2022 Is the Year of Automated Social Advertising

This year, marketers must do more with less

Social media is changing fast. From our annual survey with top CMOs, it’s clear that 2022 presents the most exciting (and most challenging) social media advertising landscape to date.

Customers online are now discovering and purchasing new products in record-breaking numbers. But they’re also shopping in what is an increasingly haphazard, distracted, and complex environment for all marketers to navigate.

Advertisers this year must juggle a constantly changing mix of social platforms, content formats and talent. What worked in 2021 may no longer work in 2022.

Social advertisers, in other words, must outsmart themselves—and that starts with reinventing dated ways of working. As social media changes, so must social advertising strategy.

Here’s how leading CMOs see the future, and the three major trends that will come to define social advertising in 2022.

The rise of multi-platform advertising

The first big shift this year will be toward multi-platform social advertising. Nearly all respondents to our survey said that they were diversifying the spread of social platforms they buy ads on.

The rise of TikTok is the most notable change: Nearly half of all respondents said they were already advertising on the platform. And more and more CMOs said that they were increasing existing spend on an array of other platforms too, including Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

What brands are discovering is that—as consumer journeys from discovery to purchase grow ever more complex—advertising on a wide spectrum of social platforms is critical to reaching consumers at all points and mindsets on the shopping journey.

This is also reflected in the broader range of social content formats that advertisers now need to handle: 47% said, for example, that they plan to increase the use of motion creative (e.g., animations and videos) in 2022.

The scramble for talent

The second major trend in the industry will be the limited number of talented social advertisers. As more and more brands prioritize social media advertising, the competition for skilled employees intensifies. Coupled with the Great Resignation—which in the U.S. has led to record rates of employees leaving their companies—there simply aren’t enough hands to properly execute all social campaigns.

Moreover, 73% of respondents said that their social media advertising creation and delivery involve manual processes that are often time-consuming. As the number of targeted social platforms and content formats increases, these advertisers will no longer be able to keep up.

Indeed, 36% of CMOs state lack of talent and 33% name difficulty running campaigns in multiple social channels as their biggest internal challenges to social media advertising processes this coming year. It’s clear that brands must reimagine their in-house capabilities or else face a very real possibility of falling short.

The strengthening of automation

The third, and undeniably most significant, industry change will come in the form of automation—largely as a response to the current environment. The rise of multi-platform advertising and the scramble for talent mean that the demand for and use of social advertising automation tools has never been greater.

Technology can now streamline time-consuming manual processes and make the work that’s already being done go that much further.

With robust automation systems such as the Smartly.io platform, advertisers can effortlessly oversee multi-platform campaigns and track consumer journeys across social—all in one place. They can gain a more holistic view of social campaigns and understand how different parts come together to drive ever greater results.

Indeed, with technology, advertisers will be able to do more with less, automating not just the delivery but also the creative in social ads. Global campaigns can be generated and scaled with just a few clicks, leaving more time for strategic planning.

The companies that embrace automation in both creation and delivery will join the top 70th percentile of advertisers that are already farthest along in automation, reaping massive returns on much smaller investments. These brands needn’t worry about an exodus of talent or the convolutions of social media; their automated ways of working are already turning these industry changes into strengths and creating an edge over competitors.

As global head of marketing at Smartly.io, Riikka Söderlund has a front-row seat to how some of the world’s biggest brands transform their advertising. Advising on marketing strategy for global advertising giants and rising disruptor brands, she has helped brands navigate digital transformation and build new working models for in-house teams, agency-brand cooperation and creative production to deliver world-class marketing programs all around the world.