• Why Testing Will Dominate the Media Landscape in 2021

    Very few people will lament the end of the rollercoaster year that has been 2020, least of all the marketers and publishers who have been challenged on a daily basis to navigate uncharted economic, societal and behavioral waters. But if there’s one thing to celebrate coming out of the recent turbulence, it’s this: 2020 has forced businesses to embrace and demonstrate a level of agility that many would have previously claimed impossible. And that’s laid an interesting foundation for progress going into 2021.

    In a business climate where executives suddenly have the permission to rethink everything, we’re going to see companies doing just that. In 2021, we’re going to see established and challenger brands alike double-down on their newfound nimbleness by testing and experimenting with media and advertising in ways we’ve never seen before. Let’s take a look at the types of media exploration that are on the rise and how brands can make the most of a recovery-focused landscape.

    A Focus on Actionability, Not Just Performance
    In certain channels, like TV, the days of proving that “it works” are over. We know it works. What advertisers want to know now is what is working specifically—and how they can make it work better. This becomes particularly important as brands increasingly connect their TV efforts to their digital efforts and look to understand how one influences the other. In 2021, as advertisers are emboldened to go beyond basic ROI calculations, they’re going to be asking about and exploring new dimensions of cross-channel attribution and optimization.

    Rethinking CTAs
    The TV landscape changed dramatically in 2020, with consumers exploring new platforms and expanding their viewing behaviors across devices, channels, locations and times of day. All of this change has naturally affected the way in which viewers react to advertising. In the fourth quarter of 2020 and into 2021, brands need to get a handle on how these shifts might translate to the calls to action that perform best within their TV campaigns. Brands that have focused on basic drive-to-website CTAs might find consumers suddenly eager and willing to consider downloading a brand’s app, enabling push notifications or asking their smart speakers a brand-related question. 2021 is the year to find out.
    Rethinking Demographics
    As the pandemic has again emphasized TV’s role as the primary screen at home, brands are newly examining the level of granularity with which they can target audiences on TV—and they’re finding their options vastly expanded. These days, TV audiences can be as dynamic as in digital, moving well past basic demographics. The key on the brand side, when exploring addressable TV opportunities, is to ensure their creative is prepared to match the level of granularity and personalization that they’re reflecting in their buys.

    Rethinking Formats and Platforms
    Going hand-in-hand with the opportunity to test nontraditional audience targeting in 2021, brands are also exploring beyond linear to better understand how OTT, VOD, digital and other expansions of their TV campaigns can tie into their broader marketing mix. At the same time, they’re realizing that their creative and format opportunities are expanding right alongside these new channels and platforms. Is the 30-second spot still the right length to convey a brand’s story in 2021? Given shifts in audience viewing behaviors, you might find viewers are hungrier for longer-form than ever before. Advertisers shouldn’t restrict themselves based on old notions of best practices when it comes to formats and channels.

    The pandemic has broken a lot of molds that we once considered unbreakable, in society and advertising alike. Brands should feel liberated rather than intimidated by this disruption. Now is when the real—and rewarding—work begins. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and test, test, optimize—and then test some more.