Mark Read, the head of ad giant WPP – whose holdings include media buying shops such as GroupM, Mindshare and Mediacom – is expecting a “sharp rebound” in advertising in 2021. He expects to see advertising and marketing budgets grow 12.3% next year. “The main beneficiaries will be the big digital platforms, but we do expect to see growth in linear television and traditional media even as they continue to lose share,” Read told the Wall Street Journal. GroupM earlier released a 6.6% projected growth rate for audio in the year to come. Read told the paper one of the things he is most uncertain about is how much the flood of streaming video options will impact the video ad market, and whether consumers have enough of an appetite for subscription fees to allow all of the services to survive.
The agency head said he expects consumer confidence to tick higher as more Americans get a coronavirus vaccine. Read told the Journal that one of his biggest worries is how WPP employees will cope with pandemic restrictions as they continue into 2021. “Before 2020, for some people “well-being” was just a trendy corporate buzzword. Today it’s a business imperative for everyone,” he said.
Jaime Robinson, Chief Creative Officer at the agency Joan Creative, told the Journal that she too thinks the coming year will see marketing budgets snap back. “The ‘Roaring 2020s’ are about to be upon us, and with it, explosive business growth,” she said. "With the vaccine here, we’re looking at a global tidal wave of pent-up demand, especially in the areas of travel and hospitality, entertainment, experiences and fashion.”
Yet there remains some uncertainty about the business climate and that has some ad professionals urging caution. Rishad Tobaccowala, a former Publicis Groupe executive who is now working as a consultant, predicted the ad business will face “a number of challenges” next year. But the impact will be felt by the ad agencies the most as digital captures more dollars with buys going to fewer companies. He told the Journal that agencies will need to embrace a wider definition of what “advertising” is.
Insurance has been one of radio’s best-preforming national advertising categories in 2020. Aditi Javeri Gokhale, the Chief Commercial Officer and President of Investment Products at Northwestern Mutual, thinks consumers will continue to wrestle with what to expect in 2021. She told the Journal that means companies like hers will need to be focused on their core purpose and value proposition to their customers.
“It’s not about marketing, messaging or creating an image,” said Gokhale. “It’s truly about being authentic and living your purpose in a way that consumers see you as genuinely different.”