It’s been a rough year for advertisers, and 2021 will bring new challenges to a weary and quickly evolving industry. As advertisers attempt to reckon with the impending upheaval of data deprecation, they’ll be forced to divert attention toward more pressing — and distracting — issues that have emerged due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Forrester predicts that next year:

  • Virtual ad creation will explode. The pandemic has forced brands to slash budgets and headcount — but expectations for high-quality advertising haven’t evaporated. In 2021, brands will turn to virtual ad creation in a variety of ways, from virtual influencers to increased investments in creative adtech. One recent Kool-Aid ad used a Memoji-like avatar instead of real kids to advertise its products.
  • One big brand will unexpectedly reshape its media strategy around values. This year, we saw a large group of brands make their corporate values known with the Facebook ad boycott. But in 2021, we’ll see a single brand take a leap of faith in a Jim Gaffigan moment — an unexpected twist of values-based messaging that will radiate through the brand’s entire media ecosystem.
  • From PPE to Zoom, brands will push the limits of pandemic advertising. Cue the somber piano music and the “we’re all in this together” declarations: We’re now entering the mass-market phase of pandemic advertising. 2021 will bring an influx of new pandemic-friendly ad placements, from branded personal protective equipment to pre-roll ads on freemium videoconferencing tools.

Read the full report to catch all five of our advertising predictions, and set up an inquiry if you have questions about your 2021 advertising strategy. To understand the major dynamics that will impact firms across industries next year, download Forrester’s Predictions 2021 guide.