What Do Digital Media Pros See As Their Top Challenges This Year?

January 6, 2021

IntegralAds Top Digital Media Challenges in 2021 Jan2021Digital media experts think that third-party cookie deprecation will be a top challenge in the industry this year, according to Integral Ad Science’s (IAS) latest Industry Pulse report [download page]. Here’s what the report has to say on other challenges, priorities and predictions for digital media in the year ahead.

Asked which media types will be a high priority at their organization in the next year, the largest portion of the 230 US digital media experts surveyed highlighted digital video/OTT as one of their top 3 industry priorities for 2021 (57%). This was followed closely by connected TV (54% citing within their top-3), with just less than half prioritizing social media (47%). Far fewer see linear TV (12%) or video games (4%) as a high priority going forward.

When separating respondents into digital media buyers and sellers, the report indicates that for sellers the mobile web is in fact the top industry priority, followed closely by digital video/OTT (excluding connected TV).

Fortunately, it appears that budget won’t stand in the way of addressing these priorities – more than 6 in 10 (64%) respondents thought that the COVID-19 pandemic would impact them by leading them to either maintain or increase their media budget and revenue.

Top Media Challenges in 2021

Not only are digital media experts clear on their top priorities, but they cited several top challenges that could affect their industry going into 2021.

With advertisers reflecting on a potentially cookie-less world, third-party cookie deprecation was the challenge listed in the largest proportion of respondents’ top 3 (49%). Other top challenges included cross-device attribution (42% citing within their top 3), accurate measurement (36%) and assessment of campaign ROI (34%), with data privacy legislation (29%) and programmatic transparency (24%) also posing a challenge for a sizable share of respondents.

When it comes to assessing 2021’s challenges by media type, linear TV and social media are set to be the most problematic media types for respondents by some margin. As the report highlights, the unclear future of linear TV and social media challenges around transparency, brand risk and verification are likely at the root of these results.

Relatively few respondents thought that mobile web, mobile app, and connected TV would present serious challenges in 2021.

The Future of TV

When asked which media types hold the most potential for innovation and opportunity in the next 12 months, 6 in 10 (62%) cited CTV, digital video and OTT, with respondents sharing that targeting, attribution, and measurement were potential innovations provided by these media types.

Comparing digital video and CTV to linear TV more widely, the vast majority (88%) agreed that advancements in digital video/OTT and CTV technology will accelerate the shift in ad spending from linear TV to digital. A similarly high proportion (82%) think that these advancements will accelerate the shift in media consumption from linear TV to digital, with 8 in 10 agreeing that CTV provides richer data insights for ad campaign optimization compared to linear TV.

What About Mobile Video?

The experts surveyed anticipate a number of changes associated with increased mobile video consumption, including that it will be a key opportunity for ad buyers and sellers (72%). It’s no wonder considering the amount of time being spent on mobile devices.

A further two-thirds think that sophisticated tools to assess the content within apps will drive innovation in contextual mobile advertising, while more than half (58%) think that expanding 5G adoption will improve the mobile gaming experience, opening new advertising opportunities.

Alongside these predicted challenges and priorities for 2021, respondents are keeping in mind potential vulnerability to ad fraud or brand risk incidents. As with predictions for 2020, respondents thought that programmatic advertising was by far the digital environment perceived to be most vulnerable to ad fraud in the year ahead, with social media and desktop display following farther behind. Programmatic advertising was also noted as the top digital environment most vulnerable to brand risk incidents this year, though on this measure social media was almost tied.

Read the full report here.

About the Data: Findings are based on a September – October 2020 survey of 230 US digital media experts, the majority representing media agencies (38%) or publishers (24%).


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