Has 2020 killed traditional advertising? [Interview]

Digital Marketing5 min read

One thing is sure: 2020 has been a year unlike any other! The COVID pandemic has forced many businesses to rethink their overall strategy, and the advertising industry wasn’t spared by this shift in mindset. But what has been the impact of the 2020 craziness on advertising? We asked Karin Brenner, Lead Advertising Manager at Stylight, a few questions about the state of the industry:

Karin Brenner, Lead Advertising Manager at Stylight

The events of 2020 shifted consumer habits more than ever from an offline to an online focus: thinking ahead to 2021, would you say traditional advertising methods are dead?

It’s definitely true that online media has surpassed traditional media and led to the emergence of new advertising methods. But despite this digital focus, I think it would be a mistake for companies to draw conclusions simply based on these trends: every brand is different, and advertising strategies really depend on the product each advertiser is selling and its target audience. Moreover, even traditional channels have evolved, and conventional TV commercials now have digital versions such as Addressable TV, one of Stylight’s advertising solutions, whose popularity has increased tremendously since the beginning of the pandemic.

Advertising can sometimes be a bit like our lives: a good balance might get you exactly where you need to be.”

What would be your recommendation for advertisers already planning their budgets for 2021? How are they supposed to know which channel to use to generate the best results in these uncertain times?

I think advertising can sometimes be a bit like our lives: a good balance might get you exactly where you need to be; and cross channel marketing is the best way for advertisers to get there. It’s only by combining both online and offline advertising that brands will be able to succeed, as we do with our combined packages for Native Advertising and Addressable TV. Another example would be QR codes: they were considered a huge flop during the early 2010’s, but they are now back in fashion. Nowadays, it’s pretty common to read through a magazine and spot a QR code that leads to a specific online campaign.

When it comes to digital advertising, have you noticed big changes in 2020? 

The COVID-19 pandemic obviously had a massive impact on the way companies have approached advertising in 2020: a big drop in advertising spending can be seen – especially at the beginning of the crisis and in the fashion industry particularly. It’s interesting to see how traditional advertising has suffered through the pandemic. Billboards and cinema ads have of course become obsolete for most of 2020, but I think that the shift was actually more on a product level than on a media level: Consumers’ daily routines, preferences and behaviors have shifted so much that their media consumption could not stay unimpacted. On Stylight, for example, our consumers have demonstrated an increased interest in home decor products, setting aside -at least for now-business fashion products. So why would brands still invest their advertising budgets where there is decreased demand? Another thing that has shifted a bit is at-home media usage and, consequently, TV advertising. With the lockdown, a large part of the population was forced to stay at home, thus increasing the use of streaming services and TV viewership, to the great delight of advertisers who seized this opportunity to promote their product via this medium.

Targeted and personalized marketing will definitely be one of the key trends for the next few years.”

Looking into the upcoming year, which advertising methods are, in your opinion, going to be the most effective ones? Can you tell us why?

Unsurprisingly, I really believe that brands will increasingly switch their budgets to digital marketing in 2021. I can also foresee that new digital ad formats, tailored to the specific needs of advertisers’ target groups, will emerge throughout the year. I am eager to see what is going to happen to video advertising: it’s still the top marketing medium today, and I am convinced that it will remain one of the main key drivers for the next 5 years. Online video viewing habits are increasing tremendously, and I am curious to see how advertisers will manage to keep their audience engaged. I think we will see an increase in short, concise, and direct video ads. Moreover, with the variety of social media platforms and new emerging platforms such as Twitch and TikTok, the latter which is expected to grow 25% next year, advertisers are multiplying their chances of being seen by their audience. Another trend that is going to gain momentum is personalized advertising through individual content. In today’s world, most consumers claim that personalization plays a role in their shopping decisions. People expect brands to remember who they are, what they like, think and want, and advertisers therefore have to establish a personal connection and adjust their advertising approach based on these expectations. Targeted and personalized marketing will definitely be one of the key trends for the next few years.

Finally, what is your favorite advertising method? 

Honestly, despite the fact that my professional experience makes me aware of marketing methods and how they influence the purchase decision of consumers, I remain a full marketing and advertising “victim” as a private person. I regularly interact with personalized ads, especially on Instagram. I am always impressed to see how well advertisers seem to know me and my tastes. I also really like native integration, which matches the look, feel and function of the media format. It feels more like a recommendation from a friend based on my preferences, rather than an obvious ad.

written by:

Soline Demenois

Lead Partner Marketing Manager

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