The 7 Biggest Digital Advertising Trends to Watch in 2020

Criteo’s leading executives shared their thoughts on the top trends every marker should be preparing for in the next decade and beyond.
Updated on March 7, 2023

We recently surveyed 1000+ US consumers to understand how they discover, browse, and buy, and why it marks a big change in what companies need to think about when it comes to advertising in the next decade.

Criteo’s leading executives shared their thoughts on the top trends every marketer should be preparing for in 2020.

1. Gaining consumer trust will be critical for businesses to thrive in the next decade.

As we enter 2020, data is now the backbone of the omnichannel economy and consumer trust is fundamental to customer relationships. Regulations like GDPR and the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) are just two examples of protections aimed at safeguarding user privacy.

“Our industry exists because people engage with content from publishers, use tools from developers, and consider and purchase products from brands. The ability to leverage identity isn’t a given, but rather something that needs to be earned and then maintained. Establishing that trust with the consumer requires making it clear how data will be utilized and then respecting those agreements.”

— Marc Grabowski, Executive Vice President, Supply

2. Retail media advertising demands high levels of flexibility, transparency, and control.

Nike recently put a stop to its sales on Amazon. Rather than relying solely on giant distributors, in 2020 we expect to see more brands building closer relationships with partners that are transparent and mutually beneficial, as well as focusing on driving more traffic to their own websites.

“In 2020, we’ll see brands demand more out of their retail media, shopper, and trade marketing investments. It’s not enough to reach the shopper at point of purchase or even to hit a return-on-ad-spend goal; brands are expecting the same flexibility, control, transparency, and accountability from their retail media spend as they do from their conventional digital ad campaigns.”

— Geoffroy Martin, General Manager, Supply & Retail Media

3. Apps will become increasingly important throughout the consumer journey.

When it comes to mobile, third-party integrations have historically meant adding complexity that can make an app heavy to load and slow-performing. In 2020, app developers will need technology partners that deliver simple-to-implement, lightweight solutions backed by transparent practices and ongoing support.

“We’re seeing a big rise in ‘Marketplace’ apps, which creates velocity and a virtuous circle on both supply and demand sides. From a user perspective, these apps have made it both seamless and easy for businesses to engage with consumers’ everyday needs. At the same time, niche, mono-product direct-to-consumer companies are proliferating and enterprise apps have rapidly expanded.”

— Mike Ng, Senior Vice President, Mobile App & Store

4. Connecting physical stores and ecommerce is essential for retailers in 2020.

Criteo data shows that an incredible number of shoppers have a complex, non-linear shopping journey. If you’re an advertiser with siloed tracking, you aren’t getting the full picture: There’s simply too much going on outside each box. In the next decade, retailers will need a robust data solution to really bridge the gap.

“In 2020, two things will be key to long-term growth for retailers: driving CLV and driving new customer acquisition. Creating a more customer-centric marketing strategy, as opposed to channel-centric, and engaging the customer on his or her terms, however he/she prefers it, is what will matter. Leveraging physical store assets to continue to win in the competitive ecommerce space is essential, and retailers will need to develop a fully-connected data set to enable that.”

— Tim Rogers, Vice President & Business Owner of Omnichannel

5. Demonstrating brand values will be central to connecting with consumers.

Criteo’s Why We Buy study found that a majority of US consumers (51%) say that brand values affect their purchasing decisions. Over one-third (35%) say they’re more likely to buy from a brand if it demonstrates that its values align with their own, and one in six stopped shopping from a brand because its values were not aligned with their personal beliefs.

“Consumers are looking for brands to take meaningful steps that deliver tangible results. The brands most likely to succeed are the ones that make purpose their North Star. They walk the walk and create authentic conversations to reach their consumers’ passion points.”

— Jessica Breslav, Executive Managing Director, Americas

6. To reach consumers in the critical consideration phase, marketers will need the right data and technology.

Criteo data shows that the average time between the first touchpoint and a transaction is 7 days when the transaction ends in-store, versus up to 28 days when a transaction ends online. That’s a full 4 weeks for ecommerce shoppers to consider and land on the perfect product for their needs.*

“The ability to influence and engage with users as they research, compare, and consider different options available to them will continue to be top of mind for all marketers as we go into 2020. And this challenge is even more true when we look to reach these audiences beyond walled gardens, as they move freely from different devices, browsers, and websites. Being able to do this successfully will rely on our ability to leverage datasets that provide us with the most reach across the Internet, combined with innovative technology that allows us to pick up on real-time signals of intent.”

— Cedric Vandervynckt, General Manager, Web

7. Finding the right partners will be key to succeed in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace.

“The pressure to transform will continue into 2020. As brands try to pivot they will seek partners that can easily provide heightened levels of cost efficiency, transparency, and control. Partners successful in meeting this expectation are more likely to increase stickiness and deliver long-term sustainable growth.”

— Jessica Breslav, Executive Managing Director, Americas

When we combine these insights with our research, one thing is clear: In 2020, consumers are detectives. From building trust and connecting data in a compliant and customer-centric way, to thinking through brand values and demanding transparency on all fronts, companies will need to be extra mindful of the giant lens through which they’re being investigated by potential customers.

The time has come for marketers to team up with the right partners who can help them build full-funnel ad campaigns to get people interested in their brand, keep them engaged, and drive loyalty and CLV both online and off.

Click here to download The 2021 Digital Advertising Manual.

Are you an agency marketer? Download the Agency Edition of The 2021 Digital Advertising Manual: New Opportunities to Drive Client Growth for data and advertising strategies that will help you serve your clients in new ways.

*Criteo’s Shopper Story 2020: The New Consumer Mindset report

Michelle Pruett

As Global Head of Content at Criteo, Michelle leads a high-performing, multi-disciplinary team of marketers packaging insights, copy, design, and video into integrated campaigns. Her own writing has been featured in Entrepreneur, Business Insider, AdWeek, eMarketer, and more. Before joining the ...

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