It goes without saying that 2020 was a turbulent year for advertisers. What to expect for 2021 is a mystery to a large extent. But there are a few things that are likely to happen and that advertisers should factor in. 

Here are some of our predictions for 2021 and what you should probably action on in the year to come.

Investing more into measurement will be needed

Facebook attribution is growing and getting more attention. More advertisers are starting to understand how to look at attribution from several angles and derive more meaning from them. Especially interchannel and interdevice connectivity data is becoming more accessible and can have an impact on the overall marketing mix of companies investing time and money into understanding this.

 

Learning more about impact of choice of attribution mode on performance is getting increasingly transparent.

Device interrelationship understanding can change how we allocate marketing budgets and campaign focus.

Understanding what parts of a multi targeted / segmented audience that work takes testing

 

In 2021, we are expecting even more sophistication around audience creation and mix’n’match targeting opportunities. Getting to the bottom of what actually works requires more testing. The most widely used testing on Facebook is A/B testing, but Facebook also recommends using multi cell tests with a control group to help determine the incremental value. Here’s a direct link for those who want to get started right away.

Ad format opportunities will grow

 

When Facebook started, both ad formats and targeting options were highly limited. Today, Facebook has seen the same journey as Google with increasing options available to savvy marketers.

The baseline right now before entering 2021 is:

  • Photo
  • Video
  • Messenger
  • Stories
  • Slideshow
  • Carousel
  • Collection
  • Playables 

Who knows what else Facebook is coming up with in 2021. Mixing this up with targeting options available makes the number of campaigns you can make pretty much endless and that can be a bit problematic.

This requires all advertisers to be sharp around understanding what the individual formats bring to the table in terms of effectiveness and efficiency. 

When push comes to shove, it’s still the same questions you want to be asking yourself: 

  1. What do we want to achieve?
  2. Who are we trying to reach out to? 

Plowing through opportunities in the ad format/targeting landscape will take a bit longer. Savvy advertisers will thrive and new advertisers and the SMB segment generally will be more confused.

Audiences might get more restricted

 

With the increasing restrictions on third party cookie usage and the Apple IOs14 actively asking for permission to track user behavior on Apple devices, we might see the usual audiences lists “money makers” be diminished over time as fewer users are being tracked.

This will have both an impact on the size of audiences of course, but also on the amount of active lists available. While the operational effect will be easier (fewer lists to manage), advertisers will to a certain extent struggle with getting the same volume of sales and return from the advertising efforts. 

It’s a challenge both for advertisers as well as for Facebook to solve for the transition from the third party to first-party cookie advertising. 

Machine learning is coming

While manual optimisation opportunities seem endless with the included hit and miss that comes with the territory, Facebook will most likely introduce more features around campaign automation. Already now, Facebook has options available that are driven by AI and machine learning that could help your business grow and will probably introduce more potential features in 2021. Read more about how Facebook looks at AI and machine learning here

 

With the ever-changing Facebook algorithm, you can expect your ads to be served to the right people at the right time. Machine learning is getting advanced really fast, so you will no longer need to specify the country when creating a lookalike audience. That led us to believe that Facebook has this under control. 

 

Machine learning is coming

 

While manual optimisation opportunities seem endless with the included hit and miss that comes with the territory, Facebook will most likely introduce more features around campaign automation. Already now, Facebook has options available that are driven by AI and machine learning that could help your business grow and will probably introduce more potential features in 2021. Read more about how Facebook looks at AI and machine learning here

With the ever-changing Facebook algorithm, you can expect your ads to be served to the right people at the right time. Machine learning is getting advanced really fast, so you will no longer need to specify the country when creating a lookalike audience. That led us to believe that Facebook has this under control. 

 

Video will continue to be a bigger part of the Facebook ad universe

Video continues to grow. Here’s a few numbers gathering by Hubspot:

From Facebook’s own insights

With Facebook’s own mobile studio, advertisers are making video ads on the fly and at scale easily. Other platforms such as Promo.com and Canva.com are also making life easier for the average advertiser to create videos that look and feel professional.  

During COVID-19 an increasing number of retail brand owners have been forced to shut down stores while at the same time clothing and design conventions to advertise by being cancelled. Without Facebook Live, getting new product lines out would be nearly impossible. Those advertisers who dared to change the marketing model have seen great developments. This will undoubtedly continue into 2021 as we are not completely out of the woods (understatement in progress).

What you need to do to seize 2021

Most advertisers are at different maturity stages and have immersed themselves in some areas while others are being neglected. Nevertheless, here are some universal recommendations that will suit 99% of advertisers going into 2021

  1. Learn more about Facebook attribution and generally learn more about attribution if you don’t already know. This will help you and your business to truly understand the numbers you are looking at.
  2. Set up A/B and multi-cell testing. If you are completely unfamiliar with control group testing, start small and invest a bit of time to find out what the differences are in performance. Little by little.
  3. Remember to revisit your strategy annually (at least!): 
    1. Are you using the right ad formats for your strategy?
    2. Are you on top of targeting opportunities?
  4. Facebook will be pushing out more automation and AI driven tools and features. Follow the blogs and newsletters sent out and be ready to test.
  5. Nail Video in 2021. If you don’t have much video right now, remember that it doesn’t take a lot anymore to get started and time/resources are manageable, especially considering the solid performance outcome for those who dare. Keep investing in areas you know will prevail in the long run. Video is here to stay.

 

What do you think will be big in 2021?

Write a comment and tell us what you think will be big in 2021 or if you have questions related to your own marketing activities.

Peter Crone Nielsen

Tamara Popovic

Digital Marketing Specialist

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