A lot happened in 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the ways we consume media. eCommerce sales were at an all-time high due to social distancing parameters, and time spent on social media and streaming services increased as they became primary ways to stay entertained at home. How will those trends roll into 2021? Keep an eye out for these new media trends this year:

READ MORE: Social media trends you can expect to find in #2021

1. Short-Form Videos

TikTok undoubtedly took off during the pandemic. With the average attention span of a Millennial at a short 12 seconds, and the average attention span for Gen Z at a mere eight seconds, marketing teams in 2021 will need to begin experimenting on how to best convey their brand, messaging and call to action in a short, catchy video.

2. Purpose-Driven Brands

You can have a great product, but what is your cause? Consumers are increasingly looking to benefit the common good with their dollar. People are more likely to spend with a brand that expresses values similar to their own. Last year, we saw brands like Hilton five free rooms to frontline workers and Medieval Times making masks to donate to the community to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Jessica Farhanjeh is the paid social manager at The James Agency.

3. User Privacy Protections

The California Consumer Privacy Act is leading the charge on how companies are allowed to handle the personal information of California shoppers. In 2021, paid media targeting will be impacted by California’s act and similar legislation coming down the pipeline in other states. Apple’s iOS 14 release privacy feature will stop the automatic background collection of data for personalized ad tracking. This is just the beginning. Media professionals will need to pay close attention to industry news in 2021 and begin focusing efforts on collecting first party data.

4. Social Media = Shopping Channels

Facebook Shops and Instagram Shoppable posts are the newest way for consumers to buy products without ever leaving their social media app of choice. Once a difficult task to “disrupt” the user scrolling experience, these shopping channels provide convenience for consumers to shop the products they’re interested in and opens more opportunities for businesses to sell their product.

5. 5G Technology

5G technology will significantly change how we access online content. Adage wrote “The arrival of 5G may also finally bring millions of rural consumers into the high-speed data lanes where marketers increasingly sell their products. It might even disrupt the digital duopoly of Google and Facebook by arming telecom companies with unprecedented data for ad services.” This will open many new opportunities for digital marketers.

6. Visual Search

Get ready to turn your phone’s camera into a search bar! The launch of Pinterest Lens, Bing Visual Search and Google Lens means visual search will soon be just as popular as text search. With the point of a camera, consumers can find where to buy similar products, learn about a product and read reviews, and save contact info, phone numbers and add events to a calendar. The creative opportunities for marketers are endless!

7. Inclusivity

Alongside the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement led to a cultural shift toward inclusivity, which quickly impacted consumer behavior. A study by Accenture showed that 41% of shoppers shifted away from retailers that didn’t reflect their views on identity or diversity. Brands that adapt and show improvement will benefit by creating a better connection with their buyers.

8. Interactive Content

Interactive content is a way for marketers to get consumers more engaged and create a memorable mark that will grow the connection between a brand and its audience. In 2021, marketers should begin shifting away from text-based content and into new, interactive elements like quizzes or polls, augmented reality and 360 degree videos. These immersive experiences allow the consumer to feel more involved in the buying process.

9. Consumers Want More Reviews

Fake news? How about fake reviews? According to smartinsights.com, 75% of consumers don’t accept advertisements as truth, but 90% of people believe brand recommendations from friends and 70% trust consumer opinions. With more people shopping eCommerce than ever before, marketers should invest in building relationships with customers that translate into more reviews. Products that receive 50+ reviews create greater returns.

10. User Generated Content

2021’s consumers crave content they can connect to. Videos and photos no longer need to be the highest quality production. Instead, they should be relatable, provide social proof and build the relationship between brand and consumer. Ads based on user-generated content receive click-through rates that are 4 times higher and a 50% drop in cost-per-click compared to average ads. This year, start building campaigns that encourage users to share their own content.

11. Better Analytics

Now that youve improved your marketing campaigns, what good is it if you cant track performance properly? An average consumer engages with a brand on up to six touch-points before making a purchase. Because of this, marketers are taking an omni-channel approach to where they place their ads. Many companies are looking beyond Google Analytics for reporting and are moving to things like Google Data Studio, Metabase or Tableau in order to see the whole customer journey and make more informed decisions.

2020 was a year that shaped our culture, and therefore the way we consume media. Marketers will be forced to adapt in 2021. If you need assistance with where to start on your marketing decisions, The James Agency can help you pinpoint your marketing strategy, including creative, media, web development, public relations and more. Connect with the TJA team and learn more at www.thejamesagency.com.


Jessica Farhanjeh is the paid social manager at The James Agency. She focuses on paid social media planning, execution, optimization and performance measurement. She is responsible for developing marketing strategies and plans to achieve the clients business objectives primarily on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Prior to joining the TJA team, she worked for other top Phoenix advertising agencies. She graduated from Arizona State University with a degree is Supply Chain Management.