5 Consumer-Centric Trends Driving the Industry Forward in 2022

How the next 12 months will create a positive advertising flywheel

In retrospect, 2021 turned out to be surprisingly robust for the advertising industry despite all the uncertainty. The industry managed to achieve significant gains while many brands were proactively readying for a future that does not yet have clear answers to which solutions will ultimately drive measurement and addressability. We are now in a marketplace that rightfully demands increased focus on consumer data consent, data management and data collection practices.

The industry has made significant strides, coming out of a second year of pandemic conditions. Total domestic ad spending has risen an estimated 25%, according to IPG’s Magna Global. There is real momentum leading to 2022—dare we say 2022 is shaping up to be an even stronger and incredibly bullish year for digital advertising?

As we gear up for the road ahead, here are the key trends that will continue to drive the industry forward.

CTV shows the path forward

We all recognize that the pandemic accelerated the rise of connected television (CTV). As consumers continue to cut the cord and cookies fade into the past, the cookieless environment of CTV will continue to give brands a hands-on lesson in how to effectively market to targeted audiences at scale in the industry’s future state.

Of course, CTV also provides and is teaching marketers about the convenience of buying “TV” in a biddable environment, where plans can be adjusted ad-hoc and measurement is closer to that of digital than traditional media.

Expect more dollars to shift from traditional television to CTV, across national, regional and local programs, as CTV is where the younger audiences most valued by advertisers are headed. And brands that develop the capabilities to operate in CTV will find many of the strategies can be successfully integrated with their efforts across mobile and desktop devices as cookies fade.

Alternative to cookies gains traction

At ENGINE Media Exchange (EMX) we track the adoption of identifiers within the bidstream, the signals and data passed from publisher to buyer needed to complete a programmatic transaction. We have started to see a significant increase in the volume of alternative identifiers from what we measured top or Q2 2021. In fact, we are seeing 2x the growth with +20% of total impressions now including another ID besides a cookie.

The fact that more publishers are including and testing cookie alternatives is a significant step forward and shows real progress as we head toward the 2023 cookie expiration date. The next step will be understanding how these cookie alternatives help drive success for advertisers, which IDs work best, and ultimately which will get most adoption and help ensure that publishers are able to continue to maintain their CPMs while providing marketers an ability to continue to validate their media investment.

The rise of data minimalization

Given the hyper-awareness regarding consumer privacy, the industry has to show that we can be responsible and ethical stewards in how we manage consumer data. And it is incumbent on us as an industry to educate and ensure that consumers understand the benefits gained through their exchange of data for access to free media and information.

At the same time, it is in consumers’ best interest that the industry continues to focus on the development of data minimalization strategies, including storing the minimal amount of data to achieve client goals, and forgoing data hoarding, reselling and creating infinite derivative works from the data gathered from consumers.

Data minimalization, ethical data usage and a policy of clearly explaining to consumers the choices they have when it comes to opting in or opting out are the three-legged stool upon which the industry can grow while keeping consumers safe and regulators satisfied.

Cohort modeling gets its moment

Cohort modeling calls for advertisers to target not individuals, but rather a group of consumers who may have differences but who are targeted as one.

At its core, cohort modeling allows an understanding of the consumer but with anonymization.

The challenge for brands going forward will be determining who is making the cohort modeling recipe, and how advertisers can be sure that mix fits well with their individual marketing goals.

Cohorting means some sort of deterministic and probabilistic change in the building of data sets, so it’s never going to be perfect. But it’s likely to gain in popularity over the medium term because it’s very privacy safe while still allowing some targeting in an omnichannel approach.

The data connected marketplace

Though they have their benefits and will be missed by most, cookies have also covered up a lot of bad habits for advertisers, including the tendency to gather and use data indiscriminately and inefficiently.

In a cookieless future, a data-connected marketplace will emerge to break those habits by taking the data application and moving it downstream and making it more portable. 

The data-connected marketplace applies data at the SSP level, so its publisher data connects to first-party advertiser data, yielding much higher match rates that still respect privacy—and, of course, is cookieless. 

Brands can then calculate beforehand how many devices and impressions and at what price they’ll need to buy to clear all the goals in their forecasting tools. The choices will become much more simplified—opt to spend more to reach the consumers they most want to engage or rethink the strategy to include a broader audience mix. 

For all the handwringing currently taking place internally, these remain great times for advertisers. Even with all the changes expected in the next 12-plus months, innovation and collaboration is creating a positive flywheel. New needs, new technology and new customers are offering us a year that is ripe with opportunity—as long as we’re ready to seize it.

As the CEO of ENGINE Media Exchange (EMX), the programmatic technology solution, data platform and trading desk that powers ENGINE’s media business, Michael Zacharski leads the overall vision, strategy, culture and development of the business. With his leadership, EMX solves complex challenges and drives measurable business results for agencies, advertisers and publishers by providing solutions across full service and programmatic practice areas.