Sam Wood
December 23, 2020

A Letter From Our CEO and Marketing Predictions for 2021

Hi there,

First, and most importantly, I want to say a genuine, heartfelt thank you to all of our clients, partners, suppliers, and supporters for anything and everything you’ve done to help Alpha in 2020. Your support (and a lot of hard work from our team) has meant that despite everything, Alpha is leaving 2020 in a stronger position than when we started. Given what this year has thrown at all of us, I think that’s worth celebrating.

If you’re anything like me (and the rest of Australia) your news consumption has skyrocketed this year, so instead of looking backwards at what has happened, I thought I’d share some of the key ‘Watch Outs’ that we’ve got our eyes on in 2021:

Increasing scrutiny on the power and impact of the tech giants

Around the world, pressure is starting to mount for the tech giants (Google and Facebook in particular). Regulators are questioning the power and influence of these companies, with the ACCC in Australia recommending new Media Bargaining laws and Chairman Rod Sims being pretty clear about his support for greater regulation in other jurisdictions.

In addition, there are now antitrust suits underway in the USA, EU, and UK against the giants, with threats of forcing a breakup of Facebook/Alphabet’s (Google’s parent company) different businesses. 

What this will mean:

Whilst the regulatory impact from some of these really big suits (ie the antitrust ones) is likely to not be felt for many years, they could still be quite impactful in the short term as the tech companies duck and weave and try to find ways to appease (or avoid) regulators.

Because we really don’t know what will happen, our advice to clients is simply to ensure you have a diverse media mix, and so aren’t overly exposed to changes in one channel. In addition to managing risk, the Journal of Advertising Research showed back in 2015 that a diverse media mix drives better outcomes for advertisers.

Privacy push

Almost every week we feature an article about upcoming privacy changes in our weekly round up, and with good reason.

Despite Google’s deadline for our ‘cookieless future’ being pushed out to 2022 (and potentially beyond), marketers are coming to terms with the fact that how the ad-supported internet functions is going to fundamentally change. 

Other significant changes are coming in 2021, with Apple pushing back their ‘Opt-in’ policy from September 2020 to an as-yet unreleased launch in 2021. These changes will mean the depreciation of the existing IDFA used to track users’ interactions with apps, instead moving to a new standard where users will have to opt-in to be tracked by apps. With estimations that less than 20% of users may choose to opt-in to tracking and significant pushback from Facebook, it’s likely that the impact on advertising platforms and advertisers will be significant.

Finally, new privacy legislation (that looks a lot like the GDPR and in some cases, is even more stringent) is likely on the cards. California was the latest jurisdiction to amend their existing privacy legislation with the intention of returning control of user data to users themselves. It’s pretty likely that Australia will follow suit in the coming years.

What this will mean:

First and foremost, businesses need to be aware of:

  1. What data they’re collecting
  2. What data they have
  3. How it’s being stored
  4. How it’s being used
  5. Who has access

Once you’re comfortable that everything you have and are doing is compliant with local and international laws (especially if you trade internationally) it’s time to start thinking about how you prepare for the major changes coming up.

First party data will become essential, so it’s worth talking to a martech specialist (we can point you in the right direction) to ensure you’re making the right calls as to business strategy and tech. You’ll be in a much better position to see upside from these changes if you start collecting and analysing your data sooner rather than later.

Employee burnout

For most, 2020 has been a real grind. The total upheaval of everyday life and ongoing uncertainty has drained the resilience of all of us. Given the end of 2020 isn’t going to mean the end of COVID, we’re turning our mind to how we can support our team members through a protracted recovery.

Research from McKinsey shows that leaders of organisations appear to bounce back from the impact of such an event much faster than the broader organisation, including employees. And despite what leaders might think, unflinching optimism may actually be doing more harm than good.

What this will mean:

We’re by no means a perfect model, but a couple of things we’re working on coming into 2020 are focused around key call-outs from this article, including Optimism tempered with realism (2021 is likely to be a ‘smoother’ year, but it won’t be without its own bumps), and Connecting Purpose with responsibilities (Our Purpose is to Guide and Empower others to succeed and we’re working to make it part of everything we do)

The rebound

Finally, and on a more positive note, signs look good for a strong 2021 (though it won’t be without its challenges).

Consumer spending over the past few weeks has been strong, and confidence has hit 10-year record highs, though it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect that the recent outbreaks in NSW and the potential of a new, more virulent strain of COVID in the UK, will impact this. 

Across a large number of our retail clients, we’re also seeing ecommerce revenue hit record highs this holiday season, as people do their Christmas shopping from home (though not all sectors have seen this upside).

Overall, we’re expecting a quiet start to 2021 following the holiday hangover, but strong results thereafter.

Alpha’s 2020

For Alpha Digital, 2020 has seen us add 13 new faces to our team, from Graduate all the way through to Commercial Director. We’ve brought on exciting new clients such as Supercheap Auto, Loungelovers and Vissla, and have been shortlisted for the SEMRUSH, B&T, and APAC Search Awards. We’ve launched new services, such as lifecycle marketing and strategy, and changed up our Leadership

Finally, and it’s not something I usually like shouting about outside of the agency, but I’m also proud to say that this year we launched Alpha Empowers, an initiative where the team chooses an NFP that empowers their clients or beneficiaries to succeed. For every billable hour we complete, we donate an amount to our selected NFP. In 2020, we have (or will) donate to the Indigineous Literacy Foundation, and to the Australian Childhood Foundation; two causes I’m thrilled we’ve been able to support.

If you’ve made it this far – thanks for giving me so much of your day. And thank you again for your support in 2020.

If you have any questions or comments about anything in this email, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at, or by calling the office in Brisbane.



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