Predictions2021: Business growth, Choueiri Group’s Mathieu Yarak #Marcomms360

When change is the only constant, predictions arise, writes Mathieu Yarak, research director, Choueiri Group.

With the media world standing at a turning point, the unprecedented nature of this year has made it even harder to predict the future.

In 2020, we set aside everything we had known, became agile and did our best to become extremely reactive and creative about the solutions we provided for our clients. Our 2021 predictions are therefore guiding steps, aimed at helping you sustain business growth in the coming year, by reaching and connecting with your audiences, clients and stakeholders in more meaningful ways.

1. Ad spend

Overall the industry’s ad spending will flatten: Ad spend will be maintained as a Covid-19 vaccine is distributed in early 2021. Digital will gain the greater share (48 per cent of the total industry).

TV ad spending will flatten in 2021 after a recovery in 2020: After a continuous decline (pre-Covid-19), TV recovered and soared in 2020 due to an increase in stay-at-home TV consumption. Regaining its audience attachment, while attracting new viewers, TV’s spend and share will remain stable in 2021.

MENA retail e-commerce sales will reach a new high in the coming two years: With the digital transformation of the region’s retail sector, e-commerce sales will rise by 80 per cent (from $26.9bn in 2018 to $48.6bn in 2022). The pandemic has played a major role in shaping digital shoppers: 25 per cent of current Saudi online shoppers are new to online. 75 per cent have increased their buying frequency.

E-commerce ad revenue will become the real threat to the digital duopoly: In 2020, Amazon’s US ad spend surged and grew by 41 per cent to reach $14.55bn (compared with 1.4 per cent for Google and 12.4 per cent for Facebook). The pandemic accelerated this growth as consumers shifted towards online shopping and performance became the go-to KPI for brands’ survival. Amazon is growing across the region and recently opened its Saudi hub, agency and marketplace consultancy, Podean.

2. Data and measurement

With the GDPR, CCPA, APPI in Japan, and Google planning to phase out support for third-party cookies, plus Apple’s IDFA opt-in overhaul, a new digital era when consumers own their data and decide who gets to use
it has begun. Moving forward, we forsee
two scenarios:

Targeting: More solutions will emerge. Current solutions are still works in progress trying to increase their accuracy and scale. The move to next-generation DMPs, along with multiple identity solutions, which are vital yet have their own challenges (driven by consent independent of third-party cookies and where the main challenge is scale), will become essential for cross-device tracking.

Measurement: There will be more pressure on measurement solutions to cope with a cookie-less world. Without third-party cookies (vital for accurate attribution models that enable brands to assess the impact of every touchpoint on campaign performance), marketers and publishers will seek new hybrid measurement solutions, while advertisers will begin incorporating incrementality models into their overall analysis. With Apple’s latest announcement, we will witness this transition taking shape in 2021.

3. Consumer Behaviour

Audience behaviours will be more complex and difficult to decipher in 2021.

Facing a new audience (the periodical media consumer): The audience that brands were communicating with during the pandemic will change post-pandemic. The ‘periodical media consumer’ had non-linear consumption habits, based on seeking entertainment at home. With increased time spent on every single video content platform (TV, VOD, video, etc.) they also became content selection experts in a fragmented media scene. How long will their habits sustain and what implications will they have on media hubs and brands?

The new hybrid shopper: Consumers expressed their willingness to continue online shopping (with the exception of a few categories) without dropping offline shopping (part of their culture and
daily lives).

Luxury – the rise of the hybrid shopper: Traditionally driven by brick-and-mortar sales, owing to high product values and personalised shopping experiences, luxury consumers are now shifting to online. The share of dual luxury buyers is predicted to increase post-Covid from 8 per cent to 18 per cent in the UAE and from 9 per cent to 22 per cent in KSA, where offline purchases are forecasted to dip down to 47 per cent from 80 per cent.

User experience (UX) – the lungs that sustain digital shoppers: Digitally transformed brands must create a human connection online to survive. Today’s experienced shoppers will not tolerate any bumps and seek a seamless experience, from search to receiving the product. Within our fragmented landscape, the user experience defines success and retention.