“Marketing effectiveness will be more important than ever.”
8 December 2020

This story was written by Tim Pearson, CEO of OMD Group UK. Originally published in the Campaign double issue for December 2020/January 2021.


Effectiveness is a subject that is always high on the agenda – in 2021, it will be at the very top.

There is no need to dwell on the challenges of 2020, it’s over, and 2021 will be brighter and better. Media will be a vital lever for recovering that lost growth and realising those ambitions. All of which means marketing effectiveness will be more important than ever – putting every point of investment where it makes the greatest difference and doing it in a way that doesn’t stifle innovation or the ability to take calculated risks.

As an industry, we can rise to this challenge, and there’s no better time than 1 January to make a change. So here are my five resolutions for a more effective 2021.


1. Focus on the metrics that really matter

The digital revolution has given us access to more data than we could dream about. But in practice, some of it is a distraction from what helps our clients grow. This is the year to refresh that balance scorecard, focusing on valuable indicators of growth and throwing out any vanity measures.


2. Use advanced techniques to get a better view of what’s going on

The past few years have quietly represented a step-change in measurement capabilities: big data got more useful and machine-learning and AI-driven methodologies became more productive, giving a quicker and more complete view of marketing performance.

Embrace these new methodologies but beware the lure of black-box systems. They have a role to play but with increased sophistication comes the need for greater levels of transparency.


3. Balance risk and reward

Communications is a low-risk investment. But we can play it too safe too often, and our instincts tell us that a global pandemic is no time to try new things. However, history tells us that disruption creates the perfect environment to embrace opportunities for higher return. So, make test-and-learn part of your culture and ring-fence budget to make bets on new channels, emerging audiences and innovative executions.


4. Rewrite your own rulebook

The basics of great marketing will remain the same once the pandemic has subsided – we’ll still need to think long and short term; use marketing to increase penetration and build loyalty. But it’s also the right time to take stock of your own campaign performance, challenge assumptions and develop a personal playbook of what drives growth.


5. Embrace the new developments that 2021 will bring

Next year will bring a surge of shoppable ad formats that will provide new opportunities for conversion and growth. We will also see new targeting and measurement solutions created as we prepare for the death of the third-party cookie. On top of that, key players in the market will evolve their cross-device measurement capabilities.

All of this will further demonstrate the important role media and advertising plays in our wider economy – an unquestionable source of pride for all of us in 2021.

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