Incubeta ZA: 2021 Predictions

In the second instalment of our Incubeta Predicts series – where we asked our teams across the globe for their 2021 industry predictions – we caught up with the South Africa team, over in Cape Town. Covering everything from Budgeting and Machine Learning, to Privacy and AI – here are their thoughts.

Matilda Rose Moir

Roan Mackintosh – Managing Director ZA

The success of digital marketing for many brands as the “lockdown saviour” will be both a blessing and a curse for local CMOs in 2021. With consumer behaviour being undoubtedly disrupted, larger budgets will subsequently be allocated to ensure brands capitalise on a somewhat more digitised customer base. Opportunities will be pronounced. On the flip side, there will be increased performance expectations in the coming year and cleaning, matching, analysing, understanding and activating data will be a key challenge for many marketers to overcome if they are to successfully showcase the benefits of increased investment in digital marketing. No doubt there will be choppy waters ahead as vaccine availabilities and economic recoveries are debated and businesses scramble to respond. Remaining agile, building a budget safety net, and stepping up to the boardroom table are possibly all likely components of a 2021 CMO’s future. 

Andrew Smit – Head of Data Solutions ZA

Forecasting for 2021 will be almost impossible off the back of a 2020 that nobody could have predicted. Looking at US ecommerce data for 2020, consumers were spending at November and December levels, but were spending at these rates in April. Consumer spending in the US was buoyed by the issue of the stimulus cheques that are not guaranteed for 2021 and means that digital marketers can’t expect to use this year’s data as a benchmark for the coming 12 months, and marketers will need to continue to remain agile.

Malcolm Peters – Head of SEO ZA

User experience signals will be more prominent in 2021 especially with the introduction of Core Web Vitals as a ranking factor, set to roll out in May 2021. AI is changing how users interact with online content, and Google’s AI algorithm “RankBrain” unveiled a few years ago plays an important role in Google’s ever evolving ranking factors which affects how search results are displayed. User experience signals are one of the primary determining factors for RankBrain meaning we have to find more innovative ways to captivate and engage readers with useful, well-organized online content. RankBrain will only improve with time, making AI a top SEO trend to watch out for in 2021.

Niamh NicLiam – Head of Business Partnerships ZA

As well as the obvious, 2020 was also the year for Digital to come into its own and 2021 will see more and more CMOs truly embrace it. This not only means embracing the power of digital, but also demystifying it by understanding its infinite possibilities and the technology that powers it. There is a fundamental need for marketers to enable their teams, both internal and external, to reach the levels of digital marketing maturity and success that are possible, by identifying the knowledge gaps in their business, and putting plans in place to address these. Training and upskilling will empower teams to make more effective and more informed business decisions. 

CMOs will also work much more closely with their external partners to deliver successes in their businesses. It will be very challenging for any marketing team to fully comprehend the intricacies of digital capabilities so they will need to align and understand the role of their partners to drive results, and this will be done by knowledge sharing, enablement and trust.

Jade Arenstein – Head of Data Strategy & BI ZA

With the rollout of GA4 and all of us needing to adapt our tracking and data collection to what will become our new-normal – a privacy-first approach – 2021 is going to be interesting to say the least. We foresee clients and advertisers placing an even larger focus on their data and tracking from all angles of their business. It is going to become crucial for all businesses to build out their CRMs and databases and enhance the level of the first party data collected, while constantly thinking about how this data can be used in their marketing strategies to drive real business value and growth. 

With all of this, we foresee businesses strongly investing in their BI and Data Science teams as well as strong technology to set them on a path to success in dealing with this new-normal

Leilah Potter – Lead Media & Platforms Consultant ZA

User consent and privacy will continue to dominate into 2021 with the deprecation of third-party cookie usage. Following the likes of Safari and Firefox, Google Chrome has vowed to halt all third-party cookies by 2022, proving that privacy is and still will be a hot topic into the future.

Furthermore International Data Privacy Standards and Governance will increase. TikTok’s privacy violation in early 2020 raised more than just eyebrows resulting in China announcing new security standards. Several initiatives strongly enforced in Europe and in the US, GDPR and CCPA respectively, will see stronger international support into 2021 and beyond.

Users will also demand transparency. Since users have been made aware of what companies (particularly social media apps) can access, we are more likely to see an increase in data usage transparency from companies going forward. Research conducted by PwC showed that 76% of users recognise that sharing data with companies is a “necessary evil” but that 84% of users will not hesitate in taking their business elsewhere if they do not trust how a company is handling their data.

Johan Walters – Lead Tech Consultant ZA

Assisted Processes” will become stronger in 2021 as organisations adopt AI & ML into their ways of working and increase operational efficiency through automation.

Cloud for Marketing will no longer be reserved for the large corporations with big BI teams. With the roll out and market adoption of the new Google Analytics 4 platform – organisations of any size will be able to leverage Google’s advanced AI & ML engines to connect, analyse and activate their business data.

Ansa Leighton – Head of Consultancy ZA

Into 2021 and beyond, the need for retailers with both bricks & mortar and eCommerce to create an interchangeable and mutually symbiotic relationship between the revenue streams will become increasingly more urgent. Captivating consumers who have a plethora of choices in today’s ever-changing retail environment, retailers have no choice than to move towards an omni-channel approach to consistently satisfy consumer expectations. 

A great example of such a revolutionary shopping concept is “We Are Egg.”  It is a wonderfully curated destination that combines retail and eCommerce to experience entertainment that will leave you in awe.

Victoria Webb – Head of Client Service ZA

2021 will continue to shine a spotlight on the importance of digital transformation efforts within organisations, however with a bigger focus on the organisational change required to accelerate this. As customer behaviours evolve triggering new trends, it’s more important than ever to ensure organisations are able to keep with these constant changes. True transformation can only come about if the organisation is clear on what the business objectives are and how the digital transformation efforts are aligned to achieving these as there must be commitment from all stakeholders to support this journey. This will lead to re-evaluating how the C-suite and their respective departments need to not only collaborate but the need to understand more about how their functions within the organisation support each other to achieve the same goal which will ultimately deliver value to customers.

To view the full series, visit Incubeta Insights 

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