Your Digital Outlook for 2021

After a year of unimaginable challenges, everyone’s sights are set on 2021. Despite a decrease in overall revenue for 66% of marketing agencies at the start of the pandemic (MarketingWeek), most digital marketers say they will finish the year stronger than in 2019. Not only have agencies proven tremendous resilience, turning their clients’ unforeseeable needs into valuable solutions, but they’ve paved the way for a whole new world of digital experiences. Here is your digital outlook for 2021, highlighting seven trends that are already changing the game for marketers.

  1. A New Outlook on Creative ProductionThe future of work took a gutsy turn this past year — without any time to plan for it. And as even the most traditional leaders were forced to dip their toes — more accurately, high dive right into — a remote work structure, the entire creative process has really changed with it. “2020 really opened companies’ eyes to how to handle remote work,” Joshua Araya, Senior Digital Ad Specialist at Assemble shared, “and that’s had a lot to do with an increase in outsourcing. Larger agencies are seeking ways to keep their employees connected virtually, while smaller agencies are finding ways to adjust to the increased demand for online services.” From new video call tools and live streaming to the need to have an online presence to stay competitive, teams are taking their creative needs to production teams versus spending money and time they don’t really have to make the adaptations in-house.

    “Even small mom and pop shops who you would never have expected to go digital have had to get their menus and hours online, set up online ordering, establish contactless payments, etc. in order to accommodate new customer needs. eCommerce has had a huge year, but not every small business or agency has the ability or budget to provide these services to their clients. At Assemble, we have standardized our processes and create our own tools to automate the campaigns and create them at a much faster pace. Outsourcing creative production will continue to allow these markets to thrive through high-quality, digital solutions that don’t require expanding their internal staff or equipment.”


  2. An Enhanced Consumer Experience with 3D Banners & Augmented RealityRight along with the massive growth in eCommerce, this past year is a new way of retail advertising. Despite fewer people heading to physical stores, the expectation of “what I see is what I get” hasn’t changed. The solution: 3D and augmented reality. What was growing in popularity at the start of 2020, has become a major asset to companies selling their products online. “3D banners are now a lot more accessible to businesses of all sizes,” Joshua explained. “In the past, it was only the big brands that could afford to create 3D renderings of products that would be used on different platforms, but now, there are tools to create the same type of effect using photos. Clients can take multiple photos of a product, slightly rotating it each time, to capture every angle. We create a visual that allows a user to drag and pull the object to various perspectives using their mouse. They’re lightweight versions of 3D renderings that are far less labor-intensive, and so a lot cheaper.”

    “You also see a lot of augmented reality used to give consumers a life-like preview of the products they want in the ways they plan to use them,” Emmanuel Ulloa, Assemble’s Digital Production Lead, added. “Using pictures of a room or area, the technology can place the furniture piece you’re shopping for into the space to see how it would look before buying it. This can be used in so many ways, from paint colors or textures for a home to hair dye colors or makeup for self-care, etc.”

  3. The Centralization of Global Campaigns Goes Even FurtherAs the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for global brands to have an online presence in new markets across the world, cohesion has never been more important. “Transcreation (or localization) is the process of creating multiple versions of an existing ad to conform to the location in which they are running,” Joshua explained.

    It’s vital for global companies to have a consistent message and identity across the board, but in order to resonate with customers, these ads can’t be the same. For starters, there’s language. “A lot of people don’t realize how many languages there really are. At Assemble, we have 49 different languages in which we translate campaigns. We’ve become so familiar with the process over the years that our producers can identify misuses in Arabic or Chinese, even if they don’t speak it.”

    But it’s not just about copy. Advertisers looking to push out global campaigns have to be aware of the visual differences across cultures as well. “Visuals such as environments or people have to resonate as well. And if you’re running campaigns in 30 different markets, it’s a big undertaking. And now, markets with traditionally little access to tech have also really grown due to the pandemic, and so global advertisers have had to expand their reach.”  By localizing your campaigns through an agency with established processes and trained professionals in translating one ad into dozens of versions more easily and accurately, advertisers can enjoy massive cost benefits than tackling these feats on their own.


  4. Not Your Traditional VideoWe know what you’re thinking — video is not new. But like most marketing assets, it is totally evolving. What if we told you some of the most popular videos are just 5-7 seconds long? “Consumers are looking for safer ways to entertain themselves,” Randall Castro, Assemble’s Sr. Visual Designer, explains. But the digital space is more crowded than ever and consumers are obsessed with instant gratification, so micro-videos are marketers’ solution.  “These short videos we now see in streaming platforms are appealing to shorter attention spans. The faster you can send information and better optimize how you send it, the easier it is for the brain to retain it. The goal is finding that creative sweet spot.”

    And the best way to do that is by working with a production team that can put your ideas in motion. “A lot of times clients will come to us with a storyboard, looking for feedback,” Mari Mora, Digital Designer at Assemble, explains, “but we’re also able to help from the very beginning — offering a creative strategy and determining the right pace for their message. With such little time, you have to be so effective with every second.”  By 2022, it’s reported that a whopping 82% of all consumer traffic will be from video (that’s just next year in case you lost track). So if you haven’t started rolling yet, it’s time for ‘action.’


  5. Accessibility Driving New TechnologiesWhen it comes to new technology making wave in 2021, we’ve narrowed it down to two based on one commonality: accessibility.

    Dark Mode: “We will start seeing more and more companies ask us for a ‘desktop, mobile, and dark mode version’ of their assets,” says Emmanuel. Why? On one side, it may be about saving battery life or enhancing the experience for those with visual impairments; on the other, it’s a good look for brands to say they’re reducing their carbon footprint with more energy-efficient technology. “But it’s not as easy as flipping a reverse color switch. Dark Mode involves a more complex color process that doesn’t work for all elements. Most images will not easily translate when going dark. If it’s not properly illuminated, a dark logo could get lost; likewise, smaller text could become unreadable. We have to think forward on every element because the more accessibility you incorporate into development and design, the better you will be able to serve all your customers moving forward. ”

    Angular/React: Angular and React are widely adopted JS technologies that help streamline the development process.  While the benefits of using these development tools are obvious for developers, they’re also major for companies as well. “Both Angular and React have put together a complete foundation for all types of development projects,” Andres Moraga at Assemble, explained. “So rather than re-inventing the wheel for each project, you have a base that can easily be more altered or added onto, saving a ton of time for the developer in how long a project takes to build, and therefore cost for the client.” Similarly, it makes the experience better for the customer, allowing pages to load much more quickly on a single page application. A good example of this is Slack, where instead of feeling like you are flipping to new pages of a website, everything lives in one main view. These coding solutions provide a win, win for the applications people are relying on more than ever.


  6. In-Person Trade Show Booths Go Digital for Virtual EventsVirtual events have really stepped up as in-person experiences were put on hold; and for marketers, that meant seeking new solutions for annual conferences or trade shows that play a significant part in their new business strategy. “As these events have become completely virtual, digital booths have given companies the ability to provide potential customers with an interactive experience that mimics what they would expect in-person,” Shanon Mendez, Senior Project Manager at Assemble, explained. “Instead of visiting a booth, attendees are seeing a virtual booth with various hot spots they can click on to get more information in the form of documents, videos, or links, while others allow for real-time live chats or Zoom calls for a face-to-face conversation with a rep.”

    “At Assemble, we build out everything on a CMS so the client can reuse the site for multiple events,” Andres added. “They can easily change the name of the event, the event page, and more whenever they want allowing the ability to re-use these sites for multiple events.”

    “We think digital booths will not only be valuable during the current conditions but continue into the future as well,” Shanon continued. “They offer another cost-effective option for both attendees and vendors who may do multiple shows throughout the year, and present event coordinators more opportunities to grow attendance and offer solutions for every type of attendee when travel isn’t an option.  “The brands are benefiting from this added touchpoint as well because it allows their content to live beyond the event dates and to be shared and accessed more easily,” says Kristy Rothenberger, Assemble’s Chief of Operations & Projects.


  7. Everyone will Focus on AnalyticsWithout the right data and market insights, it’s extremely difficult for companies to know they’re making the best decisions on how to reach their targets. And now this year more than ever, clients are expecting marketers to be prepared for the unexpected. Data and Analytics will play an essential role in navigating the road ahead, so consider these tips from Assemble Founder/CEO, Scott Peters:

    –           Optimization is key. 2021 will be the year of managing recovery and driving efficiencies, and that means more than just collecting data; marketers will be expected to analyze, translate, and convert this information into a game plan. Look for this especially within e-commerce, DTC, and consumer purchasing as more businesses dive into digital.

    –           Centralization of data. New tech is bringing multi-platform analysis into one cohesive ecosystem, giving marketers a much more holistic approach to data science. By removing the heavy lifting of garnering data from websites, call centers, media, and more, we’ll see an elevated ability to create highly effective campaigns, where several data tools feed into one.

    –           A More Collaborative Process. IT, Design, Strategy, and Account teams will all need to be interconnected through an understanding of how the data process impacts the overall marketing strategy, and therefore the development of a project. That means Data Scientists will need to be even more effective in conveying insights with respect for each party’s need and ability to process data.

To make sure your digital marketing strategy is ready to take on 2021, contact Assemble today.