2021 In Review

Deep Dive into Digital Advertising Trends

2021 has been a huge year for Division-D and the digital advertising world. This year proved that digital advertising is more relevant than ever, sparking trends that will impact advertising in the coming years.

“Division-D is always pushing to learn as much as possible about changes the industry is seeing so that its clients have a one-stop shop for expertise,” Lauren Adams, VP of Implementation, said. “We pride ourselves on going above and beyond to learn the implications of industry changes so that we can educate our clients, taking the uncertainty and investigative work off their plates entirely.”

This year alone, digital spend exceeded two-thirds of the US ad market, proving it’s more important than ever for advertisers and marketers to look to digital trends for where the ad industry is moving.1

Division-D used experience from our successful campaigns and industry research to highlight three key takeaways from 2021: Connected TV (CTV)/Over-the-Top (OTT), TikTok, and third-party cookie deprecation. We hope our insight and recommendations will assist in your upcoming digital media plans.

Connected TV (CTV)/Over-the-Top (OTT)

A premier choice for video advertisements, Connected TV (CTV) and Over-the-Top (OTT) are among the fastest-growing ad channels of 2021 and are predicted to grow even more in the coming years. By 2024, over 75% of US internet users are expected to watch CTV at least once per month, and almost 45 million US households are expected to cut their pay-TV cord. by this time.2

“When coupling CTV and other digital formats – like online video and display – media partners like Division-D can build an omnichannel plan with high-level frequency capping and a sequential messaging targeting strategy to drive the user down the marketing funnel,” Michelle Slinkard, Chief Business Development Officer, said. “The granularity of targeting and measurement capabilities supports a decrease in wasted impressions to drive increased results.”

CTV’s ability to reach targeted audiences positions it as a more favorable platform than linear TV. While the CTV environment doesn’t use cookies, IP addresses tied to CTV viewer identities allow marketers to cater to specific audiences more efficiently.3

“We’re seeing more ad dollars being spent here year-over-year because it is a more effective use of ad spend when advertisers know they’re reaching their primary audience,” Hailey Walstad, Sales Manager, said. “Not to mention the huge movement away from cable to streaming. We’ll continue to see CTV performance increase in the future and look forward to the ever-evolving world of digital media!”

TikTok Advertising

TikTok experienced record growth in 2020 and is still the leader among social media platforms with 18.3% user growth this year. This figure trumps Facebook’s 0.8% growth, which marked the social media giant’s slowest growth in history.4

“This platform pioneers the short-form vertical video format, which attract the frequent usage of creators and brands,” Tessie Ho, Social Media Strategist, said. “Considering many of the app users are between the ages of 16-34, this is a great channel for advertisers to reach Gen-Z and Millennials.”

TikTok’s selling point lies in its ability to generate organic product trends (known as viral commerce) into natural business opportunities for advertisers, and the platform has become a hub for influencers. According to eMarketer, TikTok beats Instagram for its strength in user discovery, lending the platform to viral commerce and product-centric trends such as “#TikTokMadeMeBuyIt.”5

Research also shows that TikTok is leading in average time spent on any social media platform, coming in at 37 minutes a day.6 With more eyes on this platform than any other, increasing ad dollars spent on TikTok is crucial to reaching a tuned-in audience.

“Advertisers want to be where the eyeballs are,” Adams said. “So as certain platforms show meteoric user growth, advertisers naturally scramble to get their brands front and center.”

Third-Party Cookie Deprecation

In 2020, Google announced that they will stop allowing third-party marketing cookies – this is expected to take place by the end of 2023. Other platforms like Mozilla Firefox and Safari have already limited cookies, but Google’s will have the biggest effect on advertisers as they hold two-thirds of the browser market.7

“Many technologies rely on identifiers like third-party cookies to target users based on behavioral traits and to retarget users who have engaged with specific content in the past,” Adams said. “When Google blocks third-party cookies on Chrome browsers, advertisers may see a decrease in the scalability of audiences – including retargeting audiences – that rely on third-party cookies or IDFA.”

Currently, 83% of marketers rely on third-party cookies to target and advertise to internet users.7

Although this is expected to be a massive change for the industry, Division-D is prepared for the switch. “Division-D partners with industry leaders in identity resolution and cookieless solutions, ensuring our clients are prepared,” Adams said. “Additionally, we plan to introduce a cookieless targeting initiative in early 2022 to help clients test cookieless solutions and find the approach that best fits their individual goals.”

Preparing for 2022

While CTV, TikTok, and third-party cookie deprecation are Division-D’s trends for 2021, these platforms and changes will only become more relevant in 2022 and beyond. With our experience and knowledge of the digital advertising world, we’re embracing these trends to provide measurable results for our clients.

“Since the founding of Division-D in 2003, we have continually evolved our offering based on changes in the industry,” Slinkard said. “The ever-changing landscape keeps digital media exciting! It moves quickly, and our goal is to evolve at the same speed.”

Information for today’s blog came from the sources below. See our 2021 Year in Review One Sheeter to learn more about our offering and follow us on LinkedIn to stay up to date on the latest industry trends!


  1. eMarketer, April 2021 “US Digital Ad Spending 2021”
  2. eMarketer, Sept. 2021 (CTV Whitepaper)
  3. eMarketer, Aug. 2021 “Ad Targeting 2021”
  4. eMarketer, April 2021 (2021 Trends One Sheeter)
  5. eMarketer, Nov. 2021 “Top Trends in 2022”
  6. eMarketer, June 2021 “US Social Media Usage” Statista, March 2021 “Third-party cookie deprecation – statistics and facts” Tags: Division-D, Digital Advertising, 2021 Advertising Trends, CTV Advertising, OTT Advertising, TikTok Advertising, Third Party Cookies, Digital Advertising 2022

Premium Digital Advertising Services

Division-D is a leading full-service digital media partner, specializing in programmatic, search, social, and influencer marketing to deliver superior results for advertising agencies and brands. With over 20 years in business, our dedicated team of 100+ digital media professionals operates from eight national offices, ensuring widespread coverage and comprehensive support for our clients.

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