January 13, 2022

Trends Report: Significant Finds

The following is a part of our first Annual Trends Report. Stay tuned as we release the full report in the coming weeks.

Significant Finds: These are the trends in the upper right quadrant, and they are the ones that we are watching most closely. They not only have the potential to significantly impact our industry, but they are also urgent. These are the trends that command our attention in the here and now.

Consumer Shift to Digital Media

The trends continue toward consumers spending more time with media and with more of that time spent with the various forms of digital media. At the same time, consumers are increasingly antagonistic toward interruptive, poorly targeted, non-personalized forms of paid media messages. They crave relevance and value in return for their coveted attention and are willing to engage with and reward brands who transparently and genuinely offer that value consistently. While the consumer shift to digital was very much top of mind long before 2020, COVID has accelerated this trend, covering a “decade in days” as McKinsey puts it.

Implications for Marketers

This trend means that an incremental approach to migrating dollars to more progressive media activities is no longer sufficient. Marketers need to reimagine their approach to paid media overall. If there was ever a moment to take a zero-based approach to media planning, this is it. This is the moment we should all be asking ourselves, “if we were starting fresh today and trying to figure out how to forge genuine connections to the audiences that matter most, how would we do it?” Letting go of outmoded channels and ways of doing things will be a defining characteristic of marketers who find success in 2022.

Further Reading


Shifting Attitudes Toward Work

Accelerated by the fallout from the pandemic, people are looking at work differently. Once considered a perk or a novelty, flexible work situations are now table stakes for every industry.

Beyond expectations of flexibility, the pandemic seems to have served as an opportunity for reflection for many. There was already ample evidence of a trend toward better work-life balance, and that trend has kicked into high gear. Employees are in high demand, and they are lobbying for better benefits, better working conditions, and frameworks that measure outcomes rather than metrics like physical presence or a set number of hours.

More and more, employees also want to work for a company that is aligned with their values. This is more than words on a wall or in a mission statement; it is an ongoing demonstration of a company’s commitment to the environmental, social, and governance issues that employees care about.

Implications for Marketers

The idea of working from home is just the beginning. In the future, employers will be called upon to rationalize all of their expectations about their relationship with employees through a new viewpoint.

Employers who can intersect this trend with logic, empathy, and progressive policy will win in the increasingly competitive war for talent across all dimensions of the marketing industry. Conversely, employers who attempt to stick with outdated workplace conventions will struggle to attract and retain talent.

Trends like the Great Resignation and the anti-work movement will continue to plague companies that don’t create strategic plans to meet today’s workforce where they already are.

Further Reading


Digital Transformation

The new realities of our work life have underscored client awareness of the need to deliver consistent digital experiences to their consumers. However, challenges abound. Many brands do not have the expertise or resources in-house to connect data and technology in ways that deliver the digital experiences that consumers crave and expect. They need help from partners of all kinds to make the case for these resources and to help them to shore up internal expertise. There is a growing sense among brands that they are not moving fast enough and require more help–more quickly.

Implications for Marketers

The myriad of initiatives that surround the huge task of digital transformation will occupy a large chunk of client mindshare for many years to come. Forms of media that do not move these things forward will be de-prioritized and potentially defunded. Marketers must rethink the strategies they are putting forth and take a fresh look through the perspective of digital transformation. This is the key to making a case for marketing plans going forward.

Further Reading


Privacy and Regulation

The issue of privacy has seized the attention of our industry and led to a surge of regulation that seems to still be gaining momentum. Consumers are more aware of data privacy issues and the value of their own data. Regulation is largely aimed at companies who make money from consumer data, and the regulations are aimed at limiting the collection and use of third-party data without explicit consumer consent. While legislation has largely been at the state level in the US, there are reasons to believe that momentum is building behind federal policy, too.

Implications for Marketers

Third-party data for the purposes of targeting paid media will continue to become scarcer. Marketers who rely on this data will need to find new strategies. Identity-based solutions are a clear example of how this can be done at scale. Brands need to focus on building and leveraging rich, first-party data assets to decrease reliance on third parties and control their own data destiny. All players throughout the marketing value chain must be hyper-vigilant about how they are advising stakeholders and handling personal data.

Further Reading


Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality

The concepts of virtual, augmented, & mixed reality have been topics of conversation in our industry for years. Recent innovations, however, have increased the feasibility, accessibility, and adoption of these technologies.

While related, these three concepts do have discrete definitions. Virtual reality is an immersive technology that creates a separate reality for the user to experience. This is generally achieved through a headset and some form of haptic controller set. Popular examples include the Oculus Quest devices and PlayStation’s VR headset.

Augmented reality is a technology that overlays information and/or visuals onto the real world. This can be accomplished through common devices like smartphones or emerging technology like smartglasses. Popular augmented reality examples include Amazon’s “View in Your Room” feature and the Pokemon Go smartphone game.

Mixed reality, as the name suggests, combines elements of virtual reality and augmented reality. While virtual reality creates a new reality and augmented reality enhances the real world, mixed reality enables interaction and manipulation both of the real world and virtual elements. Popular examples include Microsoft’s HoloLens and Magic Leap.

Implications for Marketers

These technologies and concepts will allow marketers to create new experiences for their audiences. It will create content opportunities for brands to explore. As these technologies continue to mature, there will likely be increased opportunity for paid media inclusion in virtual, augmented, and mixed reality spaces.

For healthcare, this has the potential to change a wide variety of things from telemedicine visits to procedures performed virtually. For retail, this includes features like seeing what a piece of furniture would look like in your room or how you might look in a piece of clothing.

It’s critical for marketers to begin thinking about the implications of these technologies on their marketing efforts and their industries.

Further Reading


Trust Is the New Data

Consumers are craving trust and want to buy from brands they have confidence in. They want to know that those brands are delivering on their promises and acting responsibly with their data. They crave transparency and genuine communication from brands is key. They seek to do business with brands who overtly represent and live up to their values in the marketplace. Trust is a valuable commodity that brands must earn through hard work and can lose all too easily.

Implications for Marketers

Increasingly, the role of our industry is to be change agents in the transformation from mere marketers to stewards of trust. Gartner tells us that 89% of consumers indicate that they would take action to disengage with a brand that breaches their trust. While there are various dimensions of consumer trust, research indicates that dependability is the most important to customers. Marketers must present strategies that are focused on helping them engage with audiences in ongoing conversations that engender trust. This means creating meaningful, helpful, genuine content assets to drive the necessary trust-building interactions.

Further Reading

Stay tuned for our full annual trends report.

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