Advertising Week 2020 Recap: Top 5 Takeaways

August 12, 2021
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    Advertising Week 2020 was unlike any other – a fully online digital experience where the worlds of marketing, media, technology, and creative all converged for sessions devoted to over 100 hours of programming.

    All content and sessions were available on-demand and offered networking opportunities with peers to connect and learn from top global industry leaders. And while COVID definitely put a damper on the NYC-based activities, in some ways, the virtual nature made it more inclusive and gave more people the opportunity to attend.

    With so much information shared during this unprecedented global event, the challenge lies in the ability to cut through the proverbial noise to condense what is relevant to easily actionable insights.

    Our Top 5 Takeaways:


    1. The Future of Streaming is Now!

    If COVID has taught us anything it’s that television continues to be the king of all media. A Nielsen survey conducted in August 2020 found that streaming consumption from over-the-top (OTT) capable homes accounted for 25% of consumers’ television consumption. Even cell phone carrier, T-Mobile, is getting in on the action by relaunching its paid streaming service.

    Podcasting is also emerging as an easy-to-consume medium for both business and personal interests. In fact, in the first few weeks of the pandemic, podcast listens increased 42% globally. Podcast figures in the U.S. – closely tied to commuting behaviors – initially dropped, but has recently begun a resurgence as the pandemic continues.

    2. Finding New Customers in a Privacy-Centric World

    Customers are increasingly wary about where and how their personal data is used. Increasingly, government regulations over data privacy, including General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), among others, are redefining how brands and businesses remain in compliance.

    This makes for a great opportunity for brands, as well as data and marketing solutions providers alike, to build consumer trust and demonstrate transparency in how and where their personal data is being used. For example, hotel chains, Marriott and Hilton, launched campaigns announcing how they recently enhanced cleaning protocols, partnering with noted health organizations and utilizing technology to better ensure the safety and security of their guests.

    3. Holiday 2020 Predictions: People WILL Spend and Holiday Shopping Will Start Earlier

    Despite the uncertainty of the continuing pandemic, it is anticipated that consumers’ frugal buying habits, which include cutting back on travel and dining, for example, may be a boon for retailers this holiday season.

    Deloitte’s annual holiday retail forecast, from mid-September, predicted a modest 1 to 1.5% increase in holiday retail sales, with e-commerce sites anticipated to grow from between 25% to 35% this holiday season, compared to holiday 2018.

    A recent Coresight Research survey that found that 25% of shoppers plan on beginning their holiday shopping earlier this year. The same survey also found that Amazon would begin their traditional Black Friday sales earlier this year (perhaps even weeks earlier)!  Reputable shippers – including UPS and FedEx, among others – having rigid holiday shipping deadlines. So, it makes sense to get holiday shopping completed early – taking into account the anticipated inventory run-throughs and increase in holiday sales conducted online.

    4. The Marriage of B2B and Consumer Marketing:  The New People-Based Marketing

    Traditionally, marketers, agencies and other companies that cater to them have focused on either B2B or B2C (consumer marketing). While many would argue that the lines between the two have been blurred for quite some time,  the pandemic has only accelerated this trend.

    Whether a business is focused on B2B or a consumer brand in London, New York, Hong Kong, or Djibouti, we have all faced the same challenges – how to quickly pivot our marketing efforts towards customer acquisition and retention during these uncertain times.

    In the age when some marketers still adhere to targeting their distinct buyer- or business-personas, the pandemic has forced many businesses to evolve and look at the merging of B2B and consumer marketing to recognize that we are essentially marketing to people.

    While people-based marketing is not a new concept, the pandemic has caused a global disruption in how we all conduct business. Both as businesses and consumers, we all now have an expectation of cultivating personal connections with the people and businesses with whom we surround ourselves.

    Also impacting this shift were the stay-at-home orders that first accompanied the pandemic. Businesses, retailers and restaurants especially, were among the first to experience the immediate effects of this disruption.

    Social media channels (and other forms of home- and mobile-based media – whether OTT, CTV, or gaming), have soared. Kantar also found that 61% of those surveyed are spending more time on social media during the pandemic, with platforms such as LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Snapchat, also showing a dramatic increase in usage.

    B2B companies and brands quickly realized that having social data at their fingertips has become a ‘need to have,’ rather than a ‘nice to have’ to gain valuable insights that could be quickly utilized – hence, the booming growth for e-commerce sites.

    In September, for example, Adobe Analytics found that online sales surged year-over-year by 43% – despite. or perhaps because – of the pandemic. With consumers increasingly looking for easier and more convenient shopping options, the concept of ‘buy online, pick up in-store’ (BOPIS) is anticipated to remain solid post-pandemic.

    5. The Future of Marketing Without Third-Party Cookies

    With the recent passing of privacy legislation that gave us GDPR and CCPA, with more likely to come sooner rather than later, it wasn’t a surprise when Google Chrome took direct aim at third-party cookies as being next on the proverbial chopping block in a global effort to help protect consumer privacy.

    There are other effective strategies to market to your customers or prospects – such as contextual or behavioral targeting; or by utilizing your company’s or clients’ first-party data – for example – that may surprisingly make for even more effective targeting. And, opportunities abound in developing relationships and crafting campaigns around the use of second-party data.

    If you don’t already have one, consider creating a email newsletter with compelling content for your customers and prospects, which will allow you to create a list of subscribers, which can be utilized to qualify leads for your sales team.  With social media usage increasing during the pandemic, creating social media ads on platforms such as Facebook or Google AdWords, can also be used to move leads through the funnel.

    Also, create a strategic retargeting campaign to bring back lapsed customers – adding in a compelling offer they simply can’t refuse.


    While COVID has caused an unprecedented global disruption, as the saying goes, “The show must go on.” Advertising Week 2020 was a microcosm of what is happening in every corner of the world.

    Educators and students must get back to the business of learning. Meanwhile, B2B businesses, retailers, restaurants, and consumers worldwide must continue living their daily lives – both at work and at home – albeit with a new set of safety guidelines at the forefront.

    Although we don’t quite know how long the uncertainty will last, one thing we do know: The global unpredictability in the marketplace has forever changed every aspect of how we live our lives and conduct business.

    Whether it’s online shopping with home delivery or ordering online from our favorite restaurant or grocery store with contactless delivery or curbside pickup, the disruption we’ve all felt has challenged marketers and consumers alike to think beyond our comfort zones and has shined a light to illustrate that no matter the circumstances or uncertainties – from our neighborhoods to what’s happening globally – the customer experience always comes first. 

    Contact Stirista for more information or if you are ready to get started on your next campaign.