Our bets our in. We rounded up our team of experts to make predictions about what industry trends will stick this year. And from the sound of their picks, it looks like 2022 is shaping up to be a year full of opportunities for innovation (music to our ears). Read what the crew had to say about what's up next for NFTs, how employers are staying competitive following the Great Resignation, and why now could be the time to turn your brand's "look and feel" into a "look, feel, and sound." Here's what we've got from (and download your own copy here).
1. More power in organic content
Last year, the disappearance of third-party cookies—and of course, the potential implications of this for advertisers—sat high on the list of buzzy industry topics. As we approach the year ahead, new and innovative solutions continue to be tested…and in the meantime, we’re going to see brands leaning into tactics outside of paid ads since they might not perform as well due to these changes. Our bet? SEO-optimized organic content is going to be more valuable than ever.
Our Marketing Strategist, Taylor McFerran predicts that “with iOS updates and a crowded marketplace, brands either need to spend more money or create pieces that truly resonate with their audiences, further connecting people to their brand.”
We expect to see a high volume of organic branded content in 2022, as well as executions of this content across as many platforms as brands have the means to experiment with. Dependence on paid ad performance is no longer enough—brands that win in the months ahead will be the ones that find a sweet spot between high content output and quality content that people actually want to engage with.
2. Increased adoption of sonic branding
The days when the word “branding” brings to mind exclusively visual components of a brand’s identity—you know, logos, color palettes, and the works—are coming to an end. Yep, sonic branding is on the rise. And there are plenty of reasons why adding an audible logo to your brand kit could make a lot of sense. It’s no secret that music is a powerful connector to human emotions. It’s existed for centuries and transcends cultures and languages. Adding sound to your brand’s refined look and feel adds a layer of depth to its identity and opens the door to new opportunities to resonate emotionally with your audience—and that’s what it’s all about.
Plus, the direction the world has headed in the last few years points to audio. Not only does audio play a bigger role in the way we live and communicate now that remote working is the norm, but we’ve also seen the popularity of podcasts, audiobooks and other audio media forms rise as methods of entertainment and education. And let’s be honest—taking a break from looking at screens all day to consume your media via audio can be refreshing in today’s world. We look forward to seeing who the big 2022 adopters of sonic logos will be to set the trajectory for this trend.
3. A social commerce explosion
If e-commerce is a primary channel for your brand (or you’ve just been keeping up with emerging marketing trends over the last year), you’re probably aware that social commerce—that meeting point between e-comm and social media—has been gaining momentum fast. And it’s likely to be a worthwhile space to explore further to see just how much potential for growth your brand could find in social commerce. After all, by 2025, the social commerce market is projected to pass $80 billion (sounds like a pretty big opportunity to us).
Need more reasons to believe? The world is now optimized for mobile—and that means shopping needs to be, too. Social platforms are optimized (and often created exclusively to be used) for mobile, which means that making your brand valuable on social is one of the fastest ways to meet your audience where they are already comfortable and frequenting. We predict that more partnerships between mobile payment providers and social platforms such as that between TikTok and Square will emerge this year, providing more opportunities for brands to sell on social.
4. Hyperfocus on experiential in-app ads
This prediction goes hand-in-hand with the major growth of social commerce. Brands who will succeed in resonating authentically with their customers will be looking at in-app advertisements in a very specific way—with a goal to enhance the experience the app is already providing, not to disrupt through the noise. We know, it sounds crazy to predict that disruption is out…but hear us out on this one.
The rocket that is TikTok hasn’t slowed down since it was named the “Most Downloaded App of 2020,” and they’ve done so with the mindset that users and brands alike can “make TikToks, not ads,” changing the game by redefining what an ad could look and feel like. If you frequent TikTok, you know that the influencers, communities, and opportunity for virality that exist on the platform are enough to make integrating products into the content rather than interrupting content with ads a winning play.
Pinterest has taken a similar approach, which appears to be paying off as well. The platform’s strategy? “Stop interrupting. Start inspiring,” further proving that successful in-app advertising in 2022 won’t be about buying space to cut through the noise…it’s about using the noise to your advantage.
5. Emphasis on data decay innovation
When lasting effects of the pandemic resulted in what we now know as the “Great Resignation,” employers across the country struggled to fill a record-breaking number of open roles (we’re talking 11 million open jobs in October 2021 alone). Everyone waged their bets on what it could mean for the future of remote work, flexible schedules, and the economy at large. But there will also be some less-talked-about ripple effects to come from the Great Resignation that may be worth noting by brands going into the new year—one of which being data decay.
For every American who changed jobs during the Great Resignation in 2021, an old company email, job title, address, and any other information adding value to your CRM database has gone void. Email marketing in particular skyrocketed in 2021, as building email lists became an increasingly popular way to gather first-party data when third-party data became more scarce. That means that lower quality data caused by the Great Resignation could have a big impact on brands who lean heavily on email marketing and similar tactics.
To us, this sounds like a golden opportunity for innovation, and we’re predicting that to catch on pretty quickly. We expect to see both a race by marketers to solve in this space as well as growth in software companies innovating in this space to improve the quality of data and maintain its security.
6. Accessibility and inclusivity in design
One very positive prediction resulting in part from the Great Resignation? Greater accessibility and inclusivity in design. That’s right, as companies strive to beat out competitors for top talent to fill their open roles, they’re making changes and investments that align with the values of their prospective employees, including what that audience wants to see from their employers. And in 2022, that’s accessibility and inclusivity. Inside company walls, this change is showing up in ways like increased investment in DE&I trainings. But true accessibility infiltrates every part of the candidate experience, including how the brand exists digitally.
This year, we expect to see more accessible web design, including elements like subtitles on videos (which has been popularized as standard practice by the hugely influential TikTok), bold color schemes for high contrast and easy reading, and more polls and interactive content that allow for users’ voices to be heard as part of the experience.
All of this also ladders up to the expectations of the next generation of workers—Gen Z, who will be the first group of digital native adults and therefore expect their digital experiences to be seamless. A trend toward more seamless and accessible experiences is one we’re on board with.
7. Growing value of digital ownership
NFTs exploded in 2021…and by now, you’re probably tired of hearing about them (and maybe are even suspicious about their inherent value). As the mania phase of the NFT hype cycle has subsided, it’s time to take note of what’s really happening. Wal-Mart, Disney, and Microsoft (just to name a few) are building their own meta verses with NFTs at their core. Nike filed for “virtual goods” trademarks, Gap released limited edition NFT apparel that grant limited IRL merch to the owners—and this is just the tip of the digital ownership iceberg.
As NFTs become mainstream, we will start to see more and more compelling use-cases emerge—and at a rate that even industry leaders can barely keep up with. Every day there is some new NFT experiment being released into the wild, and it is very reminiscent of the opportunity that emerged with the proliferation of the early internet. NFTs are a fundamental building block of WEB3 that allows for verifiable digital ownership via blockchain technology. While the NFT user experience is currently in its early stages, you can be sure that it will only get better as the space matures. While the hype may come and go, make no mistake—NFTs are here for the long haul.