Jenny Morris
07 July 2021 by Jenny Morris
Digital Marketing Landscape  1206799135

Any good digital marketing strategy must constantly adapt to the changing landscape. The upcoming ePrivacy regulation, growing digital fatigue and policy changes from major technology players such as Google, are going to create a host of challenges in 2021. Here is a brief overview of what to expect, and the potential opportunities that come with them.

First-party data

The upcoming ePrivacy Regulation (also known as the ‘cookie law’) will tackle online privacy issues not currently covered by GDPR. The focus on curtailing third-party tracking has made many digital marketers apprehensive. Google has also announced that they will be phasing out the use of cookies and have no plans to introduce alternative third-party tracking methods.

These changes will mean a shift towards first-party data in 2021. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Leading auto part and accessories retailer,, found that by establishing the right customer data platform (based on first-party data) click-through rates increased by up to 400% and email revenue doubled. Reducing reliance on third-party data requires ongoing interaction with customers to build a quality first-party dataset. While this transition shouldn’t be underestimated, the long term benefits of this approach includes a rich behavioural dataset built on trust and consent.


Once you have a reliable source of first-party data, what should you do with it? Many organisations struggle to generate insights from their data. According to a study conducted by Forrester, companies that used artificial intelligence or machine learning technologies to analyse their data reported a better insight into their customers and were able to use this to inform strategy. For example, analytics tools can be used to alert marketers to a fall in click-through rates and respond in real-time. Digital marketing platform, Mapp, have suggested that companies are benefiting less from staff training and education, and more from technology that supports insight-led marketing.

Insight-led marketing utilises personalisation to improve customer experience and engagement. In a recent survey by Salesforce, 80% of customers said the experience they had with a company was as important as its products and services. Analytics tools are not new, but they are growing in sophistication. Given that customers now expect such a seamless, personalised experience from their online interactions, analytical tools are quickly becoming essential.

User experience

On a related note, providing a positive customer experience is now likely to directly impact search engine optimisation results (SEO). SEO is a hallmark of successful digital marketing and continues to deliver ROI in 2021. The May 2021 update to Google’s algorithm, core web vitals metrics, will now measure load speeds, interactivity and content stability, and integrate this data into SEO. To maintain SEO results, brands must invest in user experience to ensure their online offerings meet their customer’s needs.

Google previously introduced ‘mobile-first ranking’ for SEO. As more customers use devices with voice-recognition software (and devices such as Google Home and Alexa), it’s expected that Google will also introduce voice-search into existing SEO algorithms. So, ensuring that your SEO is optimised for user experience across devices and platforms is a logical preparatory step to future-proof your strategy.

Ad blockers

Despite revenues dropping and budgets being cut during the pandemic, digital advertising surged. According to the Digital Marketing Institute, 28% of surveyed organisations have been spending 90% of their marketing budget on digital strategies. Consequently, the digital advertising space has become cluttered. It’s now harder to get noticed and many users are turning to ad blockers to cut down on the noise.

Ad blockers significantly reduce the reach of a campaign, so one strategy is to focus on targeting a small, niche market instead. Place adverts in locations where your target market will see them as relevant information, and not as distracting mass advertisements. Or take this strategy further and don’t let your advertisement be a distraction at all. Even without ad blocking software, the human brain is extremely proficient at filtering out irrelevant distractions, especially in a cluttered visual display. Instead, utilise channels where the advertisement isn’t disrupting the user’s task, such as social media and email. Creating original content that customers truly want to see, rather than block, means they will be seeking out your content in a positive way.

The digital marketing landscape remains an exciting one, with upcoming changes providing as many opportunities as challenges. As always, those who embrace and prepare accordingly are most likely to reap the benefits.