Which Digital Platforms Are Marketers Upping Their Spend on This Year?

January 20, 2021

WARC Digital Platform Investment Plans in 2021 Jan2021More than 9 in 10 marketers plan on investing in online video and mobile this year, with a majority planning to invest more in each of these channels than they did in 2020. At the same time, data from WARC’s Marketer’s Toolkit 2021 report [download page] shows that many marketers believe their investments in channels such as print and cinema are likely to decrease.

Online video is set to benefit the most from budget increases this year, with 70% of the more than 1,000 global client and agency-side marketers saying they believe their investment in this format will increase in 2021. Another 19% expect their investment to stay the same, while only 3% forecast a decrease in budget for online video.

This increase in budget comes at a time when marketers for B2B and B2C businesses are recognizing the benefits of online video, either due to the lift in the time consumers are spending with online video, especially with the greater acceptance of more ad-supported video services, or even because it’s one of the most effective channels for thought leadership marketing.

Mobile is another area for which a majority (64%) of marketers plan to hike their investments over the next 12 months. Again, this is not surprising when other research has shown that, globally, at least three-quarters of digital minutes are spent on mobile.

At least half of the marketers surveyed also expect to see their investment in online search (59%) and online display (49%) increase, while somewhat fewer expect their budgets for influencers (45%), gaming (38%) and podcasts (38%) will increase in the coming months.

Traditional media types such as TV (19%), sponsorships (17%) and radio/audio (16%) appear to be less likely to see increased investment, while a large share of marketers expect to see investment in print (54%) and cinema (46%) decrease.

How Will Digital Platforms Fare?

In line with the increased investment in online video, more than half (54%) of marketers say they expect to see their investment in YouTube increase in 2021, while about one-quarter (24%) expect to maintain their 2020 investment in the platform. Similarly, 8 in 10 (81%) foresee their investment in Google either increasing (53%) or remaining the same (28%).

Last year saw marketers utilizing social media more in order to reach consumers during the pandemic. And, although social media is thought to be one of the most difficult channels when it comes to revenue attribution, many marketers expect to increase their budget for social media platforms including Instagram (52%), TikTok (44%), Facebook (39%) and LinkedIn (35%).

Brand Advertising Budgets Cut

Marketers are reporting some areas in which budget cuts are being made. A full 70% anticipate that brand advertising will see spending decreased, perhaps to make way for growing performance marketing budgets. Agency and vendor fees are also predicted to take a hit, with about two-thirds (67%) of those surveyed seeing cuts being made in this area. Around half of marketers also expect budget cuts in sponsorship and partnerships (53%) and new creative development (49%).

At the same time, tech investment and performance marketing appear to be relatively safe, with only 14% and 13% of marketers, respectively, anticipating cuts in these areas.

The full report can be found here.

About the Data: Findings are based on a global survey of more than 1,000 client and agency-side marketers.


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