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Global events this year threw a serious curve ball at organizations of all sizes in nearly every industry, including media. Publishers and advertisers reacted quickly to adapt to the public health crisis and the economic fallout that ensued. As we look forward to 2021, it’s likely that several new developments in the media industry are more than just temporary stopgaps to bridge the pandemic, and that they signal long lasting change.

On that note, we’re excited to announce the launch of Lineup Systems’ 2021 Digital Advertising Trends white paper. In this white paper, we dive deep into 10 trends that are shaping the media landscape up to the minute, and trends that publishers and advertisers must pay attention to in order to navigate this coming year successfully.

In this sneak peek blog post, we’ll discuss why and how we created the white paper, as well as give you a preview of 4 digital advertising trends you and your team should be talking about ASAP.

Staying up to date and ahead of the pack

The world has been through a great deal of turmoil this year, and we want media organizations and brands to be able to step into 2021 with a focus on innovating for their customers’ needs now and in the long term, which is why we created this white paper. Digital transformation is forcing companies to change the way they deliver their products and services, and publishers and advertisers alike need to keep up with trends so they can make smart moves to grow their businesses in the digital age.

The 2021 Digital Advertising Trends white paper was created with insight from Lineup Systems’ expert team, including digital strategists, and marketing and sales pros, who are passionate about finding new ways to innovate, problem-solve, and help drive the media industry forward. The white paper also digs into industry research to give context to each trend and illustrate the factors driving these shifts.

More publishers will shift to combined revenue models

Growing numbers of media organizations will adopt combined advertising-subscription revenue models in 2021, or increase their subscription offerings, as they aim to compete with tech giants like Facebook and Google for advertisers’ dollars. This move to subscription models will also help spur recovery in publishers’ businesses following the decline in advertising revenue caused by the global pandemic.

Considering that 20% of people in the U.S. paid for news in 2020, it’s a wise move for publishers to capitalize on consumers’ readiness to part with cash for quality content. In addition, data in our recent report developed with the North American Publishing Company shows media companies are harnessing this trend. According to the report, Combined Revenue Models Gaining Traction in Media Industry, 70% of publishers that have dual revenue models receive 28% of revenue from subscriptions, and plan to grow that number to 32% in the near future.

What you can do: if you haven’t already, talk to your team about ways to package your content that they think would resonate with your audience. The beauty of subscriptions is that you can offer them at multiple levels and for different niche interests. This is an excellent way to start the year off with a creative and productive brainstorming activity.

Hybrid live-virtual event model will attract audiences-”and advertising dollars

While many of us missed the immersive experience of in-person events in 2020, we also learned the value of virtual events, and how effective they can be to engage audiences. Almost half of meeting planners say they’ll be waiting until Q3 of 2021 to begin hosting in-person events again, according to Northstar Meetings Group.

So, what’s next for the events industry? Hybrid live-virtual events are expected to become the dominant format in 2021, which means publishers and advertisers will need to think of innovative ideas to stand out in the crowded space.

Fortunately, technology is evolving to support brands during this turbulent time. For example, Google’s new Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) software facilitates broadcast-quality advertisement insertions across all screen types during live events, helping to enhance the ad viewing experience.

What you can do: talk to your team about the best virtual events they attended in 2020, and what made each event memorable. Think about how you can create an interactive environment that pulls your audience into the experience and leaves them wanting more.

 Brands concerned with movements for social change will prefer publishers for advertising

In spring and summer 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement made headlines around the world and gained widespread attention on social media. Millions of people joined the urgent call for racial justice and greater diversity within our communities and institutions.

Looking forward, publishers have a platform and a responsibility to help further this movement. They also have an advantage when it comes to public trust, with 61% of Americans and Canadians reporting that they trust traditional news media, compared to 29% reporting that they trust social media.

What you can do: continue to be a trustworthy source of information, and call out injustice. Commit to learning and support your team members. And show your advertisers that your media organization is a solid partner with a brand safe environment.

Brands that were once “niche” will dominate the market

By now, you’ve probably heard about brands like DoorDash and Peloton more times than you can count. These companies and others like them in the food delivery and home exercising industries have been experiencing massive growth since the beginning of the public health crisis and stay-at-home orders.

Even when our world begins to move more freely at home and abroad, enjoying activities and interests such as arts, entertainment, sports, and travel once again, these brands will continue to perform well because they’ve established a stronghold in so many of our daily lives and routines.

What you can do: media organizations must learn how to sell to these once “niche” brands, which are now here to stay. Do your research on these verticals and their audiences, and get clear on how your media outlet can offer value to these advertisers. Then, educate your sales team on how to relay that message when they’re speaking to potential customers.

Download our new white paper to explore all 10 digital advertising trends that publishers and advertisers alike must keep an eye on in 2021. And remember, collaboration sparks innovation, so consider scheduling a video call with your team to hear about their biggest takeaways from the content.


Lineup Systems is the world's leading provider of media sales technology, representing over 6,800 media brands globally, including Gannett/USA Today, New York Times and News Corp. Amplio is Lineup's multi- channel audience monetization solution that helps media companies realize their full reader revenue potential, using data-driven intelligence to engage, nurture and monetize readers with personalized offers that increase reader revenue and reduce churn. Adpoint is Lineup's end-to-end multi-channel media advertising sales solution that helps media companies streamline operations, make better use of data, increase efficiency and boost revenue.