US Consumer Video Game Spending Reaches Record $60.4 Billion In 2021

The NPD Group has released its US games industry report, covering digital, retail and e-tail sales for December 2021 and all of last year. 

According to the findings—based on the firm’s monthly POS tracking services as well as consumer data from other NPD trackers, monitors and reports—compared to one year ago, consumer spending across video game hardware, content and accessories dropped by 1 percent to a total of $7.5 billion in December 2021. Consumer spending in all of 2021 increased by 8 percent to a record $60.4 billion.

Spending on content in December 2021 remained roughly the same as December 2020 at $5.7 billion as increased subscription and recurrent spending across PC, console and mobile platforms countered reduced spending on premium games. Spending on hardware and accessories dropped 3 percent and 9 percent, respectively, in December 2021 as compared to the same time in 2020.


Video Game Hardware

Video game hardware sales in December 2021 fell 3 percent to $1.3 billion compared to December 2020. Despite the decline, overall spending on hardware in 2021 increased 14 percent to reach $6.1 billion as compared to the same time in 2020.

Nintendo Switch was the best-selling hardware platform in units sold in December 2021. In terms of dollar sales, Nintendo Switch and Sony Playstation 5 were tied. As for all of 2021, Nintendo Switch led in unit and dollar sales.


Premium Game Tracked Dollar Sales (Excludes Post Launch Spending)

Call of Duty: Vanguard was December’s best-selling game. As a video game franchise, Call of Duty was the best-selling in terms of tracked dollar sales for its 13th consecutive year. In 2021, Call of Duty: Vanguard and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War ranked as the top best-selling games.

Halo: Infinite was both the second best-selling game in December 2021 and the best-selling game on Xbox platforms, according to NPD.

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl was the third best-selling game in December 2021 and ranked first on Nintendo platforms for December as well as for 2021. Last year’s dollar sales of Pokémon franchise physical software reached its highest annual total since 2000. 

Resident Evil: Village was the eighth best-selling game in December 2021 and franchise dollar sales reached a new record annual high in the US market.

MLB The Show 21 – the best-selling baseball game in the US – was the ninth best-selling game in December 2021. It ranked fifth on Playstation platforms and 18th on Xbox (excluding digital sales).

Of the 20 best-sellers in 2021, seven also ranked among the top 20 in 2020, including Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Mario Kart 8.


Mobile

Based on mobile spending data from Sensor Tower, NPD found that December 2021 was the third-largest month for spending in the last three years for the US, and the best December ever. Compared to 2020, US consumer spending on mobile games increased by about 14 percent in 2021.

Consumers spent more than $2 billion on mobile games through the App Store and Google Play each month including and between February and December 2021.

Candy Crush Saga, Roblox and Coin Master were among the top US mobile games by revenue in 2021.


Video Game Accessories

Compared to December 2020, video game accessories sales were down 9 percent in December 2021 to reach a total of $493 million. Throughout all of 2021, accessories sales amounted to $2.7 billion – a 2 percent increase year-over-year.

The Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller was the best-selling accessory of December 2021, while the PS5 DualSense Wireless Controller White was the year’s best-seller.

IPG Mediabrands Elevates Lynn Lewis To Global Chief Marketing Officer

This week in leadership updates, IPG Mediabrands promotes Lynn Lewis to global chief marketing officer, Berlanti Productions and Berlanti-Schechter Films appoints Suzanne Gomez as chief marketing officer and head of talent relations, Red Lobster hires Patty Trevino as chief marketing officer and more.


IPG Mediabrands Promotes Lynn Lewis To Global Chief Marketing Officer

IPG Mediabrands has appointed Lynn Lewis as global chief marketing officer, according to Adweek.

Lewis enters into the role after having served as Universal McCann’s chief executive officer for the US.


Berlanti Productions and Berlanti-Schechter Films Hires Suzanne Gomez As Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Talent Relations

Berlanti Productions and Berlanti-Schechter Films have tapped Suzanne Gomez as chief marketing officer and head of talent relations.

Gomez joins from The CW where she served as senior vice president of publicity.


Red Lobster Taps Patty Trevino As First Chief Marketing Officer

Red Lobster has named Patty Trevino chief marketing officer.

Previously, Trevino served as CKE Restaurants’ senior vice president, marketing.


IBM Chief Marketing Officer Carla Piñeyro Sublett Exits

IBM’s chief marketing officer Carla Piñeyro Sublett has stepped down, reports Adweek.

As the company streamlines roles, Jonathan Adashek has taken on additional responsibilities in his new role as chief communications officer and senior vice president of marketing and communications. Adashek joined IBM as chief communications officer in January 2020.


Variety Elevates Dea Lawrence To Chief Operating And Marketing Officer

Dea Lawrence, Variety’s chief marketing officer since October 2015, has accepted a promotion as the company’s chief operating and marketing officer.

Since joining, Lawrence has dramatically expanded Variety’s business operations, according to Variety.

Lawrence previously led Variety’s digital sales and marketing departments from 2001 to 2008.


Priscilla Kotey Elevated To Senior Vice President At Warner Music Ireland

Priscilla Kotey has been promoted to Warner Music Ireland’s senior vice president.

Kotey enters her new role after having served as Warner Music Ireland’s marketing and promotions manager since 2008.

App Annie: Mobile Ad Spend Reaches $295 Billion In 2021

Mobile adoption soared in 2021 with growth across usage, downloads and app store consumer spend. App Annie’s “State of Mobile 2022” report breaks down those numbers and trends across mobile gaming, finance, retail and other sectors.

Globally, last year saw 230 billion downloads, $170 billion in consumer spend and a combined 3.8 trillion hours spent on mobile. The US experienced tremendous growth in consumer spend due in part to mobile gaming and in-app subscriptions going mainstream, adding an additional $10.4 billion on top of 2020’s figure for a total of $43 billion in 2021.

Emerging markets, on the other hand, had the most growth when it came to downloads. Pakistan, Peru and the Philippines were among the fastest-growing markets for downloads at 25 percent growth year-over-year each. China had the most with close to 100 billion downloads, followed by India (about 28 billion) and the US (about 11 billion).

The weighted average of time spent in mobile apps globally in 2021 approached five hours per day, an increase of 30 percent since 2019. South Korean, Brazilian and Indonesian users surpassed five hours per day while Americans spent just over four hours per day on mobile devices.

The pandemic stimulated existing mobile habits which were solidified in 2021. Users engaged more deeply in early-mover categories like social and communication and photo and video, App Annie found. Seventy percent of the time spent on mobile last year was spent in social and photo and video apps like YouTube and TikTok.

Despite the fact that photo and video apps experienced an increase in market share of time spent, current habits haven’t shifted much. Rather, consumers converted historically ‘non-mobile’ time into time spent on apps and playing games.

In 2021, 233 apps and games generated over $100 million as consumers shifted their consumption of entertainment and games to mobile, a 20 percent increase from 2020. Improved connectivity, screen size and hardware are a few explanations for why the shift was so seamless. Thirteen apps and games even surpassed $1 billion in consumer spend, according to App Annie.

The top Gen Z app by monthly active users by likelihood of use in 2021 was Instagram. for millennials it was Facebook and for Gen X and baby boomers, it was BOM Weather.

Global mobile ad spend increased by 23 percent YoY to reach $295 billion in 2021. Amid an economic rebound and cyclical events such as the EUFA European Championship and the Tokyo Olympics, coupled with engrained mobile habits, ad dollars flowed to mobile as the primary channel for engaging users—representing 70 percent of ad spend. 

With the Beijing Olympics and the US midterm elections slated for next year, the majority of digital ad spend is expected to be driven by mobile. App Annie expects global mobile ad spend to reach $350 billion next year.

Brands seeking to capitalize on this phenomenon should keep an eye on changing best practices in mobile advertising, determine which ad creatives perform best and study growth strategies employed by leaders in the mobile user acquisition landscape.

Moving on to mobile games, App Annie found an additional $16 billion in gaming consumer spend was added in 2021 for a total of $116 billion. Additionally, 2021 saw mobile game downloads hit 82.98 billion with 3.03 billion having been added last year alone.

Hit games such as Roblox and Genshin Impact experienced tremendous growth globally while Harry Potter Magic Awakened and League of Legends: Wild Rift saw growth in China. 

In finance, Gen Z are most likely to use trading apps and neobanks across regions while Gen X and baby boomers largely use retail banks. Gen Z also prefer to use money transfer apps like Venmo due to their increasing comfort with—and reliance on—their mobile phones. 

Finance app publishers seeking to capture some of this market should recognize Gen Z’s expectations involving fast and simple money movement and financial flexibility.

Mobile retail apps fared extremely well last year. Time spent in shopping apps reached over 100 billion hours globally, up from roughly 85 billion in 2020 for an 18 percent YoY increase. Fast fashion, social shopping and mobile-savvy big-box players experienced particularly strong movement.

Indonesia (52 percent), Singapore (46 percent) and Brazil (45 percent) were among the countries that experienced uniquely strong growth in retail apps.

The total number of hours spent watching video streaming apps grew by 16 percent globally since before the pandemic with Indonesia, Russia and Argentina contributing the greatest increases. China saw a decline of over 40 percent as consumers gravitated toward short-form video apps like TikTok and Kwai, which saw total time spent in-app increase by 205 percent and 225 percent since 2019, respectively. 

Among video streaming trends, the research shows exclusive content releases drove surges in video streaming app downloads as more people were forced indoors due to the pandemic. Providers remained competitive by utilizing exclusive content releases to capture market share. The TV series Made for Love, for example, coincided with a 61 percent spike in HBO Max app downloads, while Squid Game’s release coincided with a 6 percent increase in Netflix app downloads, according to App Annie.

In the quick-service restaurant (QSR) space, branded food delivery keywords dominated the top searches in 2021 in established markets such as the US, UK and France, followed by QSR brand names. 

“Food” was a top-five keyword in several regions and the first most-searched keyword in Canada, Mexico and Australia, and the second most-searched keyword in Turkey.

In terms of social media, the amount of time mobile users spent in the top 25 live streaming apps outpaced the social market by a factor of nine and experienced YoY growth of 40 percent compared to all social apps (5 percent). Live streaming apps drove significant consumer spend in social apps as consumers tip their favorite content creators. Global consumer spend in the top 25 live streaming apps experienced YoY growth of 55 percent.

TikTok was 2021’s clear winner in terms of per-user engagement among the top five social apps that command the most time spent. TikTok also experienced the greatest in-depth engagement over the last four years, reaching an average of roughly 20 hours spent per user per month, matching Facebook and outpacing WhatsApp Messenger, Instagram and Facebook Messenger.

Demand for avatar social apps has increased as consumers gain interest in metaverses, including Litmatch, REALITY by Wright Flyer and ZEPETO, with downloads having grown 160 percent YoY. Litmatch downloads alone grew 405 percent YoY.

Lexus’ Digital-Heavy NX Car Campaign Targets Young, Diverse Drivers

Lexus’ new NX car campaign, “Hustle for What Matters,” which introduces the luxury carmaker’s new plug-in electric vehicle, the NX 450h+, aims to appeal to young, diverse drivers with different definitions of accomplishment. 

Leaning heavily into the digital and streaming space, Lexus says the campaign is designed to reach “those with great ambition who are carving their own paths,” whether that means being able to travel, taking over the esports world or leveraging technology to create better balance in their lives.

The fully integrated media campaign for NX will come to life via Twitch, 100 Thieves, Google and Roku. Lexus will take aspiring Twitch creators for a ride in the NX vehicle, where they’ll have the chance to pitch their most unique stream ideas. Fans will then get to decide which creator will be able to make their idea a reality. 

This marks the carmaker’s second collaboration with Twitch. For their first partnership, which centered around the launch of the 2021 Lexus IS sports sedan, Lexus hosted two livestreamed events on Twitch that concluded with a takeaway for gamers: a Lexus IS concept car designed by the attendees.

Next, Lexus plans to create a graphic representation of 100 Thieves’ League of Legends Championship win using gameplay data from the victory. It’ll then turn the graphic into a car wrap for a customized 100T x Lexus NX that highlights the car’s connected features and tech-forward design.

Lexus also developed a custom, Google Cloud-streamed augmented reality experience around the NX, available to watch via YouTube and on Lexus.com.

Lastly, for its media campaign, Lexus is teaming with Roku through the OneView platform and leveraging Roku’s proprietary first-party data to maximize unique omnichannel reach to traditional pay-TV.

Seven broadcast spots are also part of the “Hustle for What Matters” campaign and will air during primetime and sports including the Winter Games, March Madness and NBA. According to the release, some of these were created for black, Hispanic, LGBTQ, East Asian and Asian Indian audiences. 

One spot shows a pair of black filmmakers leveraging the tech found in the NX to “capture something truly extraordinary,” according to the press release. Another spot, focused on the Hispanic audience, shows how the NX helps forge a new path amid hardships.

In addition to broadcast, the NX campaign will utilize social videos and out-of-home media, including airports, rideshare, ski resorts and billboards.

OOH Advertising Up 38% In Q3 2021

Based on the Out of Home Advertising Association of America’s (OAAA) out-of-home (OOH) ad revenue report, OOH advertising revenue increased 38 percent in Q3 2021 to $1.75 billion compared to the previous year. Surging 56 percent compared to Q3 2020, digital OOH is leading the overall OOH recovery. Since the beginning of 2021, OOH ad revenue has increased 10 percent over 2020 reaching $5.1 billion.

All of the top ten industry product categories increased by double digits in Q3 2021, including Local Services & Amusements, Retail, Media & Advertising, Insurance & Real Estate, Restaurants, Government Politics and Organizations, Financial Services, Public Transportation Hotels and Resorts, Automotive Dealers and Services and Schools Camps & Seminars.

Local Services and Amusements, a category that represents more than 25 percent of total OOH spend, increased by more than 33 percent while Media & Advertising increased 85 percent.

The top 10 advertisers in Q3 were McDonald’s, Geico, Apple, Amazon, American Express, Walt Disney Pictures, Allstate, Dunkin’, Chevron and Barclays—in that order.

OAAA’s report also found that of the top 100 OOH advertisers, 88 percent increased their OOH spend as compared to Q3 2020. Additionally, of those advertisers, 51 percent more than doubled their spend. Companies like Credit Karma, Webull, DuckDuckGo and ADT, along with 36 percent of the top 100 OOH advertisers, increased their spend by 10x or more. Close to one-third of those advertisers were technology or direct-to-consumer brands such as Amazon, Apple, AT&T and BetMGM, among others.

MAGNA anticipates OOH will be the second-fastest-growing ad channel in 2021 with a projected annual increase of 16.4 percent.

“OOH has come roaring back after a year full of uncertainty the world over. Our industry is both a marker of public sentiment, and in its own right, a morale lifting vehicle for engaging, inspiring and empowering consumers. These Q3 figures should be welcomed as a sign that we’re back and have an exciting next chapter ahead,” said OAAA president and chief executive officer Anna Bager.

WARC Announces The Most Awarded Campaigns And Companies Of 2020

WARC has released its list of the most-awarded campaigns and companies for creativity, media and effectiveness. This year’s WARC Creative 100, Effective 100 and Media 100 include rankings from 2020, which WARC normally releases in Q1 2021 but postponed due to the pandemic. The 2022 WARC Rankings, which will judge work from 2021, will return to a Q1 release.

WARC’s rankings are determined by combining the winners’ lists from the industry’s most important global and regional awards in 2020, as determined by the WARC Rankings Advisory Board and a global industry survey. A proprietary three-step methodology is also applied. Brand winners include Ikea, Nike and Coca-Cola and among campaign winners are “The E.V.A. Initiative” by Volvo, “The Shape of History” by Hulu and “I’m Drinking It For You” by DB Export. See the full list below. 


Creative 100

Campaigns: 

  1. Moldy Whopper · Burger King · Ingo Stockholm / David Miami / Publicis Bucharest · 800.9 points
    • Burger King’s “Moldy Whopper” campaign was, by far, the most highly ranked campaign. A food artist creates a picturesque Whopper before over a month’s worth of footage of the decaying burger is shown over the course of 30 seconds. The experience ends with the words, “The beauty of no artificial preservatives.” Still images depict macro shots of the decaying burger well into the 30 days it sat out. Burger King’s agency partners Publicis, Ingo and David Miami collaborated to produce the campaign.
  2. Stevenage Challenge · Burger King · DAVID Madrid / DAVID Miami · 483.5 points
    • By sponsoring the relatively unknown club at the bottom of football’s fourth division Stevenage FC, BK’s branded kit featured in the FIFA 20 video game. The Stevenage Challenge invited players to compete as Stevenage FC and complete a series of in-game tasks such as simply scoring a free kick or scoring from a corner while wearing one of the BK-sponsored Stevenage FC shirts. Players placed football’s best players in the shirts, shared their goals online and earned rewards. Before long, 25,000 goals were posted online and the club sold out of their shirts for the first time in its history. 
  3. The E.V.A. Initiative · Volvo · Forsman & Bodenfors Gothenburg · 272.1 points
    • Volvo has been collecting crash data since the 1970s to understand what happens to the human bodies of various sizes, genders and shapes during a collision. Volvo’s The E.V.A. Initiative saw the company share that research with the rest of the automotive industry so that all cars may be produced with greater safety features for every body.

Brands:

  1. Burger King · 680.3 points · no change from #1 
  2. Ikea · 564 points · up from #4
  3. Diesel · 359.7 points · up from #9

Advertisers:

  1. Restaurant Brands International · Canada · 816.9 points · no change from #1
  2. Anheuser-Busch InBev · Belgium · 811.3 points · up from #3
  3. IKEA · Sweden · 564 points · up from #8

Media 100

Campaigns:

  1. Rabbi Bot · Always · MediaCom Connections Tel Aviv / ACW Grey Tel Aviv / GO Digital Marketing Netanya · 95.4 points
    • After every period, Jewish women must request that a rabbi visually inspect their pads to determine whether they are approved for intercourse. Always addressed this through an AI-based app that scans an image of the pad to determine whether menstruation has completed. Attendants of the ritual baths served as the company’s branded app promoters. Nine thousand women logged on in the first month.
  2. The Shape of History · Hulu · UM Los Angeles · 81.1 points
    • One of the primary themes in The Handmaid’s Tale is ‘History is written by those with power.’ Hulu’s campaign changed the narrative to emphasize that history is actually shaped by those who tell it. So, in June 2019, Hulu addressed the fact that only 8 percent of all statues in the US are of women by erecting 140 new female statues in New York City (where the percentage drops to just three). The statues were made of mirrors, symbolizing Hulu’s invitation to everyone to take part in shaping history. The company went on to install statues in Boston, Atlanta and San Francisco.
  3. Naming The Invisible By Digital Birth Registration · Telenor · Ogilvy Islamabad · 70 points
    • Sixty million Pakistanis are unregistered citizens in Pakistan, causing severe obstacles in enjoying many of the rights most people take for granted. Telenor, Pakistan’s second-largest mobile network collaborated with the government, UNICEF, Ogilvy and others to create Digital Birth Registration (DBR), an app that helps the country’s children obtain a birth certificate—a document required for medical care, schooling and protection from illegal child labor. Today, more than 1.2 million children have obtained birth certificates.

Brands:

  1. McDonald’s · 135.3 points · up from #8
  2. Nike · 118.6 points · up from #4
  3. Always · 92.7 points · new entry

Advertisers:

  1. Unilever · Netherlands / UK · 346.4 points · no change #1
  2. Procter & Gamble · US · 278.8 points · up from #3
  3. The Walt Disney Company · US · 183.7 points · up from #10

Effective 100

Campaigns:

  1. I’m Drinking It For You · DB Export · Colenso BBDO Auckland / Carat Auckland / Red Star Auckland · 51.7 points 
    • New Zealand beer company DB Export celebrated Valentine’s Day with a romantic ballad to low-carb beer. The campaign featured a full-length song, “I’m Drinking It For You” and a music video depicting all of the romantic things one can do for their partner while holding a beer, encouraging couples to choose the new Gold Extra Low Carb beer as a romantic gesture for their significant other. The song was also supported by radio appearances, live performances, singing telegrams, “beer bouquets” on gift sites and broadcast in key locations like gyms. The song played on the radio with custom intros that changed depending on the time of day, location and musical interests of the listener. It reached number two on the Apple music charts and was viewed 5 million times across all platforms as sales met eight-month targets in two weeks. 
  2. Can’t Touch This · Cheetos · Goodby Silverstein & Partners San Francisco · 50 points
    • MC Hammer’s hit single “Can’t Touch This” turned 30 years old last year as it was used to promote Cheetos Popcorn. The 30-second spot featured an unassuming man in various settings eating a bag of Cheetos Popcorn who was able to avoid several situations due to his Cheetle-covered fingers. “Cheetle” is the dust that the brand has become infamous for. MC Hammer popped up intermittently throughout the commercial.
  3. Michelin Impossible · KFC · Ogilvy Sydney · 47.2 points
    • Kentucky Fried Chicken Australia set out to change the public’s perception of its food quality. It partnered with Ogilvy Sydney to create a campaign to earn for one of its remote restaurants the highest award in the restaurant industry—a Michelin star. Northern Territory Alice Springs KFC franchisee Sam Edelman, a bearded and grinning ginger, was the brand’s spokesperson for the campaign. He and KFC created a series of stunts, activities, media appearances and radio interviews before Edelman interviewed Michelin Star chef Louis Stephane Pitre for advice on achieving the award. Michelin didn’t award the star but the campaign reached 850 million people via earned media and achieved a 16:1 return on investment. It also achieved its primary goal as 65 percent of Australians surveyed reported improved perceptions of the brand’s food quality.

Brands:

  1. McDonald’s · 209.8 points · no change #1
  2. KFC · 163.3 points · up from #4
  3. Coca-Cola · 135.9 points · down from #2

Advertisers:

  1. Unilever · Netherlands / UK · 240 points · no change #1
  2. McDonald’s · US · 209.8 points · up from #6
  3. The Coca Cola Company · 166.3 points · down from #2

The 3 Pillars Of Effective Media Planning

As much of everyday life remains in flux, effective media planning will require marketers to focus on three pillars: people, continuous planning and connected planning. That’s advice from Jay Nielsen, senior vice president of global planning products for Nielsen, who recently shared how brands can navigate the current and future state of disruption during the firm’s “Back to the Drawing Board: Media Planning Through Uncertainty” webinar.


People Should Be At The Center Of Planning

Now is a critical time for brands to understand how to reach the consumers they’re trying to connect with. To do so, Nielsen suggests commingling first-party data with second- and third-party data to understand what your target audience is engaging with. Making decisions based only on what you’ve previously done or what competitors are doing won’t cut it.

Audiences are interested in content that represents them, so as diversification grows,  on-screen representation should be at the core of a brand’s efforts to connect with people. Nielsen found that across the TV landscape of the top 300 most-viewed programs in 2019 (broadcast, cable and streaming), 92 percent of all programs measured showed some diversity (women, people of color, or LGBTQ+) in recurring casts.


Treat Planning As An Always-On Exercise

Continuous planning may provide the largest opportunity for brands. The 12-18 month planning cycle may not be effective going forward, so brands should look to plan throughout the year.

According to Nielsen, academic research shows that changes in brand share of voice are closely linked to changes in market share, marking a thorough understanding of how competitors are spending advertising dollars and how heavily they’re reaching your desired target.

To understand if increased competitive spend is being directed at their target or elsewhere, brands should measure their competitor’s reach and frequency to the brand’s own target in channels where it’s possible to track.

Combining in-flight optimization and post-campaign learning can also help maximize results. For one of Nielsen’s clients, a subscription-based global media and entertainment company, showing agility both in flight and on successive campaigns enabled it to lower its cost per acquisition (CPA). The client leveraged both attribution and marketing mix modeling (MMM) to maximize their results and optimized channel allocation with MMM. These efforts resulted in a decrease of 11 percent in CPA.

Additionally, the client utilized multi-touch attribution (MTA) to optimize the digital campaign in-flight, resulting in a decrease in CPA of about 7 percent to 13 percent. In total, the final investment resulted in a 20 percent decrease in CPA.

Thinking algorithms are faster than people, advertisers often take a set it and leave it approach when it comes to artificial intelligence or self-serve platform but Heather Cohen, Ayzenberg vice president of media, urges marketers to remember that while the new tools are great, they’re really just another form of calculation.

“We still find that humans are the most agile when it comes to actual campaign decision making. So while the algorithm may get you the lowest CPA, it doesn’t necessarily grant you the most qualified audience you’re trying to get traction against (e.g., you may be trying to improve your LTV, garner higher retention, increase your organic multiplier/halo effect or breakthrough to a new audience segment to improve sentiment/reputation/gain SOM). You still need a person to make that decision on what’s valuable after you weigh the pros and cons,” Cohen told AList.


Create A Holistic View Into Campaign Success

An opportunity for planning to evolve exists if brands can use uniform target definitions in multiple channels by ensuring their data, software and partners are in sync.

Brands should leverage historical data and use the same audience profiles across each of their software solutions. This systematic approach includes an understanding of the audience, their location, as well as building plans against that audience, quickly activating the plans, measuring against the plans and repeating this process.

Nevertheless, the sheer number of partners marketers work with makes a start-to-finish approach difficult to adopt. Nielsen’s 2021 Annual Marketing Report found that brands of all sizes and industries have very little confidence in their existing martech capabilities. Though the importance of data quality and consistency can’t be overstated, it remains a hurdle for marketers regardless of budget size.

The report also found that brands are planning to address this challenge by increasing both their marketing analytics projects and technology software budgets by an average of 30 percent over the next year.

Nielsen suggests brands leave behind antiquated planning schedules and conduct planning as an always-on exercise. With connected processes in place, marketers can have a more holistic, simplified view of processes, making reaching the right audience at the right time more attainable than ever.

“As consideration to purchase windows are decreasing, always-on is the reality in today’s non-linear purchase cycle,” said Cohen.

Advertising To Streamers: Why Regional Buys Are On The Rise

Regional buys regarding streamers are rapidly becoming the next logical step in most successful brands’ comprehensive media campaigns. At a recent Advertising Week New York panel about the rise of regional buys, Jason Swartz, Interconnect vice president of advanced advertising and new business for national sales, discussed the benefits of market-to-market execution including data, targeting, reporting and exclusivity. Swartz was joined by Carolyn Sheflin, Spectrum Reach vice president of advanced advertising sales, and Brad Stockton, Dentsu vice president of advanced advertising and new business for national sales.

Despite the fact that linear TV has been and continues to be the quickest and easiest place to drive a mass reach, streaming has changed the TV advertising space on both an agency and multichannel video programming (MVP) level, according to Swartz. While it was nice to have just a few years ago, the pandemic caused all demographics to start streaming. As a result, regardless of what audience a brand is seeking to engage, streaming must play a part in their omnichannel strategy to maximize reach.

Today, the definition of TV has changed to include new platforms such that streaming is TV. Over 106 million households steam content in any given month, that’s 82 percent of Americans who have watched some kind of streaming content in the last 30 days. 

Streaming has become such a force to be reckoned with in just the last two or three years, and especially since the pandemic caused the world to spend more time at home, that it must be a part of any successful campaign. For advertisers, the issue remains how to get the right message in front of the right person. A new definition of success in this space involves streaming platforms in addition to linear TV.

Some verticals have picked up on streaming quickly as others are still acclimating. According to Sheflin, all verticals—local, national and addressable—have utilized streaming due to the reach it has in the marketplace. A study conducted by Spectrum Reach at the end of 2020 analyzed 1,000 campaigns within the Spectrum footprint either running linear campaigns only or linear and streaming campaigns together to find that the addition of streaming increased reach by 28 percent. Additionally, the effect is consistent on a local and national basis.

Streaming isn’t new, it’s just now more popular than ever before. Years ago there were direct-to-consumer brands utilizing streaming to get in front of linear TV screens in an efficient and effective way. One of the primary benefits of streaming is that it’s highly targeted and highly measurable. These elements together point to why streaming was so popular among early adopters. 

Its mass scale is what has enabled all verticals and brands to take advantage of it today. Brands that neglect streaming in 2021 and beyond are missing a massive amount of the market that is otherwise unreachable. So, regardless of whether the industry is quick-service restaurants, auto, or retail—brands must be leveraging this space.

According to Stockton, there are a number of elements to track and assess in order to get the most bang for your media buys. For example, it’s essential to determine which markets are popping on both local and national audiences to know where the next dollar should be spent. 

In addition, advertisers running local and national campaigns must know where they intertwine and how effective they are. Last, engaging in one-to-one experiences with audiences through digital and streaming—which is local in nature—means double-clicking into those regions, which assists advertisers in gasping a campaign’s effectiveness.

Multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD) have unique data sets on linear, video-on-demand, and all streaming services and partners that can be compiled and de-identified for the purpose of understanding unduplicated reach and frequency (TURF) metrics in a marketplace whether in an individual market or on a national scale. Doing so provides proof of performance in individual markets and national markets from an addressable perspective that allows two things: it allows advertisers to target more homes that are in a specific audience and it helps them understand the impact of every platform on the buy.

Set-top box (STB) data is second-by-second viewership information collected by operators such as Cablevision, DirecTV, Dish Network, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and AT&T Uverse. The term refers to the box that delivers linear TV to the home and excludes internet-based devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV. 

Beyond STB data, there’s data available that can be used in a cross-platform situation. According to Sheflin, all MVPDs have unique data that can be aggregated and de-identified to then be matched with consumer profile data from a myriad of different platforms for the purpose of reaching audiences beyond age and gender. This shows up from a targeting perspective and from a measuring perspective. 

From a targeting perspective, addressable is the easiest sort of literal match, but it isn’t always scalable, especially on a local basis. Often, advertisers can look at viewership habits and audience concentration to create a digital or linear TV campaign for a specific audience comprising a high concentration of a certain characteristic.

From a measuring standpoint, advertisers may take the de-identified data and analyze it with exposure files to look at things like the lift of a TV campaign or cross-platform reach and frequency and other metrics. This unique data set offers TV solid proof of performance.

Data is everything. Advertisers must first break down behavior tactics and profiles to identify who the individuals are that make up the target audience. Remaining privacy compliant in this context means the individual’s data with one company, such as name and email address, can connect to another partner’s first-party data for the purpose of hyper-targeting. This approach allows advertisers to know exactly who they’re reaching with the right message.

EMarketer’s Retail Media Advertising Report Addresses Key Retailers Driving The Market

According to eMarketer’s latest ecommerce forecast, ecommerce ad spend will increase by 27.8 percent year-over-year (YoY), reaching $23.92 billion this year, or 12.5 percent of all digital ad dollars. That increase comes after 2020 experienced a 50 percent increase YoY in ecommerce channel advertising. The firm’s forecast will be reexamined and likely increased as Amazon (up 87 percent YoY) and Walmart (up 95 percent YoY) post higher growth for their respective ad businesses in earnings reports. 

The pandemic caused a boom in ecommerce, increasing the influence of digital retail media by expanding the number of retail sales transacted online. Emarketer estimates that the share of online US retail sales increased by an exceptional 11 percent in 2019 to 14 percent in 2020, and will continue growing through the end of 2025 by over one percentage point annually.

Digital retail media’s influence isn’t confined solely to ecommerce. Offline purchases are also affected– especially given the increase in digitally transacted ads that have a physical presence outside of the home and apart from personal electronics. Emarketer predicts that total retail sales in the US will increase by 7.9 percent in 2021 to upwards of $6 trillion.

Given that digital retailers have significant audiences, they also have significant amounts of audience data. Roughly 90 percent of digital shoppers, for example, will make at least one purchase via a digital channel in 2021. That equates to 209.6 million digital buyers in the US—higher than the number of people who will use social media at least once per month.

As for online grocery sales, this year marks the first in which a majority of US consumers will buy groceries online. Emarketer estimates that 142.9 million individuals ages 14 and up will shop for groceries digitally in 2021, or 50.5 percent of the population in that age range. 

According to ChannelAdvisor and Dynata, US shoppers began their product search on a retailer site or marketplace like Amazon before making a digital purchase in August 2020. 

Overall, the structure of the retail media market is comparable to other performance channels such as social media and traditional search. Sometimes, companies that began in these other sectors have expanded to serve clients interested in retail media. Platforms or publishers in this instance are usually retail marketplaces or retailers, as opposed to media companies like Facebook and Google.

In the US, retail marketers offer an array of solutions in their retail media networks. In August 2020, 60 percent of respondents offered social media, 57 percent offered data and first-party audience insights without media and 55 percent offered on-site (.com) banner ads and display advertising. Only 33 percent and 21 percent offered on-site (.com) brand pages and closed-loop reporting, respectively.

The most important retailers selling retail media include Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Kroger Co. and Instacart which recently onboarded chief executive Fidji Simo—who previously oversaw Facebook’s main “clue” app—and president Carolyn Everson (also of Facebook). Emarketer expects more brands of all types to focus more heavily on retail media as other sources of customer data become less obtainable. 

Retail media is changing as it changes advertising more broadly, according to eMarketer’s research. As more brands and retailers inject themselves into this space, eMarketer predicts that retail media will continue disrupting traditional advertising due to third-party data deprecation, the rise of connected television (CTV) and subsequent decline of linear television, retail media’s move up the funnel and consumers’ impatience with retail media ads. 

Many retailers have built out their ad business offerings in the last couple of years, including Walmart, Best Buy, CVS and Target, to name a few. As a result, advertisers must make more decisions about which and how many platforms to advertise on. Additionally, due to the increased spending and increased complexity in the market, advertisers are under more pressure now than ever before to utilize technology and even experts to ensure funds are spent as efficiently as possible.

One approach to make this process easier, according to experts eMarketer tapped for its report, is for brands to, at a minimum, test ads on the retail platforms where they sell products and then focus only on those that provide the most value. One issue that may arise here is that platforms may share results that differ from each other, for example with different attribution windows. Advertisers may need to engage tech solutions to make sense of the data across platforms.

Nevertheless, the retail media expansion and the array of retailers venturing into the space doesn’t necessarily mean that current market leaders should be worried. Emarketer actually expects Amazon to carry on with its growth of ecommerce channel ad spending through the end of 2023.

As Emarketer notes, despite the fact that most of the focus remains in the search ad market, retail media has transformed it into a different beast entirely. Still, video and display ads targeting consumers with the purpose of making them aware of the brand are becoming a more valuable element as time progresses. Innovation in technology is producing new products that fuse the best of performance marketing and branding.

Internet users are mostly indifferent to digital ads, but not all are treated equally, as eMarketer found. Consumer surveys have reported that interruptive ads are the most frustrating, especially when they overtake the entire screen and prevent individuals from reading text or force them to wait for a video to play. On the other hand, less-invasive ad formats where the ad fits in with the content of the page are less bothersome especially when the message is useful or relevant.

EMarketer also found in prior years that Amazon buyers in the US relatively rarely reported noticing ads on the site. When they did notice the ads, they were more likely to describe them as useful or helpful rather than distracting or untrustworthy.

To tap into the growing opportunity in retail media advertising, eMarketer suggests endemic brands prepare to use more data clean rooms and run tests as retailers launch new ad platforms, formats and targeting options. 

For non-endemic brands, the firm notes that although they may not see the obvious benefits of advertising directly in a retail environment, there’s a place for them as well—such as financial service firms, automakers and more. As tracking users becomes more difficult, retail media will look like an increasingly attractive option for brands that don’t sell through retailers.

Setting Up Your Out-Of-Home Advertising For Success

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising was hit hard by the pandemic; the channel fell by $1.3 billion in total ad revenues in 2020. Reduced travel and traffic caused significantly discounted OOH ad rates, though not for long. Today, OOH costs are back to pre-pandemic levels as it’s proven too important a marketing channel to neglect.

According to the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA), OOH may experience revenue growth of 10 to 12 percent by the end of 2021 and OOH now comprises roughly 20 to 30 percent of client media planning. 

As consumers seek a return to normal, several key OOH trends will fuel its growth in 2021. A survey by OAAA and The Harris Poll found that 68 percent of consumers suffer from digital device burnout, 65 percent of consumers want to leave home as often as possible and 45 percent of consumers notice OOH ads more than before the pandemic.

To maximize your OOH investment, OAAA has compiled a creative best practices guide covering campaign shaping, which formats to use, OOH design basics and other helpful strategies for creating head-turning ads.


Shaping The Campaign

Creative determines 75 percent of an ad’s effectiveness. When producing your campaign, remember that OOH is a medium that offers enormous flexibility and has a long history from which you can extract learnings. The OAAA suggests allowing your idea to guide the placement of media and adapt the scale of OOH applications—instead of first considering the shape and size of specific formats.

Sourcing ideas for creative can come from myriad places, one of which is conversation. Sharing a creative concept or brief with others might improve it. Media partners, in particular, take into consideration campaign objectives before recommending contextual applications in specific markets or regions or special opportunities with communities.

The OAAA cautions against focusing solely on OOH. Rather, execute a single campaign across a range of media. OOH, broadcast, digital and print campaign elements should share a single focus and, if designed correctly, can help you maximize your overall campaign cost per thousand (CPM). 

That said, OOH should be the core of the ad campaign. Amplify the momentum of the OOH campaign through such ideas as augmented reality (AR) experiences that tie into traditional parts of an OOH campaign through scalable and layered codes or social media activations linked to the messaging.

Last, explore the feasibility of real-world applications of big ideas before letting them die, and rely on media partners to find you solutions to achieve favorable results.


Using Different Canvases

Certain formats suit certain messages better than others. For example, large print formats like standardized roadside displays are intended for viewing from a far distance and therefore ideal for bold branding. They can be enhanced with elements like 2D extensions, 3D props, lighting effects and successive messaging along roadways.

Given street furniture and transit formats are positioned close to pedestrians and are viewed at eye level, typical enhancements include custom props and wrapped buses.

Place-based formats include a wide array of innovative display formats positioned in retail locations and commercial venues. Common enhancements include custom installations in malls, street teams and sponsored events.

The benefits of digital applications for OOH can’t be overlooked, notes the OAAA. All OOH segments include digital applications and formats with benefits such as nimble and flexible messaging; video content; no print production costs and customizable applications like location-specific messages, touchscreen and situational triggers (e.g., weather conditions, traffic flow).


OOH Designing Basics

People want to be entertained. According to research conducted by the Journal of Advertising Research, ads with two messages as opposed to five, are 21 percent more likely to be noticed. To get your OOH noticed, the OAAA recommends utilizing contrasting colors, typeface legible from a distance, figuratively bold imagery and copy lines, and photos with a strong focal point. 

For most OOH applications, it’s best to keep copy short and sweet. Seven words or less is a proven benchmark and messages that relate to physical surroundings are often more memorable. It would also benefit your OOH campaign to incorporate the appropriate tone necessary to elicit a specific response or trigger a reaction. 

As mentioned prior, you may want to develop a series of different OOH messages as part of an overall campaign. This would enable you to incorporate more elements without encumbering the clarity of individual messages. 

It’s also important to design for an array of canvas sizes and locations. Geofencing key zip codes or trading areas against core audience demographics can help messages target desired consumers.

Research shows that people react to OOH messages and will immediately start an online search when triggered by an OOH ad. Forty-six percent of people search for information after viewing an interesting billboard. 

With the understanding that 70 percent of decision-making is emotional, every OOH is now a call to action. Triggers and codes like memorable URLs, hashtags and phone numbers help get the consumer from witnessing to purchasing more efficiently.

OOH often campaigns spark social conversations, especially online. In fact, 48 percent of people are more likely to click a banner ad after viewing an OOH ad first while 25 percent of Americans have posted a photo of themselves with an OOH ad on their social media.

Context is a vital element of OOH’s success. To ensure your message lands with your audience, understand unique characteristics of locals and don’t deploy an OOH campaign for both coasts. Ensure your campaign mirrors the community in which it’s distributed so viewers resonate with it more.

OOH messaging builds substantial brand awareness over time as refreshing ad creative improves overall ad retention. To this aim, creative elements should be updated every two months, according to OAAA.


Final Thoughts

Be realistic about your timeline when creating OOH. The OAAA advises allowing at least seven working days for basic print production, six weeks of lead time for fabrication of props and several weeks for custom installations.

Lastly, be as flexible as OOH is. Maintain freshness and relevance in campaign messaging and don’t shy away from altering the direction of a campaign if necessary or recommended by experts.