2020 was a turbulent year for most. Driven indoors by the pandemic, consumer behaviour changed significantly, especially in how people socialised, consumed content, gamed and accessed other entertainment outlets.
Within the marketing industry, traditional methods of reaching consumers also faced challenges. Combined with the changes in consumer behaviour, brands, media companies and more had to examine how they will deliver better experiences to their customers in 2021 and beyond.
2020 - A year of challenge
In many ways, 2020 marked a paradigm shift within the marketing industry. In the preceding years, we saw the way marketing had traditionally been planned and targeted come under serious pressure, with Apple and Mozilla beginning the trend of blocking third-party cookies. This created an opacity in the Safari and Firefox browsers and meant media owners could no longer provide the same audience definitions that had become standard.
At the start of 2020, Google announced that it too would begin blocking third-party cookies in their Chrome browser within two years - thereby officially confirming an end to third-party cookies in 2022.
Apple, however, were not finished. In late 2020 with the upcoming release of iOS 14, Apple confirmed that they would be changing the privacy settings associated with IDFA by introducing an App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature. This new feature will require all apps to gain explicit consent from their users to track their activity and make that information available to advertisers for targeted advertising. This move by Apple signalled the creation of an identity gap across mobile devices, as it had done across browsers with its blocking of third-party cookies.
When iOS was released in September, Apple chose to hold back its ATT feature - though not indefinitely, they plan to roll this out in early 2021. We at InfoSum believe in and support the need for greater consumer choice and transparency, and applaud Apple’s approach to consumer privacy. However, we do believe there needs to be more collaboration between the tech giants, such as Apple, and the companies who depend on advertising revenue to offer their products and services.
One key question that emerged from Apple’s move is whether Google and other mobile OS companies will follow suit, as they did with third-party cookies in browsers? It seems highly likely that they will.
It wasn’t all uncertainty for the marketing industry. For broadcasters and other CTV providers, an already significant trend towards their services was accelerated by the changes in consumer behaviour. Creating larger audiences to interact with and deliver great content to, as well as creating opportunities to make these powerful audiences available for brands to deliver marketing communications to.
InfoSum’s 2020 - Exceptional growth
In 2020 InfoSum announced some exciting new partnerships across a spectrum of media companies, brands and identity providers who are using InfoSum to collaborate and create richer consumer experiences, all while protecting their customer’s personal data.
These partnerships weren’t the only exciting news we shared in 2020. In September we closed our Series A investment round, raising $15.1 million and announced our expansion into two new markets in October. Firstly, in North America, with Lauren Wetzel joining as President North America, Global Strategy & Operations, and secondly Central Europe with industry pioneer Uli Hegge taking the lead as SVP Central Europe.
We closed the year out strong, with the announcement just last week that industry legend, Brian Lesser, would be joining InfoSum as Chairman and CEO.
Finally, in this new remote environment, we instigated a number of internal initiatives to ensure the entire team continued to feel connected to each other. One of InfoSum’s key strengths has always been the collaborative culture we have created and encourage, what we like to call ‘empowering collective genius’.
With the occasional pet interrupting Zoom calls, one of the more popular initiatives was the creation of a #PetsofInfoSum Slack channel. Check out some of the best shots from 2020!
2021 - The rise of better customer experiences
In 2021, the marketing industry will continue to evolve into the new world. We’re already seeing signs that converged video - content consumption across set-top boxes, connected televisions, mobile devices, and browsers - will continue on its upward trajectory.
Warner Bros., for example, recently announced that they will be releasing all of their 2021 movies at both the cinema and through their HBO Max streaming service. A clear indication from one of the world’s largest media companies that the way we consume content has changed, forever, and that the value of online authenticated audiences (such as those who subscribe to HBO Max) is increasingly recognised.
We’re excited to see what other innovations will come out of other entertainment industries, such as gaming in 2021 - with many predicting that games such as Fortnite and Roblox will become the social networks of the future.
For customer-centric companies, we expect to see this new world be underpinned by privacy-first technology. Gartner, for example, recently announced its top nine strategic tech trends of 2021, and total experience, privacy-enhancing computation and distributed cloud included on the list. Three areas that InfoSum have pioneered.
On total experience, Gartner explained:
“With an overall goal of transforming the entire experience, total experience enables organizations to lean into the challenges created by COVID-19 and identify new activities that they can integrate and build on.”
On privacy-enhancing computation, Gartner had this to say:
“To collaborate on research securely across regions and with competitors without sacrificing confidentiality. This approach is designed specifically for the increasing need to share data while maintaining privacy or security.”
We’re excited to see this approach to connecting multiple data sources and delivering better customer experiences, that has been at the heart of InfoSum’s for many years, is being recognised as a key technology trend for 2021.
To share a little of our plans for 2021, we’re keen to accelerate our upward trajectory. As outlined in our recent press release, we’ll be expanding into new regions, will more than double our headcount (check out our latest job listings) and will shortly announce some more exciting partnerships across financial services, content distribution, connected television, eCommerce, gaming, and entertainment.
To all our of customers, partners and friends, we wish you a very happy holiday season and look forward to seeing all of you virtually, or when safe, in-person in 2021!