3 Omnichannel Marketing Trends You Need to Know

After a year or so that required marketers to adapt their strategies to fit digitally-enabled devices at home and shift away from traditional channels, Innovid set out to quantify pandemic-induced omnichannel marketing trends by analyzing billions of global impressions from 2020 across more than 550 advertisers.

Its 2021 global omnichannel benchmarks report, “The Year Streaming Went Supernova” unpacks three key marketing takeaways, including the explosive growth of connected TV (CTV), the importance of programmatic advertising for video and how dynamic creative is serving as a win-win for remaining nimble and driving impressions. 


#1: Make CTV The Center Of Your Omnichannel Strategy

Last year, CTV accounted for 40 percent of all video impressions—up from 31 percent in 2019. eMarketer anticipates this trend will continue this year, when over 25 percent of all US households will cut the cord.

Innovid found that global CTV video impressions saw a 60 percent year-over-year (YoY) increase. CTV ad spending is growing the fastest in APAC, but North America has the largest share of CTV impressions. Outside of North American, LATAM has the second biggest share of CTV impressions and the largest growth in share going to CTV, according to Innovid.

In 2020, mobile captured 43 percent of global video impressions and 68 percent of global display impressions. Meanwhile, global PC impressions in both display and video are still on a downward momentum. 

In 2020, PC’s share of global display impressions was 32 percent, while video impressions dropped to 16 percent—a 23 percent YoY decline. Nevertheless, in 2020, internet time spent on PCs rose 7.5 percent, signaling its importance in the omnichannel marketing mix.


#2: Give Your Campaigns A Programmatic Boost

Pointing to Statista data, Innovid reports that global programmatic ad spend will reach $147 billion this year, up 41 percent since 2019. Brands are increasingly leveraging programmatic for video, as evidenced by the 54 percent YoY increase in video impressions served programmatically. At 54 percent, digital native tied with programmatic as the fastest growing publisher type.

CTV represents one of the largest growing areas for programmatic advertising—in the US alone, it’s expected to hit $6.73 billion, up 54 percent from 2020, as per eMarketer data.

Additionally, Innovid found that programmatic CTV impressions surged by 207 percent YoY, second to CTV impressions served via digital native publishers.

As for share of programmatic CTV impressions by vertical, consumer electronics led the way with 56 percent, followed by auto at 46 percent and gaming at 33 percent.


#3: Leverage Advanced Creative For Agility, Engagement And Brand Loyalty

From the first half last year to the second, Innovid observed a 37 percent increase in the number of advertisers running dynamic creative video and a whopping 100 percent rise in the number of dynamic creative video impressions.

Compared to standard pre-roll, advanced creative ad formats generated a 309 percent lift in engagement and an average of 34 additional seconds earned.

What’s more, interactive CTV produced an additional 63 seconds earned and CTV ads averaged a video-completion rate of over 85 percent.

Brands in verticals that have traditionally led with linear advertising adopted these advanced creative solutions to pivot during the pandemic. Auto brands, for example, utilized geotargeting to alert customers about operating hours and services offered at dealerships. And in response to supply chain issues, CPG brands leaned on dynamic creative to update messaging in real time based on product inventory and availability.

Innovid’s analysis shows that the sweet spot for video ads is between 15 and 30 seconds when optimizing for click-throughs and video completions. Yet it’s worth noting that they saw a 104 percent YoY growth in 60-second ads in 2020, particularly around Q3 and Q4.

Yet another reason to embrace dynamic creative is that within display, it led to a 37 percent lift in CTR over standard display on PCs. On mobile devices, that lift surged to 82 percent.

Ad Tech Companies Measure Efficacy Of Ad Council’s COVID-19 Vaccine Campaign

In February, the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative, together with 300 brand partners and the Centers for Disease Control, launched the “It’s Up To You” campaign. Their goal: educate and help audiences, particularly communities of color who have been hit hardest by the pandemic, feel confident about vaccination once it’s available to them.

Now, a group of four ad tech companies has convened to measure the reach and impact of the campaign’s linear TV and out-of-home (OOH) ads with the ultimate goal of maximizing effectiveness and informing TV strategies. TVSquared, Upwave, Kinetiq and Ace Metrix are measuring the “It’s Up To You” campaign 24 hours a day to gather insights on delivery, awareness and performance, campaign-wide and by specific audience segments.

In early March, the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative kicked off the “It’s Up To You” campaign nationwide across broadcast TV, digital, radio and social media, with media companies and social platforms such as Adobe, Apple, BET, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Walmart and TikTok releasing custom content and donating media to support the message. As of February 25, the initiative raised over $52 million, and the Ad Council’s COVID-19 efforts alone resulted in over 47 billion impressions, $445 million in donated media value and nearly 33 million visits to Coronavirus.gov.

TVSquared will determine the campaign’s most effective days, times, networks, programs, genres, publishers and creatives for reach and driving response. Upwave will provide in-flight campaign measurement of branding metrics, while Kinetiq is quantifying audience impression and media value of each ad occurrence across 210 designated market areas (DMAs). Lastly, Ace Metrix is letting viewer reaction to video ads determine the effectiveness of ad creative.

The Ad Council and COVID Collaborative’s efforts to communicate vaccine options to the wider public came as nearly 40 percent of people remained undecided on whether to get vaccinated or not, according to research fielded by Ipsos Public Affairs in February. The findings showed that black and Hispanic Americans who are undecided are significantly less confident they have sufficient information to inform their decision about getting a COVID-19 vaccination. In addition, 75 percent of undecided consumers want information to address their vaccine questions.

According to the most recent data from the CDC, 16.4 percent of the US population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Nearly 80 Million Americans Listen To Podcasts Weekly

Nearly 80 million Americans, or 28 percent of the US population aged 12 and older, listen to podcasts weekly—a 17 percent increase over 2020. That’s according to “The Infinite Dial 2021” from Edison Research and Triton, a survey among 1,500 people conducted in January.

The podcast listening cohort is more diverse than ever today as the survey found that monthly listeners are 57 percent white, 16 percent Latino, 13 percent African American, four percent Asian and 10 percent of some other background.

An all-time high number of weekly online audio listeners was also observed—62 percent of the US 12 and over population, around 176 million people.

Smart speaker adoption is continuing to grow, with 33 percent of Americans, or 94 million consumers, saying they own a smart speaker—22 percent more than last year and seven percent more than in 2017. Among the respondents who own a smart speaker, 34 percent report having three or more of the devices in their household.

For the first time in the survey’s history, Facebook is no longer the platform that people use most. Forty-seven percent say they use Facebook the most—a 54 percent dip from the year prior. TikTok may be the source of the decline, with 44 percent of 12-34 year olds reporting that they use TikTok, up from 25 percent last year.

Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn have also seen an increase in usage among users aged 12-34. The only app other than Facebook for which usage declined is Snapchat, down from 61 percent in 2020 to 55 percent.

Additionally, 20 percent of people say they’ve watched a video game livestream on services such as Twitch, YouTube Live, Facebook Live or Mixer, up five percent from last year.

With the jump in music streaming during lockdowns, shared audio listening is also on the rise. Over half (51 percent) of the survey participants say they “frequently” or “sometimes” listen to audio with other people, with this figure rising to 69 percent among those aged 12-34 years old. The most-listened-to audio service in the last month was Spotify (29 percent), followed by Pandora (20 percent) and YouTube Music, formerly Google Play (16 percent).

The Retail Industry Spent $1.8 Billion On Advertising In January And February

According to MediaRadar’s latest analysis, the retail industry spent $1.8 billion on advertising during January and February 2021, a 24 percent decline from the same period last year.

Between 2017 and 2020, ad spend decreased an average of 34 percent each year, a post-holiday phenomenon that marketers have come to expect. MediaRadar forecasts Q1 2021 retail ad spend will reach $2.73 billion, which represents a 33 percent dip in ad spend between Q4 2020 and Q1 2021.

With rising vaccine availability and declining COVID-19 rates in some parts of the world, the economy is slowly opening back up. This has prompted big-box stores like Target, Macy’s and Kohl’s to increase their spend month-over-month. In February, their spend comprised 70 percent of general retail and department store ad spend, reports MediaRadar.

The increased spend aligns with encouraging consumer sentiment about the future of in-person shopping. An Ad Age-Harris Poll found that 62 percent of consumers plan to shop in stores this spring at least once a week.

Retail and department stores overall are still recovering from the pandemic, as spend is down 26 percent year-over-ear (YoY), which marks the same level of recovery observed in Q4 of 2020.

Building on their positive momentum from the end of 2020, quick-service restaurants (QSRs) invested $500 million in ads in January and February. That’s a 33 percent decline YoY, but a marked improvement from 2020 when their spend was down as much as 65 percent, according to MediaRadar.

McDonald’s and Subway ran spots during the GRAMMY Awards show, while Jimmy John’s and Chipotle bought ad space in Super Bowl LVI.

Marketers are eager to recoup lost sales. The CMO Council’s latest survey revealed that 65 percent of global marketers plan to increase their ad spend. The BIA Advisory Services predicts that local retail advertising will grow YoY by 5.3 percent this year. Lastly, The National Retail Foundation expects retail sales to grow between 6.5 percent and 8.2 percent in 2021 to more than $4.33 trillion, the highest projected YoY growth in 17 years.

Entertainment Brands Ran The Most Ads During The 2021 GRAMMY Awards

A new MediaRadar analysis found that during this year’s GRAMMY Awards show, entertainment brands accounted for most ads (20 percent), followed by technology brands (14 percent) and automotive brands (13 percent).

That’s in comparison to the 2020 GRAMMY Awards, when technology brands led the way at 23 percent of ads, followed by pharmaceutical brands (15 percent) and entertainment brands (15 percent).

The rise in entertainment ads mirrors the boost that streaming services have seen lately with more people staying in. It’s also worth noting that ads from tech companies declined by nine percent year-over-year.

Overall, 87 advertisers ran 103 ads during the 2021 awards show, with top marketers including Remy Martin, Facebook, Geico, McDonald’s and Atlice Mobile. Together these brands comprised 15 percent of the commercial space, according to MediaRadar’s findings.

Leaders in the entertainment category include Facebook, which ran two 60-second spots, and LinkedIn and Dreamworks. HBO Max ran four commercials, partnering with Olay and Café Bustelo to promote their new show In The Heights. Other streamers that ran commercials include Paramount+, as well as Disney+ which highlighted the forthcoming release of its Cruella live-action adaptation.

Together, Google, Apple and Amazon accounted for 33 percent of all tech advertising during the GRAMMY Awards. The auto industry saw appearances from brands like Ford, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda and Toyota. Lincoln was the most prominent of the group, running five spots ranging from 25-60 seconds each.

Disney+ Ad Spend Jumps 158 Percent YoY From January To February

According to MediaRadar’s latest analysis, Disney+ ad spend surged 158 percent year-over-year (YoY) from January to February.

With vaccine rollouts and more parts of the world opening up, Disney has shifted ad spend slightly. The company moved 13 percent of its digital spend to national television, which now represents 96 percent of its ad spend from January to February.

From December 2019 to February 2020, Disney+ spent an average of $6.2 million per month on national television and digital formats.

As MediaRadar notes, the creative for Disney’s digital ads included a banner inviting viewers to start their free trial until May 2020, but thereafter changed the call-to-action to “Sign up now.”

“There was some concern that the original Verizon subscribers who received Disney+ as a free sign-on would have low renewal rates. That may yet come to pass for some minority of subscribers, but the big picture is that Disney+ is performing much stronger than the company, or analysts, had ever predicted,” said Todd Krizelman, chief executive of MediaRadar.

Earlier this month, Disney+ surpassed 100 million global subscribers—a milestone that took Netflix a decade to achieve. Richard Broughton, an analyst at Ampere Analysis, told The Guardian that taking into account Disney’s ESPN+ and Hulu subscribers—12.1 million and 39.4 million, respectively—Disney is expected to overtake Netflix and Amazon Prime Video as the world’s largest video streaming provider by 2024 or 2025.  

In October 2020, Disney announced plans to accelerate its direct-to-consumer strategy by centralizing its media business into a single organization that would oversee content distribution, ad sales and Disney+.

The company’s fiscal first-quarter 2021 results show that DTC revenues increased 73 percent to $3.5 billion, and that paid subscribers for Disney+ jumped from 26.5 million in December 2019 to 95 million in January 2021.

Why CMOs Are Struggling To Maximize Customer Lifetime Value

Developing customer lifetime value (LTV) enables brand leaders to create more effective marketing mixes and respond to shifting budgets, yet only 17 percent of chief marketing officers track their LTV well, according to the CMO Council’s latest report, ‘Humanizing + Analyzing Relationships to Drive Revenue, Retention and Returns,” conducted in partnership with Deloitte.

Based on responses from 150 CMOs, the findings highlight LTV blindspots and how marketers can redefine and track LTV to reflect the new digital realities.

For 44 percent of CMOs, the top reason they analyze LTV is strategic organizational focus on customer retention and value creation. LTV, also a key performance indicator of a brand’s ability to deliver great customer experiences, helps marketers justify spending on targeted campaigns.

More importantly, LTV is a reflection of a brand’s ability to create loyal customers, which drives profit. Data from a 2020 Deloitte report shows that 87 percent of consumers are loyal to their favorite brand for three or more years, with 61 percent making at least three purchases from the brand in the previous six months.

The advantage of LTV investment for a brand, however, goes beyond the marketing team. The CMO Council found that 53 percent of chief executive officers and 49 percent of heads of sales utilize LTV to inform strategic decisions.

Nevertheless, CMOs struggle with tracking LTV– 82 percent track LTV only moderately well or worse, and more than one out of four don’t track LTV well at all.

The revenue of a customer over the course of a lifetime should be three times the cost to acquire that customer. While this cost of acquisition (CAC) to LTV ratio is a good starting point for understanding LTV, 43 percent of leaders rated their ratio as average at best. Another 25 percent rated it as below average or very poor.

Sixty-six percent of marketers cited revenue per user as a core component for measuring LTV, followed by 45 percent for transaction per user and 26 percent for sessions per users. 

For LTV to be effective, however, leaders must take into account a variety of factors, starting with customer segmentation to ensure they’re not wasting resources chasing the wrong customers. The reality is 84 percent of respondents agree they’re not effectively segmenting and targeting customer sets with the most potential for long-term value.

Rather than rely on traditional demographics, marketers are better off developing psychographics of their customers and track online and offline buying behavior. This approach may not benefit, say, a food and beverage company like PepsiCo, which targets customer “cohorts,” or people with a shared concern such as their health, but even in these cases segmenting is key.

“Our aspiration is to track the lifetime value at the consumer cohort level. We think a lot about penetration and the frequency of purchase of our products over a given time period—the dynamics of lifetime values,” says Ram Krishnan, global chief commercial officer at PepsiCo.

Another reason LTV suffers is a lack of clear ownership. When asked who owns this area of strategic growth, answers varied greatly: CMO (32 percent), chief revenue officer (16 percent), head of sales (14 percent), chief executive officer (nine percent) and line-of-business leader (eight percent). As the report notes, the correct answer needs to be making all of these leaders accountable for LTV.

“Building relationships is a marathon, and it takes forward-thinking leadership to look at LTV. Many companies are focused on the here and now, and this year they’re in triage mode. You have to remember that the average CEO tenure is five years. That’s why a lot of companies fall short with LTV,” says Brett Townsend, head of North America insights for Electrolux.

The top challenge for cultivating lasting relationships boil down to data, without which marketers can’t segment and target customers with the highest potential for net profit. Respondents’ primary areas of concern include aggregating data for a robust view of the customer (55 percent), shifting from assumptions to predictive knowledge of consumers’ needs (47 percent) and identifying the moments to provide delight and differentiation (44 percent).

The data-driven insights that CMOs seek most are: level of satisfaction (44 percent), LTV (41 percent), incident of churn and defection (37 percent), customer purchase history (35 percent) and brand loyalty (33 percent).

The good news is marketers know what steps they must take to convert customers—humanize connections, align the organization to fully deliver on the brand promise and offer products that meet well-defined needs.

LTV-boosting initiatives that CMOs currently find most effective include enhancing communication of product value proposition (47 percent), doing more sophisticated targeting (42 percent) and leveraging relevant marketing content (42 percent).

To maximize LTV, marketers must change their mindset from acquisition to retention, as well as pay close attention to channels where customers leave signals about their needs, such as email (73 percent), social media channels (54 percent) and web forms (54 percent). Consumers may provide the greatest amount of signals over email, but the most effective signals occur through service and support interactions.

Consumer Spend On Digital Audio Subscription Services Surged 40 Percent In 2020

Worldwide, consumers spent $2.012 trillion on media content and technology in 2020, a 6.1 percent increase from 2019 driven by COVID-19 lockdowns, according to a new report from PQ Media, “Global Consumer Spending on Media Forecast 2020-24.”

In 2020, total consumer spending on media content rose six percent to $777.39 billion, while total spend on media technology grew 6.1 percent to $1.235 trillion. The surge marks the fastest expansion in both global and US consumer media and technology spending in five years, fueled by increased spending on streaming audio and video subscriptions, as well as digital and console video game software and hardware.

PQ Media estimates that consumer spend on digital media increased 10.4 percent in 2020 to $1.432 trillion. Of the 28 digital media categories, the fastest growing was digital audio subscription services, ballooning 40 percent to $30.98 billion globally—an increase largely driven by the popularity of podcasts. Spotify added 74 million new subscribers in 2020 following its acquisition of ‘The Ringer’ and exclusive rights to ‘The Joe Rogan Experience.’ Plus, Amazon and Audible added over 100,000 new and original podcast channels and shows with celebrities.

Over-the-top (OTT) video services, including streaming video subscriptions and SVOD programming, was the second-fastest growing digital media category, surging 30 percent. With consumers stuck at home for longer periods, Netflix added 26 million global subscribers in the first half of 2020 compared to just 12 million in the first half of 2019. Disney+ gained nearly 75 million subscribers by the end of the year.

Digital media content devices generated $440.5 billion, making it the largest of the nine major digital and traditional media platform categories. Digital content subscription services grew nearly 21 percent.

Consumer spend on traditional film and home video plunged 46 percent to $43.05 billion. PQ Media predicts it will never again reach the level it did in 2019–$85 billion.

Movie ticket sales will soon see an uptick only due to the staggered premieres of films that were forced to stop production during the pandemic. Some studios including Disney and Warner Media were wise to pivot, launching several hit blockbusters via OTT video services. Disney+ debuted Mulan and Soul while Warner Media released Wonder Woman ’84 on HBO Max in addition to theaters.

Even before the launch of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X in Q4, digital video game software and hardware spending on multiplayer online games, in-game microtransactions and traditional console-based gaming all jumped.

Among the 14 traditional media and tech categories, cable TV subscriptions remained the largest at $220.6 billion, followed by print books and directories, which was the fastest growing in the category—up by nearly eight percent.

US consumers spent the most on media, a total of $472.16 billion, followed by China, Japan and India.

Walmart Announces New Display Self-Serve Platform

Walmart announced a new display self-serve platform launching later this year that will enable advertisers to activate and manage display campaigns with automation capabilities powered by ad-tech company Thunder.

Walmart acquired Thunder’s IP and technology, which will offer creative versioning, testing and optimization to help advertisers increase their return on ad spend (ROAS).

“While we expect our largest suppliers to adopt automation technology fastest, we are building this new platform to scale for Marketplace sellers and suppliers of all sizes,” the company said in a press release.

The news follows the retailer’s media business rebrand, from Walmart Media Group to Walmart Connect, with an expanded vision comprising three strategic areas.

First, Walmart is growing offerings across its digital properties—Walmart.com, pickup and delivery and the Walmart app—which saw nearly double the amount of revenue and more than double the number of advertisers last fiscal year.

The company is also launching new omnichannel capabilities that enable advertisers to reach its millions of in-store shoppers each week. These include media activations on in-store TV walls and self check-out screens with nearly 170,000 digital screens across more than 4,500 stores. Walmart’s stores and digital properties see 150 million weekly visitors.

Lastly, Walmart has partnered with The Trade Desk to launch a demand-side platform for suppliers and their media ad agencies to drive performance outside of Walmart’s proprietary sites using first-party shopper data.  

Walmart’s first major attempt at competing with Amazon, Google and Facebook came in 2019 when it held an event to pitch its ad business to hundreds of companies including Unilever, NBC Universal and Mattel. Since then, it has launched various in-house ad solutions like its Advertising Partners program, Sponsored Product Interface and Performance Reporting Dashboards.

To keep up with shifting consumer behaviors during the pandemic, in September Walmart unveiled a new modern store design focused on digitally-enabled shopping experiences. The retailer’s new exterior and interior signage reflects the Walmart app icon, and its stores now include self-checkout kiosks and contactless payment options.

COVID-19’s Impact On Travel Ad Spending

US air travel in Q4 was down more than 60 percent compared with the previous year, while overseas air travel was down nearly 90 percent through November compared with 2019 according to the International Air Transport Association.

The ongoing fallout of COVID-19, including travel bans and quarantines, has caused the airline business to bleed money and marketers to scale back ad spend. When the crisis hit, the travel industry reduced its ad spending by nearly 50 percent during the first two weeks of March from a year prior, according to MediaRadar. By mid-April, spend was down 93 percent year-over-year.

A resurgence in spending occurred in the summer months when travel’s TV ad spend gradually increased. For example, in July, iSpot.tv data cited by Skift showed that the US travel industry spent $33.9 million on TV ads, more than double compared with the $15.4 million spent in June. Despite the slight increase, travel TV ad spend was still down 77.8 percent from the year prior.

In October, eMarketer revised its travel ad forecast to show that US travel digital ad spend would drop by 41 percent YoY to just $3.24 billion, making travel account for just 2.4 percent of digital ad spending. The $3.74 billion the researcher forecasted for travel ad spending in 2021 barely exceeds the industry’s spend in 2017, which was $3.64 billion.

Though the US Travel Association doesn’t expect travel spending to return to pre-pandemic strength until 2024, travel companies are now planning for the possibility that consumer demand will rebound amid the vaccine rollout.

According to Tripadvisor’s latest research, 77 percent of travelers worldwide say they will be more likely to travel internationally if they receive the vaccine, rising to 86 percent for travel domestically. In the US, those figures are 69 percent and 80 percent, respectively.

Twenty-six percent of respondents globally say that they would only travel to destinations that required visitors to be vaccinated before travel.

Vaccine or not, the data indicate the travel industry could see a sign of hope as 47 percent of travelers globally say they’re planning to travel internationally in 2021, including 45 percent of US travelers.

The road to recovery will be arduous as officials urge consumers to avoid travel and airlines’ debt mounts. Delta reported a $12.4 billion loss for all of 2020, the largest annual loss of the history of the airline. But as people start planning summer vacations, Delta’s chief executive Ed Bastian said the company expects bookings “to start opening up again.”

Bastian expects international travel will take another 12 to 18 months to fully recover, and  business travel to be only 25 percent to 50 percent of what it used to be by the second half of 2021.

Southwest Airlines Co. CEO Gary Kelly anticipates domestic business could be in the range of down 50 percent to 60 percent by the end of this year, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Transparency will be critical for rebuilding consumer trust. For companies, means continuously updating travelers with their latest health and safety measures in line with pandemic protocols, as well as encouraging them via special deals to travel locally.

“Transparency is the currency of character right now. We talk so much about consumer confidence, but really when you get right down to it it’s about trust and if we earn and maintain the trust of the consumer we’ll have their confidence when it comes time to travel, Brad Dean, chief executive of Discover Puerto Rico told Skift.