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3 Key Brand Marketing Challenges in 2020 You Need to Know About

Matt Kaplan
Content Strategist
10 min read
Posted on March 02, 2020

In 2020, there are lots of marketing challenges facing everyone from the biggest marketing teams all the way down to small businesses. But, we think there will be three issues that will have an outsized impact on brand marketing efforts in the U.S. in 2020:

  1. The 2020 Presidential Election
  2. The 2020 Summer Olympics
  3. Ongoing Concerns Around Privacy, Trust and Transparency

But, just because these are issues that just about every marketer faces in 2020 doesn’t mean they need to derail all of your brand marketing plans. Here’s how these issues will impact your marketing campaigns, and how you need to overcome potential challenges with your marketing strategy in 2020.

How to Talk to Potential Customers During the 2020 Presidential Election

At this point in the year, it’s hard to miss all of the news around the 2020 elections - and the final vote is still many months away. In particular, the election presents marketers with three key issues.

For starters, the election is likely to drive up advertising costs across the board. Considering that some major social media outlets like Twitter have already largely banned political advertising, the remaining digital marketing channels that still allow it will become more competitive, with brands, candidates and political groups all spending millions of dollars to get their message across to people through these channels.

It also presents brand suitability concerns. Do you want your messaging to appear alongside a political story? Considering the state of the election and U.S. politics these days, the answer for most marketers is a definitive no. The customer experience becomes especially paramount in these politically divisive times.

And there’s one more point you might know be aware of: there are only 24 days between election day and Black Friday. That means brands have less than a month between when the divisiveness of the election ends and when the critical holiday shopping period begins.

So what can marketers do to suitably reach their target consumers this year in light of the election? For starters, it can be helpful to leverage inherently non-political channels. Casual games, weather apps, etc. are inherently brand safe and often have wide reach, making them ideal channels to reach consumers who may be inundated with political messaging elsewhere. Similarly, some ad formats like fullscreen interstitials and videos are often inherently brand safe since they never appear directly alongside divisive or controversial blog posts or other content.

How Sporting Events in 2020 Will Impact Your Marketing Plans

The summer Olympics are back, taking place in Japan from July 24 to August 9. Over more than two weeks, the top talent in global athletics will compete in various events watched by billions of people around the world.

For some brands, the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be a boon as they are creating content marketing and running advertising campaigns both connected to and in conjunction with the Olympics.

But this won’t work for all brands. After all, there’s a reason B2B software companies are not among the biggest advertisers for the Olympics. Similar to the election, it behooves these brands to consider where their ads run and how they will appear before and during this big event.

It’s also important to think about how much placements will cost both in the lead up to and during the event. NBC, who once again owns the U.S. broadcasting rights for the Summer Olympics in 2020, expects to bring in more than $1 billion in advertising directly in conjunction to the events. This includes not just broadcast television coverage but also digital streaming channels such as connected TV and mobile apps.

And, many advertisers will also likely use their Olympics-themed creatives and messaging on other channels like social media. This means that even if brands have nothing to do with the Olympics, they may still find it to be prohibitively expensive to run their advertising and marketing campaigns during this period.

How Privacy Initiatives Should Impact Your Marketing Strategy

Of the three main brand marketing challenges we’ve identified, privacy is the one with the most long term concern. While the election and the Olympics will come and go, issues around privacy, transparency and consumer trust are likely to stick around for a while. This has come to a head twice now in 2020 - and all this may be the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

It all started at the beginning of the year, with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) officially becoming law in the Golden State. Even though the law is only on the books in California, the state’s size and economic importance in the U.S. means that it will have an outsized impact on marketing and privacy.

What does the law entail? While some of the specifics are still being hammered out, it essentially requires anyone that collects consumer data to provide consumers with information on how collected information is being used and to enable them to opt out of data collection and transfer. This is a highly simplified overview of the law, of course, and does not encompass all of its nuances.

Before CCPA, the last major privacy-focused law that was passed on similar scale was the General Data Protection Regulation ( GDPR) in the European Union. There are major differences between the two laws, but their emergence shows that lawmakers are taking consumer privacy very seriously. Many other states and the federal government are considering similar legislation.

The other major news around privacy came out in January, when Google announced that it would be depreciating support for third-party cookies in Chrome within the next two years. Not only is Chrome the most popular Web browser, but third-party cookies have underpinned data collection on the web for years.

While both Safari and Firefox had made similar announcements before Chrome, such a major player deciding to phase out third-party cookies has sent proverbial shockwaves throughout the digital marketing ecosystem. After all, there are hundreds of marketing roles throughout the world that are somewhat or wholly dependent on this data - and it all may be going away soon.

Of course, issues around privacy, trust and transparency are not new. While the 2016 Cambridge Analytica scandal really brought it to light, these issues have been simmering for a while now. But, between Google’s announcement and the start of CCPA, 2020 is shaping up to be the year where it really comes to a head for marketers.

So what can brand marketers do to run successful digital marketing campaigns and fully respect user privacy? There are a few key points to keep in mind:

  • When it comes to data collection and privacy, make sure you don’t have a skills gap. Train your team or bring in outside help to ensure compliance and transparency in everything you do.
  • Be upfront and transparent with your audience about how you are collecting data and what you are doing with it. Of course, it helps when you have the ability to collect and utilize your own data. If that’s not feasible, then be sure to work with partners that can provide you with their own high quality first-party data.
  • Don’t be dependent on just one or a few channels to reach your consumers. For example, if you used to be heavily dependent on browsers, then consider branching out into apps.
  • Always think about your consumers, and make sure they are front and center with everything you’re doing. By having this mindset, you’re far less likely to go down a road where you’re not respecting their privacy and losing their trust.

There are numerous brand marketing challenges on the horizon in 2020, that is for sure. But, by understanding what the issues are, you can make sure you are taking proactive and thoughtful steps now so that your campaigns later on can be successful.

About the Author

Matthew Kaplan has over a decade of digital marketing experience, working to support the content goals of the world’s biggest B2B and B2C brands. He is a passionate app user and evangelist, working to support diverse marketing campaigns across devices.

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