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How will digital advertising look across EMEA in 2021?

The Coronavirus pandemic has helped marketers and retailers across EMEA move their advertising budgets online – a trend that will stay in the region post-pandemic and develop quickly over the coming decade.

The spread of Covid-19 has been particularly hard on EMEA economies, in large part due to lengthy lockdowns. Naturally, physical retailers have been amongst the hardest hit, having to keep their physical premises shut.

As a result, many brands and marketers across EMEA have invested in the opportunities digital provides. Almost half of EMEA marketers hope to allocate more than a quarter of their budgets to mobile ads because of the pandemic.

Mobile ad spending has proven to be the savior of many companies across EMEA hit by the pandemic throughout 2020.

Digital ad spending in the UK alone was forecast to grow by 0.3% in 2020, according to eMarketer. While that may not sound like much, growth during a global pandemic and many retailers waylaid is still impressive.

And retail led the way in the UK, with the sector accounting for a fifth of all digital ad spending. Again, most of that investment went on mobile ads; a trend that was reflected across EMEA and is expected to rise further in 2021.

Mobile marketing across EMEA is growing faster than other media channels despite Coronavirus. But where exactly will those budgets go? Expect digital video advertising to be the big winner, not just in 2021 but beyond, too.

Overall, EMEA marketers dedicate half of their mobile budgets to mobile video. According to the Internet Advertising Bureau, across Europe, 60% of advertisers are specifically investing in digital video to build their brand image. Mobile video will be essential to brands’ success post-pandemic.

Privacy regulations could impact EMEA brands in 2021

Coronavirus isn’t the only obstacle that brands across EMEA had to navigate in 2020.

Many regulatory changes from big tech companies changed the way a lot of EMEA brands operated last year and will continue to impact how they collect data.

The question of how brands operate within the confines of big tech’s ever-evolving legislative changes is arguably the biggest. The EU famously has some of the tightest rules and regulations on the planet when it comes to data

2021 will be a watershed year for data privacy and policy changes, and their effects likely won’t be fully appreciated until the end of the year. It’s essential that businesses across EMEA keep abreast of the changes and adapt accordingly to comply and grow.

EMEA brands will look to APAC for future growth

With so many digital advertising budgets going toward mobile and m-commerce, the natural destination is likely to be APAC, where economies such as China’s and South Korea’s are open and have weathered the Covid storm.

A lot of APAC regions are also mobile-first and have robust mobile economies. APAC is the heart of the global mobile economy. Global app revenues are expected to hit $129 billion in 2021 – APAC is forecast to generate nearly 60% of that total.

With China the world’s number-one app market and Japan one of the largest mobile gaming markets in the world, there are a huge number of digital platforms and avenues for ambitious EMEA-based brands to utilise to serve ads to mobile audiences across APAC.

Their digital, mobile and wider marketing strategies will need a lot of work to reach those audiences, though. Each territory across APAC has different requirements when it comes to ads, how locals interact with them, how they’re regulated, how they’re perceived culturally and more.

Nativex can help EMEA companies be successful in APAC in 2021

Nativex is here to help. Our team is able to help brands reach out to audiences across APAC with creative, local campaigns on the platforms and networks they use most.

We’ve produced highly-visible returns for global brands within APAC territories thanks to our creative, data-led approach on our very own bespoke marketing and advertising platforms.

For instance, our XploreChina service has proved invaluable to international brands keen on breaking into China, bridging the cross-cultural gaps and advertising them on only the most relevant platforms to them.

Many brands across EMEA, for example, have heard about how ingrained ByteDance’s TikTok/Douyin app is across APAC and the live shopping experiences available on it that simply can’t be found on western tech platforms.


Though Douyin may be a great way into APAC for your EMEA-based brand, it certainly isn’t the only way in, and may not even be the best fit for your strategy. In a similar fashion to advertising in Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other international platforms, you can also advertise through one of China’s other popular platforms including Zhihu, Kuaishou, RED, Bilibili, Weibo, Baidu and others. Many brands have experienced great success with them, when delivering localised content and working with the right local partners – such as Nativex.  

You may be able to see better results more quickly by advertising WeChat, for instance, has great video shopping capabilities and is used by more than 80% of China`s population.  

Whatever sector your EMEA-based brand operates in, China and the wider APAC region will be a key area of growth for you in 2021 and beyond. Nativex will help you realise your ambitions in a bespoke, creative data-led way. Contact our team today to find out more.

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