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Top 6 trends, watchouts and curveballs for digital marketers in 2021

By Steve Lee |



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.

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January 19, 2021 | 6 min read

As we start 2021, the dynamic landscape that digital marketers and advertisers have grown to accept has become all the trickier to predict. That said, if predictions are a challenge, writing them, considering them and evaluating them has never been more important. So here it is - the top 6 trends, watch-outs and curveballs for digital marketers in 2021.

Digital trends

The top 6 trends, watch-outs and curveballs for digital marketers in 2021

1. Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA)

The war on data privacy wages on as Apple made the decision that all IOS users will be required to opt-into tracking across non-browser apps. Advertisers will be the first to notice the repercussions, but the impact of this change is sure to be felt elsewhere. Of course, Apple maintains that it’s a step in the right direction as it allows ownership on data privacy for IOS users across their devices.

The enormous influence and market share of the iPhone (50 percent UK), means that a sizeable shift in privacy etiquette from other brands is likely. Advertising costs across IOS devices will rise throughout 2021 with early reports stating that 30 percent of IOS users will opt out of being tracked.

2. TikTok

While relations with the US remain strained, this didn’t slow down another impressive year for TikTok with 738 million app downloads, taking the total monthly average users (MAU) to 800 million.

Still think it’s just for teens? With 58 percent of its users now aged 18 - 34, think again. As TikTok content starts to infiltrate platforms such as Instagram Stories, expect growth amongst the older demographics. Tonality and authenticity are key for brands on TikTok, with advertising solutions that continue to improve towards the benchmark of stalwart platforms such as Facebook.

3. Facebook

Facebook continued to make headlines throughout 2020 on its principles around data privacy. A near constant barrage of lawsuits plagued the social giant, culminating in 40 states taking out a lawsuit in December over anti-trust violation and Facebook's handling of market competition. Despite everything, it holds firm with 1.8 billion DAUS, an increase on Q4 2020.

As it looks to align itself with new laws and new social expectations in data handling, Facebook will see a continued repositioning in 2021. Libra, Facebook’s own cryptocurrency needs attention and social commerce will continue to evolve across a platform that has the infrastructure to outperform its rivals across the board.

4. Audio

The fanfare amongst marketers around audio has been brewing for well over 12 months, as consumption increased by 9.4% in the US. It’s cost effective in its production, it’s agile and, more importantly, it suits users and audiences alike where time is precious and the consumption of content needs to be streamlined.

While Twitter continues its exploration into audible tweets, Spotify aggressively pursues podcasts and Audible trudges on, this year will belong to audio. Expect an influx in content creators, influencer opportunities and advertising placements, especially from Spotify that has promised big improvements on its already strong offering.

5. Amazon Advertising

Advertising with Amazon has moved beyond sponsored products and grown into a fully-fledged platform, capable of housing solutions that extend beyond what we knew about the eCommerce giant. With a reported increase of 23.5 percent in advertising revenue, more and more advertisers are exploring Amazon.

Does Amazon need to challenge Google and Facebook within this space?


As the fourth most visited website in the UK, it is perfectly placed to offer a tantalising solution for digital marketers and advertisers. Brand awareness is cost-effective and ecommerce campaigns are a no brainer. Forthcoming opportunities in targeting, reporting and placements make for an exciting watch in 2021.

6. LinkedIn Stories

Launched at the latter end of last year, LinkedIn Stories was a natural development, subtly readjusted towards a B2B audience. A full screen experience alongside a strong UI and the ability to see content views by user was an exciting prospect for both professionals and brands.

LinkedIn users are a lot less bold with their content - when compared with other social audiences and as such, adoption has been slow, but stick with it. Once the creatives, industry figureheads and influencers reveal its potential, LinkedIn Stories will become a 2021 standard.

In a year that will never be forgotten, few industries were left unaffected by 2020. For many it was catastrophic, for others the change in behaviours and habits was lucrative. Even the hard-hit event industry found success through virtual event solutions. This is an area that Identity has made some pioneering strides in - delivering a number of highly successful virtual events for clients, including the Royal Navy, RAF, Festival of Marketing, Panasonic and many more.

Nevertheless, as a digital marketer working in virtual events, remaining informed and educated will be more important than ever in 2021. Seismic changes are feasible, while many businesses will count on cost efficiency and accountable ROI across the board.

Steve Lee is senior digital marketer at Identity.

Modern Marketing Digital Advertising Marketing Services

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Identity is a global, full service creative production agency with over twenty years proven pedigree in the delivery of major, high profile events in the UK, and globally.

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