3 trends we’re sceptical about in 2021

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It’s that time of year again, when everyone likes to make predictions. Coming out of 2020 we’re thinking more cynically. We’ve compiled three digital marketing trends we feel are misunderstood or won’t live up to the hype in 2021. Of course, we’re not fortune tellers so we’ll be waiting to be proved wrong, and if you disagree we’d like to hear your thoughts on why. 


In terms of wider industry developments in 2021, we don’t think the antitrust lawsuits raised against Google and Facebook in the US will have any impact on digital marketing. In the case of a generation, the US government has taken steps to investigate whether these tech giants have unfairly dominated the online space. It will likely focus on the difference between users simply preferring Google’s service or whether Google turned us away from other viable alternatives.

Christian Kroll, CEO of Ecosia (the search engine that plants trees) thinks that ethical alternatives are playing against ‘one of the most dominant players in today’s economy’ and without legislation, have been abusing their position of power

It could take years for the case to be argued in court, and who knows what the search landscape will look like by that time. I guess what we’re saying is, it’s unlikely to be a 2021 problem, maybe a 2023 problem? In the meantime, if you’d like action paid search on Ecosia, you can do so on Bing Ads to reach an environmentally conscious audience. With data visibility consistently reducing, maybe targeting people’s choice of search engines could be a new way to reach specific audience demographics.

Data Fatigue

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Everybody and their Grandma have been making a Covid data visualisation and we are not exempt. People are hungry for what we call “dataisbeautiful fame” but it can be dangerous when people are making beautiful charts that lack context that cause people to start paying attention. Covid sort of revealed a concern in the data community – analysis in a vacuum, in which lots of data analysts were weighing in on the pandemic without the necessary domain or insider knowledge. A nice chart can add legitimacy to underlying bad data.

We’re hoping that people won’t be too fatigued by data. Delivery specialists working in Biddable Media or SEO might become too occupied with BAU and returning to “normal” to allow time to think outside the box, with less time to engage with new technologies and ideas. Especially in smaller teams. We’re also wary of the gatekeeping of publicly accessible data sources and APIs. Projects and scopes will get smaller as more companies want to hold their first party data prisoner.

The age old question: In-house vs Agency

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With automation only growing, it seems as if old school granular Biddable Media account management is being phased out. This has been a major driver for companies moving Biddable Media activity in-house. As a completely biased opinion, we think manual optimisation was never where true agency value was realised.

In fact with more time to focus on strategy, agencies with specialist expertise will come into their own – smashing targets beyond what was previously thought possible. Further enhancements in automation will not only allow for exceptional performance to be delivered, but also free up specialist time, allowing them to focus more on the data behind the campaigns to identify trends, changes, and future thinking actions to drive growth. 

If you’d like to know which trends we think will be big this year, we’ve written a white paper detailing our learnings from 2020 and our predictions for 2021. Download it here.

If you’re only here for the nitty gritty, we’ve also created two digital marketing guides for 2021, one for B2C and one for B2B. Get your fill directly from our channel experts, for tactics and strategies you should stop doing and what you should start doing this year.