Most Marketers Will Increase Spend In 2021; YouTube Readies Its TikTok Rival

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Investment Boost

After hitting the pause button in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, marketers appear ready to increase their investments in 2021 – as long as a vaccine rollout goes well. A CMO Council survey of 200 global marketers reveals that 65% plan to boost their investments this year after conserving cash over the past year, according to CampaignUS. Nice to hear, considering global ad spend declined by 5.8% in 2020. Now, just 10% of marketers plan to reduce their marketing budgets year-over-year, and 24% expect to keep their investment stable. What are they spending on? Mainly technology, automation and transformation, but also talent that has proficiency in data and tech. 2020 “was a recalibration” year for rethinking and redirecting spend, said Donovan Neale-May, founder and director of the CMO Council. CMOs found major savings last year as events and trade shows, which typically take up 25% of marketing budgets, were canceled. “All of a sudden, those budgets are freed up,” Neale-May said.

Keep It Short

YouTube is hoping for some of TikTok’s sweet, sweet Gen Z engagement with a feature called Shorts that allows creators to upload brief vertical videos. It’s been testing Shorts in India after first announcing the feature in September, Business Insider reports. But YouTube isn’t the first big platform to take on TikTok. See: Instagram Reels and Snapchat’s Spotlight. That battle will heat up even more as YouTube jockeys to be seen as a platform where creators can make money, reach new audiences and build a sustainable business. Spotlight and TikTok have both set up programs of their own dedicated to paying creators on an ongoing basis. Although videos that appear in YouTube’s Shorts section don’t earn creators any money yet, the engagement is gangbusters. YouTube says its TikTok competitor is getting 3.5 billion views a day in the India test run, according to CNBC, and some creators are saying they see huge audience growth with Shorts.


It’s no secret that Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp has been getting a lot of heat and losing users in recent weeks after announcing – and then delaying – changes to how it uses data. The backlash was swift. Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk took aim at the platform and recommended users move to encrypted messaging apps, such as Signal and Telegram. Regardless, WhatsApp is forging ahead with new privacy and security features, according to TechCrunch, including adding a biometric authentication for logging in on desktop. In other words, people will be able to use their face, fingerprint or iris to verify their identity on their phone when they try to access their WhatsApp account on the web. Then they’ll have to scan a QR code on their phone for two-factor authentication. “WhatsApp does not see your face or fingerprint data,” the company tweeted. That’s comforting. In other news: Is the pot calling the kettle black? According to The Information, Facebook might be gearing up for a big antitrust lawsuit against Apple. Facebook claims that Apple’s App Store guidelines represent market abuse, because third-party developers have to abide by Apple’s rules while Apple’s own apps seem to get a pass.

But Wait, There’s More!

Interim FFC chair Jessica Rosenworcel is also the frontrunner to eventually lead Biden’s FCC, and she’s got a plan for Silicon Valley to overtake China in 5G and AI innovation. [Business Insider]

Sheraton is rebranding to bring the hotel chain “up-to-date” with a focus on communal spaces, although it doesn’t seem to have a defined audience in mind. [Adweek]

COVID-19 has shaped a sobering Super Bowl ad lineup. Sure, there will still be some laughs, but Indeed, Chipotle, Budweiser and others are tackling tough topics, including job loss, finances, vaccines and the plight of farmers. [The Drum]

MOLOCO has launched an automated buying platform for in-house programmatic advertising that includes bid optimization and Limit Ad Tracking targeting. [AiThority]

It’s never too early to get your ducks in a row. Here are six ways that the California Privacy Rights Act could impact businesses and the personal information they collect. [The National Law Review]

AdInMo struck a partnership with InMobi to supply in-game brand ads. [release]

Digitas and Weber Shandwick have become the first advertising agencies to join the Global Video Measurement Alliance. [MediaPost]

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