Despite the grim realities of a global economy that will be the worst since the Great Depression, advertising weathered the storm relatively well and will end up at declining by “only” 5.8% on an underlying basis (excluding-U.S. political advertising).  Here are some key takeaways from 2020 and some expectations for 2021:


■ A boost in time spent with media will continue beyond the pandemic/2020.  Primarily because the average number of digital devices per household increased during the pandemic, leading to an increase in simultaneous usage on multiple devices.  Downside—less-than-rapt attention to a marketer’s messaging via any one platform. Creative impact will become more important than media impact.

■ We’re entering the third connected era. The first was built around search and commerce. The second [came with] social media and smart phones.  The next connected age is data connecting to data through AI, machine learning and voice technology, as well as faster communication through 5G, with everything connected to the god in the sky: the cloud. This will change how we interact with devices.

■ The increase in non-addressable (not ad supported) subscription video means consumers are less available to marketers’ messaging. But this might change as more and more ad-supported platforms are launched.  Downside—further audience fragmentation making it more costly to achieve effective reach.

■ Patterns of media usage were evolving before the pandemic and consumers’ behavior is now changed forever.  Accelerated, radical changes to the media landscape will require considerable changes to 2021 media strategies to achieve marketing success.