OPINION: The 2022 marketing renaissance – and what’s next

Alex Sword


The Financial Services Forum

By Matt White, vice president of Quantcast, EMEA

It sounds simple, but it so often goes forgotten – you can have great marketing materials, great graphics, and a killer slogan but if it doesn’t reach the right person, what was the point of all that hard work? Marketing technologies and channels have grown at an astronomical rate in the last three years, and we’re seeing huge growth in areas that were previously in uncharted territory, such as connected TV (CTV). We’re going to take a look at the changes and growth that have occurred and what that means for current marketing best practice.

The IAB 2021 Benchmark Report revealed that the European digital advertising market grew by 30.5% in 2021 to €92bn. That’s a lot of eyes seeing adverts and interacting with marketing materials. As with all global tragedies, the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated change in a multitude of sectors, including the growth of ecommerce capabilities in 2021 and an explosion of emerging marketing channels. The IAB Benchmark Report shows that audio saw the largest growth in 2021 at 51.3% to €700m, and video also grew by an impressive 46.2% to €18.5bn. Display wasn’t left behind by any means – it also grew by 34.5% to €45.6, with search experiencing a 29.9% increase to €39.5bn.

With 2023 approaching quickly, what do these changes really mean?

Changing channel

CTV has been growing since the technology was introduced but its popularity really surged during the pandemic, with people increasingly relying on the medium for entertainment during national lockdowns. In the UK, broadcast TV’s share of all adult viewing fell to 69% last year, and that number is only going to drop further. While the shift from broadcast to CTV is happening, ad spend has yet to completely catch up – but it will. So, as with any new platform, now is the time for brands to experiment and innovate with new metrics that will show value and define its true potential as an emerging platform.

As an internet-enabled device, CTV is melding seamlessly into the programmatic ecosystem. Adtech players are tapping into audience intelligence technology to create, and further enrich, our understanding of consumers. In fact, advertisers can already build bespoke and actionable audiences aligned to their interests and intent by making sense of real-time content consumption across the open internet and conducting keyword analysis. Audience intelligence better informs campaign planning and is the key to driving more impactful, resonant advertising.

While it may still be early days for CTV advertising, we already know what to expect moving forward. The average household in the UK has 10.3 internet-enabled devices, and consumers are jumping between devices and channels with greater frequency than ever before. CTV should therefore be right up there with desktop and mobile as key channels for consideration, neatly tying up this growing web of touchpoints and consumer activity.

The online high street 

The online marketplace is more crowded than ever and audiences are being advertised to by a myriad of brands all vying for their attention. It goes without saying, competition is rife.

There will be a battle for consumer attention and those who win will be marketers who use data to understand their needs. As a result of the pandemic we have seen a new audience emerge among those over 65. At the other end of the spectrum, the younger Generation Z (Zoomers) who TikTok danced their way through Covid are digital natives, being the first to have never known a world without the internet. To connect with Gen Z, brands must ensure that their digital presence is strong and engaging.

AI algorithms can accurately predict a person’s intent based on their past behaviours. This data can be analysed and used to give the person what they are looking for. If marketers want their audience to remain loyal in a world where the choice multiplies daily, they will need to use real-time data to analyse who their audience is and access new customers.

Hello, is it me you’re looking for?

Real-time data can enable marketers to build profiles of new consumers that were previously unknown and engage with them effectively, with AI serving them campaigns that are more relevant and likely  to resonate. Through the use of machine learning, “common attributes” can be detected and marketers can better understand segments of consumer behaviours.

Automation drives up efficiency. Yet one of the challenges faced by brands and agencies is learning to trust in the technology’s decision-making capability. Understandably, marketers are reluctant to relinquish control over their campaigns entirely to automation, but it’s not magic – it’s mathematics.

When one door closes, another one opens

While the door is well and truly closing on third-party cookies, this creates a new opportunity for advertisers and publishers to reimagine what internet advertising looks like. Respecting consumer privacy, while delivering on the outcomes that brands, agencies, and publishers need, is key to keeping the internet free and open. While many solutions are circulating within the industry, there is great uncertainty around which will work. I believe that the role of machine learning will be crucial in navigating complex situations like these and building robust solutions that can withstand future uncertainty.

To progress, marketers need to apply innovations and technology, work with emerging solutions and industry standards, and collaborate with clients and partners to create solutions that work for all. The future of a world without third-party cookies might seem like a challenge to begin with, but necessity is the mother of invention and there will no doubt be some industry-wide innovations to help take on this challenge.

It is the combination of the power of human creativity and machine learning acting in real-time that makes it a winning combination. This lesson is something marketers need to learn in 2022 to further enhance their creativity and make their budgets work harder. Machine learning facilitates ideas that win.

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