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Four New Trends That Will Change Media  in 2021

Electric Glue CEO Simon Orpin says more independent talent, the CFlight rollout, a very slow return to cinema and the strength of ad-funded content could change the media business dramatically

2020 has been a year like no other. Advertisers and marketers worldwide have had to evolve and adapt in order to keep up with the pace of change. These dramatic changes in the landscape have really shaken things up and brought new ways of thinking to the surface. Some of these were already developing trends, some of them are brand new, but all of them have been propelled into action much faster than they ever would have if it wasn’t for a global pandemic.

Reflecting over the past year and the emerging trends that have come to light, there are four key areas that I feel will come into play in 2021.

Is Cinema Ever Going to Return?

Cinema has been massively missed this year, since the restrictions first came in. You’d have thought that with 2,000 people allowed into a football stadium, we’d be able to get 20% capacity into a cinema theatre, especially when the average bums on seats across the year used to be only at 10%.

With the absence of cinema, not only has ad money been moved mainly into TV, but also the whole way that movies are being distributed between theatre or streaming services, appears to be changing. The window of time between releasing a film in theatres and releasing it on air has dramatically narrowed and even disappeared in some cases. Warner Brothers has just announced that its 2021 film releases, including the Dune and The Matrix 4, will premiere simultaneously in theatres and on streaming platform HBO Max. With cinemas relying heavily on first release rights, what will this mean for the future of the cinema world?

Advertisers who regularly use cinema as a media channel will need to start looking elsewhere when distributing their budget - will this push digital ad spend even further into the lead? This will only be to the detriment of advertisers, having a fantastic environment for brand building through great creative work taken away as an option to engage consumers. It will be interesting to see how the balance shifts.

Greater Transparency & The Adoption of CFlight 

Comcast-owned NBCUniversal pioneered CFlight back in 2018 to capture cross-platform viewing information by providing tools for advertisers to plan, target, transact and measure campaigns across all its linear and digital platforms.

The global offer is now being rolled out across Sky who plan to work this even further in collaboration with ITV and C4 to obtain a single audience cross platform measurement. CFlight incorporates viewing data from BARB (UK), Nielsen (US) and other sources to produce a more accurate measurement for combined multi-platform viewing. This means that broadcasters can actually start to look at the reach and frequency of a campaign across a whole broadcast ecosystem, including streamed audiences as well as broadcast. There’ll be some interesting test pilots on that, giving broadcasters a way to improve the way they sell advertising.

A Future Filled With Ad Funded Content 

There have been a number of ad funded programmes this year such as Waitrose and ITV’s recruiting of 70,000 fruit and veg pickers as part of their ‘Pick for Britain’ campaign by Wonderhood who are relatively new to the market but have a super talented team of people with fantastic broadcast pedigree. There seems to be a trend growing here and it could lead to the evolution of the ad funding model.

The pandemic has also not managed to stifle production. The BCMA recently highlighted the resilience of funded content during a pandemic and just how many projects have still managed to be produced even with all the restrictions and difficulties of putting together a film crew. It is an area that can only grow. ITV have made a public pledge to partner in a greater number of client funded content projects, the value of which, in a broadcast environment, is immense. It will stimulate greater quality and creativity and negate the bland route of “just get me some content” that ultimately ends up as digital landfill.

Rise of Independent Talent

As a result of the talent drain from big businesses and people leaving agencies that they have been with for several years, there is now a greater amount of talent on the market who are working independently. There is an opportunity for a different sort of full service model and more agile approach to emerge off the back of that.

I think this year has probably made independent businesses even stronger in a way, because they're more agile and can adapt and change more quickly, especially with the fact that it is now possible to partner up a media approach with superb creative talent in a way that wasn't possible before when they were contracted to other companies.

Clients are beginning to realise that they can attract and potentially afford creative talent that they previously may have thought was beyond their budget. From that point of view, the way in which the landscape has been forced to change is good for the industry because it will help drive creativity. It could well have an effect on the pitch landscape in 2021 where clients consider their media and creative roster at the same time rather than separately.

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