The Dawn Of A New Decade: 8 Key Trends In Online Advertising For 2021

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In 2019, spending on online advertising hit a new milestone as businesses spent over £20bn in the sector. In 2020, that number is guaranteed to grow as traditional media such as print continues its decline.


Creating appealing online advertising is more important than ever, and in a highly competitive and dynamic environment it’s essential that businesses stay on top of the developing trends in marketing. In 2020 issues such as privacy and sustainability will emerge as key values that businesses need to follow, and combining creativity with data will be the successful approach for most businesses. Read on for 2020’s key trends in online advertising.


  1. Delving Into Content Marketing

As online marketing grows in its sophistication, the expectation of customers grows alongside it. That’s why content marketing is an unstoppable force in online advertising in 2020. Content marketing allows brands to indirectly market their products or services to consumers by creating thoughtful and engaging content that is not primarily an advert, but serves a content-led purpose as well.


Creating original and engaging content is a sure-fire way to stand out as a brand and in 2020 it’s more important than ever that you begin building this relationship with consumers through regular content. Regular publishing creates great visibility and establishes your brand as an online authority, further enhancing your reputation amongst customers.  Visual content is just as good as written content in this regard, so concentrating on eye catching videos or infographics is an excellent strategy.


  1. The Power Of Contextual Targeting

In 2020 it’s more important than ever that online advertising blends seamlessly into the fabric of the internet, and that’s why content marketing is so important. Another essential method of promoting your brand naturally is contextual targeting.


Contextual targeting is a strategy designed around fitting your brand’s ads into the most suitable locations on the web. Matthew Rankin, marketer at Next Coursework and Britstudent explains how this is achieved “through an analysis of various factors such as keywords, geographic location information, taxonomical topic links and broad browsing habits. Through this highly specific contextualization of ads, businesses are able to achieve a high degree of relevancy for any given ad, ensuring a maximized return on investment.”


As online privacy standards continue to grow, contextual targeting is an essential strategy for businesses in 2020 as its sophisticated targeting is based on web content rather than consumer information.


  1. Further Significance Of The IAB’s Gold Standard

In late 2019 the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) launched their Gold Standard in advertising – a bid to reduce ad fraud and increase transparency in advertising across the web. As Tesco and McDonalds became the first major brands to sign up to the Gold Standard, the certification gathered momentum and in 2020 the campaign is only going to grow in significance. Agencies signing up to the Gold Standard are committed to reducing “nuisance” advertising such as autoplaying videos and pop-up ads.


The value of this to consumers is clear, but brands are also well placed to benefit from the introduction of this standard. Tesco already acknowledged how signing up to the Gold Standard will save them money in the long run, as tech costs and the expense of ad verification is reduced. As agencies commit to the Gold Standard, businesses are going to be able to focus more of their time and budget on creating appealing online advertising. The impact of the IAB’s Gold Standard is guaranteed to grow in 2020.


  1. Rethinking Cookies

The second revolutionizing approach from the IAB is to rethink cookies entirely and build a new approach to how we track consumer activity online. Cookies have traditionally been the way that this activity is tracked, as websites store how consumers behave through multiple data packets. The IAB has developed a new approach that assigns a single identifier to consumers – companies can then access this identifier and the data that comes with it by meeting assured privacy standards.


This change hasn’t been introduced as yet but advertisers must be aware of the developing trends in consumer data. The IAB’s new approach will make contextual marketing easier to achieve, as well as reducing the risk of fraudulent activity.


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  1. Targeting Gen Z

For a long time, the holy grail of online marketing has been millennials but in 2020 there has been a shift in focus. Now, members of Gen Z are the paramount consumer and capturing the attention of this demographic is essential for any business in 2020 as this huge market is of essential importance. Many marketing trends will be leaning towards this end goal as Gen Z is a highly tech literate demographic requiring sophisticated marketing strategies.


Gen Z – aka Zoomers – are those born from the mid-to-late ‘90s up until around 2010 and they are an influential generation in online spheres. Given their relative youth, establishing relationships with this demographic is essential as it can lead to long-term profit for brands who build these connections with young web users.


Advertising geared towards Gen Z must focus on social media and mobile technology as these are the dominant platforms that zoomers engage in. Besides these platforms, focussing on the issues that Gen Z are most engaged in is also key for brands seeking to build relationships – sustainable and environmentally friendly practices are important to Gen Z so an emphasis on these values is more important than ever before.


  1. A Return To Creativity


The rise in big data has meant that trends in online marketing have focussed on data-driven approaches that prioritise return on investment (ROI) and quantifiable approaches to marketing. Ester Garza, tech journalist at Write My X and 1Day2Write suggests that “this has come at the cost of creativity, and as such consumers are beginning to lose interest. In 2020 creativity is going to be more important for brands interested in standing out, and finding new ways to combine data and creativity will be the recipe for successful advertising.”

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Wrapping Up


As an increased focus on industry standards aligns with the Gen Z values of sustainability, online marketing is shifting in 2020. Brands need to be more creative than ever whilst taking advantage of the new tools for relevancy. Expenditure on online marketing is sure to grow in 2020 and for the best ROI on the marketing budget, businesses need to stay on top of these trends to stay one step ahead of the competition.


 Guest Author

Vanessa Kearney is a writer and editor at and Write My Dissertation. She is passionate about helping businesses develop strategies for success and in her spare time loves to escape on long hikes.  She also writes for Essay Help blog.

Author Bio

Tom Koh is widely recognised as a leading SEO consultant in Asia who has worked to transform the online visibility of the leading organisations such as SingTel, Capitaland, Maybank, P&G, WWF, etc. Recently he was instrumental in consulting for a New York-based US$30B fund in an US$4Bn acquisition. Tom is a Computational Science graduate of the National University of Singapore. In his free time he performs pro-bono community work and traveling.

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