No one really knows what the future will hold for social advertising, but here’s what we have to share based on our first-hand experiences.
We recently tapped our executive team and leaders here at Smartly.io to get forward-looking thoughts around 2022 trends and expectations. Get a glimpse into what our advertising crystal ball has to say in terms of investments and exits, privacy, budgets, creative innovation, DEI in adtech, AI and more:
Creative will become the ultimate key to impactful personalization in a post-cookie world
Personalization has never been conquered by anyone or any company very well. Even the best of the best have still not been able to live up to the highly personalized dream experience for consumers. As privacy regulations settle into the advertising ecosystem in 2022, the importance of creative will come to full fruition. Creative has been undervalued as a lever in terms of personalization, and it’s coming back with force as a top optimization element.
Cookie deprecation has validated creative as an important lever, as it is able to evoke different emotions and decisions – something that hasn’t been truly unleashed online until new privacy regulations came into the fold. With these factors in mind, diversification of measurement and personalization practices will be a top priority throughout 2022.
Investments and exits will be getting an overhaul
Following a flood of investments and exits in tech, and in martech/adtech specifically, we’re now starting to see a shake-out. Those companies that are investing in growth at the expense of profitability are now running into headwinds. On the other hand, those that are healthy and profitable are experiencing strong performances. With this in mind, we can anticipate investors to see beyond the initial gold rush and look more strategically at marketing and ad tech businesses.
In 2022, we will see a reset and recalibration in the market, with investors strategically focusing in on the marketing & ad tech companies that can offer healthy economics and viable business models that will sustain in a privacy-centric world.
Brands will open the data privacy dialogue, helping consumers make more informed decisions
Brands, and our industry as a whole, have struggled having conversations with consumers about how they’re using technology to make online experiences better and easier. When consumers click “opt-in” or “track cookies,” they typically don’t understand why. The result is a one-sided point of view, where consumers end up perceiving that there is more bad behavior from advertising. In 2022 and beyond, smart advertisers will tackle this issue head-on.
New privacy regulations have sparked the opportunity to have open conversations with consumers about their data. To do so, brands need to give consumers transparent insights, education, and resources to realize what their data is being used for and why. As a result, we can expect organizations to start hiring more people that know how to converse with consumers in a helpful, easy to understand way.
Additionally, we’ll see large tech platforms continue to look to obtain and own their data in a privacy-first way. As third-party cookies finally come to an end in 2023, Google is now looking for another revenue source. It’s not the only one on this search either. In 2022, we can expect to see a seismic shift as existing big tech companies adapt to these changes by finding new solutions to help them fulfill both first and third-party data needs. At the same time, a new wave of startups will emerge to solve these challenges as early as next year.
DEI in adtech needs industry collaboration & a scientific approach
Adtech, like most sectors, needs to invest more in diversity . We have made progress in growing awareness of the lack of diversity. However, we’ve yet to see approaches that are easy to put into practice – and 2022 is the year this needs to happen.
As an industry, we should share best practices and not weaponize our approaches solely as competitive advantages. Industry bodies could also develop a benchmarking system to help companies see how they’re performing when it comes to DEI compared to others based on set criteria, company size, and other factors.
Thinking like scientists within our own organizations will be essential in 2022 – the same way we approach the testing and experimental side of technology. Without trial and error, progress is impossible. We must test our approaches, test for bias and harm in our algorithms, continue to optimize – and then share our learnings so others can improve, driving the entire industry forward.
AI will push forward, but won’t completely rule the ad industry on its own
AI has an opportunity to advance digital advertising by eliminating guesswork in creative – constantly learning and optimizing what is resonating with consumers. With this in mind, we can expect to see more AI innovation and adoption in adtech. To be done effectively and responsibly though, human augmentation must play a critical role.
There is a common misconception that AI is already there in terms of innovation and effectiveness, including its application in online advertising. And while it is certainly advanced and perhaps 95% of the way there, the human touch is still required – even if just for that last 5%. We must take a step back and remember the intent of AI, which is to give us faster and more accurate decision-making. Without this, we see the unintended outcomes of AI when things go ugly quickly. It could be as minor as an irrelevant ad served, or as harmful as perpetuating biases or recommending insensitive creative features and content.
Brands will increasingly diversify ad budgets across social platforms – with TikTok and YouTube climbing in popularity.
With consumers using 8 different social media platforms on average, it’s not surprising to see brands are diversifying the social channels they advertise on. But with platforms like TikTok and YouTube becoming increasingly popular, we can expect these to play larger roles in 2022 ad budgets alongside existing channels like Facebook, Instagram, Snap and Pinterest. TikTok in particular will become crucial for brands as the adoption rate from consumers is unprecedented and brands must follow suit in order to stay relevant.
However, creative needs to vary across each social channel -- for instance, Snap caters more to AR and VR, whereas TikTok has a stronger influencer and user-generated content focus. Because of these nuances, we’ve seen a bottleneck form over the years. As a result, we see a rising opportunity for brands to lean into creative automation and to embrace a smart and automated multi-platform strategy that better engages consumers across their social journeys.
Do these thoughts look familiar to what you’ve been preparing for in 2022? These predictions and futuristic insights are here to aid in the planning process for 2022, and to give an inside look at what adtech experts are thinking candidly. As we move forward together as an industry, we’ll be looking to you to help create the change and innovate toward these potential outcomes.
While advertisers are moving into the future, it is also important to remember that the consumer is the one leading the way through this transition into 2022. Take note of how they are reacting (or not reacting) to your new organizational changes on a consistent basis – only then will you begin to see these insights hold true.