How will digital media change and shape the marketing landscape in 2021: Himanshu Arya, CEO & Founder, Grapes Digital

Brands will be keen to develop more ‘personalised’ and ‘relevant’ advertising models instead of having a single approach meant for everyone, writes Arya.


If we look at the last five years closely, digital media has been playing a decisive role in the brand’s overall growth and development. The penetration of the internet, the evolution of 4G and affordable data has expanded the horizons altogether and helped digital media evolve and be ready for a bright future.

Amidst COVID-19 pandemic, the digital marketing industry has faced many challenges, however, it produced a lot of opportunities too. The early phases of the lockdown created a havoc condition for businesses to survive and retain their clients. While the market was suffering from this jolt, the creative minds of digital marketing fraternity grabbed the opportunity to make the best out of it. This led to accelerated growth for digital media in four months, otherwise, which would have taken at least three years to reach the same scale.

The pandemic has caused a huge shift in the advertising and marketing industry. It has helped the digital to take a front seat in a brand's marketing strategy. Today, CEO, CMO and MD’s of bigger brands are pondering in the board rooms to take the advantage of the digital medium.

Earlier also digital landscape was an important chunk of the strategy and has remained India’s second-biggest medium in terms of brands investment. However, the COVID-19 has made marketers think out of the box, adapt to the new normal, and leverage the power of digital media and consider digital agency as a crucial part in the execution, planning and research.

Digital has been consistently growing at 27 percent CAGR over the past few years, ahead of traditional mediums. In 2021, we will see Digital cater around 50-60 percent of the marketing budget, whereas Television and other mediums will reduce to 40-50 percent of the overall budget.

In short, we can say 2021 is the year for digital medium to flourish and give cut-throat competition to traditional agencies. Digital-first thinking will be the new mantra. Brands across categories, be it technology, FMCG, or consumer durables who have massively relied on traditional mediums till now, will revise their approach and chose digital as the preferred medium. New entrants such as EdTech, fantasy sports, e-commerce, and others have already tapped the potential and have managed to seize customer's attention.

From a marketers point of view, Digital marketing in the following year will be seen as an integrated approach and COVID-19 has been a catalyst in this case. Marketers in the post- COVID-19 era will have to rethink the behaviour of the consumers since a lot has been changed in the last nine months. Brands will be keen to develop more ‘personalised’ and ‘relevant’ advertising models instead of having a single approach meant for everyone.

While the economy is in a recovering mode, brands will still be cautious in terms of media spending. The new estimates of GDP state that it will take more than a year to reach the green shoot of recovery, consequently brands are revaluating the metrics and shifting focus to prioritise channels as per the engagement levels be it digital marketing, influencer marketing, or interactive content.

At last, I would say, the distinctions between mainline and digital agencies will diminish in the coming years. COVID-19 has shown that change is the only constant and traditional agencies have to make the roots stronger as far as digital is concerned. In today’s context, traditional marketing efforts are out of the picture. However, the integration of traditional and digital media will provide a stronger form of communication than traditional advertising alone. The effective combination of the duo will enable us to develop highly targeted campaigns.

Hence, it is critical for marketers to look beyond and gain a long-term view of their brands.

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