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The Top-Ranking Media Channels of 2021


After the drastic decline in media investment in 2020, all of us in the ad industry have been encouraged by a rapid recovery in 2021. However, as we emerge into this new media landscape, we’re faced with many uncertainties. Namely, how have consumer attitudes evolved as a result of the pandemic?


A Preference for Offline Advertising?


Each year, Kantar releases its Media Reactions study in which they rank the top media channels based on marketer and consumer opinions. This year, the study was bigger than ever with 14,500 consumers covering over 290 brands in 23 markets and 900 senior marketers from around the world.


Considering how much more we all use technology in every aspect of our lives, you may expect the top media channels to be digital, but that appears to not be the case. While the pandemic did accelerate the growth of digital media channels, consumers as a whole don’t view digital ads in a positive light. Instead, the study reveals consumers’ preference for offline advertising as well as local news brands.


Without further ado, here are the top 5 media channels based on consumer global ad equity rankings.

  1. Cinema ads

  2. Sponsored events

  3. Magazine

  4. Point-of-sale (POS) ads

  5. Newspaper ads


A Few Notable Insights


Consumers Have Rediscovered Their Love of Out-of-Home (OOH) Ads

When the pandemic turned everyone into homebodies last year, OOH ads were especially hard-hit, but as it turns out, the old adage of “out of sight, out of mind” isn’t always true. Instead of forgetting about this ad channel, consumers now have a newfound appreciation for it. According to Kantar’s study, people have become nostalgic for OOH ads, perceiving them as ‘better quality’ and ‘innovative’. That’s why you find cinema ads reigning at the top of the list and POS ads making their debut into the top 5 for the first time ever in this year’s report.


Consumers Trust Sponsored Events

When you ask yourself why consumers rank sponsored events so high, you may think it has something to do with how fun and entertaining they are, but on the contrary, it’s trust. Along with newspaper ads, consumers find sponsored events to be the most trustworthy media channel. Marketers, interestingly enough, did not agree on this point at all, believing TV and online video to be the most trustworthy. Even when the pandemic drove events to pivot to an online format, consumers still felt like event sponsorship lent credibility to a brand.


Print Absolutely Still Matters

Globally, news and magazine brands led on ad equity in 10 markets according to the Media Reaction study. Due in large part to the web, the lines between local and global as well as physical and digital are increasingly blurred in this space. For instance, the physical and digital formats of ELLE, a global fashion magazine brand, leads in the Netherlands; but in Japan, the national newspaper brand, Yomiuri, leads. In the US, the digital-only news brand, Apple News, takes the top spot in terms of ad equity. Clearly, while magazine and newspaper ads are still a valuable media channel, choosing the right publication — whether it be physical or digital, local or global — is highly dependent on local and regional attitudes.


What’s the Best Media Channel for Your Brand?


At the end of the day, the consumers whose opinions truly matter to you are the consumers in your target audience. What media channels will they most positively respond to? To help you answer that question, and many more throughout the media planning process, contact The Ward Group. Our media stewards will help you develop a media plan that exceeds your expectations (but not your budget).