19 digital marketing predictions for 2022

Selina Johansson

Digital acceleration, the metaverse, NFTs, social commerce, a connected and streaming TV explosion, the final cookies curtain call, growing criticality of first-party data and increasingly AI-driven automation are all trends that gained ground over the course of 2021. And they’re going to be instrumental to propelling digital marketing and advertising to new heights in 2022.

As the industry shakes off a second year of adapting to global pandemic conditions and an ever-more digitally savvy and socially aware consumer, it’s clear digital marketing faces another evolution in 2022. Agility, a willingness to embrace new technology and channels and strong data-driven consumer approaches will be pivotal to riding the digital marketing wave next year.

CMO has canvassed a wide array of predictions from across the industry to find out what’s on the cards for digital marketing in 2022.

1. Marketing activities adapt to suit the Covid hangover

From supply chain issues to a more socially conscious and connected consumer, the long shadow of Covid-19 continues into 2022. Kantar is one of many outfits recommending brand offerings be reshaped to suit the changed realities of consumer behaviour.

“Brands, products and services will need to meet new consumer needs for convenience, value, sustainability and innovation,” the consultancy advises. “Brands that invest in data, insights, people and marketing will flourish. The most successful will embrace the differences – diversity and complexity – of the audiences they’re seeking to reach. This presents a great opportunity to develop in this recovery period: Explore deeper segmentations and engage with communities beyond their existing audience.” 

GoDaddy Australia senior director of marketing, Suzanne Mitchell, says the global pandemic has undoubtedly been a period of reflection.

“For so many Australians, that has meant a reconsideration of what matters to them in their professional and personal lives,” she comments. “Our research told us that in the wake of the pandemic, 70 per cent of Australians believe it’s more important to pursue a career they’re passionate about. A further 45 per cent said they would consider leaving a well-paid job to follow a dream.

“And as the New Year approaches, we’ve noticed a growing sense of optimism, excitement and entrepreneurialism. As many emboldened Australians consider turning their passion into their purpose, they’re not simply looking for a product, service or software; they’re looking for a brand to be their partner, who understands their motivations, challenges and aspirations and supports them on their journey.”

This has direct bearing on how digital marketing channels and interactions are harnessed in 2022, Mitchell says. “When they embark into the ‘new new’, these customers will want to work with brands that can demonstrate they are there with them,” she says.  

Tecala senior marketing specialist, Jemma Healy, agrees marketers need to fully appreciate the modern value exchange between brand and consumers. She describes this as a shift away from incentives and discounts towards an alignment of values and beliefs.  

“Only brands that act with transparency and authenticity will gain the trust to thrive into 2022, where to generate any campaign cut-through the messaging must resonate with what is meaningful to that person and their idealisms,” she warns. “It’s no longer about if the price is right, but how much a brand aligns with the social, economic and environmental beliefs.”

2. Gen Z gains more buying power 

Alongside the near-term impact of consumer behavioural change fuelled by the pandemic is maturity of the Generation Z consumer. InMobi Marketing Solutions co-founder and CEO, Abhay Singhal, points out this digital and social native demographic have more influence on the economy and media landscape right now than many may have expected.

“They’re in their formative years with building brand loyalty and over the next four to seven years, they will begin to fully realise their earning and spending potential,” he says. “They’re going to different places to consume information; I doubt The New York Times ever thought they’d have to use TikTok to share the news. It will soon be the same for retail and politics – if you look at data, Millennials will take over with purchasing and voting power in 2024 and Gen Z will be right on their heels. They will drive how we think about products and ad formats and how we build Web 3.0.

“Both advertisers and publishers that have platforms and audiences will have to really work to deliver engaging content that provides value to the audience beyond just advertising. Content development will be bigger and more important than it used to be; brands will need money and to invest in creating content that is sticky and keeps up with the pace.” 

Read more: Menulog: The four steps we took to win over Gen Z

3. Everyone goes all-in on cookie-less

Google may have delayed the demise of cookies to 2023, but there’s no doubt finding ways to eke off cookies for digital advertising delivery has to occur in 2022.  

33Across CEO and co-founder, Eric Wheeler, suggests publishers have as much as 80 per cent of their revenue at stake with primarily cookie-based monetisation. He spies massive amounts of innovation in first-party, contextual, deterministic and probabilistic solutions from both the buy and sell-sides to bridge the pending, massive revenue gap.

“In recent years, major browsers have forcibly placed themselves as the intermediary between publishers and consumers,” Wheeler says. “In 2022, we’ll see publishers take a portfolio approach to monetisation, with more investment in identity solutions and contextual targeting that will disintermediate the browser role from monetisation.”

For head of operations at independent media agency Half Dome, Catherine Smith, depreciation of third-party cookies and device IDs, coupled with shifts in government and private sector approaches to privacy, compromised many analytic and targeting capabilities.

“What was once critical in allowing marketers to understand touchpoints with their brand off-site, and informed the overall conversion pathway, will now create gaps in the marketing strategy,” she says. “There are still intelligent ways to navigate the new landscape, and the optimistic marketer will see opportunities to differentiate and adapt quicker than their competition.”

In 2022, we’ll see publishers take a portfolio approach to monetisation, with more investment in identity solutions and contextual targeting that will disintermediate the browser role from monetisation

Eric Wheeler, CEO, 33Across

Smith points out companies like Google are looking to plug holes in the attribution landscape via machine learning (ML)-driven attribution models.

“The harsh reality is these gaps in data availability are growing faster than the solutions,” she says. “Looking ahead to 2022 and beyond, marketers should approach measuring media performance by going back to basics. There are still a lot of great measurement tools out there. Clearly articulating the role of channels at the time of planning then ensures measurable outcomes are attached from the outset. This approach should be specific to brands’ individual objectives and ensure channels are focused on the outcomes they are looking to drive.

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