The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

-d -h -min -sec


The 5 hottest advertising trends for 2021

By Jenny Stanley, Managing director

Appetite Creative


The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

Find out more

November 11, 2020 | 6 min read

2020 is passing in the blink of an eye, but we can’t wait to see what 2021 will bring to the digital world. New initiatives will abound and, as digital advertising experts, our top five predictions about key trends expected to dominate the ad industry next year include the following:

5 hottest ad trends 2021

The 5 hottest advertising trends for 2021

5. Customised advertising

Also known as personalised advertising, this refers to the capability of showing a customised ad to each target audience you are pursuing. As customers perceive personalisation as attractive and engaging – but they actively dislike being exposed to generic adverts – this is something that we expect businesses to take advantage of in 2021.

Another example of ad personalisation is the increasing usage of one-to-one videos. These are personalised video messages sent by brands and businesses to their customers instead of using the old-fashioned cold-calls and emails.

4. Video advertising

Video advertising is not new in the market, but as the internet, smart phones and tech in general keep evolving, this is highly likely to stay as one of the biggest digital ad tendencies for next year.

Within this type of advertising, there are some innovative ways to communicate that may emerge in 2021. Going live is one of them as real-time streaming of videos are becoming more popular every day, opening the door for businesses to explore advertising via this type of content.

Due to the large amount of content available online, people are becoming less and less receptive to the idea of being exposed to long commercial videos and presentations. They want the most direct, fast and concise communications possible. With the introduction of platforms such as TikTok and Instagram Reels, we are expecting easy-to-make, easy-to-watch, short-form video ads to become more popular than ever before in 2021.

3. Mobile advertising

Mobile advertising is guaranteed to be one of the main trends next year. Particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, people are spending even more time connected to their smart phones and mobile devices than ever, and brands know that. Therefore, we can expect businesses to be more present in those gadgets and increase the investment in mobile advertising.

The ‘story’ ad format is becoming so popular that it has been adopted not only by Snapchat but also Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp and most recently by LinkedIn and YouTube. However, brands and users can now do much more than just post 15-second stories. With Instagram allowing every user to create their own filters so others can use in their Stories, brands have now the opportunity to build engaging and playful experiences for their customers.

Also, in-game advertising is growing. If you have played any mobile game in 2020, then you know what we are talking about. Even though it can be annoying to be forced to watch a 30-sec ad in order to keep on progressing in your favourite game, this is undoubtedly one of the most common moves made by game developers in partnership with brands, to keep their game free of charge. So, in our view, this is likely to keep on being a trend for brands and businesses in 2021.

Looking at instant messaging apps, Statista tells us that only WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat combine together more than 4bn active users per month, while alone, the first app is now delivering about 100bn messages a day, the company’s Mark Zuckerberg said recently. Given these figures, we can expect businesses across a variety of industries to start investing more of their budget in in-app ads, so consumers are exposed to the brands’ products and services as they regularly chat with their friends and family.

2. Display advertising

Did you see what we did last month for Discovery? Using ad banners and liquid skins is a new trend in visual ads, and at Appetite Creative we are proud to be pioneers. The incorporation of videos in ad banners, for example with Discovery and its Italian Basketball matches broadcast in Eurosport, is a growing trend and there is evidence that it significantly increases customer engagement. For instance, Bannerflow reported that display ads featuring videos can boost CTR by more than 15%.

This form of advertising allows marketers to use information collected from previously visited websites, and present them with customised ads, highlighting what really matters for them, the next time they land on your webpage. This approach is commonly known as ‘remarketing’, and, in our view, will be one of the main advertising trends in 2021.

1. Programmatic advertising delivered through AI

The biggest advertising trend that 2021 will reveal is probably the explosion of programmatic ads via artificial intelligence (AI) to automate ad purchases. This will allow brands to target even more specific audiences.

Also, as the range of channels used for reaching customers grows, it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage. Managing programmatic platforms through AI solves this problem as they use targeting signals and real-time adaptation for individual ads or campaigns via any given channel.

Across this type of advertising, exciting trends such as the use of voice search and voice commands for commercial purposes, the introduction of blockchain or 5G network are likely to experience a boom in 2021. As Kai Sulkowski from Dmexco reports that 40% of people who use voice search in a private capacity say that they also use it in their work, we can expect brands to be interested in develop their own voice apps for use on voice assistants. This way, Alexa or Siri will put customers in contact with businesses more easily and frequently, enhancing communication and engagement between the two sides.

It’s an exciting time for advertisers – offering more opportunities than ever to have ever-specific targeted conversations with potential and existing customers by utilising relevant and bespoke content. 2021 is looking bright – make sure you make the most of the new ad tech available.

Jenny Stanley is founder and chief executive officer of Appetite Creative


Content by The Drum Network member:

Appetite Creative

The Connected Experiences Studio - We connect your Brand with Today's Audiences!

We are a multi-award-winning creative technology studio with a passion to...

Find out more

More from Marketing

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +