From creativity to platform regulation, ‘Metamania’ to the golden ‘square’ of marketing, the WFA team share their predictions for the marketing industry in 2022.
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1. Continuity driven by purpose
Even if, like Byron Sharp, you challenge the business sense of purpose it is, at worst, a unifying force that can focus collective minds. With purpose increasingly baked into brand DNA, it’s hard to simply dismiss on a whim. It helps to drive longer-term thinking against the short-term pressures inherent in incumbent business models.
2. Marketing challenges business models
Many current metrics and models are simply not compatible with a more sustainable future. In 2022, marketers will go beyond re-jigging their portfolio investment (to favour more sustainable brands) and look to challenge legacy approaches by testing newer routes to market where – as one WFA marketer put it – brand owners “become market makers, rather than market takers”.
3. Clients get serious about creativity
Marketing technology has arguably levelled the playing field, but it’s also resulted in ever-narrowing targeting and programmatic channels. This has exacerbated the well-charted decline in marketing communications creativity. If marketing is to be part of the solution to many of the macro challenges we face, and if brand owners want to acquire a competitive edge, it’s a super-power we will need to rediscover quick.
4. Metamania driven from Asia
The Metaverse is yet to be clearly defined, but it’s one of those shiny new things that is sure to make it onto clients briefs over the coming months. Whether it's KFC China's Colonel KI eSports play, NFTs from Dole, Budweiser and Clinique, Nikeland on Roblox or LVMH in Decentraland, the Metaverse is already high on APAC marketer’s agendas and appears to be rising up the priority list. Queue several years of “will this be the year of the Metaverse”?
5. Sourcing moves from agency scourge to agency saviour
In 2021 agencies had difficulties finding and retaining talent, making them more selective about who they want to work for. 2022 will be the year where more clients focus on joint value: lower total system costs and top-line growth potential for both client and agencies. Clients will work on their own appeal to make sure they are more attractive (and profitable) partners. Clear alignment on goals and priorities and transparent feedback via deliberate and proactive management will be key.
6. Emergence of the golden square
You will often hear procurement colleagues talk about the ‘golden triangle’ between marketing, finance and procurement. The addition of insight combined with the rigour of CMI and sourcing, respectively, will be welcomed by many companies. The future is the golden square: marketing, procurement, finance and insights.
7. Measurement moves back centre stage
In 2022 we’ll see more privacy changes (not less) and measurement and attribution will be harder than ever. But the phoenix will rise. New privacy-preserving techniques leveraging technology such as cryptography, Multi-Party Computation (as used in WFA’s cross-media measurement tech stack), Machine Learning techniques, and others, are emerging, and promise to make the third-party cookie look positively anachronistic.
8. The year of platform regulation
Big tech companies made headlines once again this year with whistle-blowers claiming that they consciously incite online harms and antitrust cases alleging they intentionally undermine competition. 2022 will see platform regulation currently under negotiation in the EU and the UK come to fruition, obliging platforms to take more accountability for content on their platforms and to be more transparent about the advertising services they provide. Lawmakers worldwide are likely to take inspiration.
9. The beginning of the end for behavioural targeting to minors
Scrutiny is building around online advertising as regulators and NGOs call for bans on behavioural advertising due to concerns it poses a systemic threat to privacy and democracy. While 2021 saw Google and Meta stop interest-based targeting of U18s globally, 2022 will see regulators introduce statutory restrictions on behavioural advertising to minors. As the EU readies to ban the use of personal data to target ads to minors, US President Biden is preparing to push children’s privacy to the fore, and multiple bills currently pending in Congress aim to introduce a ban on targeting to children and teens.
10. Same regulatory pressures, new stakeholders
Another year in lockdown staring at screens has increased health regulators’ resolve to take on food and alcohol marketing. In 2022, we expect WHO to issue recommendations on alcohol and food marketing and for more national regulators to explore how best to turn these recommendations into regulations. However, as we have also seen from YouTube’s policy on food marketing, new controls can also come from unlikely sources. The food and alcohol industries will need to work with their media and platform partners to ensure they co-create credible and proportionate controls.
11. Increasing ad spend in gaming, increased scrutiny
With three billion gamers worldwide, marketers are looking at how to expand their presence, not only in videogames, but also in eSports and on gaming-related platforms such as Twitch. WFA’s recent report Gaming Demystified predicts expected investment to be four times what it was two years ago. Questions around demographics and brand safety controls remain for many, not least for those in the regulatory spotlight, such as food and alcohol.
12. Riding the Great Resignation
People the world over are questioning their careers and burning out over excessive workloads and the pressure of juggling family and work responsibilities. From this big reshuffle, there will be winners and losers. The smartest companies will innovate workplace and DEI policies to attract and retain top talent. According to the WFA-led Global DEI Census, these policies must prioritize all groups – but critically flex to those people, especially women, with care-giving responsibilities.