Equality, data ethics and the business impact of mobile apps are some of the topics on marketing agendas for 2021. Here Google UK leaders share their predictions for next year.

Nishma Robb

Nishma Robb, brand and reputation marketing director at Google UK 

Global search interest in the term ‘Black-owned business’ surged in mid-2020 as the Black Lives Matter movement gained further international attention and recognition. 

It was a powerful indication that people are seeking to drive change, not just through campaigning but in the decisions they make as consumers.

The conversation on racial equality has undoubtedly advanced in 2020, but in 2021 people will expect more from brands than just speaking up. 

“Consumers are shopping more mindfully and they hold power. If brands don’t meet their expectations, they could be at risk”

Businesses will need to take an increasingly proactive approach — and empower consumers to do the same. 

Consumers are shopping more mindfully and they hold power in where and how they spend their money. If brands don’t meet their expectations, then they could be at risk.

For example, we’re addressing these important issues through economic empowerment — from our fund for Black-owned businesses to supporting Black Pound Day and closing the skills gap through Google Digital Garage.

It is the role of marketers to ensure equality is on the agenda. This includes fostering a diverse environment internally and being mindful of how you approach your campaigns.

Matt Brittin

Matt Brittin, president of EMEA business and operations at Google

As more people go online, protecting their privacy and data is even more critical. People expect brands to safeguard their data and be clear about how they are using it and what they are offering in return.

The industry is adapting to meet people’s needs, and in 2021 the conversation surrounding data ethics will turn into action for many brands. 

“Data ethics is a process of choosing to do what’s right for people, rather than just a base level of compliance”

The entire digital ecosystem only functions if people can trust it. Data ethics is a process of choosing to do what’s right for people, rather than just a base level of compliance.

This is a complex topic, but companies care about it and want to get it right. At Google, we think about data ethics as a series of principles that inform everything we do.

A recent survey of Google clients in EMEA showed the vast majority are now holding discussions about data ethics at a leadership level.

One in five say they have established a privacy centre of excellence — a senior team focused on data privacy — that has prepared them for regulatory change.1

Eli Lassman

Eli Lassman, head of SMB direct marketing and B2B content, ads marketing at Google UK

The big media consumption story in 2020 was time spent on mobile.

Globally we spent more than 1.6 trillion hours on our phones in the first half of the year. And in the third quarter apps usage surged by 25% year on year, with 180 billion hours each month spent on apps.

The same research highlights that categories expected to particularly benefit from this rise in app popularity include food delivery, games, online learning, entertainment and shopping.

As we look towards economic recovery post-Covid, 30% of consumers believe shopping experiences will never go back to the way they were.

“Downloading an app is in itself an indication of affinity for a brand. After all, app users tend to be more loyal customers”

This makes it increasingly important for retailers to capture this new growth opportunity on apps. 

Downloading an app is in itself an indication of affinity for a brand. After all, app users tend to be more loyal customers.

For retailers, app users spend three times more than other mobile customers. As this trend continues into 2021, businesses should prioritise their app strategy and ensure it’s a value-add channel for their customers.

Read the full list of digital marketing trends that will be making waves in the coming year on Think with Google.


1. Google survey at GSEC Partner Series, EMEA, n=140 respondents who were asked ‘How much has your organisation started planning for future privacy changes?’, November 2020