There’s no magic bullet in marketing, particularly during these complicated days when it seems like all of us feel exhausted and confused. But we’re happy to report that we’ve surveyed the landscape and can assure you that you can see real gains and progress in 2022. The key is to focus: on your teams, on your customers and on just a few key initiatives to jump-start your marketing and make the most of this somewhat complicated year. To get through the tumult, you’ll want to rely on trusted partnerships and credible intel about the industry, and keep your eye on the proverbial ball because she moves fast.
So, to get clear on what’s most important this year, we’ve boiled down the seven most important things to watch this year, along with some action items to get you started and – where possible – some inspiration to keep you going.
1. There is life outside the walled gardens.
We’re happy to report that the open web is thriving and we expect it to continue to be where you can best connect and engage with your ideal customers in 2022. We worked with Harris Poll in 2021 to ask consumers what they thought, and found that they are far more likely to use the open web and be more receptive to advertising there than in controlled environments like Google, Facebook and Amazon.
Rely on the ever-thriving open web to expand your reach further than ever before. Don’t abandon any advertising that’s working, but explore opportunities within the vast amount of properties outside the gardens that can support you as you scale. Test new identity solutions, new ways of interacting on the open web. At the very least, work with a partner that’s well-versed on how to leverage programmatic advertising from outside the walled gardens to get better returns on your ad investment.
2. Influencers are here to stay – even for B2B.
Influencers are not new. In fact the most powerful form of advertising has always been word of mouth and trusted recommendations make a giant difference to wary consumers – even in the B2B space. But the space is still growing – particularly in the wake of the ongoing pandemic – and so working with influencers is continuing to be a good marketing investment. And the space is still new, so there’s plenty of opportunities to make a splash.
When looking for social partners, think about the quality of their content and expertise, rather than quantity in terms of number of followers or views. And remember that influencer marketing should always be just one component of an overall marketing effort. Follow well-known B2B influencers like Pam Didner on Instagram for inspiration.
3. Take action on inclusion instead of just talking about it.
There’s been a precipitous rise in Hispanic households not only streaming video content, but owning the devices that enable it. Asian and Native American households have also increased their viewing time over the past few years. The pandemic had something to do with it, but another reason for the rise is an increase in representation. Publishers know this and are spinning off properties like Univision’s PrendeTV and Pantaya.
While you’re expanding your reach, you’ll want to make sure you’re thinking about all your customers. Programmatic advertising is a great choice, since you can easily test different approaches to see what’s most effective. But the first, really simple step, is to meaningfully show your target audience in your advertising and then engage them where they already are.
4. We’re already living in the metaverse.
Virtual reality took a huge jump into real reality in 2021. Not only did Facebook choose the name Meta as its parent company, but it launched its own virtual world anchored by its virtual reality device Meta Quest, while indicating that it plans to paper its world with advertising opportunities. But it’s not just Facebook. Virtual reality devices and environments have exploded in use (and will continue to) throughout the coming year. Consumers still need to catch up, though. A study in late 2021 says that only 38% of global consumers are familiar with the metaverse, but with consumers increasingly relying on and easily using technology, that number will only grow.
Jump in. That’s both literal and figuratively. Check out new worlds like Facebook’s Horizon Worlds, Roblox or even Second Life. It’s a unique chance for you to meet consumers where they live (virtually) and where – if the offer is relevant enough - they will happily interact with your brand. We can’t tell you exactly what to do, because the way we see it – the possibilities are endless. The more of these new worlds, the more ways to engage. Check out what Hyundai did on Roblox for inspiration.
5. Personalization vs privacy – where is the line?
Despite an increase in privacy legislation and stricter rules, consumers know that their privacy is in peril of being exploited in some way. This Vox article does a good job of showing the paradox that consumers face in wanting more personalization while struggling to give up privacy. Consumers still want to buy products and engage with companies they respect, so showing them that you care about their privacy can go a long way in winning their trust.
Consumers want respect – period. So treat them that way. Do your best to adhere to best practices concerning privacy and safety. And make sure you’re giving them something of value – which can include content, education, or a discount – in return for the surrender of their privacy. For inspiration, check out Grammarly’s Insights, a personalized weekly report that shows the user how their grammar has changed that week.
6. LinkedIn has more relevant eyeballs than you think.
It’s hard to shake the notion of LinkedIn as solely a job networking site, but the fact is that the platform is now in the big leagues when it comes to meeting targets where they are and where they engage. LinkedIn calls itself the number one lead generator, and there’s no reason to doubt that boast. The platform has recently bolstered its B2B tools, including an easy-to-use self-serve ad creator, and its free posting platform can be used as the lynchpin of your content strategy.
If you aren’t using LinkedIn for anything other than recruiting, it’s time to create a strategy. You can start small – with very little investment - by first making sure your page looks professional and reflects your most current brand assets. Then start to have a dialogue with your peers and customers. Gain inspiration from LinkedIn’s Top Voices, which include Apolline Adiju and Naomi Assaraf.
7. SEO is not as important as relevant content.
SEO can be a moving target, with algorithm changes and opinions running the show, and businesses and advertisers perennially playing catch-up. It’s still a must to follow basic rules – particularly if you are an ecommerce company – but it’s equally important – even to the algorithm – to give users a positive experience. That means throughout every touchpoint of your brand, and particularly landing pages, you give the user what they're looking for and/or need. And that means a good content strategy.
If you haven’t yet, create a content strategy that will help to establish you as a thought leader and draw your customers to you. Determine what your content pillars are – content that you can credibly and confidently opine about – and start building content across your various touchpoints. Get inspiration from Adobe’s Heroes campaign, where they built a content strategy honoring essential workers while promoting their tools.
Despite the wall of confusion you might be feeling as 2022 gets on its way, we feel strongly that it’s going to be a good year for brands to re-establish themselves. Remember to concentrate on just a few initiatives and success is at hand.
Robin Kurzer is a freelance writer who is passionate about marketing and nerding out on analytics, creative solutions and conversions. For more of the OpenX POV on digital advertising, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.