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Nielsen Annual Marketing Report Underscores the Need for Brands to Evolve Strategies in Wake of COVID-19

3 minute read | April 2021

Marketers prioritize customer acquisition, CTV and addressable budding opportunities

New York, NY – April 1, 2021 – Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN) today released its Annual Marketing Report: The Era of Adaptation. The report delves into how marketers are revamping their strategies after facing and mitigating the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It found that while marketers at organizations of all sizes rank customer acquisition as their top objective in 2021, smaller companies are more focused on customer retention than large companies. To achieve both of those goals, social media, search and video rank as the top channels companies will invest in over the next 12 months, but they need to go beyond only these channels to acquire and retain customers.

As marketing and advertising programs rebound, brands need to be intentional about which strategies and tactics they deploy to consumers, whose habits and preferences continue to shift. Nielsen found that for companies of all sizes, awareness around which channels and platforms to consider, including which approaches to take, vary greatly.

“The pandemic exponentially challenged marketers, requiring them to take a hard look at the strategies they’ve historically used to reach audiences across the consumer journey and to adapt and redefine those decisions with data,” said Jamie Moldafsky, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Nielsen. “As brands of all sizes chart their paths forward, the ability to access data and marketing analytics tools with speed and quality will be key to both navigating the follow-on effects of COVID-19 as well as establishing a more agile approach to future shifts in consumer preferences and  emerging channels.”

The research, based on a Nielsen survey with marketers at more than 250 U.S. brands with marketing budgets spanning from less than $1 million to over $10 million, found that:

  • Connected TV (CTV) and addressable measurement present a wealth of new opportunities for marketers. But internal knowledge gaps about the newness and nuanced nature of connected TV (CTV) rank highest among the challenges marketers face in implementing CTV into their marketing mix.
  • Omnichannel goes beyond the point of purchase. As consumers now use digital channels for more than just making purchases, marketers are modifying their omnichannel strategies to create a holistic experience for consumers, not just moving them to the point of purchase on a select few channels.
  • Marketing analytics tools are critical to ensuring marketing spend is well allocated, especially as cookies go away. The data showed that three out of four advertisers are unsure about how to accurately measure ROI. Fortunately, many modern marketing tools are no longer out of reach for small- and mid-sized companies. That’s a key change, notable for two reasons: enterprise solutions have historically been too expensive for smaller companies, and smaller companies feel the pinch of budget cutbacks more severely than larger ones
  • Regardless of budget size, marketers struggle with data quality and accuracy. Although companies with smaller budgets find it less problematic, all brands should have maximum confidence in their data quality with the importance of person-level connections rising. In fact, 86% of marketers from companies of all sizes recognize the importance of first-party data, despite their lack of confidence in their data overall.

For more key findings and recommendations for marketers, please download the Nielsen Annual Marketing Report: The Era of Adaptation report.

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a leading global data and analytics company that provides a holistic and objective understanding of the media industry. With offerings spanning audience measurement, audience outcomes and content, Nielsen offers its clients and partners simple solutions to complex questions and optimizes the value of their investments and growth strategies. It is the only company that can offer de-duplicated cross-media audience measurement. Audience is EverythingTM to Nielsen and its clients, and Nielsen is committed to ensuring that every voice counts.

An S&P 500 company, Nielsen offers measurement and analytics service in nearly 60 countries. Learn more at or and connect with us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.



Sarah Muratore