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Better Times, Bigger Successes Ahead

Leaders from PDMI member companies share their visionary expertise as the performance marketing industry heads into a new year. What are their fearless predictions for 2021?

By Thomas Haire

This is the cover story of Results Magazine's December 2020 issue. Click here to read this feature via our digital publication website or simply scroll down to continue reading here.

Is anyone else ready to leave 2020 behind? Our longest and shortest year — time dragged and flew, seemingly bending with each twist to the year’s ridiculous storylines — provided one challenge after another. And that’s putting it kindly.

We’ve all spent so much time this year looking back and wary of looking ahead — but we’re all still a little unsure of what next year holds in store. But look ahead we must. So, we at the PDMI thought: what better opportunity to break the chains of wariness — and look forward with anticipation rather than dread — than to hear and consider our members’ predictions for 2021. So, in late October, we reached out to all PDMI member companies asking one simple question: What’s your fearless prediction for 2021?

During the following weeks, visionary leaders (we hope!) from 16 PDMI member companies took us up on the offer. With responses ranging from somber to celebratory and from amusing to enlightening, our members’ thoughts touch on nearly every facet of the performance marketing industry.

Let’s hear from the PDMI membership about what they believe is not just possible but likely to happen during the next 12 months.

Dieter Ammann, Fulfillment Express

At Fulfillment Express, we have been experiencing phenomenal growth this year, because of the pandemic and Amazon. Because Amazon is at capacity in most of its fulfillment centers, it is making some of its sellers remove excess inventory. Sellers that previously were shipping container loads of merchandise into Amazon for FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) are now forced to ship smaller quantities, more frequently — Hence, more business for us. This has also driven higher volumes of FBM (fulfillment by merchant) orders. I foresee the growth continuing through 2021, simply because Amazon has found its groove in dealing with the vast number of sellers and shortening their inventory storage. The pandemic has forced everyone to buy online, and those of us in the logistics business have benefitted greatly from that. People are much more comfortable ordering online, and I believe this will continue past next year. People are going to be slow going back to buying from brick-and-mortar stores, and the fallout for those retailers will continue to take its course, driving more people online.

Al Diem and Matt Greenfield, Cannella Media

A COVID-19 baby boom will spark the emergence of new direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands for home delivery of baby goods. Amazon will create brick-and-mortar "Baby Centers" to compete with Walmart and Target. In related news: family, friend, and coworker baby shower fatigue sets in, registries go away, and new parents are on their own.

Large traditional brands will continue a steady migration to DR — and Cannella signs Coca-Cola for a new DTC campaign!

Web attribution becomes as reliable as phone-based attribution. All the walled gardens release their data to external attribution partners and agencies.

Chris Foster, Modern Postcard

2021 is the year of "cozy": soft products, advertising display, comfort products, home self-care, CBD, crafts, etc. This will be a growth space that cuts across industries but has the primary characteristic of customers showing an increased interest in cozy. You’re seeing retail stores have more soft fabrics, fabric block lettering, pillows, blankets, "calming" bath bombs, etc.; online searches for "crafting" are exploding; Netflix has imported more "Hallmark"-style movies into their lineup; CBD for anxiety and as a sleep aid is expanding and expected to double in four years. More themes, products, brands, and growth around people being cozy and safe are on the horizon for 2021.

Anat Freed, Kingstar Media

It seems nearly impossible to make a prediction for 2021 given the whirlwind of 2020, but one thing that we have confidence in is the ongoing surge of DTC brands moving more ad spend to traditional media like television. Seasoned advertisers understand that TV is an imperative part of their top-of-funnel marketing plans. However, I believe we are really just seeing the tip of the iceberg of DTC brands eating up a larger share of voice on TV.

With consumers expected to spend the majority of their days at home during the winter and spring months due to COVID-19, it only makes sense to include TV in marketing efforts to maximize their reach. We are seeing some of the lowest CPMs in years and know that TV works best when telling the story of your brand to a large audience. This will, in turn, drive higher levels of web traffic, opportunities for digital retargeting, and help them remain competitive among the rest.