The recent privacy-related concerns raised among top tech companies like Google and Apple, the changes in online behavior, shopping experiences, and the rise of new advertising mediums are among the biggest changes marketers and publishers have to cope with. Covid-19 and the ad tech ‘arms race’ are also blowing the winds of change. The shape of digital is on the brink of big changes.
Digitalization and human-centered technologies
The first big change is the easiest to anticipate. Amidst Covid-related restrictions, many people found themselves using new online channels they would’ve otherwise missed out on. The survey conducted by Pew Research Center indicates there has been a rapid business shift towards interacting with customers via digital channels. People across the world have had to perform their regular activities, like work, communication, or studying, online. Nearly 40% of the survey’s respondents used digital technology at least in one new way at some point during lockdown(s). This includes shopping, video calls, new social media, online workouts, and hundreds of other activities.
McKinsey & Company came to the conclusion that the rates of digital technology adoption have progressed by many years. Global progress was accelerated by 3 years, Asia-Pacific by 4 years, NA and EU by three years. What has accelerated even more is the speed of transition to digital or digitally enhanced offerings. On average, the rate at which companies develop these services or products has had a seven-year increase, according to McKinsey & Company. This suggests companies are refocusing their efforts to a more digital-oriented mix of services.
Although digital transformation efforts were accelerated by the pandemic, it doesn’t mean the process will slow down immediately after the pandemic eases off. Industry leaders will implement technological solutions like automation engines and prediction algorithms to enhance their employees’ creativity switching the vector from financial results to outcomes. Human-centered technologies are about to link customer experiences with employee experiences to drive competitive advantage in 2022.
AI shopping experience and direct deals
Currently, 57% of the US and over 95% of China’s eCommerce sales are made through digital marketplaces. Despite the sales increase, the trend is turning slowly towards direct customer relationships and enhancing shopping experiences. That’s because brands see the threat of losing their identity on these huge eCommerce platforms. This results in more paid social media integrations, more influencer cooperation as well as more subscription-based services that strongly keep users loyal.
Artificial intelligence technologies are making their way into digital marketing with seven-league steps. Automatic content recognition (ACR) technology that’s been implemented across the CTV environment uses AI for object recognition to deliver shoppable offers relevant to video content being displayed on a screen. AI-enabled technologies not only allow for better advertising opportunities but also impact buyers’ habits. The ability to purchase items in one click is the near future of online shopping.
Besides shopping recommendations, AI is also used for personalized content recommendations. Streaming services like Netflix use these to analyze users’ watch history and figure out their field of interests based on it. Other factors, like average watch time and browsing habits, are also accounted for leading to better content suggestions to hold viewers’ attention.
Video publishers and verticals are exploding
Video format still remains the king among digital ad formats and remains on top in terms of marketing efficiency. According to Cisco, in 2022 over 82% of global online traffic will be accounted for by video content – 15 times higher than it was in 2017. Brands’ involvement in video advertising rates clearly reflects its importance. HubSpot indicates 86% of businesses used video as a marketing tool in 2021, while 93% recognize its crucial significance for brand development.
Digital TV has been on the rise for at least ten years straight now. But the lockdown restrictions are what really gave the industry an unmatched boost. Nielsen report suggests that the total viewing time on CTV has reached 3.5 billion hours a week during lockdowns. The most interesting part of that is that the numbers are not going down and remain highly above pre-Covid levels even as the lockdowns are being lifted worldwide. The number of CTV-enabled households is also climbing. Nearly 80% of US homes have at least one connected-TV device – either a smart TV, gaming console, or streaming media player. Meanwhile, the United States CTV ad spend is expected to triple by 2025 compared to 2020 benchmarks, reaching a staggering $27.5 billion, according to Statista.
The coming years will see gaming content and kids-oriented channels and publishers expand their popularity across CTV platforms. This resembles an opportunity the early YouTube advertising pioneers had back in the day. What started off as a simple video hosting for cat videos has rapidly grown into a money-making machine with sponsorships, ads, and product placements. But as we know, it is not only brands that have benefited greatly from this. Video makers found the perfect way to monetize their efforts which have brought us, the viewers, a wonderful variety of content to enjoy. Whether CTV will live up to the high expectations placed on it, in the long run, is not yet fully clear, but in 2022 it is likely to lead the charts for most lucrative digital advertising mediums.
Digital supply chain disruptions
In 2021, nearly 30% of companies said they had 20 or more supply chain disruptions, nearly a 5% increase on average compared to 2019, according to the survey conducted by Business Continuity Institute. An increasing effort for innovation creates a priority clash that can lead companies to double the size of their third-party cooperation. This, in turn, creates many security-related concerns and hazards. Forrester Data points out that 55% of security professionals have reported attempts of unauthorized access to systems through the exploitation of third-party supply chains. Small suppliers suffer the most from cyberattacks so this means they have to protect themselves more and invest in risk management technologies. Supply-chain mapping, risk intelligence, and business continuity management are the bigger issues to be dealt with.
New digital value measuring frontiers
One out of ten B2B companies is about to come up with new metrics that will significantly simplify the measurement of the value their solutions bring to the buying process. Continuous digital engagement is the new normal with 70% of digital marketers embracing an “always-on” strategy by 2022. There’s a reasonable cause for this as 17% of B2B buyers admit that competence is the most valuable criterion for a purchase choice, far over sales reputation and references. Always-on goals suggest smarter automated technological solutions. Marketing technologies will grow to 25%, up from 19% of the total marketing budget in 2022. However, 75% of efforts to design such a solution will inevitably fail due to misleading buyers’ insight. Hence only 10% of digital marketing companies will figure out adequate metrics to evaluate buying processes.
Extended reality over the regular one
Extended reality technologies find more and more applications to fill the demand for a varied customer experience. Augmented reality (AR) which complements the surrounding world, and virtual reality (VR) which generates it from scratch – both deliver great opportunities for interactive ads. In 2020 AR/VR market was valued at $12 billion, according to IDC. This number is projected to reach over $70 billion in a matter of five years as technologies become more advanced and accessible for commercial consumer use.
With higher recall and engagement rates, VR/AR technology can work well but only if executed properly. Online experiences, remote events, gaming sections have thrived during quarantines and are about to accelerate further as their development is no longer restricted as much as it was before. As the prices fall, more users are ready to try out new tech, so we can expect more businesses to jump on the bandwagon and use VR/AR in their marketing campaigns.
Influencer marketing to become data-driven
The influencer marketing industry is ballooning. As calculated by Statista, nearly four out of ten brands allocate about 10-20% of their marketing budgets to work with influencers. And as more money gets involved, stricter approaches appear. This is where quantifiable data becomes important. Data-driven influencer marketing is basically a set of benchmarks to evaluate the actual impact an influencer can generate during the cooperation and figure out the optimal price for their services.
Precisely set KPIs matched with a data-driven approach can also optimize campaigns in the long run while also contributing to performance tracking. This is important for establishing the best content formats to target your audiences as well as evaluating the right budget for the campaign. In 2022 we expect a huge leap towards data-driven influencer marketing as traditional ways of advertising become less and less effective even though large influencer campaign budgets require a more precise business approach.
CEO, Global Digital Marketing Group
About: Dmitry Atamanyuk is the CEO of Global Digital Marketing Group — a digital agency with services covering white label solutions, monetization and advertising platforms, affiliate, lead generation, and other cutting edge marketing services. He’s also a COO at ClickDealer, the leading European CPA network according to the mThink Blue Book. Dmitriy initiates solutions and technologies that drive change in the emerging advertising landscape.