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Everything you need to know about advertising 2021-2022: WARC

From thriving career paths in media to creative advertising themes and market statistics to base your calculations on, we bring you abridged and aggregated news releases that paint a picture of the sector for 2021/22

86% of global strategists agreed that strategy teams need greater diversity in hiring Among this year’s winners were brands that tackled apparently mundane briefs through agile initiatives Advertising spend in Q2 2021 rose 23.6% to $157.6 bn, the strongest rise in over a decade

From thriving career paths in media to creative advertising themes and market statistics to base your calculations on, we bring you abridged and aggregated news releases that paint a picture of the sector for 2021/22.   

The media strategy career path is booming

The strategy career path is diversifying, but there remains a lack of diversity in its hiring, finds WARC, a global authority on marketing effectiveness, in ‘The Future of Strategy 2021’ report released recently.

The focus this year is on the different routes young strategists can take to build their careers.  

Key takeaways are:

  1. 86% of global strategists agreed that strategy teams need greater diversity in hiring, but less than half have a framework in place for doing so and only 27% have targets in place to hire diverse candidates.
  2. More than 60% of strategists felt their influence increase during the pandemic, being relied upon for direction and problem-solving in unprecedented scenarios.
  3. Young strategists are most likely to see their next role in an agency environment, but those in mid-career have a growing desire for broader experiences and new challenges. 60% of respondents agreed that their plans had changed over the last 12 months.
  4. When hiring, 66% of managers look for an enquiring mind over specific skills. 

Zoe Scaman, Founder, Bodacious & Co-Founder, MCX London, advises: “We need to start to redefine our careers; from exact categorizations into expansive constellations, from skillsets trapped within the ad world to skillsets transferable into the wider one.”

  1. Most strategists are looking upstream for opportunities to have the widest impact possible and looking to the client-side, to consultancies, and to freelance career paths to find this opportunity. 

Mark Lester, Head of Strategy, We Are Pi in Amsterdam, comments: “The world is now full of big, head-scratching problems and mind-boggling new opportunities, so clients are once again desperate for great strategic thinking.”

Trends and themes in award-winning campaigns

WARC has also released a recent report identifying trends and themes common to the award-winning campaigns of this year’s Cannes Creative Effectiveness Lions, which celebrate the measurable impact of creativity.

The four key themes highlighted in the report are:

  1. Tech is creativity’s invisible enabler

Tech’s role in communications is evolving from protagonist to support act, working behind the scenes to enrich creative ideas.

Jury member Jean-Paul Burge, Chairman and CEO, BBDO Asia, said: “There’s a nuanced but important differentiation between developing a new piece of tech that we argue is ‘the great idea’ and using tech to amplify, enable or catalyze our idea, which is where the genius really lies.”

  1. Amplified experiences drive cultural impact

Several winners looked beyond the visual and the verbal to create culturally-relevant experiences which relied on influencers and PR for amplification.  

Judge Neil Dawson, Chief Global Strategy Of Wunderman Thompson, comments: “It’s important to showcase that creativity is not just the visual and the verbal: it can be a product, an experience, the changing of a word. There’s no singular definition of creativity.”

  1. Agile creativity benefits the whole funnel

Among this year’s winners were brands that tackled apparently mundane briefs through agile, short-term initiatives. Such an approach can work alongside long-term efforts to strengthen brands in the face of competitors.

Jury president Ann Mukherjee, Chairman and CEO, Pernod Ricard North America, says: “In today’s world of performance marketing, creativity has to go from the top to the bottom of the funnel. You may get briefs that are not the sexiest, but there is an opportunity for exciting creativity in mundane tasks too.”

  1. Belief-led bravery leads to commercial impact

Grand Prix winner Nike showed how brands can reap the commercial benefits of standing up for issues that matter to their consumers and are true to their business.

As Jury President Ann Mukherjee, said: “It’s a virtuous cycle that we wish to see more brands embracing: touching lives is what makes people come to your brand.”

A sample of the report can be downloaded here

Global advertising spend

Global advertising spend is on course for 12.6% growth this year to reach $665 billion, an upgrade from 6.7% initially projected, as the global ad market rebounds strongly from the COVID-19 downturn of last year, according to WARC.

Further growth, of 8.2%, is forecast for 2022, by when the global advertising market will be worth more than $700 bn.

Advertising spend in Q2 2021 rose 23.6% to $157.6 bn, the strongest rise in over a decade.

Growth in Q2 was driven mostly by online formats, spend that rose by 31.2% versus the previous year.

E-commerce (+59.5%) and search (+50.6%) performed well, though linear TV (+11.5%) has also fared well.

The Q2 rise in global ad trade followed on from 12.5% growth in Q1 consequently, at $311.5 bn, global ad investment was 17.8% higher during the first six months of the year than during the same period in 2020.

COVID-19 accelerated a digital shift in marketing

 While total spend in 2020 fell by 5.4%, spend on offline media such as print, radio, TV, and cinema fell by a fifth, or $63 bn, equating to the worst downturn for this sector in WARC’s 40 years of market monitoring.

Spend online, however, rose by 9.4% ($29.2 bn) in 2020, buoyed by rising e-commerce (+27.4%), social media (+18.3%) and online video (+15.9%) investment.

Online media gained 10 percentage points in budget allocation last year in the automotive and financial categories, a rate of increase that was double the pre-pandemic average.  

Online formats are also leading growth in 2021, with WARC forecasting spend on e-commerce advertising to rise 35.2% this year.

Brand spend on search is set to rise by over a quarter (26.2%) this year, while online video spend is expected to be up by 17.7% and social media by 13.1% this year.  

Trends by media and format 2021/2022

  • Linear TV: Spend is projected to grow 7.1% or $11.1 bn to $168 bn this year, equal to a quarter (25.3%) of the global ad market.  
  • Out of home advertising: Double-digit growth is expected in both 2021 (17.4%) and 2022 (11.2%) as the medium recovers. This year will see $34.9 bn being spent and this is set to rise to $38.8 bn next year.
  • Cinema: Spend was heavily curtailed in 2020 and a strong recovery looks underway. Cinema is forecast to be the fastest-growing medium in both 2021 (149.9%) and 2022 (26.9%), taking total investment to $3.4 bn next year.
  • Linear radio: Investment in radio ads is projected to increase by double-digits (10.4%), or $2.5bn this year.
  • Newspapers: Advertising spend on print newspapers will rise by 4.8% this year, the first growth recorded in a decade. This puts the total at $29.6 bn.
  • Magazines: Investment is expected to rise by a modest 2.5% this year before falling into a decline of 4.3% next year.
  • Social media: Social formats, combined, were among the strongest performers in 2020, recording total growth of 18.3% to a total of $99.2 bn. Social spend is set to rise by 13% in 2021 and a further 10% in 2022, by when the market will be worth $123.5 bn or about a fifth (17.2%) of all advertising spend worldwide.
  • Online video: Online video spend rose 15.9% to reach $54.9 bn in 2020. Growth is forecast to accelerate to 17.7% this year, with a rise of 15.9% predicted in 2022.
  • E-commerce: Brand spend on e-commerce platforms lept 27.4% last year as shoppers migrated online in response to social distancing guidelines. Advertising growth in this sector is now expected to accelerate to over a third (35.2%) in 2021, pushing the market’s value to a total of $85.2 bn. Further growth, of 11.4%, is forecast next year.
  • Paid search: The search market recorded its first decline on record during the second quarter of 2020, though a strong finish to the year meant investment was up by 5.4% during 2020 as a whole. Rapid growth, of 26.2%, is forecast for 2021.

Following a one-quarter decline in spend last year, Middle East advertising growth will be 6.2% this year and will then accelerate to 15% in 2022. This puts total investment at $13.2 bn next year, $1.2 bn less than the pre-pandemic level in 2019.

 Trends by product category (Five largest in 2022)

  • Telecoms & utilities: Total investment will increase by 21% this year and then 11.2% next year to reach a projected $95 bn.
  • Media & publishing: Advertising spend from media brands is expected to top $70 bn worldwide this year for the first time, growing 18.3%. Further growth of 6.9% is expected in 2022.
  • Business & industrial: Investment from business advertisers is forecast to rise by double-digits (10.6%) this year to equal $69.3 bn. Growth of 7.7% is expected in 2022 which will take total ad spend to $74.6 bn.
  • Retail: A cut to advertising budgets of $6.2bn last year will only just be recovered this year when investment is projected to rise by 11% to reach $66.2 bn in 2021.
  • Financial services: Total investment is projected to rise by 17.9% in 2021 and this will push spend above $50 bn for the first time. Additional growth of 7.0% is expected next year.