Get ready for 2021: AI, Video and Social are big bets ahead

Phew, what a year! That’s the least we can say about 2020. With a pandemic, widespread disruptions in the way we operate and do business and a more virtually collaborative atmosphere, it’s made us adapt and evolve to a large extent.

As a digital marketing expert, I’m putting together a list of the most significant areas for change, how they’ve evolved and what lies in store in 2021.

Here are the highlights of the year:

  1. Artificial Intelligence

AI tools and platforms have equipped most businesses to optimise logistics, predict behaviours and patterns and use data to drive revenue. It created and established chatbots, IoT, deliver better analytics, automated campaigns and much, much more. In fact, PWC reports that India’s AI adoption rose by 45% during 2020.

AI integration in digital marketing will enhance reach for campaigns, track operations and lead to better customer satisfaction. The evidence for this approach is already here. Cadbury’s Diwali campaign utilised AI to add geo-specific merchant information and drive home the message for Vocal4Local beautifully. The result? Users could see customised, local store information depending on where they viewed the campaign.

I predict more optimised marketing, based on data from online search patterns, preferences and interests. Higher engagement, reach, better ROI and conversions will make this combination truly one to watch out for.

  1. Voice Assistance:

Voice has been the logical step forward in terms of integrated digital experiences, especially search. ‘Okay, Google’ and ‘Hey Siri’ are just the icing – 8 billion people will move to digital assistants by 2023, whereas 25% digital workers would move to voice search enabled virtual employee assistants by the end of the coming year.

Specifically, what’s on the road ahead? Voice-search features within business and consumer settings will lead to improved native search updates, better purchase journeys and hence, comprehensive, voice-based marketing strategies.

  1. Viral goes local, regional:

While most of India has gorged itself on social media consumption during the lockdown days, it’s click-friendly nature has given to rise to several, intensely local viral trends. Case in point, Baba Ka Dhaba, Rasode Mein Kaun Tha and Joshi Uncle’s Recycled Bags.

That’s just the beginning of a social media revolution, fuelled through brand and influencer interactions on newer, Desi replicants for TikTok (after the Chinese app was banned), Stories on Facebook, Instagram reels and others. The content is also increasingly local, fuelled by Tier II and Tier III cycles and ensuring massive adoption.

So, what can we expect from 2021? Brands will focus on these new content creators and consumers, buying into meme-worthy, nostalgic and socially conscious messaging, to act as buoys for their messages. It would be a cost-effective play too.

  1. Video advertising

Follow the eyeballs and you’ll hit viewership gold. A lot of brands understood this message over 2020, opting for collaborations on YouTube, with podcasts and on Stories on social media platforms. Alongside this, they also began to adopt video-based advertising aggressively.

Even with trimmed ad budgets, video has consistently shown a higher return, as compared to other ad formats, with Verizon quoting a 40% ROI with in-stream content and 31% with branded content. Quicker capsules – 10 seconds or less are even better at getting the message across, without being marked as obtrusive.

And the road ahead in 2021? Mobile will fuel aggressive consumption of video ads, either through streaming services or platforms like Facebook and YouTube. Adoption of vertical or square videos will also increase as these are fit to go across all platforms and feeds. 

On the whole, 2021 will be a year of recovery for businesses after the massive hits due to the pandemic and global recession. Digital marketers – get ready to adapt and evolve early, so that you can reap the most benefits from it all. 

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sadiya khan
Sadiya Khan, Founder of Akund Communications, a 360° communications firm, Sadiya specializes in PR and digital marketing communication with more than 13 years of experience. She has worked with both, well-reputed PR firms as well as Corporates.

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