Top 10 tech and data marketing trends for 2021

Home Blends & Trends 1 February 2021

New digital behaviors, acceleration of e-commerce, privacy on everyone’s lips, first party data as the new marketing grail, the fight against tech giants’ monopolistic competition, Adtech’s new stakes and the Cloud market reaching maturity… here are the top tech and marketing trends that will make 2021!

1. After the crisis, and the resilience, what new digital behaviors are emerging?

Remote work, the rapid growth of e-commerce, the rise of streaming services and smart TV, and the dawn of an ever so connected world without any in-person interactions… All the things that were the new normal in 2020, and gave rise to new digital habits in every single industry. Even though e-commerce has been the main focus, new services like telemedicine or online grocery shopping have gained tremendous traction, the latter experiencing a 30+% growth in 2020.

Even though some companies had to scramble to transfer all their activities and services online, these new habits seem like they are here to stay.

Read more in Benedict Evans’ presentation Tech and the new normal.

2.The rise of e-commerce… and its new challenges

As we enter the new year it seems e-commerce will continue to be a hot topic; especially considering the rise of direct-to-consumer brands, the controversies around Amazon, and the market’s rapid digital transformation. However, even though many industries are doing well, French e-commerce only grew 6% in 2020 (vs +11% in 2019)according to the French e-commerce federation. Moreover, the current health crisis has triggered a recession, which, in the short run, slows down consumption, and therefore e-commerce. However, the clear winner in this situation is curbside pick-up for groceries, which grew over 30%. Consumers’ new purchasing habits (drive through, click & collect, etc.) contributed to creating new customer expectations, as people got used to both the new restrictions as well as the new service offering.

But even though e-commerce increased the pace at which retailers, even smaller players, carried out their digital transformation, it seems from the outset that this change in the market mostly benefited large players, like Shopify – one of the world’s largest e-commerce SaaS – whose income doubled in a year, as of 2020’s second quarter, and whose current market value is 85 billion dollars.

With omnichannel and personalized customer journeys, will 2021 be the year to put the client first and create tailor-made services?

Read more on Think with Google.

3. Live streaming: China is one step ahead, yet again

Is live streaming the new QVC? Live streaming sales account for 2 to 10% of online sales in China, where the trend gained traction during the health crisis. Live videos, which sometimes last for several hours, let consumers purchase certain goods directly during the streaming session. Many celebrities, but also government representatives, and car manufacturers gave the trend a shot, so much so that China recorded over 4 million e-commerce live videos in the first quarter of 2020. Between now and 2022, live e-commerce sales are projected to account for 20% of all online sales in China.

This trend is only partly attributable to live streaming websites like Twitch, and well carried by video streaming apps like Douyin, the Chinese name for TikTok, owned by ByteDance.

Read more on Think with Google and on South China Morning Post.

4. Personal data protection: the rules are closing in

2021 is bound to be the year of privacy. In 2020, government bodies like the French CNIL issued new regulations, mostly to control the proper implementation of the European GDPR in France, notably by issuing sanctions to brands and platforms. The CNIL also published new guidelines on the use of trackers. In the United States, the Californian CPRA, voted in late 2020, is a true change of pace for the country: this legislation’s goal is to supplement the CCPA regulation on the protection of personal data, by focusing on data collection regulation.

The protection of privacy is on everyone’s lips, which means brands have to rise up to the challenges of both complying with regulation, and creating an environment customers can trust, as these will be the prerequisites to sharing any personal data. In a world where third-party cookies are becoming scarce, and first-party data is a coveted asset, the time has come to rethink digital marketing strategies.

Read more on the National Law Review and on Digiday.

5. The end of third party cookies: what’s next?

2020 started off with a bang for marketing professionals, with the launch of Google’s Privacy Sandbox, featuring APIs created to replace cookies with safer tools. Without there being a true consensus among the AdTech community, different players still managed to come up with their own new methods, which aren’t all compatible. Even though we know the end of third-party cookies means login information will no longer be freely shared among platforms within a browser, no one knows what will replace them. Current trends point to siloed login IDs used only in closed ecosystems like Apple’s AAID and Google’s IDFA, but also involve user-centric marketing strategies, also called “ people-based marketing”, and the comeback of contextual targeting. Keep your eyes peeled!

Read more on the Global Banking and Finance Review, and on AdExchanger.

6. The era of compliant and ethical data collection: the reign of first-party data

When browsers started restricting the use of third-party cookies (mostly with Chrome, Safari, and Firefox), and when different regulations, including the GDPR in 2018, designed ways to protect personal data, third-party data collection for measure and attribution purposes became very limited. Furthermore, the growing awareness among consumers about the collection of their data leads to them often refusing permission to cookies and the frequent use of ad blockers.

First-party data is thereby becoming the key element for compliant and privacy by design data collection, as well as a necessary component of any efficient data strategy that meets the consumer’s trustworthiness expectation.

Red more in this Think with Google infographic, and on this BCG article.

7. What is in store for the tech giants in 2021?

Once again, tech giants breezed through the 2020 health crisis, and some of them even thrived. But clouds may be coming to the Silicon Valley: in October, the US Congress published its latest Antitrust report after a 16 months-long investigation on the tech giants’ anticompetitive practices. In addition to that, two months later, the European Union published the Digital Services Act (DSA), and the Digital Markets Act (DMA), two pieces of legislations regulating the digital space, and specifically aimed at the large platforms – without naming them – Google, Facebook, Amazon. Two continents, two sets of regulation, and one common goal: end monopolistic competition and dismantle the sprawling activities of these large platforms.

These platforms draw their strength from their model, which are all based on user data collection, and in turn give them disproportionate power and sprawling services. Will these attempts from lawmakers successfully stop the giants’ dominance and put an end to the walled gardens era? Will the presidency of Joe Biden reinforce this trend? We’ll find out in 2021.

Read more on the European Commission website and on Forbes.

8. The Cloud market is reaching maturity… and favors American companies

Bolstered by the current environment and the rise of remote work, the Cloud industry reached maturity in 2020, and became a new norm for organizations that sought to adapt and speed up their digital transformation. The market for Cloud storage reached $257.5 billion in 2020, and is deemed to grow another 18% in 2021 according to Gartner.

However, the majority of this large pie belongs to American players, with European companies losing 10% of their market shares over the past three years. Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are experiencing an aggressive growth and now own 66% of market shares in Europe. But European service providers haven’t thrown in the towel yet: they are setting-up the new Gaia-X initiative, aimed at bringing Cloud and data players together. May the best company win !

Read more on Kinsta.

9. Video on demand (VOD) and smart TV are on the rise: will this be the saving grace for advertisers?

Is the rise of video on demand (VOD) going to last? In France, TF1, France Télévisions and M6 united forces and tried their hands at subscription video services, launching Salto late last year, their very own on-demand platform. Across the pond, several new services entered the market including Disney+, Apple TV, and HBO Max, to capitalize on streaming versus traditional television. And, according to eMarketer, more than 6 million American households will cancel their TV subscription in 2021.

As these new services emerged, Netflix, the king of streaming, decided to strike back, launching a linear TV feature for the French market called Direct, which will offer… live shows! New uses are becoming the new norm in the world of video on demand, and open up new opportunities for the segmented television market and online TV advertising.

Read more on MediaPost.

10. Why retail media will clean out in 2021

What happens when retailers become media outlets? In the end of 2020, Criteo announced the launch of its open-access retail media platform. The goal: to offer brands a one-stop-shop for a different format of sponsored products and advertisement, to foster investment in new inventory directly with the retailer, using standardized processes. But this is no leap of faith as 84% of marketing professionals say they are ready to invest more money in retail media if someone gave them direct and exclusive access to one or more retailers, according to the French platform. With the boom of online grocery shopping, several large French grocery store chains experienced a steep rise in traffic in 2020, which led consumer goods brands to jump on the bandwagon, like Nestlé for example, who sees this marketing channel as the new power lever for the growth of e-commerce.

As the era of third-party cookies comes to an end, will this service replace it by letting brands reach targeted audiences on a large scale, without relying on cookies?

Read more on The Drum.

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