As we step forth into 2022 with a refreshed optimism and slight apprehension, we start to glimpse the shifts across our media landscape fast tracked by the pandemic. Advertisers can of course expect the continued demise of print investment, increased streaming eyeballs, the return of OOH, the growth and diversification of digital first strategies and of course no doubt more ownership consolidation.

Through a strategic lens, the disruptive nature of the start of the 2020’s has us scrambling to innovate, adapt, pivot and evolve. Many CMO’s are simply struggling to keep up with the ongoing changes that consumers and audiences are undertaking, so much so that a constant re-evaluation of customers journeys will be a key aspect of strategy in the short-term. Expect to continue having an ongoing conversation around attribution, optimisation, fast wins, and the continual interplay and influence of each channel and how it works and connects with the next. Those brands that can simply evolve faster and take more risks than their competitors, will be most successful.

While it’s easy to consider a constant advancement of marketing and media practice, we do it in a context however, of increasing strain and uncertainty on consumer spending and confidence. Growing inflation, interest rates, labour and skills shortages are just some of the impacts that, marketers will be facing in 2022.

So, while we can expect the continuation of gradual marketplace movements 2022 may well offer just a glimpse of the media innovation shaping the decade ahead. Let’s look at just five areas that we all may be hearing a lot more about in 2022.

Girl using VR glasses, lights around her

The Rise and Rise of the Digital Marketplace

The growth of Third-Party Digital Marketplaces has only accelerated throughout the pandemic. Shopify figures suggest that third-party marketplaces account for half of the $5.86trillion in global e-commerce sales volume.

While Amazon Marketplace, Shopify, Walmart Marketplace and Target Plus Marketplace are all expanding, it is the Chinese who are in a league of their own. Online retail sales in China make up a third of total global e-commerce, but just three companies make up 89% of the total Chinese market: Alibaba, and Pinduoduo. The Alibaba owned Tmall boasts a Gross Merchandise Value $709b, 45% more than that of Amazon.

With rich 1st party data, these retail giants are enabling brands to experiment with ever more impactful customer experience strategies. Ahead expect leading CX in this space that significantly surpasses that of Google and Facebook. And yet social too will only improve the growing social-commerce opportunities for brands.

While the realities of the global landscapes may take some time, the impact to spend habits here in New Zealand its already making a notable dent. Simply upskilling ourselves, and evaluating longer term marketing models and supply chain models is encouraged heading into the 2020’s.  As more kiwis ‘buy now’ the erosion of share and loyalty will only add further complications to our ever-growing marketing job specs.

Social Commerce Expands

Covid has of course accelerated many existing trends. To that end if the pandemic has taught business anything over the past 18months, it’s the fundamental importance, and in many cases total reliance, on digital first marketing solutions.

For over a decade social commerce has assisted in driving online transactions, what we termed ‘social media marketing’. It is however only over recent years, and even more so over Covid times that we have seen this expand further.

Social commerce strategies see brands moving away from re-directing users to an online store by giving users the ease and ability to checkout directly, within the platform they are using.

As app-based platforms like Snapchat, Instagram and Tiktok continue to develop opportunities we also see more seamless innovations arising across messenger apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat and Messenger. Creating frictionless more simplistic user experiences will only evolve and increase. Media publishers are rapidly evolving to aid marketers in the distance between awareness and purchase; Like it, then buy it. This drive to convert shoppers to buyers through more direct and membership focused pathways will only become a more commonplace conversation.

Amazon’s Actionable Video Ads will see ‘buy now’ ads move well beyond social. Launched in the US in May last year consumers are steadily adopting the tech. Google likewise through YouTube have launched ‘Video Action Campaigns’ allowing users to send advertiser web links to mobile devices without interrupting their viewing.

On a practical level, digital commerce in all its forms along with marketing tech, need not be deemed a specialism, but an increasingly commonplace skill. Training, development and mentoring of such an increasingly influential sector of the industry will become mainstream.

Is the Metaverse, the new Matrix?

While some of us shake our heads and scoff at talk of Metaverses and virtual realities, just take a look at the games our kids are playing on the iPad. The early glimmers of the metaverse are already with us in the form of Roblox, Minecraft and Fortnite. Put simply the metaverse is where users can effectively ‘live’ within a digital universe combining elements of technology including the likes of virtual reality, augmented reality and video.

In reality this is years away, if not a decade away, from becoming a useable, affordable and worthwhile idea. And yet the likes of Zuckerberg and many others with deep deep pockets including the usual suspects, Microsoft & Google are gearing up to create a world where users can connect with friends, can work, can play, enjoy the theatre or a concert, go to conferences and take trips to foreign lands. The coming decade will see the existing technology and the required infrastructure and internet speeds develop at such a rate that the aforementioned Mr Zuckerberg even suggests that we are in the process of replacing the internet as we know it.

Milk but no Cookies

Google has confirmed support for tracking cookies won’t start being phased out in Chrome until the second half of 2023. The move, which has been on the cards since it was first announced in 2020 will of course make it more difficult for marketers to track web users.

Despite the delay, many marketers are already underway with plans and strategies to live in a cookie-less world. And many a marketer has seen it coming for some time now. The rise of 1st party data and the incorporation of such information within the regularity restraints will become common place. With it however we will see brands increasingly recognising the importance of their customers and the value exchange for that connection.

The rise of UX and CX will only increase to the point that our education institutions will hopefully recognise the need for specialist skills to empower a value based economy. To all marketers, - what is your first 1st party data strategy?. Did you even know you needed one? Those utilising the data and generating connection and value for consumers will again lead the pack.

Divergent Revenue Streams

Publishers both globally and here in NZ will continue to explore and experiment with new and diverse revenue models. We can expect established premium media brands to ramp up their subscription approach adding new and additional content offerings at a further price. In-depth video content, specialist advice, exclusive behind the scenes content and subscriber-only newsletters will start to entice users to increase their subscriber package.

In protecting and evolving their current business credentials, NZME’s recent acquisition of locally owned Business Desk provides further evidence of the continued acquisitions seen in the market over recent years. As a small market the duopolies we work with locally need to remain supported in the spirit of an open democracy. Storm clouds are ahead though with ongoing increases in both interest rates and inflation, the squeeze may hit hard.

News first publishers will not be the only ones further evolving the subscription approach. As Sky TV’s revenue model evolves in the wake of decreasing mainstream pay tv subscriptions, expect further exclusive content and flexible coverage of the likes of sports, movies and news services. While TVNZ’s buzz around a subscription service has been absorbed into the slow moving possible merger with RNZ, expect the opportunity to remain on the Special Projects long list.

Regardless of the plans that 2020 has in store for the marketplace, take advantage of the speed of change to get better prepared. As agencies and advertisers are tempted to roll through the motions, exhausting past strategies and tried and true principals, consider 2022 as the ‘year to prepare’.

Data, Digital, AI, Commerce, Measurement, Distribution and Tech are just some of the opportunities ahead. We need to also embrace Podcasts, Personalisation, Influencers, Interactive Content, Email, Memberships and Video. The pressure on CMO’s amongst this ongoing diversified has never been greater and also is crying out for simplification. As the media landscape and the marketing toolbox evolve, let’s look ahead with prepared expectation to the opportunities that 2022 will bring.

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