2020 and beyond: Top advertising trends

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Today’s consumers pay less attention to advertising than ever before. They are smarter, ignore pushy ads, demand authenticity and are very aware of data privacy. As we move into this decade, therefore, brands must become smarter as well as more transparent and caring.

At Catgraphics we believe we’ll see the following advertising trends in the 2020s:


Sustainability will be key for consumers, who continue to search for more sustainable consumption. According to Flux Trends, issues of sustainability are changing the business landscape as the focus shifts from a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy to its environmental social governance (ESG) rating. “A blinkered focus on the bottom line and shareholder primacy is fast becoming detrimental to any future business model,” according to the South African company’s 6 Trend Pillars for 2020 report (www.fluxtrends.com/trend-release-6-trend-pillars-for-2020 ).

The implications for advertising?  If sustainability is part of your brand, ensure that you talk about this and reflect it in your branding. Generation Z, in particular, cares deeply about sustainability and increasingly you need to target these new consumers (more about them below).

Purpose-driven advertising

According to family-owned global business, Mars, in 2020 talk is no longer enough and brands must demonstrate real purpose.

“A growing number of companies are adopting purpose as a way to leverage brands as a force for social impact,” according to the company’s article on 2020 trends (www.mars.com/news-and-stories/2020-trends). “As we move into 2020, the point of difference on purpose marketing will be demonstrating meaningful, measurable difference; and not just talking about it.”

Reaching Generation Z

Move over Millennials as advertisers start to target the next wave of consumers, Generation Z. They live on their phones, so the immediate implication is that ads must be mobile-friendly and brands must use social media to talk about their products and services. Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat are popular platforms for Generation Z, according to Bannerflow.com.

The latest We are Social Report 2020 states there were 2200 million social media users in South Africa in January 2020, an increase of 3.5 million from April 2019. Social media penetration in South Africa stood at 37% in January 2020.

Video advertising

This fast-paced, digital world produces consumers with the attention spans of goldfish and who demand instant gratification. The answer for advertisers? Short video ads. This sounds easy but it’s incredibly challenging to succinctly tell your brand story in less than 20 seconds. Advertisers need to take up the challenge, however, as short, concise, direct video can convey messages consistently across different platforms. “The format calls for impactful content that can induce an immediate emotional response from a viewer,” according to Mike Clum, founder and president of video production company Clum Creative.

He adds that the growth of streaming media is opening up opportunities for video ads, as well as a host of other marketing interventions. Netflix, iTunes and YouTube, for example, allow marketers to use targeting, ad insertion and advanced analytics to create shorter, more personalised ads. Brands therefore now have different ways of working with these publishers to capture consumer attention.


In this new decade, brands will increasingly use story-telling to market themselves. This creates that all-important emotional connection and authenticity. Increasingly, they’ll use user-generated content, or content which their fans have provided. Studies have shown that consumers trust advertising that features ordinary people telling success stories about products or services.  According to The Drum, in a recent survey, 76% of consumers said they trust content shared by “average” people more than by brands ( www.thedrum.com/industryinsights/2019/12/12/2020-beyond-what-s-next-video-advertising )


Personalisation in advertising isn’t new, but technology is making it easier and more sophisticated. However, personalisation cannot be at the expense of privacy. More than ever, data must be treated with utmost care, and advertisers must ensure their consumers trust them.  

Contextual targeting doesn’t invade privacy as it involves placing ads in places where your target audience is most likely to be. Ads are displayed based on content and keywords in a website, for example, and thus not based on what you know about the consumer. This offers a personal touch, gets you to the right people and has relevancy for your target – without invading privacy.

Print advertising

The above may lead you into thinking that print advertising is dead. Nothing could be further than the truth!

“Print advertising is alive and kicking, and more creative than ever before,” according to Catgraphics MD, Caren Laubscher.  

Take a look at justcreative.com’s showcase of the best 25 brilliantly clever ads which are sure to inspire: https://justcreative.com/2019/06/20/clever-advertising-ads/


And, in case you haven’t heard, there’s exciting advertising awards news. Firstly, the annual Effie Awards South Africa will now replace the highly respected APEX Awards. Brands and their agency partners will now have the ability to receive global recognition for their most effective marketing and communications campaigns.

And in other news, the Loeries awards—a platform for the entire advertising, marketing and design community—is moving to Johannesburg after five years in Durban. This move brings with it a change to the format and an extended programme. See you there!