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AdTech Reboot

AdTech topic trends: January 2021

Judy Shapiro

Judy Shapiro

Editor-in-Chief at The Trust Web Times
Judy Shapiro

Judy Shapiro

Editor-in-Chief at The Trust Web Times

Here’s what’s on Marketers’ minds.

Topic Trends from January 1 – January 31; Volume 1 | Edition 2

Nothing prepared the nation for what was to come in January 2021. There were moments of national elation and despair. It was a month that saw great beginnings while also experiencing horrific endings.

Against, this backdrop, Topic Trust Index reflects this cacophony of themes of great changes and great disappointments for Marketers. Amidst the tumult in the New Year, AdTech themes in January reflected a desire to get back to marketing basics. They reflected a new sobering appropriate to a new year that started most soberly.

Key take-aways from Macro Topics:

  • The themes all centered around the strategic requirements to manage Brands and acquisition in digital media. The themes ranged from Brand safety to third party cookies – all in search of a tactical framework to conquer these challenges.
  • There is a sharp increase in the revenue centric themes, focused on the “THREE A’s of ROI” – attribution, acquisition, analytics
  • The top two topics: “Customer Experience” and “Attribution/ ROI Analytics” are consistent with Marketers’ newfound determination to understand marketing ROI
  • Two channel topics rose to the top this month; 1) Super Bowl (very specific to time frame) and; 2) Reddit as an example of an engaged community that can “move markets”
  • The cookie-apocalypse continues to dominate Marketer’s attention with Facebook driving a lot of this subject this month with its frontal attack on Apple. Facebook’s public campaign against Apple’s decision to stop Facebook from targeting of its users as “anti-small business,” generated a lot of derision among Marketers further eroding Facebook reputation with Marketers.
  • Content marketing continues to increase in importance as a hedge bet for marketers to the coming tracking issues and the potential privacy business risks

(METHODOLOGY is described at bottom of post.) _________________________________________________

Top Ten Macro Topics:

What it does it mean?

January was celebrated as a new beginning and for marketers this meant a fresh start about evolving AdTech into a practical tech stack that can deliver clear ROI metrics.

This new energy includes a renewed interest in small but engaged audiences and a reduction in Marketer attachment to “programmatic scale.” Instead, Marketers are looking to start fresh with deep energy and budgets around all things acquisition; data, customer experience and ROI.

Marketers understand that 2021 is a potential fresh start from the BAU of AdTech with its murky ad supply chain and limited visibility that dominated 2020. ___________________________________________________________________

The Micro Topics That Animate the Ten Macro Topics:

Each Macro Topic – ie – Customer Experience – is made up of Micro topics that help define the context of the Macro Topics. The following section details all the Micro Topics that make up the Macro Topics. This data is organized in order of Macro topics with the highest TI score – meaning it has most importance relative to other topics on the list. ___________________________________________________________________

1. Top micro topic for the CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE Macro topic (highest TI Score = 35):

The upshot:

Customer experience emerged at the top topic dominated by two synergisitic themes: Agile management and Customer Data Platform.

This topic is at the heart of how organizations are working to evolve their MarTech stack from the current disconnected functions to a truly seamless customer experience. This was way easier said than done in 2020 but 2021 promises new energy and budget to make this vision a reality. ____________________________________________________________________

2. Top micro topics for the ATTRIBUTION AND AD ROI ANALYTICS Macro topic (TI Score = 34):

The upshot:

In keeping with the overall theme of understanding marketing ROI, these micro topics are centered around the data marketers need to get an accurate picture of how effective marketing is. This includes moving to a first party data strategy.


3. Top micro topics for the AGILE MARKETING Macro topic (TI Score = 29):

The upshot:

The topic of Agile Marketing has one of the longest list of micro topics suggesting that this topic is being explored by marketers with new vigor and determination. By far, the mechanical execution or “logistics” of Agile Marketing, like Account based Marketing, dominates the topic. ________________________________________________________________________

4. Top micro topics for the CUSTOMER AQUISITION Macro topic (TI Score = 26):

The upshot.

This is a perennial topic because it speaks to the fundamental goal of all marketing to generate sales. Interestingly, this topic is heavily populated with advanced technology themes, like machine learning or AI, all in pursuit of a predictable operating model for acquisition marketing.


5. Top micro topics for the CONTENT MARKETING Macro topic (TI Score – 25):

The upshot:

This topic continues to be a key topic given the race for content marketing to become the key data driver for marketers as they begin to crafts their 1st party data strategy in s a post cookie world. Operationalizing content marketing remains a key challenge for Brands, _________________________________________________________________________

6. Top micro topics for the THIRD PARTY COOKIES Macro topic (TI Score – 24):

The upshot.

This topic is multi layered covering a few subordinate themes.

> Facebook. The company’s recent battle with Apple around audience privacy, reveals that this epic battle is really about Facebook losing the ability to target Apple users, (crying croc tears).

> Consumer data protection. Globally, laws to protect user privacy are becoming more pervasive within the industry. These new requirements leave companies scrambling to keep pace with newly issued privacy standards.

> Customer Journey. As the industry grapples with understanding the new privacy laws, there are new conversations about how to activate productive customers journeys without violating customer privacy. ________________________________________________________________________

7. Top micro topics for the PPC Macro topic (TI Score = 23):

The upshot.

This was the most surprising topic of this period as PPC rarely rises to the top of the marketing tech list. Yet as new requirements for privacy intersect with acquisition, this elevates PPC to be a more strategic channel than ever before. Of all the Macro Topics, PPC had the most micro topics that define it.


8. Top micro topics for the BRAND SAFETY Macro topic (TI Score = 22):

The upshot.

This topic is highly co-related to topics dealing with Third Part Cookies and Customer Experience Macro topics. Advertisers struggle on two fronts; 1) ensuring ads run on brand safe pages; and 2) avoiding ads running on sites that promote hate. This is a fluid and difficult requirement for marketers to navigate. ________________________________________________________________________

9. Top micro topics for the REDDIT Macro topic (TI Score = 19):

The Upshot.

Reddit shot to into the top topic list just in the last week of January with all the attention around the community’s ability to manipulate stock prices. Beneath the breathless reporting, lies a new awakening that Reddit is a unique audience of real users ready to be activated.

Interestingly, Reddit was associated with Tiktok as examples of “intimate” and trusted social networks. _____________________________________________________________________

10. Top micro topics for the SUPER BOWL Macro topic (lowest TI Score = 8):

The Upshot.

For decades the Super Bowl had a prominent Share of Voice in popular culture for weeks before the big game. But the events of January sobered the normally boisterous celebration season for a more muted experience. Some long-time advertisers like Budweiser, Ford and Coca-Cola are just a few of the advertisers who decided to take a pass on this year’s game. Many are reinvesting resources for more urgent issues like educational campaigns about Covid safety.


Powered By: Topic Intelligence Platform

Detailed Methodology:

Topic Intelligence™ AI assesses which topics were most important based on how often and how detailed the topic was represented in all media audited. Top topics were then assessed with a TI Score representing the topic’s relative importance to other topics. The higher the score, the more important the topic dominated over the audited period. Topic Intelligence AI also identifies how many real people are engaged with the topics represented.

For this report, TI audited leading trade, business, social and news outlets covering advertising and AdTech to identify top topics covering the month of January 2021.