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5 Paid Media Trends To Watch Out For In 2022

With a new year around the corner, marketing innovations and digital marketing trends in particular are definitely in the spotlight. The pandemic has had quite an impact on marketing budgets, reducing them to a low record of 6.4% of company revenue in 2021, from 11% in the previous year, according to Gartner’s Annual CMO Spend Survey. Scaling down relates to the entire field and also to all businesses, no matter their size, and as a result, marketers are always searching for cost-effective alternatives nowadays.

Over the last two years, since 2019, digital ad surpassed traditional advertising and became the major marketing channel, a phenomenon mirrored in the budgeting needs as well. As anticipated, global ad spending decreased by 4.2% in 2020, to a total of $569 billion, according to Forbes. Still, the descending trend applied only to the traditional media, its share of $233 billion representing 18% less than 2019, while digital marketing went up by 8%, reaching $336 billion. Thus, in 2020, digital ads amounted to 59% of all global ad spending.

It also helps that this particular trend has really caught up in third-world countries, like the ones in South America. Last year, for instance, two of the countries with the fastest growing digital advertising markets, globally, were Colombia, with 11.2%, followed by Chile, with 5.9%

Based on both global and localized research, as well as the trends we’ve seen this past year, here are the top 5 paid media trends to watch for in 2022.

1. Local Targeting

The marketing industry has been influenced by two real estate trends, that will still have a say in the near future: second-tier cities and the blooming crib economy. On the one hand, people looking more and more to move out of the big cities, into the so called “second-tier” ones will result in an increasing need to localize. On the other hand, marketing strategies will have to adapt to the “work from home” new reality.

With Second-Tier Cities as a popular choice, localization becomes crucial. COVID-19 has been the nudge people needed to move out from the overcrowded, noisy large cities to the quiet, charmful life of white-picket fence houses in the countryside. Even if before the pandemic there was a visible shift from the great cities to second-tier locations, the process has been significantly rushed by the widespread of this epidemia, especially in the cities. Therefore, the demand for residential properties rose, which lead to a record increase in house sales in the United States of 24.7% in 2020.

In terms of advertising, brands will need to adapt their marketing and communication strategies to the new locations, in order to assimilate the changes of the target audience. Fresh placement and pricing plans must be considered, as studies show that two-thirds of the consumers prefer neighborhood stores. Building a highly localized paid campaign hence becomes critical. Our paid search experts can help brands navigate local targeting and localized audience segmentation to leverage the trend and get the best ROAS.

The crib economy

The pandemic has placed a laser focus on the importance of online shopping, home deliveries, virtual work and more. As people tried to be safe, they discovered that staying in and working from home is not only easier, but also more practical. Recent statistics have clearly pointed out a higher work productivity.

Thanks to its many advantages, forecasts indicate that remote work will be the main trend in the next years. And that fast growing crib economy is a trend marketing companies ought to take into account, as homes will become a larger point of sale.

2. Flywheel vs. Funnel

The funnel model was the go-to strategy for years in marketing, but it has finally come to an end, as it was focused on attracting one-time customers, rather than creating a brand loyalty. 

The flywheel marketing model aims to keep customers happy and make them loyal to the brand, by engaging them to return after each purchase. It encourages companies to use customer-focused strategies, such as blogs, personalized content, in-person activities etc. The flywheel model becomes most successful when you increase the force of areas with the biggest impact. These are strategies and marketing campaigns you implement, such as inbound marketing, paid advertising, a freemium model, frictionless selling, a customer referral program, and more. Adapting your paid media campaigns to fit the flywheel and give it force is something our marketing experts can help with.

The flywheel can also support expanding the customer base. Word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing remains, even today, the most efficient method in doing so and flywheel technique converts customers into brand advocates. Satisfied consumers will most likely promote a brand’s products and / or services by themselves, to their friends, family or colleagues.

3. Machine Learning

An important trend to consider in marketing, and paid media especially, is machine learning, with many options provided in Google Ads. In spite of being mostly used as an external service, it can be helpful for all types of businesses in implementing and enhancing marketing strategies.

Recently, many Google Services have been upgraded to “Smart” services. Their main objective is to support companies navigate through the complexities of ad targeting, in order to maximize their ROI, meanwhile preserving Google's ad revenue. However, certain such applications should be accessed carefully, since they tend to overstep their role, like Smart Goals in Analytics, which estimates by itself what a good result of a marketing campaign would be, instead of allowing you to decide. 

Although the smart features have been developed to make Google Ads less complicated to the small businesses, they offer lower insight and less control over marketing campaigns. Our paid search experts can help leverage these tools so that you can benefit from the insights without losing control over the campaigns.

An update Google introduced this year is Smart Bidding, which helps running bids for large product inventories on Google Shopping. Precis agency explains in this article how the smart service works and, in addition, suggests pragmatic ways to achieve a highly efficient inventory. Another article, from White Shark Media, shows more analysis techniques for machine learning that marketers need to understand and learn.

Machine learning, predilection modeling and other AI solutions are great marketing channels for every company, because marketing technology delivers value at each stage within the customer journey. 

4. Ad Optimization

More than two-thirds of the digital ad budget is assigned to Google and Facebook, which means that optimizing the content on these two platforms is a priority for consumer brands. And yet studies show that no more than 9% of the marketers can correctly predict the effect of a 10% change in marketing spend.

A better understanding of the customer, as well as a creative use of online platforms could really make a difference in the outcome of a marketing campaign. On Facebook, for instance, an advertisement could be placed in various spots, including News Feed, Instagram Stories or Reels and even inside Instant Articles. These are only a few examples of how ad optimization might work, and our paid social experts can help build campaigns and optimize along the way. 

Network adoption

In the last two years, due to the pandemic, social networks have grown in both content and users. Statistics reported that 520 million new users have joined social media in the first half of 2021, which translates to an increase of 13.1%, or, in other words, an average of 16½ new users every second. This spike in network adoption definitely makes social media a marketing trend to watch for in the coming year. It’s one of the best tools to raise brand awareness.

In an assessment of social media trends, Global Web Index stressed its power on purchase intent. In certain age groups, influencers play a major role in consumer behavior: 27% of Gen Z's are present on social media to follow influencers and are consequently exposed to the influencers’ favorite brands. Their report also shows that Facebook and Instagram are not the only platforms to thrive. Network adoption has diversified, with large numbers of users for TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter and Pinterest. This emphasizes the importance of consumer brands’ presence on these media channel. At Growth Collective, our paid media experts leverage an omni-channel approach that helps brands increase visibility and dominate all channels.

5. Third-party Cookies Alternatives

While marketing strategies based on third-party cookies targeting may still be used until 2023, according to a new announcement from Google, marketers still need to search for replacement tools. The need for alternatives resides in higher levels of privacy and data control demands coming from the customers, demands that must be met in order to achieve brand satisfaction and loyalty.

Marketers could opt for collecting and using first-party data, seeing that first-party cookies have a foreseeable future. Another alternative is trying to obtain personalized consumer targeting without invading user privacy, relying on existing tools such as Google's Privacy Sandbox or FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts). No matter the chosen method - CRM tools, interactive content or surveys - looking for alternatives to 3rd party cookies is certainly a strategy to consider. 

What Should You Do With These Trends?

Today’s marketing world is in constant evolution, shifting with every fabric, thus forcing brands to adapt. You must stay on top of these shifts, and preferably ahead of the curve too, in order to connect with your audience. 

This means your marketing strategies, your ad campaigns, and paid social initiatives, all need to be built with these trends in mind, as well as with flexibility. They must be able to adjust to new customers, new purchase behavior and especially to the faster and far more reaching online platforms. 

Marketers have always been agents of change, adapting to each of their clients, but nowadays, change is happening everywhere: in the consumers’ living styles, a more active presence on social media, their demand for higher quality of products and services, their need for faster deliveries and last, but not least, their more pressing concern for privacy and protection of personal information. Our paid media experts can help your business not only adapt to the trends, but also continue to grow and make an impact in your field.

Cristina Dinulescu
Content & SEO Strategist
Former Company
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Cristina Dinulescu
Content & SEO Strategist
Former company
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Content Marketer & SEO expert with 10 years of experience in SEO strategy, SEO implementation, copy management, and content channeling.
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