January 6, 2022 | 3 min read
Abby Long is the Senior Managing Editor at PMG.
The events of the last two years compelled many to reflect and reassess their priorities, with countless Americans hitting the reset button in 2021 by moving cities, switching jobs, bringing home a new pet, or picking up a new hobby as a result.
The impact of these decisions and a growing focus on health and happiness evolved into a societal pursuit of purpose, as people feel “bolder, more adventurous, and empowered” to advocate for and pursue what makes them happy, according to Global Web Index, and they’re looking to brands to support those interests.
The expectations for corporate behavior have never been greater, Adweek reports, as brands have stepped into a new role since the pandemic began. According to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, businesses are now the most trusted institution, with a 61 percent trust level globally, and they are seen as both ethical and competent.
People expect businesses to step up to the plate and help address society’s biggest challenges, which is why business leaders should “focus on societal engagement with the same rigor, thoughtfulness, and energy used to deliver on profits,” according to Edelman.
“The expectations for corporate behavior have never been greater, Adweek reports, as brands have stepped into a new role since the pandemic began.”
As PMG wrote in 2021, among the various crises over the last two years – from natural disasters to public-private sector collaboration for public health needs – “the need to identify sustainable solutions that address global concerns has become even more urgent, with increasing demand for change. Now more than ever, people care about where the food they consume, the clothes they buy, and the products they use come from, and they are increasingly using their voices and spending power to champion their priorities and support the brands that align with them.”
By some estimates, nearly half of shoppers pay more attention to product origins now than they did pre-pandemic. In 2022, marketers will be tasked with communicating a brand’s value proposition, identity, and purpose more definitively than ever before.
The deprecation of the third-party cookie stands to be one of the most transformative changes for advertising and is set to make a seismic impact on the industry. More privacy-first solutions are expected to enter the market in the months to come as marketers adopt a test-and-learn approach for identifying the best ways to acquire and action off customer data.
In a recent Forrester CMO Pulse Survey, 41 percent of marketing executives say improving their ability to innovate is a top priority for 2022, as advertisers and publishers are sure to experiment with new technologies and advertising methods to mitigate any losses caused by the pandemic or other disruptions. Meanwhile, tech platforms will come to rely on cryptographic techniques and machine learning to layer sophisticated privacy-enhancing technologies over their digital infrastructures to better meet consumer and regulatory demands.
“The deprecation of the third-party cookie stands to be one of the most transformative changes for advertising and is set to make a seismic impact on the industry.”
Technology analyst Benedict Evans addressed the foundational challenge underpinning these shifts, noting that without an industry-wide consensus on what consumer privacy means — or what a solution might look like — building privacy-first solutions will be inherently difficult. “Tech people might argue that first-party data is privacy and ‘on-device’ [data collection] is private,” but no true consensus exists, expanding the complexity and scope of these challenges and skewing the adoption rate of any solution that may come to pass.
Demands for greater consumer privacy, along with changing media consumption trends also have brands diversifying their media mix and spending more on advertising, with global ad spend rebounding quickly, according to both Insider Intelligence and Nielsen.
As marketers and brands assess the best path forward amid industry headwinds — from increased costs to the loss of the cookie, walled gardens, and evolving consumer expectations — PMG has seen investment diversification across channels and tactics to be one of the most effective strategies for maintaining optimal reach, relevance, and engagement. This trend is sure to continue into 2022.
Though the impact of the pandemic can still be felt around the globe, recovery is well underway, and we now have a better understanding of how it is shaping society and consumer behavior. Emerging media like CTV and streaming platforms, social video via Instagram Reels and TikTok, gaming, and podcasts, as well as ecommerce, show staying power as they all continue to capture growing market share and capital investment.
Zoom and other technologies and conveniences remain a ubiquitous part of the daily lives of millions as school, work and shopping fluctuate between virtual and in-person, showing the flexibility and resiliency of people to adapt.
Live sports viewership is making an impressive comeback, just in time for the 2022 Tokyo Olympics and Super Bowl LVI, and many analysts predict popular musicians will return to stadium tours as soon as this summer. Opportunity for brands in the new year abounds, and with the world being more digital-first and evolving faster than ever before, brands that remain agile and meet consumer needs for convenience, innovation, sustainability, and value are positioned for strong performance and a promising 2022.