This past year threw advertisers through a loop as spend shifted dramatically and consumer behaviors changed on a dime. Now, with 2021 kicking off, many brands are on shaky footing, struggling to figure out how to budget their campaigns, set their KPIs, and prepare for the unexpected.
The good news is, we know that when the landscape becomes unpredictable, there’s one thing we can always rely on: data.
That’s why Taboola recently partnered with Qualtrics Metrics to survey 150 agencies and 150 brands about their goals, challenges, and concerns for 2021. As a result, we gained a more concrete understanding of marketers’ needs and can help other advertisers out there feel less alone in their planning for the year.
Here’s what we found.
Top Overall KPIs Are Sales Revenue and Social Media Reach
Across the board, the brands we surveyed saw their top advertising KPIs as:
- Sales revenue (42%)
- Social media reach (34%)
- Website traffic (32%)
Meanwhile, agencies say their brands’ top advertising KPIs are:
- Social media reach (33%)
- Sales revenue (30%)
- Website traffic (27%)
This is a major shift from what marketing goals were for most brands this time last year.
In a similar study conducted in Q1 2020, brands said that their top KPI was brand recall and recognition.
Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, the importance for brand awareness goals declined and we saw more focus placed on performance goals. So, it makes sense that marketers still have this one major goal in mind: sales.
Justifying ad spend is one of their biggest challenges (as we’ll get to in a second) and they want to make sure the money they shell out brings in returns and actually drives customers to make purchases.
The Biggest Challenge? Finding the Right Platforms and Partners
When asked what their biggest advertising challenge will be in 2021, 52% of brands and 49% of agencies say it’s finding the right platforms and partners, followed by justifying ad spend and reducing ad budgets.
Additionally, 39% of agencies are concerned about creating an efficient media mix across channels and 31% of brands worry about competition with other ads.
Brand Safety Is Top of Mind
Choosing the right vendor for digital advertising can make or break a campaign.
When doing so, almost 50% of brands and agencies say brand safety is an important factor. Beyond that, roughly 42% say insights and data are paramount when choosing a vendor, and 37% say targeting options and performance metrics make a difference.
Brand safety has become a particular area of focus over the past year. Brands have been wary of running ads next to news-related content or being too pushy at a time when many people are struggling financially.
That’s why we ran a webinar in partnership with Integral Ad Science (IAS) about what’s next for brand safety.
The Pandemic Has Changed The Understanding of Consumer Behaviors
Consumer behavior changed drastically in the wake of COVID-19. It sent advertisers back to the drawing board to create new strategies and campaign processes. Unsurprisingly, we found that over 80% of brands and agencies say they’re thinking about seasonal consumer behavior differently in 2021 as a result of the pandemic.
As McKinsey & Company reported, certain consumer behavior trends emerged during COVID-19 and may be here to stay, including a fall in discretionary spending, a major shift to e-commerce platforms, and a willingness to try new brands for convenience and availability.
So, while the ad landscape may be constantly changing, advertisers can use this data to better understand how other brands are preparing for their 2021 campaigns and make more informed decisions about their own strategies for the year to come.