Adland Experts Share Their 2021 Predictions

Adland saw unprecedented change last year due to the dramatic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Such turbulence within the industry has shown no sign of easing in 2021, with many markets starting the new year under imposed restrictions, and with several vaccinations starting to roll out across the globe, the end of the year could look very different from the start.

Predicting what our industry will look like this year is a difficult task, so we called upon our client council, made up of experts from across Adland, to help.

Click here to read them all.

Hear members from AB InBev, Havas, MAGNA, News Corp, OMG, Tremor Video, Unilever, as well as renowned author and speaker Rishad Tobaccowala, share their predictions for the next 12 months and beyond.

They cover key areas within the industry, including the continued growth of CTV, the beginning of the end for fake news, the rise of the purpose-driven workforce, and the continued fragmentation of media consumption.

We hope they’ll give you some food for thought as we begin what will most certainly be another extraordinary year.

If you’d like to find out more about Unruly or our U7 client council, please get in touch.

Access the predictions.

What the ad industry needs to do to promote greater diversity and inclusion was the main topic of discussion at our second virtual U7 event last week.

For those who are not sure, in a nutshell, the U7 is our brand, publisher and agency-powered council. It was set up to create a dialogue with the industry so they can play an active role in shaping the future of digital marketing for the better.

The latest event, hosted by ex-Unruly CEO and Global Head Of Advertising Strategy at News Corp, Norm Johnston, explored diversity and inclusion within the industry, including what’s not working, where we need to improve and what needs to be put in place to help us move forward as a more diverse and open industry.

Advertising guru, author, advisor and speaker Rishad Tobaccowala kicked off the session exploring themes from his new book,Restoring the Soul of Business”, which touches on the many experiences and challenges he’s faced working in the ad industry in the US.

He gave advice to the attendees, including how to foster a good work environment, how to build an age-friendly workplace, the importance of getting the balance right between data and creativity, and, as the future continues to look uncertain, what leaders need to put in place to navigate the next six months.

Rishad was followed by Unruly’s VP Insights Terence Scroope, who ran through the work we’ve been doing on helping brands identify stereotypes in their advertising. He shone a spotlight on brands that have pivoted their branding and messaging in response to increased awareness around the Black Lives Matter movement.

The session ended with a panel of experts discussing successful D&I initiatives that they’ve seen deliver change. The panel was moderated by Brian McComak, Inclusion Consultant and Founder of Hummingbird Humanity, and panellists included Harriet Kingaby, Co-chair of The Conscious Advertising Network, Lauren Ogudeko, Head of Response & Board Director​ Co-Chair Multicultural Board at PHD/Omnicom Media Group, Sarah Mansfield, EMEA Media Director at Unilever, and Rishad.

The panel discussed a number of different topics, including the best way to challenge leaders to ensure diverse voices are heard, the necessity of creating a psychologically safe environment in the workplace and what brands need to do to ensure their advertising is diverse.

Launched back in 2018, the U7’s founding members included global brands Diageo, Nestle, Unilever, GSK and The Wall Street Journal. The council has since grown from its seven founders to 26 core members. Newest additions include leaders from Ford, Mars, Universal McCann, and Bank of America.

If you’d like to find out about joining the U7, please reach out to me at [email protected].

Peter Biven, Head of Digital for Ford EMEA, this week became the 25th member to join our client council, the U7.

Based in the UK, Peter heads up Ford’s Digital, E-Commerce and Demand Creation divisions and has worked within the auto industry for the past seven years, holding down positions at both Ford and Jaguar Land Rover.

The U7 is our brand, publisher and agency-powered council, set up to encourage the ad industry to play an active role in shaping the future of digital marketing for the better.

Unruly’s VP Client Council, Nicola Spooner, said: “It’s amazing to have Peter onboard. As our first U7 member from the auto industry, the knowledge, insights and guidance he’ll bring to the council will be invaluable.”

The U7 held its first meeting in March 2018 with 10 founding members from Nestle, Unilever, Diageo, Samsung, American Express, L’Oréal, GSK, The Wall Street Journal and Mars.

In just over two years the council has grown to 25 members, with 10 more joining this year from Coty, Zenith, Universal McCann, IPG, Bank of America, AB InBev, Publicis, GroupM, Mars and Ford.

News Corp’s newly-appointed Global Head of Advertising Strategy, Norm Johnston — a former Unruly CEO — was last month appointed as the U7’s president.

The council officially meets three times a year for a summit of discussions and workshops, with the next due to take place next month (September), focussed on the ad industry’s approach to diversity and inclusion.

If you’d like to find out more about how you can get involved in the U7, please reach out to Nicola Spooner by emailing [email protected].

Today we announce Norm Johnston is stepping down as Unruly CEO and taking a seat on the company board, subject to approval at the company’s upcoming annual general meeting (AGM). His final day is Friday.

After two years in charge, Norm will now hand over the baton to Ofer Druker, CEO of Tremor International.

He has also been appointed as the president of our U7 Client Council, which encourages the world’s biggest advertisers, agencies and publishers to play an active role in shaping the future of digital marketing for the better.

As a board member and the newly-appointed president of the U7, Norm’s experience, knowledge of the industry and key contacts will be essential as we continue to help drive the integration process forward and support the company’s mission to make advertising better. Below is an email Norm sent to Unruly employees this week:

Hi everyone,

After more than two years, it’s time for me to finally hand over the Unruly CEO baton to Ofer and our newly-combined leadership team. It’s not exactly goodbye as I will continue to support Tremor and Unruly, just not as CEO but as a non-executive board member, which means I will still be rooting for all of you on the sidelines — perhaps sometimes even in the scrum itself! I will also continue to play an active role as the newly-appointed president of the U7, which I’m very excited about.

I want to first thank Sarah Wood. Taking over from Sarah back in April of 2018 was never going to be easy! She’s such an inspirational, visionary leader, and I can’t thank her enough for all her efforts in supporting me during the transition and beyond.

I also want to thank Rebekah Brooks, who has been such an awesome source of guidance and support, not only for me but also Unruly overall. Thankfully, she will continue that support as a fellow Tremor board member – and as a leader within News Corp. That’s because, in addition to my Tremor board role, I’m going to be joining the News Corp team as Head of Global Advertising Strategy, leading News’ efforts to build better advertising products, solutions and partnerships.

I would also like to thank my Executive Team for their support as we explored our options for the future. Thank you, team. And, most importantly, I want to thank ALL of you. I’m incredibly grateful to each one of you for your hard work, tenacity, creativity and dedication to the Unruly cause. I will never forget it.

From day one, my ambition was always to take our mission to create a better advertising industry to a bigger and broader stage. What we do is simply too important to the future of the advertising business.

I’m pleased we found such a great home with Tremor, who in such a short time have already rapidly accelerated and realized so much in our roadmap.

So, while this chapter of the Unruly story ends, an exciting new one begins. Unruly 2.0, powered by both Tremor and News Corp, has huge potential. Our integrated ad tech stack is full of the best from each company and will enable us to build new products and features faster than ever before.

We now compete on a much bigger playing field with the industry’s most compelling portfolio of video formats, including CTV/OTT and mobile in-app. With these new formats, we can now scale EQ to new devices and new frontiers.

Our full ad tech stack (DSP, SSP, DMP) enables us to provide more attractive, bespoke and flexible commercial and product solutions to advertisers. All of which means we can now fully realise the needs of our U7 Client Council and our global advertising partners.

Friday will be my last day as CEO. Thank you to all of you wonderful PANDAS for your support, guidance, and feedback…even when tough. Thank you for the awesome parties, the laughs, but most of all your passion. Don’t ever lose that. Keep fighting the good fight.



We held our first-ever virtual U7 event this week. For those of you who may not be familiar with the U7, in a nutshell, it’s our brand, publisher and agency-powered council, set up to create a dialogue with the ad industry so they can play an active role in shaping the future of digital marketing for the better.

It was launched back in 2018, with founding members including global brands Diageo, Samsung, American Express, Unilever, L’Oréal, GSK and WSJ. The council has since grown from its seven founders to 23 core members, which include experts from Bank of America, Nestle, Universal McCann, GroupM, Zenith, Mars and IPG.

We host regular sessions with members designed to engage the advertising community in discussions around emerging trends and the health of the industry as part of Unruly’s mission to lead the charge in cleaning up digital marketing.

This week’s session focused on safeguarding brand reputation in the wake of COVID-19.

It began with an interview between advertising guru Rob Norman and Matt Murray, Editor-in-Chief of The Wall Street Journal. The conversation was focussed on the impact of the global pandemic from the perspective of a premium news publisher, and how the coverage of COVID-19 will evolve post-lockdown.

This was followed by a panel moderated by the World Federation of Advertiser’s Global Alliance for Responsible Media lead Rob Rakowitz, which looked at what advertisers can do to support premium publishers and safeguard advertising revenues in the wake of COVID-19.

The panellists included Jerry Daykin, EMEA Media Director, GSK Consumer Healthcare, Josh Stinchcomb, Global CRO, WSJ, Lou Paskalis, Senior Vice President Customer Engagement and Media Investment, Bank of America, Lisa Utzschneider, Chief Executive Officer, Integral Ad Science, and Jess King-Moore, Director, Global Digital Trust, Unruly.

The event was a great success and it was great to hear such enthusiasm from the council for supporting independent journalism and premium news environments. We live in such an increasingly complex and fragmented world, where context is more important than ever. It explains why news subscriptions and content consumption have gone up so dramatically over the past few months.

Also, the safety measures we’ve put in place to protect brands have become the very thing that has prohibited them from reaching their consumers at this crucial time as the sites they are found on are now voraciously blocked. Jess King-Moore who heads up Unruly’s in-house brand safety team drove this discussion and she laid out what advertisers and publishers need to do in order to navigate news environments which are currently dominated by COVID-19 stories.

At Unruly we work with both sides of the advertising ecosystem and often hear about the issues that affect both the supply and demands sides. The U7 allows us to bring the world’s leading advertisers and publishers together to discuss these issues together and work on possible solutions.

Bringing people together to talk is the only way we can help understand the struggles and barriers we all face during this uncertain time.

If you’d like to find out more about the U7 please reach out to me at [email protected].

Today in Cannes, Unruly joined 16 of the world’s leading advertisers as they announced the Global Alliance for Responsible Media: an unprecedented, global collaboration with agencies, media companies and platforms, and industry associations to rapidly improve digital safety.

WFA panel (from left to right) Lisa Granatstein, Isabel Massey, Rob Rakowitz, Carolyn Everson, Luis Di Como

With nearly 3.8 billion people online, the world is increasingly connected, and yet the increase in dangerous, hateful, disruptive and fake content online risks threatening our global community.

Members of the Global Alliance for Responsible Media recognize the role that advertisers can play in collectively pushing to improve the safety of online environments. Together, they are rallying publishers and platforms to do more to address harmful and misleading content and to work together to develop and deliver against a concrete set of actions, processes and protocols for protecting people and brands.

The Alliance was founded by the World Federation of Advertisers members and will also be championed by the ANA CMO Growth Council, a member organization of the WFA. This effort enlists:

  • Advertisers including Adidas, Bayer, BP, Danone, Diageo, General Mills, GSK
    Consumer Health, LVMH, Mars, Incorporated, Mastercard, Mondelēz International,
    NBCUniversal, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Shell, and Unilever;
  • Experts at Dentsu, GroupM, IPG, Publicis and Omnicom Media Group, representing
    media agencies;
  • Media companies and platforms at launch include Facebook, Google/YouTube,
    NBCUniversal; Teads; TRUSTX; Twitter; Unruly and Verizon Media; and
  • Supporting industry associations ANA, 4A’s, Interactive Advertising Bureau, ISBA,
    Mobile Marketing Association, Coalition for Better Ads, Effie Worldwide and WFA
    alongside their local advertising association members.

U7 member Luis Di Como, EVP Global Media, Unilever commented: “When industry challenges spill into society, creating division and putting our children at risk, it’s on all of us to act. We’ve achieved a lot through Unilever’s Responsibility Framework but to do more, we must do it together. Founding this Alliance is a great step towards rebuilding trust in our industry and society.”

An immediate focus will be to form and empower an inclusive working group charged with prioritizing a set of concrete steps already under consideration by the Alliance. This is the first time an alliance that represents all sides of the media industry is forming, underpinned by a working group committed to meeting regularly and reporting back on its progress to members and the industry.

Norm Johnston, Global CEO, Unruly, added: “At Unruly, we talk a lot about the concept of “hearts and minds”, and that’s because we never forget that there is always a real person behind the audience and emotional data we work with. We’re conscious of the role that adtech has to play in delivering a better digital experience, one that is mutually beneficial for brands, publishers and audiences. The Global Alliance for Responsible Media is a fantastic opportunity for Unruly to work with our industry peers to achieve that goal of a better, safer, more rewarding online experience, and we look forward to promoting its goals through our U7 and UNext initiatives.”

The first formal meeting of the Alliance will take place Wednesday, 19 June at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, hosted by the WFA Media Board. A panel with the Alliance, among them, representatives from founding members Unilever, Mars and Diageo, discuss their vision, goals and priorities, will take place on Tuesday 18 June. Alliance members will ask for the industry to open all meetings in Cannes with a call to action for more collective responsibility in media practices.

About the Global Alliance for Responsible Media
The Global Alliance for Responsible Media was formed to identify specific collaborative actions, processes and protocols for protecting consumers and brands from safety issues. Alliance members will work collaboratively to identify actions that will better protect consumers online, working towards a media environment where hate speech, bullying and disinformation is challenged, where personal data is protected and used responsibly when given, and where everyone, especially children, are better protected from harm. Alliance members acknowledge their collective power to significantly improve the health of the media ecosystem.

Read more about Unruly’s mission to clean up digital marketing here

Today, we announced the launch of the UNext: a new client-powered working group that will help tackle digital marketing challenges.

Backed and directed by the U7, Unruly’s global client council, the UNext will hold its first event during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in June.

The new initiative was presented to U7 members at its recent London Summit (18 March) as part of an agenda that included Professor Karen Nelson-Field and News UK’s Rebekah Brooks. The UNext is a series of working groups made up of representatives from Unruly brand and agency partners. Sessions will be structured as a combined education and research experience, taking place in key industry locations such as London, New York, Singapore and Cannes.

“At Unruly we’ve always believed that digital marketing can only get better if all stakeholders are part of the solution. We always wanted the U7 to be a practical
force for change and improvement in the industry, and the UNext is the perfect example of that mission in action”, commented Norm Johnston, Global CEO Unruly.

Topics explored by the UNext will include supply chain transparency, digital identity, brand safety and data privacy. It will also help marketers prepare for specific campaign events such as the Super Bowl or the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Topics will be directed by the U7, and outputs from UNext groups will be presented at U7 Summit meetings.

If you’d like to find out more about the UNext click here to get in touch.

Earlier this week on Monday 18 March, the U7 met at Unruly’s London headquarters for the second U7 Summit. 

With an agenda titled ‘Trust & Transparency’, the Summit explored issues around transparency, viewability metrics and the relationship between advertising and quality content.

“Last year we launched the U7 in New York and it was a great opportunity to get representatives from the biggest advertisers and agencies on the planet into one room. This next meeting in London represents the next step in the U7’s mission to tackle the big issues in digital marketing,” said Norm Johnston, Global CEO, Unruly.

(Professor Karen Nelson-Field talks viewability to the U7)

Brands represented included Unilever, Diageo, GSK and Nestlé, and these were joined by agency leaders from Havas, Omnicom Media Group, GroupM, Publicis Media and Denstu Aegis Network.

Guest speakers for the London Summit included noted media academic Professor Karen Nelson-Field, whose recent research into ad viewability marks a major advance in the quest for greater clarity in media metrics. Speaking ahead of the event, Nelson-Field commented: “The gap in understanding around viewability has created a lot of uncertainty, particularly regarding how much is enough,” commented Professor Nelson-Field. “We already have platforms trading on variations of the MRC standard. Our work shines some light on the viewability puzzle. I’m looking forward to presenting to the U7 thought leaders.”

News UK Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks presented a panel discussion which examined the complex relationship between advertising and quality journalism in the digital age, she was joined by Victoria Newton, Editor Sun on Sunday and Eleanor Mills, Editorial Director and Magazine Editor of The Sunday Times.

(News UK Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks)

Rounding off the Summit was the U7 Social, where U7 members, guest speakers and invited guests enjoyed emotions-themed cocktails and the sounds of Virgin Radio DJ Kate Lawler and legendary Good Times DJ Norman Jay MBE on the decks in the Unruly Home.

(Norman Jay MBE provided the tunes)

Unruly has today announced the formation of the U7, a brand and agency-powered council designed to engage the advertising community in discussions around emerging trends and the health of the industry, as part of Unruly’s mission to lead the charge in cleaning up digital marketing.

The U7 is comprised of 10 of the world’s largest advertisers including Nestlé, Unilever, Diageo, Samsung, American Express, L’Oreal, GSK, The Wall Street Journal and Mars. They will be joined by leaders from Wavemaker, Havas, and Carat.

The purpose of the U7 is to create a dialogue with advertisers so they can play an active role in shaping the future of digital marketing. Members will get exclusive access to new Unruly products and features, including Programmatic Guaranteed, which launches globally from October and allows buyers to access guaranteed buys across exclusive sites at a fixed price.

Commenting on the need for a body like the U7, Nigel Conway, Global Head of Media Communications, Nestlé, said: “The industry needs better digital standards particularly with brand safety, and the U7 Council will help us accelerate better practice and accountability with senior industry client leaders and agencies.”  

“We want to prove that adtech can live up to a higher standard of openness and honesty. For too long, clients have had to put up with solutions forced on them by adtech companies,” said Norm Johnston, CEO, Unruly, “the U7 puts brand and agencies in the driving seat. We’re bringing clients inside every team of Unruly, from product development to business practices, and we’ve brought together an incredible bunch of people for some provocative and inspiring discussion.”

The first meeting, subtitled ‘Hearts & Minds’, will explore the role that emotions and trust play in the future of advertising. Special guests bringing their own expertise and insight to the event include  award-winning CMO Dana Anderson, Matt Murray, Editor-in-Chief of The Wall Street Journal, consultant and digital guru Rob Norman, and Brian Wieser, Senior Analyst at Pivotal.

One of the long-term goals for the committee is to bring clients closer to the decisions made in adtech, as well as helping advertisers make sense of emerging tech trends, such as the use of emotional intelligence and opportunities presented by ambient technology.

U7 member Luis Di Como, EVP Global Media, Unilever commented:  “Back in February we said we needed to collectively rebuild trust back into our digital systems and wider society – Unilever committed to not investing in platforms that do not protect children or create division in society, creating responsible content and only partnering with organisations who are committed to creating a better digital infrastructure.  Scaling this digital responsibility framework across the industry is the action we need, which is why I am very excited to join the U7 council and to collaborate with like-minded advertisers.”

The first meeting of the U7, hosted by Johnston, will establish a roadmap of future activity for the group, which includes a series of global research projects, summits and workshops. The U7 line up includes:

Amanda Richman, US CEO, Wavemaker; Ben Sutherland, Chief Digital Officer, Diageo; Colin Kinsella, CEO, Havas Group Media North AmericaJay Altschuler, VP, Media & Partnerships, Samsung: Joe Bihlmier, VP Global Media, American Express; Juan Pendavis, Global Head of Creative & Media, Nestlé; Luis Di Como, EVP Global Media, Unilever; Michael Epstein, CEO, Carat USA; Nadine Karp McHugh, SVP Omni Media, L’Oreal; Nigel Conway, role TBA, IHG; Scott Grenz, VP, Global Head of Media, GSK; Suzi Watford, Chief Marketing & Membership Officer, WSJ

The full U7 agenda is available here, and outputs from the discussions will be published during October.