Ad Targeting 2021

Living with Uncertainty and Fragmentation

About This Report
Digital media revolutionized advertisers’ targeting capabilities. But regulatory and commercial updates are changing how advertisers can find and reach audiences in digital media. Read on to understand how the ecosystem is dealing with ad targeting trends in 2021.

Executive Summary

Digital media—and especially programmatic methods of transacting—have brought never-before-seen levels of targeting to advertising. After years of threats to marketers’ standard operating procedures, a new targeting landscape is slowly but surely emerging.

How will digital ad targeting practices be affected by the extended identity crisis?

It’s already become more difficult to identify and target users across channels thanks to the absence of third-party cookies in many browsers plus Apple’s restrictions on in-app tracking. These challenges will grow and force advertisers to rely more on a combination of publisher first-party data about their users and alternative targeting tactics like contextual or cohort-based options.

What other trends are affecting how advertisers can reach consumers with paid messages?

More connected TV (CTV) video inventory is becoming available, and via programmatic channels that allow for better targeting than linear TV afforded. Publishers are doing more to get value out of their first-party audience data. And more companies including retailers are realizing they can monetize this type of data by selling ads. It adds up to a rich landscape of addressable options that makes cookies less important even as their death has been delayed.

What are the best practices advertisers and their partners should follow to manage these changes?

The first step is figuring out a strategy—and that means more than just hoovering up all the first-party customer data on offer. Advertisers must consider data collection and use from a fundamental ethical perspective and decide what practices are appropriate. Choices about what to test and learn will flow from there.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report discusses the market for targeted digital advertising—primarily focused on programmatic digital display—and how trends including cookie deprecation and AppTrackingTransparency will force changes to how advertisers and their partners approach identifying and targeting audiences.

KEY STAT: The US programmatic digital display ad market will pass the $100-billion mark by 2022, as third-party cookie deprecation looms closer.

Here’s what’s in the full report


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    Table of Contents

    1. Executive Summary
    2. Understanding Ad Targeting and Audience Segmentation
    3. How Targeting and Segmentation Are Changing This Year
    1. Recommendations
    2. Key Takeaways
    3. Insider Intelligence Interviews
    1. Read Next
    2. Sources
    3. Media Gallery

    Interviewed for This Report

    John Baudino
    Senior Vice President, Data and Identity Revenue
    Interviewed June 16, 2021
    Jane Clarke
    Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM)
    CEO and Managing Director
    Interviewed May 25, 2021
    John Donahue
    Co-Founder, CEO, and Strategy Director
    Interviewed June 21, 2021
    Patrick Duggan
    Vice President, Sales and Strategy – Data + Identity
    Interviewed June 16, 2021
    Lauren T. Fisher
    Advertiser Perceptions
    Executive Vice President, Business Intelligence
    Interviewed June 17, 2021
    Justin Fromm
    LG Ads
    Head of Research
    Interviewed June 4, 2021
    Jürgen Galler
    Interviewed June 10, 2021
    Field Garthwaite
    Co-Founder and CEO
    Interviewed June 16, 2021
    John Goulding
    Head of Strategy, US
    Interviewed June 2, 2021
    Filippo Gramigna
    Interviewed June 16, 2021
    Romain Job
    Smart AdServer
    Chief Strategy Officer
    Interviewed May 18, 2021
    Raghu Kodige
    LG Ads
    Founder and Chief Product Officer
    Interviewed June 4, 2021
    Jason Manningham
    Interviewed June 17, 2021
    John Nardone
    Interviewed June 9, 2021
    Michael Nevins
    Smart AdServer
    Interviewed May 18, 2021
    Todd Parsons
    Chief Product Officer
    Interviewed June 25, 2021
    Mathieu Roche
    Co-Founder and CEO
    Interviewed May 13, 2021
    Ana Rodriguez Fisac
    Global Director of Partnerships, Audience Activation
    Interviewed June 4, 2021
    Jon Schulz
    Viant Technologies
    Interviewed June 14, 2021

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    Nicole Perrin


    Ross Benes
    Senior Analyst
    Tracy Tang
    Senior Researcher
    Paul Verna
    VP, Multimedia

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