Whew… 2020 rocked media planning, buying and spending. Some companies slashed advertising budgets, others doubled down on digital-only tactics, and a few stopped efforts altogether. 2020’s fight or flight reactions are making way for intentionality and smart moves in 2021.
No one has a crystal ball to predict the media landscape as the world recovers from the pandemic, but that shouldn’t stop you from creating and executing media plans.
In this webinar replay, we take a look back at the trends that emerged in 2020 and how they can propel you forward in building a successful 2021 strategy. We explore how to pivot quickly, why you shouldn’t table your media plans, and how to capitalize on efficiencies and track performance.
Well, good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for joining us today. Our topic today is discussing media planning for 2021, after a very complicated and volatile 2020. Before we start, just want to recognize a number of our current clients as was new names that have joined us. We hope that you walk away from this webinar with some valuable perspective. You should plan for the coming year and beyond. DDM can also be a very helpful resource putting this all together.
You can expect a 20 to 25 minute presentation from us and how we recommend approaching the coming year as it relates to media, and then how this can impact your own organization as well. As we go along, feel free to type in your questions into the Q and A portion or save them to the end, either is fine. And we will plan to take up to 15 minutes at the end of our presentation to answer everyone's questions. We're also going to be sending out a follow-up email after the webinar that will have our contact information, our replay link and the slides as well. So hopefully all the information that you need and that you're able to hear today will be accessible to you in the future.
So thank you again for taking the time. My name is Jordan Buning. I'm the president visionary here at DDM Marketing communications of our leadership team. I'm also joined by two members of our media team, Ann Hansen and Troy Boehm. Ann and Troy are media strategists for DDM clients across a wide range of industries that we serve. Our media team takes an integrated approach to media, they combine and meet both digital and offline methods to reach audiences at the right time, the right place in the right context. We appreciate the opportunity to share their insights into the media strategy for 2021.
Briefly give you just a momentary background on DDM in hopes that maybe that'll lend ongoing perspective to how we view the media conversation that we're having today. DDM was founded in 1990 as an integrated marketing communications and technology partner, and we serve businesses throughout the United States. We use these capabilities to help our clients accomplish their business goals using effective marketing communications solutions. There's three ingredients we highlight that contribute to our ability to help our clients. We think beyond the ordinary, we offer a surprising combination of services and capabilities, and we take your business success personally. Our clients value our business-like approach to seeing the opportunities and challenges they face as well as our commitment to creating custom solutions that matter to them. As an integrated marketing solutions partner, DDM can leverage a broad range of skills and mediums across all of your unique business needs. And if you're interested in exploring how DDM can help you, we'd be happy to answer any questions or schedule a conversation in the future.
I want to offer just a brief overview of what we'll be sharing today. We'll start by looking back at 2020, what happened? How do we respond and what changes may have a lasting effect? Next, we'll highlight the issues facing our marketers in 2021, and finally we'll offer our tips for building your 2021 media strategy. Those include reasons to continue to advertise, steps to pivot strategies quickly and efficiently and finding efficiencies and tracking performance.
Developing a plan first requires us to look back. So let's take a quick look back on 2020, bear with me. The year started with a very positive business atmosphere. Expectations for media consumption were very high with both the summer Olympics and an election driving a lot of media demand. By March, we realized at a national level, everything was going to change with COVID-19. Everyone and everything was interrupted at some level at that point. There were other events as well, though, that compounded the complexities of the media landscape in the areas of social justice and political unrest. And we can't ignore at all that each of these impacted the approach that many marketers had to kind of reconsider in their plans.
The red curve that's on the slide in front of you reflects a series of survival adjustments that many of our businesses, including our own had to make, due in part to the shift in the market, consumer and business activities we're experiencing. Most businesses experience a series of immediate tough economic choices. And we would say, not necessarily the best option, just the least bad option was available. Many organizations stopped advertising either out of absolute necessity, businesses shut down, demand went away, or until they could at least figure out how to adapt to the interruption that they were experiencing.
In many cases, organizations really stopped their branding efforts and focused on lower funnel activities to drive sales. They chose direct response activities where ad spend could be immediately reported and optimized for ROI. The recovery phase was when many businesses began to adapt their marketing to operate in an adjusted marketplace. Depending on the industry, business began to pivot and adapt their interaction with the customers even though it was disjointed. Knowing that there were many new variables impacting the forecast, they adjusted their efforts. One thing that was noticed that many of us recognize, the framework we previously used for marketing decisions, including our ad spends have become very unreliable. We had to use a lot more gut decisions throughout the year last year, and many decision-makers recognizes they had to stay very nimble to the present circumstances as it shifted day to day and hour to hour sometimes.
The last phase is the renewal era and it really represents a long-term reset for a lot of businesses. After the era of recovery efforts, businesses are now beginning to lift their view towards the horizon and reassess their long-term plans. For some of us, the events of 2020 have signaled a real overall strategy reset that will impact our interactions with our customers: what we say, how we say it, where we interact with them. Your assessments may range from just some minor adjustments that you need to make to your strategy, to really a full-scale business transformation.
In order to adapt our media efforts, we need to revisit some of the overarching strategy that we're discussing. And assuming strategy is customer-focused, you may need to reevaluate your customer's views and behaviors. This past year influenced their motives and interrupted their habits as well, perhaps temporarily, but some things may be permanent. Imagine the services that are mainstream that we all experienced in this past year, including Shipt, Instacart, and Door Dash, or how telemedicine became a core care delivery mechanism to facilitate safe, timely healthcare. Drivers changed maybe to your benefit, possibly to your detriment.
At a functional level safety and convenience, influence their behavior and their media consumption and reinforced greater online interactions. But we also learned that people still expected to hear from your brands. They wanted an acknowledgement of the realities of the world, and they really wanted to know what your role was in being a part of the solution as well. At a consumption level, we saw a variety of new consumer behaviors. There was obviously a sharp increase in overall time spent with media. The market was much more news driven with all of the world's events. There was a large increase in video consumption. New platforms took off early in this process, including Disney+ and Peacock. TikTok became mainstream and YouTube TV exploded. Outdoor, which dipped in the early part of the year, significantly increased in the latter part. And obviously everything online and digital increased as well, including digital display, social media, which became the platform for communicating with each other. And people were going online to do the things that they might've done that were event based, including expos and conferences.
As a recognition that many factors have changed in a short time, we're all being forced to revisit our approach to marketing. And as you saw with the research on the prior page, we need to revisit our customer profiles and what drives them as well. They need to feel engaged, and only then will they begin to respond to some of the goals that you might have as a business.
The same logic also applies to how you might position your products and your services. Not everything you've said a year ago is still going to be relevant today. Because of the complexity of the audience you're trying to activate, you'll also need to think about the journey towards the outcome you want to accomplish. There's an importance to consider time and place and message for everything. And that's why you also want to hear a lot more conversation about omni-channel marketing as a way to accomplish your goals. Knowing what goal you want for each stage of your interaction is also important to determine what can be measured and what outcome to expect.
And finally, because we're entering into a series of new unknowns and variables, we have to be ready to adapt. What we know today versus July versus December is likely going to change, therefore your strategy and the tools that you'll use will need to be as nimble as ever before. What I'd like to do now is transition the conversation to Ann, one of our media strategists and continue to discuss how to develop your 2021 plan.
Thanks Jordan. Yes, that's right, our media team at DDM has had a busy year. We've been working through all this data that Jordan just talked about and quite frankly, a lot of other data as well. Through it all today we have arrived at basically three overarching strategies that we hope can help you as you look towards your 2021 media strategy. The first one is fairly straightforward: don't stop marketing. The second is a variation on a theme we've heard a lot over the past year, be prepared to pivot. And the final is how to maximize your media budget by leveraging efficiencies and using performance metrics.
So after the rollercoaster that was the year 2020, the first point we want to cover looking ahead at 2021 is as basic and simple as don't stop marketing. For many companies in 2020, there was a common, immediate reaction to pull back substantially. Some companies even completely abandoned top funnel branding tactics and basically maintained tightly targeted digital campaigns, becoming very focused on lead generation tactics and sales revenue tracking. All of this was honestly completely understandable. Consumers were rightfully focused on the pandemic and the shock of their world's turning upside down both professionally and personally.
But now we are past that initial shock, we've entered at 2021. We're still dealing with the crisis that was with us in 2020, we will need resilience and determination to find ways and still support our communities, our customers, our colleagues and families. This time is right. It's right to get out there if you aren't already and get back into some of those bigger top funnel branding techniques. Your customers want to hear from you, they want to know that your brand is secure. They want to know what you're doing to help the community right now. And perhaps they want to know what products they will be purchasing when they're able to.
We know that recovery will vary across industries and individual businesses, but we also know that companies who continue to market will recover faster and more substantially than those that don't. And in the meantime, if your competitors have stopped marketing or cut back, this can also be a great opportunity to gain market share and change consumers' habits. There's a saying in the industry that goes, "When times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must advertise." Easy to say, but not always easy to practice. Luckily, we do have the benefit of history and some examples that can help us justify something that may not feel completely obvious.
So let's explore this idea a little bit further. You've probably heard of this company called Amazon. They found the same to be true for them. Looking back to 2008, the last time our economy turned upside down, the housing market collapse led to some financial uncertainty and many companies saw pretty substantial losses in 2009. Amazon was not one of them. They experienced 28% growth instead. This was not an accident. Amazon found success through innovation and continuing to market. 2009 was the year that they released the Kindle, not exactly a cheap trinket to buy during a major recession. They continued to market and by Christmas, 2009, they saw success from their campaign when, for the first time ever, more eBooks were sold than printed books.
Fast forward to just a few months ago, the recent holidays of 2020, when a global virus created a moment unlike we've ever faced in our lifetimes, Amazon was once again actively marketing and telling the story of hope in the face of uncertainty. All of this also echos a 1980s McGraw Hill study. It's still relevant today. They tracked 600 companies across 16 industries during the early 1980s recession. The findings were remarkable. The companies that continued to advertise saw sales 256% higher post-recession than their counterparts. Those counterparts who chose not to advertise, not only did they not see any growth in market share, but they also saw sales grow at substantially lower amount, only 18% post-recession.
But despite all of this data and kind of the examples in the market, we do understand the temptation to stop, the necessity to save budget, to only focus on immediate sales. But fortunately, we do have some examples to help us kind of explore that option a little bit further and kind of explore sometimes where that may not always be the best plan. One classic example of the industry has Levi's during the 1990s. They had dominated the jeans category through the eighties and nineties and in 1997, they shifted their focus to building another brand in their portfolio, that would be Dockers for all the cool nineties kids in the room. They stopped advertising for Levi's. They assumed that it was so big, and so strong that they're going to need to continue, but they also found out quickly that consumers are fickle and easily distracted. Levi's did not remain dominant, in fact, they saw years of declining sales and it took them over a decade of work to return to stabilization. And keep in mind, this is all back before leggings and joggers were our standard work from home uniform.
What we see in this example is the importance of your pipeline, your buyer's journey. Lay the foundation today for tomorrow's business. When a company starts advertising, they usually don't feel the effects right away. It can be misleading, but this is because your years of previous marketing have built a very solid foundation of awareness and perception of your brand. And it's filled your funnel, filled your pipeline. Those customers are going to continue to purchase for a while, but eventually that pipeline will empty out and your long-term business will see the effects until marketing efforts are renewed and enough time has passed to fill that pipeline and that funnel again.
Millward Brown in 2008, conducted a study that found overall brand awareness to the average consumer drops by about 24% after just a six month break from advertising. So all of this to say, our first recommendation as you look to 2021 planning is don't stop. Keep going, find a way, keep marketing. It's easy to say, but we also know it's not easy to put into practice. So we hope we have a couple more strategies that will help you make the most of your budget and hopefully go to the market a little bit smarter in 2021.
Pivot. Pivot is a word we've heard a lot too in 2020. And well, I wish it was disappearing in 2021, that’s not the case quite yet. As we look ahead to 2021, we still absolutely recommend that you come into the year with a plan, determine budgets, tactics, timing, target audiences. But with that, we also say more than ever be prepared to pivot as needed. So what does that look like? It might mean that planning happens on a quarterly basis and we avoid making annual commitments to vendors. It might mean that we shift some of our focus to use media channels that offer more agility and easier, faster creative changes. We know that it will require watching the market, understanding where your customers are, listening to them and then responding as needed. It might mean dropping a sales message for a branding message or vice versa, it might be dropping a branding message for a sales message when all of a sudden your customers do return in droves.
One final note about pivoting in 2021, please also approach with a little bit of caution. Just because the media tactic has always worked in the past, don't assume that it will work in 2021. On the flip side, just because consumer habits do shift in 2020, don't assume that previous media channels will no longer be effective in 2021. You might find some fantastic opportunities awaiting as consumers eagerly return to some old habits, or you might also find some higher than expected value in some of those channels as well.
Speaking of media channels, this is probably the most common question we get, which media channel is the best? And we really do wish it was that easy, one media channel could bring everyone across the board success. We know that true success requires an omni-channel approach. We have to include multiple tactics and multiple channels. And here at DDM, what we do is we use data to help make those recommendations and craft those combinations. So let's go ahead and start digging into this a little bit deeper and look at some 2020 data and see if that might help us with the predictions for what might look good in 2021.
As Jordan mentioned earlier, 2020 rocked the media world, both on the consumer side and on the business side. Overall, we saw global advertising spend was down over 10%. We saw large increases in top funnel branding, tactics, things like TV, radio magazine, out of home. And we did see some increases, once again, going back to those tactics that could convert bottom funnel, traffic, things like search engine marketing, social media, digital display. But as we look ahead to 2021, the good news is we see that companies are forecasting a 7% increase. They only see a stabilization in some of those top funnel tactics, things like radio billboards and cinema. Along with this, we do see a continued expected presence in those lower funnel conversion tactics as well.
The good news is, companies are planning to return to an investment in their brands with an omni-channel approach that addresses both the needs at the top of the funnel, as well as the needs at the bottom of the funnel. And we know that consumers have shifted their habits as well and we predict that this is actually going to open the doors for some really tremendous value opportunities regarding media purchasing in 2021. With all of the continued uncertainty, though, it is important to find those places of efficiency and just don't carefully track performance along the way. We need to ensure that we're maximizing the media budget that we do spend, and we have to make sure every dollar spent works as hard as possible.
So with that in mind, I'm going to go ahead and turn it over to our digital marketing manager, Troy, and he's going to share some strategies around efficiency and tracking.
Thanks, Ann. Jordan mentioned this earlier, but media consumption has seen a drastic increase over the past year, and that has played a major factor into how advertisers are reacting and adjusting some of their media strategies. Continual improvements in technology have also opened the door to new and emerging media outlets like OTT streaming video and even new social media platforms like TikTok. While not every business would agree that their target audience is on TikTok, it's not unrealistic to think that they eventually might be. There was a time not too long ago when Facebook was looked at as a social media platform for younger people, but that has drastically shifted in recent years.
As Ann previously touched on, this increase in media consumption along with expanding media outlets combined with some advertisers pulling back can create opportunities to explore new advertising tactics. Given the pandemic increased media consumption and emerging channels, there's obviously been a large shift to digital throughout the past year, but that shift can mean many things to many different companies. Some businesses have adopted an e-commerce strategy while others are moving towards more digital tools or shifting budgets to digital in order to help drive leads that otherwise may have come from trade shows or in-person sales meetings.
Regardless of how you are shifting to digital, you should understand where your audience is, what tools or channels you can use to get in front of them, what metrics to focus on and what your overarching goals are. For companies who are shifting to digital or using digital media for the first time can have a perception that because a person clicks on an ad or comes to your website, they should instantly become a lead or customer. This is not always the case based on how users buy or become a lead in the digital age. Because we have easy access to research and customer reviews through numerous internet sources, we are increasingly spending more and more time researching things before we act. And this is true than ever before. And it's also a reason that as we expand our marketing or advertising efforts digitally, we need to understand how engagement metrics play into the performance of our campaigns and how to use data to make continual changes. There is value in having a user engage with your brand and spending time consuming information about your product, service or brand.
Basically everything you do in the media world has data tied to it and in a central part of running an effective media campaign is to use data available to us, to make informed decisions and improvements. Just like it's important to understand your buyer's journey and align your tactics accordingly, it's important to analyze data according to where your user is at in the journey. For example, when you're running more high funnel tactics, things like reach and frequency are important metrics to look at. Mid-funnel tactics should be monitored by more engagement focused metrics, like engagement rate, time on your website or other consumption type metrics that show a user is interested in what you're saying or selling, but they just might not be ready to buy at that moment. Lower funnel metrics then can include slightly stronger calls to action, things like conversion rate or phone calls are metrics we would focus on here.
Other important aspects are to continually test ads and messaging you are using, and what users are doing when they come back to your website. From a media standpoint, we have full control over what we are saying to our audience and what they are seeing when they come to our website, which gives us an advantage because we can make continual improvements based on real-time data that we're seeing. Because there are still so many unknowns about this year, it's very important that we are using the analytics to our advantage and making shifts as opportunities present themselves.
So for a quick recap about what we discussed, we know that the summer Olympics definitely did not happen last year. Q4 of 2020 started to pick back up in terms of businesses reactivating marketing budgets and that's a trend that we're continuing to see this quarter as well. The benefits to continuing your marketing efforts this year outweigh the negative impacts of doing nothing or doing very little. Being nimble and pivoting quickly to account for the changing environment and using analytic data to make consistent improvements to your efforts are things you should be incorporating into your media plans this year.
And with that, that wraps up our presentation and we will now open it up to a Q and A.
Q + A
All right, we do have a question that came in. The first question is, "I'm leading marketing efforts for a healthcare startup with limited marketing budgets, but I know how important media will be for our marketing efforts this year. What is the actual process you use to develop a plan and determine what media tactics to use and how much time to spend on each one?"
Yes, that is a great question. And we do have a pretty robust process for buying media. Like many aspects of marketing, our process really starts with discovery and research. Typically, we work with clients to identify things like who their exact target audience is, identifying key messages or creative, and then really working to identify what specific goals you have and then what your budget is if you have a limited budget. We take all this information and we really use research to identify which digital tools we can use. And that's based on audience consumption data, so we can take your exact audience and plug it into tools and see where they are at digitally.
We use all of this information then to come back to you with a media brief, it's essentially our findings and recommendations based on everything that we discuss with you. And that really helps us to make sure that what we're proposing aligns with your expectations, as well as everything else that you're doing from a marketing standpoint. From there, we work to create a detailed media plan and then begin executing that. And like we stressed throughout, because we have so much data that we can look at and make changes, it's very important that as we lay out that plan, we're prepared to be able to shift budgets between what we're doing to really maximize the return that you're getting.
It looks like another question we have is, "Does anyone still actually read print in 2021 or has nearly that entire audience moved online?"
I can grab that one. I think that's a great question. We definitely have seen pretty substantial changes in that audience and how they're consuming the different types of media. But this is, I would say, one place where I would recommend a little bit of clashing. And again, don’t jump to quick conclusions, I think, look for the value, look at your target audience, look at how they consume media, make a decision based on that. And then the other thing I would say is look for value and appropriate pricing. As we see readership levels maybe changing, we hope that we also see pricing changing to reflect that.
I think one other point to consider is just the power, the strength that a print ad can bring to your overall campaign in terms of the creative message it can carry. We know that print can provide a great space for copy, a little more detailed message and some really powerful imagery all brought together. So I do think there's value in that component as well compared too, sometimes what we can't do on their digital site, where we know a lot of people are consuming the content, but sometimes the creative may not have as much impact there. So yeah, I think it does still have a place. I think you have to approach it with some caution. I wouldn't throw it out the window entirely, but I think that you have to be smart with how you approach it.
Yeah, that is a great question. It's definitely going to have an impact and it's one of those things where throughout the years, there's been many changes to how companies like Google and major corporations like that allow us to target people and also how we're able to use their platforms to target based on information they have. So it's definitely going to be an impact and it's going to be interesting to see how it all unfolds and to see what kind of the industry as a whole and what some of the bigger players do to develop newer technology that allows us to really have some of the same or similar targeting capabilities that are non-cookie based. So it's something that we're definitely keeping an eye on and kind of following some of the big movers in the area to see what they're doing so that we can just stay in front of it as much as we can, and then really adjust and react accordingly to how things unfold.
All right. Maybe we have time for one more, if anyone has some lingering questions. Oh, here we go. Here's another one, "Do you think the smart move enables as much first party data collection as possible?"
Yes, I definitely do. And that's kind of leads into another growing area, which is marketing automation. So I think the more that you can collect and get your own first party data, that definitely gives you an advantage, especially with any of the GDPR or any of the privacy laws that are also being enacted, that just gives you an advantage. And especially what we're seeing from a number of different tools we have digitally is the ability to leverage first party data. So especially in the B2B world, that's huge. We have tools and capabilities that we can plug in to target people specifically based on their different attributes, like their email, name, address. And then from there, we're also able to kind of branch out and create audiences that are very similar in nature to them based on user habits. But yeah, so to your answer to your question, yes, the more you can leverage and acquire first party data is great. And then that'll give you a big advantage.
I'd add to it as well that I think we've seen in the era that we're in the more we can leverage information and communicate more timely and more directly. Our relationships in healthcare, a lot of service organizations that are delivering critical infrastructure services are realizing how important it is to get the word out in a timely fashion. So it's really been a component that I think everybody is reevaluating is, what kind of data do we have and how fast in what ways can we communicate with people?
Any other questions? Or I think we're all set. We do want to thank everybody for participating in the webinar today. And we are always going to be available, if you have follow up questions, feel free to reach out to us, but you'll be receiving an email with some of the information that we shared. And we thank you for your time and we hope you received some benefit from it today. Thank you very much.
Digital marketing manager