Experts Share Paid Social Predictions for 2021

By Tinuiti Team

It was an unpredictable second half of the year for advertisers across a multitude of channels due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent events in 2020 forced advertisers to evaluate current media plans and adjust to a new reality. In response, we created a HUB of COVID-19 content to offer guidance to our clients and readers.

The global impact of Coronavirus also expedited the adoption of online shopping due to the reduction of in-store purchases. According to reports, there’s been a +129% year-over-year growth in U.S. & Canadian e-commerce orders and an +146% growth in all online retail orders.

Although we can’t be sure what to expect in the new year, we asked our leading industry experts what trends they predict will shape Paid Social in the near future. Take a look at their responses below. Whether you agree or disagree – please share your thoughts in the comments section!

Paid Social Predictions for 2021


1. Future success will require a nimble and diversified strategy.

“As businesses ramp back up their operations, many companies will find that the audience, customer base, and business model they once took for granted has shifted significantly. Strategies that worked before or during the pandemic will not work afterward. But leading with research and insights, fostering ‘a testing culture,’ and focusing on retention can help all businesses adapt to a changed world.”

Zach Morrison, CEO of Tinuiti



2. Better support for B2B opportunities.

“For B2B, I predict social platforms will expand their offerings to better support businesses trying to reach business decision-makers. For example, LinkedIn recently rolled out Stories where brands will be able to showcase new products, features, services to prospective customers.”

Kolin Kleveno, SVP, Addressable Audiences at Tinuiti



3. Diversity and inclusion are here to stay.

“Social media users have made it clear that their feeds should be representative of themselves, their friends and family, and the world they live in. Diversity and inclusivity in social media content (and advertising in general) is not going to stop at a hashtag and it isn’t simply a trend—it’s a necessary way for brands to break boundaries, set standards, and influence a new generation of conscious consumers that care about where they spend their hard-earned cash. Being thoughtful about campaign topics, word choice, and representation will make the difference between creative that converts and creative that just doesn’t click.”

Julie Meredith, Senior Director of Marketing at Dash Hudson


Dash Hudson Julie Meredith

4. The rise of high-quality user-generated content

“If 2020 has proven anything to marketers, it’s the power of user-generated content (UGC). While it has already been a strong content pillar for some, many businesses have hesitated to share fan-made images and videos on their social channels. With digital asset creation either strained or stalled entirely, UGC has become a mainstay for brands in every industry—and it shows no signs of slowing down in 2021. Users are growing accustomed to participating and seeing themselves reflected in the business accounts they follow. It gives them a sense of community and gives brands a major boost of social proof, visibility, and awareness. But, without the financial incentive that comes with influencer relationships, marketers need to get creative to encourage followers to share content.”

Julie Meredith, Senior Director of Marketing at Dash Hudson

Dash Hudson Julie Meredith


5. TikTok continues to gain momentum.

“The biggest thing I’ve been saying: TikTok isn’t going anywhere, and conversely, I think it’s going to blow up more in 2021. Right now they have incredibly low CPMs in the auction, they’re hiring really strong people from different platforms, and they’re evolving their ads product at an incredibly impressive rate. On top of that, this “controversy” about being banned is only going to add to the appeal. Controversy (of this kind) always stirs interest! Basically, watch out for TikTok.”

Avi Ben-Zvi, Group Director of Paid Social at Tinuiti



6. Improved flexibility in shipping, pickups, and returns.

“In 2021, brands that can provide customers flexibility in shipping, pickups, and returns will maximize revenue. Implementing BOPIS tracking, allows advertisers to customize messaging towards shoppers seeking to avoid the crowds of in-store browsing. Consider pairing BOPIS optimization with copy that emphasizes in-store health precautions and speaks to the speed & ease of pickup.“

Kelsey Miller, Paid Social Senior Manager at Tinuiti



7. Increased need for measurement across each platform.

“The need to tie together measurement across each disparate platform will continue to grow in importance. Marketers are seeking a holistic understanding of performance and cannot just look at each platform in a silo.”

Kolin Kleveno, SVP, Addressable Audiences at Tinuiti



8. Social Commerce is the future.

“Expect social media and ecommerce to become further intertwined in 2021. Selling continues to be a focus in the digital space and is growing faster than ever. With social at the forefront of everyday interactions, it makes sense for brands to push marketing out through these channels to reach the most valuable audiences possible. Many platforms have already integrated native shopping features, including Facebook and Instagram, and it’s definitely on the horizon for growing channels like TikTok. Innovative ecommerce solutions and cross-channel buying experiences should be absolutely top of mind for marketers. Focus on streamlining the social shopping process so the customers’ transition from your feed to the checkout is as frictionless as possible.

Julie Meredith, Senior Director of Marketing at Dash Hudson

Dash Hudson Julie Meredith


9. Brands flock to DTC strategy.

“More brands and manufacturers will go direct-to-consumer through online channels. We’ve been seeing many brands adopt a DTC strategy this year, which is really instigated by COVID. Recently, Nike was said to be closing wholesale accounts with retailers like:

That list includes multi-chain stores and online retailers as well, which is very interesting.

What we’ve seen is these brands can do the marketplace strategy themselves by being everywhere shoppers are, rather than relying on wholesalers and brick-and-mortar stores.

Other brands have already been following Nike’s example, or need to to survive and come out strong, so we expect an increased focus on DTC through their online store and all the places people can discover their products, rather than distributors/wholesale.” 

– Brian Roizen, Chief Architect and Cofounder of Feedonomics

10. Big push for integrations across web and mobile.

“Although advertisers and brands alike have a longer runway until the full rollout of Apple’s IDFA, we are still slowly creeping towards greater tracking limitations. The initial iOS 14 update did include some limitations on tracking in web browsers, turning on ITP (Intelligent Tracking Prevention) by default. With all of these changes looming, I anticipate that advertising platforms are going to be making big pushes for advertisers to largely implement a server to server integration across web and mobile, therefore decreasing reliance on third-party tracking. While Facebook has initially released its conversions API allowing users to pass back web-based server data, I would predict that app will soon be included and all other social advertisers will also follow suit.”

Natasha Blumenkron, Associate Director, Paid Social at Tinuiti



11. Reddit on the rise for ad investment.

“With the landscape of Social media changing and advertisers beginning to look elsewhere to invest their marketing dollars, I anticipate significant growth in Reddit advertising into 2021. With unduplicated reach nearing 60% when compared to other leading Social Media Channels, niche communities that provide excellent targeting opportunities, and a fast-developing ad product and auction, Reddit is primed for massive growth in 2021 mirroring the growth we’ve seen from Snapchat and Pinterest most recently.”

Michael Skehill, Associate Director, Paid Social at Tinuiti


michael skehill


12. Audience-based planning to become critical.

“Audience-based planning will become more critical to marketing as pseudonymous identifiers like cookies and mobile ad IDs (MAIDS) are restricted. Look to social platforms to tout their identity capabilities and flex their direct relationship with consumers as a way for marketers to tap into and grow their 1st part data for smarter targeting and more personalized experiences.”

Kolin Kleveno, SVP, Addressable Audiences at Tinuiti


13. Social investment in automation.

“Social platforms will continue to invest in automated features taking control away from the advertiser. I anticipate in 2021, larger platforms will continue to lead the way and API platforms will suffer as native ads management platforms improve.”

Kevin Janson, Strategist, Paid Social at Tinuiti

14. The time to diversify your Paid Social media mix is now.

“Customers aren’t only on one social platform on a daily basis, so brands shouldn’t be either. Historically some channels have been seen as ways to engage via organic as opposed to paid, but amplification to the right audiences can help to drive true business growth.”

Katy Lucey, Director of Paid Social at Tinuiti



Pro-tip: Be sure to check out Tinuiti’s upcoming 2021 Paid Social Guide with Dash Hudson and Feedonomics, as we take a closer look at innovations for social media platforms (compared to last year). We also highlight the issues most likely to impact advertisers in 2021 and how they should prepare to stay ahead of the competition. 

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