The Latest Paid Media Trends Of 2021

Sam Carr | February 4th, 2021

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2020 is finally over, and everyone has their sights set on the future!

If you work in paid media, whether its Facebook Ads and Twitter or Google’s vast paid search network, keeping up to date with the industry is crucial.

With many changes happening regularly to the industry, as a professional, you should be up to date with all the latest trends, news and changes.

To make sure you’re up to date with what’s going on in the world of paid media, we’ve rounded up the hottest trends of 2021 and our forecasts for the future.

But before we look to the future, what’s paid media currently like today?

What Is Paid Media Like Today?

Today, paid media is a huge industry of advertising networks ranging from social media platforms to native advertising and search ads. Each platform offers advertisers a scalable way to reach their target audience on a cost per click or cost per impression basis.

Over the years, the industry has seen many changes and transformations. What was once dominated solely by Google, many new competitors have entered the market, helping push worldwide paid media spend to all-time highs.

And looking to the future, it shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, even during the global pandemic of 2020, Google still reported an increase in ad revenues during Q4 with YouTube ads revenue increasing by over 68%. And it isn’t just Google cashing in on paid media services, Amazon also saw a 64% increase in their advertising services revenue during Q4 of 2020.

With paid media offering instant traffic and results compared to other forms of digital and traditional marketing, this type of digital advertising is becoming essential for every business. Whether you’re selling a physical product, digital product, or offering services, paid media can benefit pretty much every business if used correctly.

How Paid Media Is Changing In 2021

2021 media trends

So what exactly is in store for the paid media industry heading into 2021, and what is the future of paid advertising?

Here at PPC Protect, we speak with countless digital agencies every single week, so we thought it would be a good idea to ask them what they thought the hottest trends are.

From our talks and discussions, we found five key points which kept being raised by several paid media managers. Let’s take a look at each one in closer detail below.

5. Less Political Ads

If you sigh at the thought of elections and politics, then 2021 might actually be a good year for you! With the US election in the past, many big ad networks have now restricted and even banned political ads from being displayed.

In late 2019, Twitter announced that they would be banning all political ads on their platform. CEO and founder Jack Dorsey stated that he believed political message reach should be earned, not bought.

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Heading into 2021, it looks like many other big ad networks are also following Twitter’s lead. Google and Facebook have both announced that they will be banning all political ads immediately with no confirmed end date. Although it is unlikely they will ban political ads forever and miss out on the estimated $1.6 billion yearly ad spend, for the moment, political advertising just got a lot harder.

With so much misinformation being spread on ad networks, these political ads bans could start to become a lot more common and last much longer.

4. TikTok Ads To Become A Leading Ad Platform

Hate it or love it, TikTok is on track to become one of the biggest advertising platforms in 2021. The free to use app has had a lot of publicity and media attention over the past year, but one thing’s for sure: it’s definitely a hit with the youngsters!

After opening their advertising platform in mid-2020, advertisers have been throwing money at it ever since. Compared to other platforms out there today, Tik Tok has a considerable percentage of the generation Z demographic. Unlike other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which has seen a decrease in gen Z users, many have flocked to TikTok instead.

For advertisers, TikTok is now the best platform for any business wanting to target generation z. Although it’s still in its early days and only time will tell if TikTok continues to be the number one spot for gen z, the current figures are very promising.

3. Increase In CTV Ads Investment

Connected TV (CTV) ads are one of the hottest trends in 2021. Unlike video ads found on mobiles and desktop computers, CTV ads are found on smart TVs when watching the likes of YouTube and other content platforms.

Similar to ads you see while watching normal TV channels, these ads are usually placed at the start or in between certain video content.

A few years ago, the concept of CTV ads was fairly new, but as more consumers have started to invest in smart TVs, many advertisers have started to take advantage of them.

In fact, just in the UK alone, over 48% of households now have smart TVs in their homes, and this number is only expected to increase.

smart tvs

Compared to other types of ads on desktop and mobile, CTV ads are often much more effective. Since they are displayed on the TV, they usually have the viewer’s undivided attention. Compare this to ads on desktops, and users can have multiple screens and tabs open. Smart TVs also have a much lower percentage of ad blockers installed.

Another example of CTV ads would be ads found on streaming platforms such as Twitch. These ads are run during break intervals and can be used to specifically target certain demographics.

With good reach and targeting options, expect to see an increase in CTV ad spend throughout 2021 and into the future.

2. Less Tracking

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past year, then you should know that the paid media industry is currently going through a privacy revamp. With a big focus on data protection, many ad networks are scrambling to update their tracking policies and software.

Initially started by the introduction of GDPR in 2018, many big companies both in the ad and tech world have announced upcoming changes to how users are tracked. These changes will fundamentally change what data is tracked and what advertisers are allowed to collect from users.

Recently, Google announced that it would be removing all 3rd party cookies from its Chrome browser over the next two years. Since many ad networks rely on cookies to track users and their activity, this announcement has made many companies have to rethink their tracking systems.

Apple has also announced significant updates to its iOS privacy policies which have had a big impact on advertisers, including Facebook and Google. With the update, all developers must ask for permission when they use certain information from other apps and websites for advertising purposes, even if they already have user consent.

According to Google, these changes will reduce visibility into key metrics that show how ads drive conversions and will affect how advertisers value and bid on ad impressions. As such, app publishers may see a significant impact on their Google ad revenue on iOS after Apple’s ATT policies take effect.

With privacy becoming an increasingly important point, it’s only likely that these privacy policies are going to get tougher in the future and reduce the amount of data advertisers can track.

1. More Automation

The biggest trend by far in 2021 and the many years to come is the increase in automation throughout the industry. If you thought Facebook, Google and the other platforms already offered enough automation, then think again!

With the huge growth of SaaS tools and the paid media industry, many new companies are offering their own 3rd party solutions to advertisers and agencies. Thanks to big leaps in AI, many of these tools now help managers do all the boring and mundane tasks so they can save time.

Going into 2021 any beyond, expect to see a whole new wave of automated SaaS tools specifically for paid media. Some examples of paid media automation in action would be tools such as Keywee, Copy.ai and Copysmith. Each one uses the power of AI and automation to write ad copy at scale for Facebook ads and other social media platforms. With the ability to output hundreds of ads in seconds, this dramatically reduces campaign setup time and workload on managers.

keywee platform

Other platforms to look out for would be more optimization tools that help users get the most out of their paid social campaigns. As everyone wants the best ROI from their ad spend, optimization tools are only going to get more and more advanced. And with ad networks investing millions into their own AI, we wouldn’t be surprised to see more integrated automation solutions in these paid ad platforms.

More Paid Media Insights

Hopefully, this article has given you an insight into the latest trends of paid media and what to expect throughout 2021.

In recent years, one of the biggest on-going paid media trends is the huge rise in click fraud. With ad spending increasing significantly across the industry, many advertisers have fallen victim to fraudulent clicks that waste their ad budget.

To help highlight the problem and show how click fraud has grown over the years, we used our first hand data to produce our global click fraud report.

Inside, it covers the most common types of click fraud, who’s responsible, and how advertisers have been affected by it during the global pandemic. With plenty of data and visuals, we’re confident you’ll find it an interesting read!

Discover more paid media insights and the state of click fraud with our free report below.

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