Three Takeaways from Cyber Monday 2022

Three Takeaways from Cyber Monday 2022

Retail

The numbers are in: Cyber Monday was a success. And not because inflation made purchasing volume seem bigger than what it was. No, demand fueled a big day for anyone selling online.

According to Adobe Analytics, Cyber Monday generated $11.3 billion in sales online. This is 5.8 percent more than consumers spent on the same day last year and a reversal of fortune. Consider that in 2021, Cyber Monday generated $10.7 billion, which was actually a drop from 2020. Meanwhile, Salesforce said Cyber Monday online sales hit $12.2 billion in the United States, representing an 8.3 percent increase over 2021.

Cyber Monday SalesAll told, about 196.7 million shoppers made purchases during the five-day holiday period from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday known as Cyber Week, the National Retail Federation said on Tuesday.

Adobe said that the Cyber Monday figures were based on more transactions overall – not spend boosted by inflation. At the peak, people were spending $12.8 million per minute on Monday.

According to Adobe, top sellers included games, gaming consoles, Legos, Hatchimals, Disney Encanto, Pokémon cards, Bluey, Dyson products, strollers, Apple Watches, drones, and digital cameras. Toys as a category saw a 452 percent boost in sales versus a day in October.

Wait a minute. Wasn’t this the year when inflation-wary shoppers were going to rein in their holiday spending? Wasn’t this the year when Amazon’s Prime Day I and II, Walmart’s Deals for Days, and Target’s virtual Black Friday sales throughout November were going to cannibalize Cyber Monday sales?

Not so fast. As it turns out, consumers were spending during the holiday promotions before Cyber Week but also holding out for deals – as they always do. And they did something else: they did their homework. Consumers knew that retailers were carrying excess inventory after two years of experiencing inventory shortages. They knew the deep discounts were going to happen. And so, they waited. As Tech Crunch reported, “Deep discounts — retailers perhaps anticipating needing to have something more to lure shoppers — have played a big role, too, as have the sheer availability of goods after shortages of the years before.”

Vivek Pandya, lead analyst, Adobe Digital Insights, said, “With oversupply and a softening consumer spending environment, retailers made the right call this season to drive demand through heavy discounting. It spurred online spending to levels that were higher than expected, and reinforced e-commerce as a major channel to drive volume and capture consumer interest.”

In addition, mobile influenced Cyber Monday shopping, accounting for 43 percent of all online sales. But it should be noted that the 43 percent share was much lower than Thanksgiving Day, when mobile accounted for 55 percent of purchases. That’s because people are back to work in Cyber Monday and using their desktops more.

So, what can retailers learn from the results?

  • The retailers that stayed committed to their online ad spend won. By keeping their brand names and merchandise visible, they were best positioned to capture the Cyber Monday traffic. Retailers that scaled back their online ad spending because they feared consumers were going to spend less ended up missing out.
  • As always, a strong blend of desktop-based and mobile ad spend was key to winning Cyber Monday traffic. True, the mobile traffic fell from Thanksgiving Day, but 43 percent is still a sizable number, and a well-balanced ad strategy was the way to go.
  • Winning Cyber Monday requires a strategy for winning Cyber Week. Demand was uniformly strong for the entire period of Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. Advertisers that managed their budgets with an eye toward driving traffic and sales for the entire Cyber Week captured a “Cyber Monday bonus.”

Bottom line: if you kept your holiday advertising strong and ignored the naysayers, you won Cyber Monday.

Contact True Interactive

True Interactive has deep experience helping clients plan and implement holiday shopping campaigns online. We can help you, too. We understand how to create nimble search campaigns and multi-channel ad outreach to target consumers with the right message at the right time. Contact us to learn more.

Lead image source:
https://pixabay.com/vectors/cyber-monday-neon-sale-ecommerce-5240883/

Why Black Friday Is Alive and Well

Why Black Friday Is Alive and Well

Advertising

Over the past few years, there’s been considerable speculation that Black Friday is mattering less. That’s because major retailers such as Amazon and Walmart moved up Black Friday-style sales throughout the fall. Pre-empting Black Friday was especially apparent in 2020, when retailers needed to be resourceful with the COVID-19 pandemic discouraging in-store shopping. But in 2022, the hallowed shopping day is showing signs of life although it’s no longer an exclusively offline event. To wit:

  • Amazon’s Fall Prime Day Sale, while popular, did not rake in the cash that it was expected to generate. According to consumer data firm Numerator, the average order size during the Prime Early Access sale in October was $46.68, down nearly 23 percent from Prime Day in July. Numerator said the most popular categories sold were in order, household essentials, health and beauty, apparel and shoes, toys and video games, and electronics. Interestingly, only 29 percent of Fall Prime Day shoppers said they used the sale to buy holiday gifts, and 95 percent said they’re likely to shop Amazon for more gifts as the season continues. This suggests that shoppers are holding out for more shopping down the road, which bodes well for Black Friday.
  • According to the National Retail Federation, holiday shoppers will spend at a healthy pace albeit at a slower one than previous years. The NRF says that holiday retail sales during November and December will grow between 6 percent and 8 percent over 2021 to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion. Last year’s holiday sales grew 13.5 percent over 2020 and totaled $889.3 billion – but of course in 2022, shoppers are up against chronic inflation and economic uncertainty. The NRF expects that online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, to increase between 10 percent and 12 percent to between $262.8 billion and $267.6 billion. This figure is up from $238.9 billion last year, which saw incredible growth in digital channels as consumers turned to online shopping to meet their holiday needs during the pandemic.
  • One in five consumers planning to shop for the holidays say they’ll spend less because their economic situation has changed, according to an NPD survey. More than a third of U.S. consumers can’t afford gifts this year due to inflation and higher costs of living, and nearly half plan to spend less this season, according to research from Credit Karma. But that may mean that they’re waiting to shop, as 40 percent told Credit Karma that they are waiting for annual sales, including Black Friday.
  • On the other hand, retailers such as Target and Walmart are pumping up Black Friday, but they’re once again extending the day throughout November. Walmart is running three Black Friday style deals throughout November, including Cyber Monday. This of course suggests that retailers are hedging their bets as Amazon has done with its October Prime Day sale. Based on Amazon’s experience, retailers should expect more hold-outs for Black Friday weekend November 25-28 (counting Cyber Monday). One reason: retailer are carrying a lot of inventory in 2022. Consumers are in a stronger position. They know it. And they’ll expect more deals as 2022 comes to a close during the biggest shopping day of the year.

Advice for Brands

  • Accept the reality that deals will drive sales more than ever. Discounted products and lower-priced alternatives to name-brand products are going to win the day, as reported in The Wall Street Journal. House brands are going to have a strong year.
  • Complement your online advertising approach with strong organic content that amplifies your holiday deals. Google just released a number of features to do that. For instance, Google added new ways to find deals across the web using Google Search through new coupons and promotions, side-by-side deal views, and a new price insights navigator. Clearly, Google wants more retailers to manage their product listings on Google!

Contact True Interactive

True Interactive has deep experience helping clients plan and implement holiday shopping campaigns online. We can help you, too. We understand how to create nimble search campaigns and multi-channel ad outreach to target consumers with the right message at the right time. Contact us to learn more.

Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/pwxESDWRwDE

Tips for Winning the 2022 Holiday Shopping Season

Tips for Winning the 2022 Holiday Shopping Season

Retail

How is the 2022 holiday shopping season shaping up? We’re already getting some important clues. Here’s what we are learning:

1 It’s Already Here

According to Google, nearly one out of five consumers had started their holiday shopping, and more than a third (36 percent) already had ideas for gifts they were going to buy – back in May!

Retailers are ready for them. In August, Walmart unveiled its annual top toy list, nearly a month earlier than in 2021. And when Walmart acts, others follow. Retailers should expect Best Buy, Target, and Amazon to dial up the heat on Walmart by promoting their holiday deals sooner.

2 Consumers Are Cost Conscious

Amid high inflation, retailers expect consumers to be choosier and cost conscious. Walmart’s top toy included a new budget-friendly category — toys under $25. According to Walmart, Walmart the list includes “more Rollbacks on toys” to give consumers “deeper savings” on top of “everyday low prices.”

And Walmart is not alone. As reported in CNN, executives at stores such as Best Buy, Gap, and Ulta expect the holiday season to be loaded with discounts amid economic uncertainty:

In addition to toys, shoppers will likely find discounts on clothing, televisions, beauty products, sporting goods and other items.

Some chains have stockpiled too much inventory in recent months and will increase promotions to try to sell the glut of goods during the holiday stretch.

Other companies are also ramping up promotions to give incentives to inflation-strained shoppers who might otherwise be priced out of holiday gifts.

Best Buy CEO Corie Barry told CNN, “We’re seeing a customer who’s more value-oriented, who is definitely moving more towards some of those sale events. You’re going to see a holiday that starts to look a little bit more like what we saw pre-pandemic.”

What It All Means

  • A bigger Black Friday? Black Friday 2021 proved to be a return to pre-pandemic form, with sales increasing nearly 30 percent over 2020. Traditionally, consumers have been conditioned to expect doorbuster sales on this most hallowed of shopping days, but in recent years, retailers have reimagined the concept of Black Friday to feature Black Friday sales that happen long before the actual day. But in 2022, retailers will be eager to shed excess inventory to budget-conscious consumers, positioning Black Friday to reclaim its stature.
  • Retailers need to be nimbler with their ad campaigns. It’s not just that retailers need to plan earlier. They need to adapt to shifts in consumer behavior. Why? Because choosy consumers are going to be less brand loyal and more careful about looking for deals online, which could cause rapid shifts in demand at the store and product level – in your favor and sometimes in a competitor’s favor. We suggest capitalizing on tools such as Google’s demand forecasts on the Insights page. This predicts upcoming trends relevant to your business so that you can adjust your budget and bidding strategy to capture spikes in demand. Additionally, use Performance Planner to understand how these changes to your advertising spend will affect your predicted clicks, conversions and conversion values. In addition, Product-specific insights are now at your disposal at the account level in the Google Ads products tab. These insights let you spot underperforming offers, identify products with missing feed attributes and compare your bidding strategy with your top competitors’.

Contact True Interactive

True Interactive has deep experience helping clients plan and implement holiday shopping campaigns online. We can help you, too. We understand how to create nimble search campaigns and multi-channel ad outreach to target consumers with the right message at the right time. Contact us to learn more.

Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/_3Q3tsJ01nc

Celebrating 15 Years of Growth at True Interactive

Celebrating 15 Years of Growth at True Interactive

Advertising

2022 marks a big milestone: True Interactive celebrates our 15th birthday. We’re now old enough for a learner’s permit to drive a car in Illinois.

Our story, and the story of the internet, has been shaped enormously by the actions of a few influential companies:

  • Google organized the world’s information online and taught everyone how to find it.
  • Meta connected people through social media.
  • Thanks to Apple, we took the internet with us on our mobile phones.
  • YouTube changed how we consume content with video.
  • Amazon made the world comfortable conducting commerce online.

These and a handful of other companies rewrote the rules for how businesses and people discover each other and build relationships.

Online advertising is at the center of this change. At True Interactive, we are grateful to the clients who have trusted us to help them figure out how to succeed in the digital age, and to our own people who’ve brought to our client relationships a spirit of hard work, collaboration, transparency, and a commitment to results. Businesses like to say that their people are their strongest assets, but people are more than that: they form our culture. Both the people who work for us and the people who work with us.

And we are proud of that culture. The magic that happens when great people and clients collaborate has produced remarkable results, such as triple-digit returns on ad spend and a dramatic reduction in costs. (You can read more about our work here.) And from our experiences, we’ve developed services ranging from search engine marketing to social media advertising that create a foundation for our team to innovate.

The next 15 years will evolve differently than the last. We’re probably nearing the end of an era when single companies could wield such enormous impact. The industry has become far too diversified for one business to change consumer behavior in far-reaching ways as Google did with its founding in 1998. And the fast-moving digital world still has few barriers to entry, which opens up the playing field.

Consider TikTok, which didn’t even exist until 2016 and has now challenged YouTube’s dominance with inventive short-form video. Or Snapchat, which keeps nudging the marketing world to embrace augmented reality even though its main rivals such as Meta had a long head start. The connected TV space still feels wide open.

And then there’s the metaverse. It’s just too vast and far-reaching for any single company to dominate. In fact, the fundamental notion of the metaverse is predicated upon the development of a decentralized web, Web 3.0. We’re only six months into 2022, and we’ve already seen just how much of a free-for-all that this emerging world feels like right now. Some of the building blocks of the metaverse, such as cryptocurrencies and nonfungible tokens (NFTs), sounded so fresh and exciting at the beginning of the year. Now businesses and people everywhere are learning (sometimes the hard way) how far those technologies still have to go before they redefine the landscape the way search, mobile computing, and video did.

We’re as bullish on emerging technologies and forms of computing as we were 15 years ago when we figured out how to help businesses build powerful brands even as human beings were learning how to search online. We can promise you that regardless of how the digital world evolves, we will always:

  • Not succumb to hype. We’re on the forefront of change, but everything we need to do must be grounded in reality, not wild speculation.
  • Deliver measurable results. If we can’t deliver measurable value, we won’t do it.
  • Be totally transparent. Our clients know what they’re getting from us. And they know how we deliver value. Trust is a wonderful thing. It must be earned through openness.

What excites us most? The unknown. The next wave of change that no one sees coming. The unknown creates a level playing field. The unknown is a vast well of opportunity. Much of the digital world was unknown when we were founded, and look where we are now thanks to our people and our clients. Whatever happens next, our culture of hard work, collaboration, transparency, and commitment to delivering results will ensure that we thrive. Together.

Happy 15, everyone! 

— Kurt Anagnostopoulos and Mark Smith

What’s Next for Advertisers on Twitter with Elon Musk as an Owner?

What’s Next for Advertisers on Twitter with Elon Musk as an Owner?

Twitter

Will advertisers leave Twitter under Elon Musk’s ownership? That question is getting bandied about a lot these days. That’s because of widespread speculation that Musk will relax Twitter’s content moderation policies. This, in turn, could conceivably create brand safety issues by making controversial content more prevalent on the app, which has nearly 400 million monthly active users. For example, Advertising Age reported that “Marketers are worried that Musk will reopen the floodgates on uncivil behavior on the platform.” Ad agencies consulted by Ad Age said that their clients are increasingly asking about the risks of staying on Twitter. Here’s what I think will happen:

  • Some advertisers will flee Twitter and never return.
  • Some advertisers will put Twitter advertising on pause but eventually return to Twitter.
  • Most advertisers will do nothing.

The fact of the matter is this: advertisers have shown by their actions that they have a higher tolerance for social media controversy than news media reports might have you believe. We have seen time and again controversies erupt on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Most recently, Facebook became the target of widespread public scorn after whistle blower Frances Haugen, an ex-Facebook employee, shared internal documents that showed Facebook executives knowingly allowed its algorithm to publish harmful and divisive content on users’ news feeds.

The resulting expose, published in The Wall Street Journal, also sparked speculation that advertisers would leave Facebook. Some did. But most did not. Why? Because the fact that a publisher and aggregator of news content (which is what Facebook does) knowingly shares divisive information was not exactly shocking news to advertisers. Mainstream news media have been attracting audiences by publishing divisive content for decades, long before the internet existed. And they’re doing so today. As a result, advertisers have a higher tolerance for conflict than Facebook’s critics did.

What really hurt Facebook was Apple. Facebook’s parent, Meta, disclosed recently that the company would suffer a $10 billion revenue hit in 2022 because of the impact of Apple’s iPhone privacy controls launched in 2021. Meta’s stock tanked dramatically so as a result. Why? Because privacy controls would likely make ad targeting more difficult on Facebook. It was ad targeting, not a Wall Street Journal expose about the company’s culture, governance, and content policies, that hurt Facebook.

The real concern among advertisers is not whether controversial content will appear on Twitter. The fact is that controversial content already does appear on Twitter. Advertisers are more concerned that their ads could appear alongside controversial content. This is more of an issue with how an app manages its algorithm. YouTube, for instance, landed in hot water recently because advertisers’ content was appearing alongside hate speech, but most advertisers understood then (and understand now) that it’s impossible to stamp out hate speech completely. Many more also understand that controversial content is not necessarily hate speech. These realities are part of being a brand on social media – and they always have been.

Twitter has been down this road before, too, such as when a major hack involving a crypto currency scam embarrassed the platform and cast a spotlight on how easy it is for bad actors to exploit Twitter to commit crimes. Or when the proliferation of trolls and bots threatened Twitter’s reputation. Advertisers were concerned, to be sure, but for the most part they reacted by pressuring Twitter to improve its algorithm as opposed to demanding wide-scale changes in how Twitter operates fundamentally.

My advice to advertisers is:

  • Keep advertising on Twitter if you are satisfied with your results so far.
  • Monitor brand safety closely, but that’s true whether you are advertising on Twitter or any other social media app.
  • Watch where your audience goes. There is a very real possibility that ongoing controversy at Twitter could cause a drop in users. The question is whether your audience will leave Twitter. It’s a question. It’s not a certainty. Work with your agency partner to keep tabs on the situation, but don’t make assumptions based on news headlines.

True Interactive monitors developments on social media all the time as part of being a well-informed partner to our clients. Keep watching this blog for updates.

Contact True Interactive

To maximize the value of your social media advertising, contact True Interactive. Our expertise in this area delivers measurable value to our clients.

Twitter image by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

Elon Musk image by https://pixabay.com/illustrations/elon-musk-space-elon-spacex-tesla-6222396/

 

The 2021 Holiday Shopping Season: Four Lessons Learned

The 2021 Holiday Shopping Season: Four Lessons Learned

Retail

The 2021 holiday shopping season was a qualified success – all things considered.

Consumers entered the season amid uncertainty. Would Covid-19 spike again? And yes, it did – later in the season. How bad would the supply chain crisis get? It was a problem – holiday inventory shrank 2 percent because of shortages – but it was not a big problem for the big-box retailers who possessed the resources to plan ahead. Would inflation hurt spending? Yes, rising inflation played a role, especially in December.

The good news is that overall, U.S. holiday sales overall rose 8.5 percent according to Mastercard SpendingPulse. Online spending in the United States rose 8.9 percent in the United States, according to Salesforce. The bad news is that in both cases, the growth rates were lower than expected. MasterCard had predicted an 8.8 percent increase. Salesforce had predicted a 10 percent increase. But keep in mind that no one was predicting inflation to spike, and inflation definitely hurt sales as December wore on.

What do spending patterns in 2021 say about how advertisers might approach 2022 seasonal campaigns?

  1. Getting a head start is more important ever. Everyone should brace themselves for the launch of seasonal campaigns even earlier. That means Memorial Day campaigns starting sooner. Fourth of July, Back to School, Christmas 2022 – all sooner. That’s because the supply chain crisis is casting a permanent shadow over retail for the year and possibly beyond. During the 2021 holiday shopping season, retailers were launching holiday promotions in September to get out in front of the possibility of shortages hurting inventory availability. By Thanksgiving, 30 percent of consumers had made their holiday purchases, according to Salesforce. Even though the supply chain crisis proved to be less disruptive than many had feared, few retailers lack the scale and resources that the big box retailers possess to offset the effects of inventory shortages. In addition, retailers learned a lesson about the value of getting an earlier start, and now they are all feeling the pressure to get a jump on the seasonal sales before a competitor does. With uncertainty continuing, retailers will to advertise sooner.
  1. Big-tent events may have less impact. A byproduct of launching campaigns earlier is that they can dilute the actual impact of an event-oriented sale (Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, etc.) In 2021, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales were subdued. But muted sales were only a problem for businesses that defined Black Friday or Cyber Monday as a single-day event. In fact, for the past few years, big retailers have been redefining Black Friday in particular as a series of events throughout the month of November. As a result, they may have expereinced strong “Black Friday sales” over a period of days, while sales from the actual Black Friday may not have been as strong. This is all OK. It just means that retailers need to adapt to changing shopping patterns and more creatively combine day-of sales with smaller flash sales that occur near the day-of sale.
  1. Adaptability is essential. Advertisers should be ready for the unexpected. For example, typically as December 25 approaches, we see a slowdown in online retail sales as consumers avoid taking the risk of buying a gift and missing the cutoff day for having a gift arrive by Christmas Day. But according to Salesforce, “Retailers nabbed 23% of their holiday sales during the final two weeks of the year, up 11% from the previous year, even though the shipping cutoff date had long passed by then.” Why? Likely because the surge in Covid-19 with the Omicron variant made shoppers more cautious about buying in-store. Interestingly, Salesforce reported a surge in buy online, pick up in store shopping during this period, which suggests that however they shopped, people just wanted to stay away from browsing in a store. Flexibility also means being adapting to different shopping formats online. Salesforce said that over the 2021 holiday season, 4 percent of global digital sales on a mobile device were made through a social media app; and 10 percent of mobile traffic originated from consumers browsing through social networks. Social commerce will be an increasingly part of the advertising and marketing mix in 2022 especially for any business whose customer base is composed of Gen Zers and Millennials.
  1. Promoting flexible financing options is important. With inflation worsening, consumers are looking for ways to ease the strain on their budgets, but they may be leery of racking up big credit card bills. These are reasons why, according to Salesforce, “Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) services in the U.S. during the holiday season increased 40% compared to 2020. Consumers turned to these offerings throughout the holiday season to offset the higher price tags. Alternative payment forms, including PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay, also increased by 15% YoY in the U.S.” In fact, the rise of BNPL is one of the hottest topics in retail now. Retailers should make BNPL an important part of their advertising strategies for 2022.

In 2022, advertising will be an adventurous industry with so many fascinating formats arising and trends coalescing around changing consumer behavior. One thing is clear: wise businesses are going to advertise, both during lean times, prosperous times, and uncertain times. We’ve learned time and again that scaling back because of uncertainty is always a bad strategy, as we have discussed on our blog here and here. Get ready for an exciting ride!

Contact True Interactive

At True Interactive, we’ve helped a number of businesses develop and execute seasonal holiday campaigns. Contact us to learn how we can help you.

Image source: https://pixabay.com/photos/background-bauble-celebration-21658/

2022 Advertising and Marketing Predictions

2022 Advertising and Marketing Predictions

Advertising

Welcome to a new, adventurous year of advertising and marketing. The traditional tech giants are going to continue to fight each other for dominance – while TikTok will tap into the burgeoning creator economy to challenge them all for a slice of the advertising pie. Retailers everywhere are creating ad networks, but Amazon and Walmart have already established strong leadership early on. For the most part, businesses will be spending more – more on TikTok, more on Amazon, more on Google, and probably more on Apple’s fledgling ad business. But will they spend more on Meta? Read on for our insights into the year ahead.

Retailer Media Networks Proliferate – and Meta Loses Ground

One of the big stories of 2021 was the proliferation of media businesses operated by retailers such as Amazon, Macy’s, Target, and Walmart. In 2022, we’ll see more of them. Retailers are under great pressure to squeeze more margin out of their core businesses as the industry endures uncertainty. The most well established networks – Amazon and Walmart – are thriving because they tap into the data they collect about their customers (first-party data) to sell targeted advertising on their sites. In 2022, more retailers will use first-party data to help businesses create more targeted ads off-site, too, as an antidote to Apple’s privacy controls. In addition, non-retailers with large troves of first-party data, such as TikTok, will expand the same way.

I also believe Meta’s ongoing push into immersive reality will lose momentum. Meta has made an even bigger push into immersive reality (e.g., virtual reality and augmented reality) as part of its attempt to become the builder of the metaverse. Meta also intends for immersive reality to help the company maintain a dominant hold on social media and to squeeze upstarts such as Roblox out of the market. But the horse is already out of the barn: there are just too many players such as Roblox and Snapchat developing immersive reality applications for Meta to play copycat and use its size as an an advantage. And Meta has faced so much public blowback over its size and reach that squeezing out smaller players makes Meta more of a target for anti-trust regulation. Meta will lose ground, and gaming platforms such as Roblox will ascend in power.

— Tim Colucci, vice president, digital marketing

TikTok Dominates

TikTok is the world’s most visited site in the Internet in 2021, toppling Google, according to Cloudfare. TikTok will become the leader in paid social. Videos and fast-breaking cultural trends are becoming more prominent factors across all social media marketing, and TikTok has mastered both. Oh, and TikTok has another big trump card to play: the site is a magnet for Gen Z and Millennials, who together comprise about 42 percent of the U.S. population. As a recent New York Times profile noted, advertisers “are present like never before, their authentic-seeming advertisements dropped in between dances, confessionals, comedy routines and makeovers.” But TikTok is just beginning to monetize all that interest from advertisers. TikTok will follow the example set by Amazon Advertising and roll out more ad units that capitalize on the customer data the company is collecting. And look to TikTok to become a social commerce giant. If you thought 2021 was the year of TikTok, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

— Bella Schneider, digital marketing manager

The Creator Economy Gets Real

The creator economy refers to a class of businesses comprising millions of independent content creators and influencers. We are reading more about them partly because apps such as TikTok have given them more power and influence. The creator economy will become even more powerful. That’s because collaboration networks are proliferating. These networks give creators an all-in-one platform to create communities and build influence. In addition, gaming sites such as Roblox and Twitch offer creators opportunities to monetize their work with potential partnerships with brands, and crypto currency sites such as Rally.io make it possible for creators to mint their own currency. The big social networks such as Meta are responding by making themselves more attractive to creators. More businesses will tap into niche networks to partner with emerging creators who are lesser-known but possess tremendous street cred. Big-name partnerships with stars will still thrive, but the social media icons will need to make room for the new kids in town.

— Mark Smith, co-founder

Tech Titans Roar

We hear a lot about the big technology firms facing increased scrutiny from Congress and legislators around the world. But to me the more intriguing story is how the tech titans keep trying to outmuscle each other for advertising revenue, an example being Apple enacting privacy controls to hurt Facebook’s ad business. 2022 will ratchet up the fight:

  • Apple will start leveraging and monetizing the data they are collecting (and not allowing others to collect) in the form of some type of advertising platform. This is the culmination of Apple’s stricter privacy controls.
  • Google will remove more visibility and targeting options in the name of advances in machine learning and automation, thus protecting its core ad business by taking more control of it.
  • An increasing number of platforms will emerge that use first-party data to target and track and savvy advertisers will take advantage of this and diversify their advertising spend
  • Amazon will grow with even more ad units for Amazon Advertising and marketing offerings such as livestreamed commerce for businesses of all size, especially smaller ones. Google and Meta will lose market share.

Unfortunately, we can count on CPCs to rise across all platforms as they attract more businesses competing for ad inventory and keywords. It’s going to be a more expensive 2022, but also a more interesting one with more ad units proliferating.

— Kurt Anagnostopoulos, co-founder

Google Ads Become More Powerful

Given the evolution of keyword matching (now AI-powered to serve ads based on the meaning of a search query), and the simplification of the ad product offerings (as Google deprecating Expanded Text Ads next summer), we will see Google Ads become leaner but more powerful. Advertisers will be forced to rely more and more on Google’s algorithm to drive results – all this, at the expense of reduced control advertisers have over campaign settings (ad content, keyword matching, targeting choices, etc.). I believe the biggest changes will continue to happen on Google’s back end as it seeks to make the algorithm (automated bidding strategies used in ad campaigns) smarter. Thus, we will see increased focus on cookie-less conversion tracking and an expansion of first-party data collection capabilities in Google Ads (i.e., scaling up enhanced conversions).

— Héctor Ariza, digital marketing and analytics manager

Social Media Ad Dollars Get Redistributed

Lush Cosmetics recently said it is quitting Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok over concerns that those platforms have a negative impact on teens’ mental health. (The company will remain active on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube.) Lush said it will happily lose $13 million in sales because of the digital detox. It remains to be seen whether Lush will reactivate the accounts it quit (Lush quit some social sites in 2019 before returning), and of course a big question is whether more businesses will take such a drastic approach. I don’t think we’ll see more businesses take the Lush approach – social media is just too important – but they will shift some of their ad dollars away from Facebook and Instagram. In the past, businesses have remained loyal to Facebook (now known as Meta) because the site is critical to their advertising and marketing strategies. But the whistleblowing activities of ex-Meta employee Frances Haugen have raised the stakes. She asserted that Meta has kept internal research secret for two years that suggests its Instagram app makes body image issues worse for teenage girls. Businesses will monitor what their customers, investors, and employees say about Meta especially in this era of purpose-driven branding. Some will shift their advertising to Snapchat and TikTok while Meta takes the heat for brand safety issues. But this shift may be temporary. Meta will probably mollify brands with some updates to its products to create more brand safety, as it is already doing with its news feed to address concerns over lack of user control over their news feeds. In addition, Meta faces the ongoing threat of regulatory oversight. More accountability will come to Meta in 2022.

— Beth Bauch, director, digital marketing

Contact True Interactive

To succeed in the ever-changing world of online advertising, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

Image source: https://pixabay.com/photos/year-2022-track-new-year-calendar-6786741/