional TV in reaching younger audiences, and will likely see more ad budgets for Gen Z audiences directed there. Not only did 58% of those polled in the IAB survey feel CTV/OTT did a better job of reaching younger audiences than linear TV, but nearly half felt the same way about CTV’s other abilities: fast optimization (52%), easier to cancel (48%), ability to measure ROI (46%), and efficiency (41%).

Shifting Focus

The final anticipated shifts discovered in IAB’s polls showed that 64% are adding performance marketing to their advertising in 2021. Brand equity will be new to 47% while 27% will add cause-related marketing and 21% mission-based marketing. It should be no surprise that 72% said that support for diversity would be their top cause-related creative.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO and Founder of 5W Public Relations. 5W PR is a leading digital pr and influencer marketing agency.




Ronn Torossian is Chairman & Founder of 5WPR & one of America’s most notable PR executives. He is the Author of best-selling PR book, “For Immediate Release.“

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Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is Chairman & Founder of 5WPR & one of America’s most notable PR executives. He is the Author of best-selling PR book, “For Immediate Release.“

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