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Top digital marketing trends and predictions for 2022

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06 January 2022
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Top digital marketing trends and predictions for 2022

It’s that time again when we all collectively look at the digital trends and opportunities for the new year. Naturally, Google leaders from across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) are looking ahead too. And they have some predictions for top marketing trends that will shape 2022. Be ready for shifts in the way the industry approaches inclusive marketing campaigns, shoppable content, and more. Here’s what we’re expecting next year:

Identity is intersectional

The pandemic has highlighted, and sometimes intensified, structural inequalities. In the midst of this, people’s expectations are growing for brands to take a more nuanced approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion. To be truly representative you need to understand the many identities that matter to people in your market and get hyper-local with your efforts.
This means acknowledging that people’s identities are intersectional. Each person has their own unique experiences of discrimination and oppression, and we must consider everything and anything that can marginalise people. And this can overlap: people are not defined by a single characteristic. They are more likely to connect with your brand if they see themselves reflected in a nuanced way. Not the assumption of their identity, but their concrete and nuanced experiences and perspectives.
To evolve your approach in 2022, start by researching what identity means in your market. Then incorporate these learnings into every stage of the creative process, including updating the language and designs you use. Build campaigns that are representative and accessible. And know that people change and evolve as new experiences, needs, and interests emerge. Diversity, equity, and inclusion in marketing is an ongoing process — there is no finish line.

Getting privacy right matters today — and tomorrow

People are taking more steps than before to protect their privacy online, with 73% saying they use online services which promise high data protection, such as encrypted emails and privacy-protecting search engines.1 At the same time, we know that data is needed to provide consumers with useful information and relevant ads. Data helps shape meaningful and memorable messaging that makes online experiences better, while enabling marketers to reach the right customers and exceed their expectations.

In 2022, marketers need to focus on building a data protection strategy that is customer-first. That means rethinking methods for measuring and reaching audiences, so people feel in control and able to manage the data they share. E.ON, one of Europe’s biggest electricity and gas suppliers, did just that with tools like Google Analytics 4 and Global Site Tag, which helped them get a more complete picture of their audience while preserving user privacy.

It takes time to build trust. And marketers can start today by being open and honest about how and when they collect personal information, using this to show ads that are valuable to customers, and by putting users in control of their data.

Measurement: Mind the gap(s)

McKinsey research shows that 45% of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) have declined, or not fully funded, a marketing proposal because it didn't demonstrate a clear line to value. To successfully navigate this, there should be a single measurement owner within every brand to support an end-to-end approach.
And the “Swiss cheese model” can help tie measurement efforts back to business value, by using several layers to get the best possible answer. For example, video ads may not drive immediate conversions, but if done well, they will likely get a customer to consider your offering. When they search online, your brand will be on their radar and they will be more likely to buy it. If you measure these efforts independently, one will be a massive expense while the other will look overly successful. Neither is true, but your CFO will most likely prefer the latter.
There is not one tool or approach that will provide all the answers. But by identifying a single owner to ask the right questions, and applying a layered measurement approach, you’re on your way to close the gaps.

Relevance is as important as reach

It can be difficult for your brand to be seen in the complex “messy middle” of a consumer's purchase journey. To stand out in 2022, brands should be more intentional about communicating their value and authentic purpose. You have to create messages and experiences that are true to your brand and relevant to people, reflecting their needs. In this context, relevance is as important as reach.
By leaning into brand purpose and expressing value in a way that is authentic and consistent, brands can connect meaningfully with audiences and drive business results. Some companies that are getting it right are Sephora and Zara. Their value proposition is clear: customers know what these brands stand for and what experiences they offer with their products. In every engagement with consumers, they have a point of view, and they express this to potential buyers across all touch points.
So in 2022, focus on value and authentic purpose. This is what can — and will — differentiate your brand within the crowded online purchase journey.

“Shoppable” content

The world of shopping has changed. Global e-commerce sales grew by nearly 30% last year and new ways have emerged to make online content more “shoppable”. People can now buy products directly from social posts, when tuning into favourite shows, and while watching YouTube content on connected TVs.

Storytelling is key to creating content that people want to shop from. Effective shoppable creatives should be anchored in the ABCD framework:
•    Attention: Hook and sustain people with an immersive story
•    Branding: Brand early, often, and richly
•    Connection: Help people think and feel something
•    Direction: Ask them to take action
Research shows that ads with ABCD drivers are likely to see a 30% lift in short-term sales.2

As you’re working on your marketing campaigns for 2022, consider how you can make your content story-driven to make it more shoppable. Make sure you stay true to your brand and what you claim. You can express your brand identity while optimising the effectiveness of your campaign and creatives — you can be a great storyteller and a great seller.

Effortless eco-friendliness

The vast majority of people say sustainability is more top of mind now than it was before the pandemic. And people expect brands to lead the way to make sustainability more manageable in their daily lives. Individuals already have so much to consider when making purchases, they don’t want another level of research related to sustainability.
Brands can make this process effortless by incorporating sustainability benefits into choices people are already making. For example, we’re introducing eco-friendly options on Google Maps, which makes sustainable travel routes the default, while Adidas’ popular Stan Smith shoes are now made from recycled polyester.
And marketers can show people how their business is solving everyday sustainability problems, such as reducing the waste created by increased shopping deliveries and returns. People are very conscious of this, there is even a rising trend on YouTube where people watch return pallet ‘unboxing’ videos.
It’s time to make sustainable solutions part of the norm. Update your messaging and policies to show the actions you are taking — such as using recyclable packaging (H&M) or offering refills (Dove) — and be transparent about what happens to returned products. It’s time to deliver (sustainably).

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