The 10 Most Popular ANA Newsstand Articles of 2020

December 30, 2020

By Andrew Eitelbach

Tabulating the results. GIPHY

I thought we had a clear track for the year. With California’s privacy laws set to go into effect in July, ANA magazine’s first story in January covered how the CCPA would sow confusion in the industry. Less than two weeks later, when Google announced it was officially doing away with third-party cookies, it seemed like consumer privacy issues would dominate the year.

They did not.

ANA Newsstand ran a number of big stories on big topics that I thought would do quite well, like ad fraud, the continued lack of trust between agencies and brands, even how artificial intelligence might reshape agencies forever. None of these cracked the top 10. Like most everything else this year, COVID-19 supplanted them all.

A few stories in the top 10 list do stand out in their defiance to the pandemic’s dominance of the news cycle. A story on TikTok, a social platform that has had a tumultuous year all its own, grabbed the No. 2 spot. A profile piece on how Verizon assembled its in-house agency — a piece that is actually from January 2019 — took spot No. 4.

The piece I’m most proud of this year — and which is perhaps the most important story we’ve run in some time — did make the list. “Taking a Stand on Systemic Change” draws on insights from Mastercard and the American Heart Association, among others, to show how companies can address issues of discrimination and inequality within their organizations. The story provides specific steps marketers can follow to do the same within their own companies. For marketers whose brands addressed the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement (and maybe especially so for marketers whose brands did not), it’s a must-read.

In fact, every one of these stories is excellent and worthy of your time. Here are the 10 most popular articles of 2020:

1. Effects of the Coronavirus on Marketing May Be Incalculable

With as much as one-fifth of the world’s population told to stay inside, effects of the novel coronavirus on the economy have been swift and could be long lasting. Here’s how the virus is affecting marketing. April 3, 2020, ANA magazine

2. Is It TikTok’s Time?

While still relatively new, TikTok has generated a fair share of users — and controversy. Despite its shaky start, the popularity and levity of the site make it an increasingly alluring option for marketers. February 28, 2020, ANA magazine

3. Six Is the New 30

Call it the yin and yang of brand advertising: Six-second ads enjoy a halo effect from related content, while longer ads have more opportunity to tell a story and engage consumers. February 14, 2020, ANA magazine

4. How Verizon’s In-House Agency 140 Came to Be

While the mission of 140, Verizon’s in-house agency, is inextricably connected to a major corporate repositioning, it provides an instructive look at the challenges facing any in-house unit, from attracting talent to working with outside agencies. Here’s how Verizon built 140. January 2, 2019, ANA magazine

5. Keeping Email Campaigns Healthy During the Coronavirus

With most every business reassessing overall spending due to the coronavirus outbreak, it’s an opportune time for B2B companies to reassess their email marketing strategy and ensure that the audiences receiving their emails are getting immediate value. April 29, 2020, B2B Marketer magazine

6. UPS Bakes Digital Transformation Into the Brand

Since coming aboard in 2018, UPS CMO Kevin Warren has been methodically rebuilding UPS’s marketing organization around what he calls “the new digital imperative.” Toppling traditional marketing tools is just one aspect of a multifaceted plan. August 12, 2020, B2B Marketer magazine

7. A New Norm for Ad Shoots?

Brands are cutting back on producing commercials as marketing budgets are curtailed and social distancing measures remain in place. The good news is that scaling back on ad shoots can have broader benefits. July 8, 2020, ANA magazine

8. The Succession Conundrum

While an outside perspective can be helpful, fresh ideas readily exist within an organization. The onus is on upper management to encourage those executives who aspire to be the CMO. February 7, 2020, ANA magazine

9. A New Concern Among Consumers: Brand Safety

The term “brand safety” has taken on a more literal meaning during the pandemic, with consumers acutely interested in how the products they buy are manufactured, packaged, and distributed. August 14, 2020, ANA magazine

10. Taking a Stand on Systemic Change

The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, among others, reignited a national conversation around racial injustice and systemic inequalities. With consumers increasingly expecting brands to take a stand against racial injustice, keeping silent is not an option for many companies. But to help effect real change, companies need to resolve their internal problematic practices first. Here’s how they can get started. August 19, 2020, ANA magazine


What’s your favorite ANA Newsstand story from the past year, or any year? (One of my personal all-time favorites involves GE and a volcano.) Share it in the comments, or write me directly at aeitelbach@ana.net.


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