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 As we enter the third year of the pandemic, the digital marketing landscape is anything but slowing down – you’ll see in the trends – and as marketers, simply staying ahead of the curve is not enough
As we enter the third year of the pandemic, the digital marketing landscape is anything but slowing down – you’ll see in the trends – and as marketers, simply staying ahead of the curve is not enough

By Rohit Onkar

In my 12 years of being a digital marketer, I’ve seen new trends emerge almost every quarter. To say the field of digital marketing is dynamic would be saying the least.

The key to successfully keeping up with these trends is – and marketers tend to overlook this – understanding ever-changing customer behaviour. In the age of instant gratification and information clutter, customer needs change at a pace that is a glaring reminder that they rule the monarchy of marketing.

As we enter the third year of the pandemic, the digital marketing landscape is anything but slowing down – you’ll see in the trends – and as marketers, simply staying ahead of the curve is not enough, it’s imperative to see how these trends tie into delivering business impact.

Here are my top 5 digital marketing trend predictions for FY-2022-23:

1. Contextual Advertising will rise to the forefront, Audience Targeting will take a back seat

Imagine walking up to a group of your peers at a party and interrupting their conversation about scuba diving in the Bahamas with your grandmother’s recipe for mutton biryani because somebody in the group asked for it last week.

Now imagine interrupting the same conversation by saying your uncle owns a hotel in the Bahamas and you can get everyone a 15% discount!

If you’d rather be in the latter scenario, you get the importance of contextual advertising over audience targeting.

Over the years, with third-party cookies becoming less prominent and global giants like Apple and Google enforcing privacy compliance more seriously, audience targeting – which depends on profiling the customer and following them using cookies and advertising IDs – is only getting more difficult and less accurate. The only way to achieve the results you’re looking for from your digital advertising is to switch from audience targeting to contextual targeting.

2. Organizations with first-party data will benefit from newer channels like Voice and WhatsApp

There are two catalysts to this trend: 1) Digital CPMs are increasing by the month and 2) The rise of newer first-party channels that don’t work on the bidding model i.e. Voice (Outbound Dialer) and WhatsApp which now allows promotional messaging.

This gives organizations that have first-party data, and know how to use it, a huge advantage. They are not at the mercy of rising digital CPMs but can capitalize on what are being perceived as more cost-effective channels like SMS, Email, Voice and WhatsApp.

If you are an organization that doesn’t capture first-party data in a structured format, you’ll see yourselves being left behind.

3. Data Management Platforms (DMP) will become obsolete, and Customer Data Platforms (CDP) will take their place

If the above trend hasn’t established it already, first-party data is the golden ticket in the candy bar that every organization should hope to have.

Add to that the fact that we are moving to a strenuously privacy compliant world – Apple and Google have already taken the lead on this – and DMPs will become obsolete sooner than you know especially since advertising / device IDs and cookies are notorious for being non-privacy compliant.

Instead, organizations will stand to benefit from having their own CDP. Even if organizations don’t have the muscle to create a CDP, and not many do, working with players that have a structured CDP is the recommended trajectory.

Foreseeably, the only challenge lies in integrating with advertising platforms since they still prefer non-personally indentifiable information – better known as Non-PII Data – like advertising IDs, cookies, and IP addresses. This means that CDP will have to integrate with advertising platforms using first-party data.

The good news is that this isn’t unachievable. Time and again, it has been proven that consumers will give their information for free in return for value-driven ad communication. If organizations follow privacy compliant, ethical methods using customer consent to source email IDs and phone numbers as identifiers – they will be well on their way to experiencing the multi-fold and long-term benefits of a CDP.

4. Experiences will become more immersive as we enter the metaverse

In the last decade, we saw the monumental shift from desktop to mobile. 2022 will be the beginning of the shift from mobile to the metaverse.

Just as design experiences transformed for mobile – think infinite scrolls and thumbstopper videos – the mobile to metaverse shift will push us to rethink the way digital experiences are being designed. What we’ll be looking at are immersive designs that are experiential in nature and rely heavily on augmented and virtual reality.

While the Metaverse is nothing but an extension of augmented and virtual reality, we do know that both are here to stay, and it will be a gamechanger for any consumer-facing design. 360◦ video viewing and reimagined Facebook Instant Experiences are just a few examples for immersive design experiences in digital marketing.

On the other hand, the current virtual reality headgears that exist in the market seem like they have a bleak future in the Metaverse simply because of their lack of affordability and comfort/convenience. Yet this is only the beginning, and the bottom line is design experiences are going to become more immersive in nature.

5. CRO and UX will take more precedence because of media and design fatigue

The pandemic has left us to our own devices, literally.

Social networking platforms, websites, apps, Instant Messaging apps are all overloaded with communication that are – and some may disagree – becoming harder and harder to differentiate. What this has led to is clutter in the digital media space and design fatigue.

Enter Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and User Experience (UX).

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the road to poor conversions is paved with purely aesthetic design.

Conversions could be sign-ups, increase in time spent on your webpage, transactions, you name it. And the quickest way to maximize your conversions is getting the CRO and UX right. This is where it becomes crucial to combat increasing media clutter and design fatigue by rethinking content and design elements like CTA buttons, colour palettes, typography and fonts, layouts and placements, with the objective of leading to conversions.

Using design that is aesthetically appealing but not CRO and UX led to drive conversions is the same as targeting a customer in-market to buy a 4-wheeler with an ad for 2-wheelers simply because you believe it’s in vogue. So, while targeting is critical to see conversions, what’s going to become equally vital is CRO and UX.

The author is a digital marketing professional, business leader, trainer and heads the digital marketing vertical at Loylty Rewards Management. Views expressed are personal.