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Yearly Roundup – 2021 and Its Impact on Marketing

Ah, 2021. The year when staying inside was no longer a novelty and shopping opened up again. Of course, there was much more to the year than that as we will discover further into this blog, in fact, a lot happened this year that you’ve probably forgotten about. This year though, for the most part was filled with uncertainty, much like the last. In this blog, we’re going to go over everything that happened in the world of marketing. From Tiktok, to the Metaverse, to everything in between. So, to celebrate the end of another sub par year, and to hope for better things in 2022, let’s begin.

The Death (and Resurrection) of Traditional Marketing

The decline of traditional marketing strategies certainly occurred during 2020, with the amount spent dropping by about 20%. With lockdowns occurring throughout the world, it was against the law to be outside long enough to see a physical advertisement. Not to mention the fear to hold or bring into the home a leaflet or newspaper. However, no one could predict just how long the lockdowns would last or how they would change what the customer wanted. After almost two years of quarantine, spikes and restrictions, people were keen to get back to some sense of normality. So, in 2021, traditional advertising saw the fastest period of growth in almost a decade. After shrinking to about 5.3% in 2020, both ITV and the BBC have been seeing performance that is significantly stronger than predicted, with ITV particularly benefiting from hosting the UEFA Championship. 

What does this mean when we put it in the context of us writing this in December 2021? Well, firstly, this statistic gives hope to advertisers around the globe. Although it’s hard to say if this growth will endure with the rise of the new Omicron variant and the growing likelihood of another lockdown, we know now that people want normality. Luckily, normality comes in the form of traditional advertising for marketers. So, we can be pretty sure that in the new year once lockdowns ease again, traditional advertising will once again see this growth. In the meantime, social media campaigns will remain top dog. 

The Exponential Growth of Social Media

In our 2020 review, we noted massive growth on social media sites like Tiktok, who gained 115 million downloads in March 2020 alone. Zoom also grew massively, and at its height was seeing 300 million daily meeting participants. Social media became a huge part of everyone’s life, understandably, as it was the only way we could communicate with our family and friends. For many people, social media sites like Tiktok became an escape where we could watch hours of content mindlessly and pretend the world wasn’t a dangerous place. However, has this changed in 2021? 

2021 was the year that things started to feel normal again from the months of April – November. The UK felt like it could take a much needed respite from the constant lockdowns and tier systems.  Social media usage in the UK has stayed relatively consistent over the last 12 months. There are now 45 million social media users, or 66% of the UK population using the platforms. It seems then, that this extended freedom from lockdown has not reduced the screen time of individuals on social media, making it an ever present tool for marketers. 

We spoke last year about the benefits of using TikTok as a marketing platform, and this has not changed. The popularity of the site continues to grow, making it an incredibly important tool for advertisers this year. Despite it being relatively new, it boasts a ranking of 7th in the most active social media apps in the world! So, if we didn’t convince you last year to start advertising on the app, you should definitely consider it now after another year of strong growth. 

Green Lights for Organic and Online Traffic

The drop in organic traffic back in April 2020 was far more dramatic than any of us could have predicted. With most people believing the pandemic would only last a month or two. However, speaking from the end of 2021, this was not the case. This meant that brick and mortar businesses ended up closing for a much, much longer time than anyone thought. 

Some industries did experience unexpected benefits from this. Retail companies like Amazon, for example, have actually seen a period of exponential growth in sales since the beginning of 2020. This is largely due to a rise in the popularity of online shopping, which was at one point, the only way for us to buy things. Online retail increased to make up 27.9% of sales in July 2021, an almost 10% increase from 19.8% in February 2020.

The online retail trend corresponds to a broader pattern of people becoming more online over the last two years – something we expect is here to stay. Data from Hootsuite suggests that the average individual in the UK now spends six hours and 26 minutes on the internet every day – almost an hour more than back in 2020. In addition, there are 1.5 million more people using the UK internet now than 12 months ago.

The companies that have weathered the pandemic most effectively are the ones who adapted to this change early, and were able to integrate new technology into their strategies. The huge rise of video call services like Zoom is perhaps the best example of this. Other sites like Tiktok and of course, Amazon are also great examples of success stories to come from the pandemic. 

How have consumers changed?

The main change for consumers has to be their willingness to be more online. From meetings turning into zoom calls and shopping turning into browsing online, it’s obvious that consumers have become more dependent on the internet this year. One example of a company profiting on this early on is Facebook’s change to the Metaverse. Promising to be an online meeting space with endless possibilities including real estate, meeting rooms and even concerts. Only time will tell if this pays off for Zuckerberg but it looks like people will be continuing to become more online than ever. 

On the flip side however, consumers are also desperate to get back out to live events in the way they could before the pandemic. This is bound to be a very interesting couple of years for marketers as for the first time we are dealing with a consumer population who want to be both much more online, and much more connected in real life. It’s hard to say which of these things consumers will lean towards more so it’s important to watch closely in the coming months. 

Brand loyalty has declined significantly, something many believe is likely to endure, and yet customers are now also expecting more from companies. Many companies have engaged in corporate social responsibility to help however they can during the pandemic, and consumers have proved to be receptive to this. Now, 65% of consumers place the trustworthiness of a brand as the top reason for recommending them. Examples of this are breweries producing hand sanitiser when there was an international shortage, Nike producing PPE and Amazon increasing their hiring capacities and wages. 

Changes to social media marketing

Across the board, the spend on online advertising has exploded, with the digital sector reaching £27.7 billion by the time we reach 2022, a record 18.2% growth. This means online advertising now makes up more than 40% of UK marketing budgets – a massive increase from previous years.

This increase has been spread across all aspects of online marketing. Social media and online video advertising is up 17% in 2021, and Google Ads’ revenue has grown 69%. Unfortunately, the return on investment seems to be stagnating, with data from Skai indicating that social CPM (cost per thousand impressions) has increased 41% in 2021.

During the height of the pandemic in 2020, social media influencers became one of the most hated professions. Consumers seeing rich influencers hiring private islands for their holidays created much hostility as everyone else was just struggling to survive and keep their families and livelihoods safe. This took a major toll on social media influencer marketing as people did not want to see products advertised by the wealthy. As well as this, a large amount of work vanished as brands knew they wouldn’t be perceived well if marketed by an influencer. 

Since then however, the surge of online activity, as well as the vaccine rollout has made consumers feel a little bit more safe during the ongoing pandemic, and this can be seen when we analyse the data. With influencer’s likes increasing by 67% and comments by 51%. 

Marketing departments are aware of this trend, and so there has been a major shift towards influencer marketing over the last year. As a result, post pricing has already recovered to pre-pandemic levels, and seems set to continue to rise. This doesn’t mean smaller businesses are priced out of the market, though – only that they have to be careful about where they spend their money.


During 2021, marketing began to thrive again for the first time during the pandemic. Online traffic and social media marketing have risen greatly, and traditional marketing seems to have picked up too. With the current state of the pandemic, it’s difficult to say what the new year will look like for marketing, but it’s safe to say that consumers will continue to long for live experiences and online exploration. 

With all that being said, All Advertising wishes you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year! If you need any marketing help in the new year give us a call on 01708 952952 ,visit our website here or give us an email at

Posted in Marketing News