Marketing technology 2022: 616 predictions from 463 CMOs
There’s an old joke about how to make God laugh.
To make God laugh, the story goes, tell him your plans.
Since fools go where angels fear to tread … here we go. At least for predictions, which are not exactly plans but (work with me here) are close enough.
Here’s a quick guide to the 2022 edition of CMO marketing predictions:
- First, a glance back at our 2021 predictions
- The most important technology, topic, or space for marketers in 2022
- Marketing 2022 prediction 1: privacy
- Marketing 2022 prediction 2: the power of story and content
- Marketing 2022 prediction 3: AI
- Marketing 2022 prediction 4: Metaverse, VR, AR
- Marketing 2022 prediction 5: Web3, crypto, blockchain
- Marketing 2022 prediction 6: ESG
- Marketing 2022 prediction 7: Marketing fortresses
- Marketing 2022 prediction 8, just for fun: Kitchen sink
- Summing up: marketing predictions 2022
First, a glance back at our 2021 predictions
Before asking almost 500 chief marketing officers, executives, and leaders about their marketing technology predictions for 2022, I took a quick look back to the 2021 predictions from a year ago.
And wow … how naive and innocent we were about the massive changes there were in store for the mobile marketing industry over this past year.
We foresaw holistic digital marketing as the keystone for 2021, mostly in response to massive and ongoing consumer shift. Everything, after all, was going digital with remote work, online ordering, video dating, and Zoom weddings, and the modern marketing organization needed to go all digital along with everything else. The focus: bringing tremendous amounts of prospect and customer data together in one place to understand and influence the customer journey.
We weren’t entirely wrong.
But we also thought Covid would be a word from our distant past.
The problem was, we didn’t really understand how much impact one event in 2021 would have. Privacy was already a big deal, but it was fifth on the list of predictions, with fewer than 20% of marketers considering it the primary change to anticipate for 2021. iOS 14.5, however, followed on the heels of GDPR, California regulations, and Cambridge Analytica. And it harmonized with years of a broad and growing desire for digital privacy, plus suspicion of big tech with big data, and hit us much harder than we anticipated.
So we kinda missed the boat on the most important technology for last year, which turned out to be privacy.
The most important technology, topic, or space for marketers in 2022
For 2022, this was the question I asked almost 500 marketing technologists: what one topic, technology, or space will be the most important for marketing, and why? The most popular predictions are all centered around the idea of privacy and the execution of marketing campaigns in privacy-centric ways.
Here are their answers, in aggregate:
Let’s dive into each one separately.
Marketing 2022 prediction 1: privacy
It turns out that it’s much easier to predict the past than foretell the future.
After the year that was, privacy and all of its permutations is the clear winner. Which goes to show even our industry can learn when it is dragged, kicking and screaming, to school.
But “privacy” is a big word with plenty of meanings.
What CMOs mean here is two-fold: first, that in the pre-customer or pre-user advertising and marketing stages of the customer journey, device-level data and person-level data that deliver granular insights on behavior that have traditionally been acquired via IDFA on iOS, GAID on Android, and cookies on the web is going away. And second, that in the post-customer or post-user stage — in other words, when someone has installed or signed up or purchased — brands are working harder to win customers’ trust in order to access permissioned data and use it to improve service.
In other words: first-party data.
Marketers must be prepared to invest and get the right tech in place to develop its first party data,” says Walgreens SVP and CMO Pat McLean. “This is exactly how Walgreens has differentiated in marketing via our mass personalization strategy and myWalgreens platform as we know this is core to our future growth.”
Perhaps, in retrospect, we weren’t so wrong in 2020 about holistic digital marketing bringing together all our data. Except that the precise data we can use is very different than, perhaps, many of us imagined.
And it comes with new challenges:
All of us have to be mini data scientists in today’s tech-driven world.”
– Susan Somersille Johnson, CMO, Prudential Financial
The transition in outside-the-castle-walls data from granular to aggregate is a seismic shift, says Arun Kumar, chief data and technology officer at Interpublic Group, the brand umbrella over Axciom, McCann, Weber Shandwick, and dozens of other marketing agencies. The reality that we’ve seen in Singular data over 2021 suggests some marketers are having trouble making that shift. And things may get harder before they get easier, says LinkedIn’s senior director of product Abhishek Shrivastava.
Adjust’s Joshua Grandy puts it succinctly:
The future of measurement will leverage aggregated data driven by machine learning, and built on transparency and trust.”
– Joshua Grandy, director of global communications, Adjust
Increasingly, as we see more government regulation, more fines for breaches, more bad press for real or perceived issues, and more tech companies restricting data collection and access, we can expect marketers to continue to shift away from “unverified data that they do not own or govern, focusing instead on first-party data acquisition and contextual advertising,” says DoorLoop CMO David Bitton.
“As we move to a more privacy-first future and away from third-party data, we’ll see marketers double down on building their own audiences and communities, and embrace new types of data like intent-based solutions. We’ll see more of an emphasis on actions and signals versus personal information like demographics and interests. Marketers will have no choice but to test new strategies to prepare for the future, which will lead to a lot of experimentation and testing.”
That means business not as usual, according to G2 CMO Amanda Malko.
Marketing 2022 prediction 2: the power of story and content
The dichotomy between brand and performance marketing is largely false, but it’s not surprising that in an era where we’re leading with privacy, marketers highlight the power of brand via story.
That’s story-telling in video, story-telling by influencer, story-telling with thought leadership backed up by search engine optimization (SEO), story-telling by social audio in Twitter Spaces, and more.
“Consumers now spend 1/3 of their media time with audio … audio is now the most accessible medium,” says iHeartMedia CMO Gayle Troberman. “And marketers are waking up to the massive potential of audio to deliver highly engaged, targetable audiences at scale.”
(And guess what: that targeting is contextual, thanks to the fact that podcasts have topics. And it’s therefore privacy-safe.)
Content still means the written word, too. What are you doing right now, after all?
Make continued investments in content marketing, suggests DigitalOcean’s Carly Brantz, adding that “content is a way that marketers can keep their brand top of mind.” That works in B2B, for sure — Digital Ocean is a cloud service with 600,000 customers — but it also works for mobile games or fintech apps or retail storefronts. Influencers might be a channel, but how they work best is essentially content marketing: showing, sharing, speaking, endorsing, and not just putting the prototypical “link in bio.”
We’re also seeing retail move in very interesting ways with China-influenced live shopping trends: the creator economy version of Home Shopping Network.
Social shopping is coming to all platforms: Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest (among others),” says Plant Mother CEO Jena Joyce, who says she’s seen 100% increase in revenue from social shopping and a huge 1300% increase in Instagram referral traffic to her website. “Instagram shopping is becoming a profitable alternative to paid ads.”
A lot of content marketing happens on your website or in your app where — guess what — you control the vertical and the horizontal (bonus points if you get that Outer Limits reference). It’s an owned property, and just like in web-to-app mobile app install journeys that have become so popular in 2021, you can add whatever you like to the page, and collect permissioned data that your user or customer wishes to provide.
Marketing 2022 prediction 3: AI
Acute observers of graphical data will note that AI is actually the fourth-most cited area in the chart above, but there’s a caveat: the third-most is elegantly titled “kitchen sink” because it is a grab-bag of uncategorized and uncategorizable topics.
(Including some very funny ones.)
See more about that below.
But for artificial intelligence, this is a jump up from the 2021 predictions, where AI landed in seventh spot. Marketers are going all-in on AI and machine learning as an essential element in multiple areas: ad targeting, insight generation, communications delivery, creative optimization, data modeling, predictive analytics, message and offer optimization, conversion rate optimization, and more.
It’s especially important when there seems to always be more work to do and always be fewer hands to accomplish it.
“As The Great Resignation has shown us, teams are overwhelmed and overworked: desperate for some sort of pressure valve,” says David Council, CEO and co-founder of Drift. “For digital marketers, AI can provide some much-needed relief, and become the workforce in driving revenue, developing relationships, and eliminating gaps in customer technology … without putting added pressure on teams. This means marketing teams can now get some breathing room, extra time, and energy to focus on what matters most.”
By streamlining tasks. Analyzing data. Automating repetitive work.
“Through an automation platform, marketers can automate core activities including behavioral tracking, personalization, email marketing, lead generation, lead management, analytics, content marketing, CRM and more, saving employees up to 3 hours per day,” says Monday.com product manager Noa Kind. “Marketers can better create and understand relatively complex models and more effectively use artificial intelligence to increase ROI.”
That’s currently at work in Singular’s platform to model data, predict outcomes, and optimize processes. It’s in most platforms marketers use. And you’ll see AI be an increasingly active part of the marketing technology toolbox in 2022.
Marketing 2022 prediction 4: Metaverse, VR, AR
Ask the same question of top technologies for marketers six months earlier and metaverse wouldn’t have gotten even one vote, in my (very) humble opinion. But marketers jump on bandwagons as fast as anyone else, and the metaverse is a big, noisy, and hard-to-ignore wagon.
Look: we’ve just gone through two years of doing all our work virtually, along with much of our shopping and socializing.
Is it any shock — especially given Facebook’s … sorry, Meta’s multi-billion-dollar pivot to the metaverse — that marketers, like many others, think virtuality has a big future alongside physicality?
It starts with something as simple as virtual events. Or placing a sofa in a living room via augmented reality.
Or even just fun, like what Snap and Viber are doing with AR faceswaps and filters. And that fun can have commercial or marketing implications.
“Businesses are looking for ways to boost engagement with users and increase visibility among a wide audience” says Viber’s chief growth officer Anna Znamenskaya. “We’ll start seeing AR masks and filters as engagement options … as well as masks with a complete transformation of the object, geo-targeted elements tied to specific locations, and complex 3D effects.”
The World Wildlife Fund, FC Barcelona, and the Davis Cup have already done so.
There’s a practical reason for all this focus on metaverse and virtual reality, says Expand.io CMO Sharon van Donkelaar: “The pandemic isn’t over yet and we’re most likely to face a new lockdown. VR and AR will help bring the products to the customer while keeping them safe.”
Plus, with Facebook investing literally billions of dollars into metaverse and multiple other platforms and technologists following suit, there’s bound to be opportunities for marketers.
Just a word of caution:
“It might take up to 10 more years before we see the first metaverse mass adoption come to life,” Viber’s Znamenskaya says.
So yes, explore, but my personal advice is not to bet the farm on metaverse just yet. The leading edge is often the bleeding edge, and while it’s great to capture early adopters, they’re as yet few in number. And early adopters, by virtue of being early adopters, are often fickle.
You are going to see more advice like this in the coming months and years:
If you’re not considering metaverse as part of your marketing mix in 2022, you’re already behind.”
Companies should be able to demonstrate through their marketing campaigns that they are not closing their doors on this new technology if they are not yet ready to engage in it.”
I’m deliberately not citing the authors of those quotes to protect people. The first is a you’re-a-clueless-idiot-if-you-don’t-hop-on-the-newest-fad-immediately type of comment, and is rarely true of anything in the first flush of new technology creation. The second is a it-might-not-be-there-yet-but-try-not-to-look-clueless caution, and is at least somewhat worthwhile. Be aware, look for early adoption opportunities, but unless you are a very niche application specifically connected to AR/VR/metaverse, don’t spend the whole budget here.
25% of our customers are already strategizing about the best ways to leverage Metaverse and create captivating content and experiences for their customers.”
– Nishant Patel, CTO, Contentstack
Marketing 2022 prediction 5: Web3, crypto, blockchain
Metaverse is hot and shiny and exciting, so it got a lot of votes. Web3 is also hot and shiny and exciting, and it has the additional added thrill of making a lot of brands and a lot of people a lot of money.
Web3 is essentially a loosely-joined conglomeration of technologies that at their root are aimed at decentralizing a technology world that has coalesced around the giants of big tech: Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and more. While there are some doubts about the reality of that consolidation, the technologies include:
- Smart contracts
- DAOs (distributed autonomous organizations)
The core idea is one of moving from web1 (read) and web2 (read/write) to web3 (read/write/own).
Taco Bell, Charmin, Nike, and Warner Music Group have created NFTs. Tesla, after supporting Bitcoin for purchasing cars and backing off that plan due to volatility, has promised to allow people to buy Teslas with DogeCoin. The Web3 foundation is building messaging, courseware, and more on decentralized foundations. DAOs are trying (and failing) to purchase copies of the U.S. constitution, de-carbonize the environment, re-wild developed land, and much more, generally fueled by tokens (altcoins) based on Ethereum. And decentralized art projects like the Billion Zombie Club are selling thousands of pieces of art and raising millions of dollars. (In crypto, of course.)
Is it too early for marketers to jump in?
Not according to Yahoo president Joanna Lambert:
2022 will be the year of everyday crypto for businesses and consumers … as people and enterprises invest in cryptocurrencies, seek expert advice, and conduct research to ensure that they’re making wise investment decisions, crypto is set to impact everyday businesses and everyday people alike.” – Joanna Lambert, president and GM, Yahoo
Tread lightly, suggests fractional CMO Atif Kazmi.
“Balenciaga, Adidas, and a host of luxury brands have already started experimenting with Web 3.0, but it remains to be seen how these virtual interactions can become more immersive, more sticky, and how they potentially translate to sales,” Kazmi says. “How it blends with social commerce will be something we’ll all need to wrap our heads around.”
But NFTs aren’t just silly scratches on paper that look like something your third-grader took home but were executed on an airplane napkin by Gary Vaynerchuk and sell for $98,000 or more.
They can be digital contracts. Tickets. Gateways to experiences.
“Brands will stop using NFTs for silly limited edition tokens of corporate greed cashing in on hype, and, instead, start using them for their real use-case: authenticating ownership of a brand’s digital assets,” says Perch marketing manager Nathan Sieminski. “It’s digital asset insurance.”
If that doesn’t strike your fancy, perhaps you want to use the concept of collectibles, which includes the area of NFTs, as a monetization mechanic in your new game.
At the intersection between crypto and gaming we see early signs of a new business model of play-2-earn and on-chain virtual asset ownership,” says Keith Kawahata, head of games for AppLovin. “Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will grow bigger in gaming, becoming a mainstream alternative to centralized and custodial ownership of virtual assets.”
It’s still very early for these new business models, Kawahata cautions, but he notes that they’re growing exponentially (which is always exciting for a marketer to hear). People spend more than $2 billion on NFTs in the first quarter of the year alone … a 2,100% increase from the fourth quarter of 2020.
If that trend continues … wow.
Independent growth consultant in mobile user acquisition Matej Lancaric is interested, but also labels the current frenzy a “hypetrain,” and suggests some caution.
Marketing 2022 prediction 6: ESG
For 2021 an empathic brand story for pandemic-bruised customers and cause-based marketing as a means of aligning with the people brands serve ranked second and sixth, respectively. For 2022, environmental, social, and corporate governance takes their collective place.
“Businesses are under increasing pressure to measure, improve, and disclose their ESG performance to investors, to consumers, and to regulators, and their efforts are reaching into every area of their operations, as are the risks and opportunities that follow,” says the Chicago Board of Trade’s Kirsten Opsahl.
It’s one of the reasons for the shift to virtual meetings and the metaverse, says another marketer.
And in an exceedingly contentious environment that has seen some companies ban discussions on social justice, others believe it’s critical to cover.
In 2022, we will see an increase in the number of companies and organizations taking a stand on social justice issues,” says RoverPass CEO Ravi Parikh. “The businesses that don’t take a stand will likely fall behind those that do.”
“In 2022 and beyond we will find buyers that are less focused on buying a specific product and more so looking to invest their dollars in a brand they trust, believe in, and that
aligns with their core values,” says LinkedIn VP Penry Price.
Social for Good Co. founder and CEO Kara Hoholik agrees.
“Over the last 5 years, we’ve seen an increase in the consumer demand for sustainable products and social awareness from brands and companies. This trend has only accelerated in the last 2 years due to the pandemic, #metoo, Black Lives Matter, and the increasing buying power of Gen Z and millennials.”
And that extends to where brands buy advertising.
Marketing 2022 prediction 7: Marketing fortresses
Eric Seufert coined the term “content fortress” to refer to an increasingly common model of a platform that generates its own supply (inventory of available ad impressions) and fulfills that with its own advertising machinery for demand satisfaction (sales of that inventory). Reddit, Snap, Twitter, Facebook, and Google are examples.
I like the term and have used it, but I’m amending it to “marketing fortress” here because what we’re seeing is not just platforms with content as we’ve traditionally defined it but also retail and ordering platforms building advertiser access to themselves, creating in some cases very verticalized marketing fortresses.
Doordash and its on-platform ad network is a good example.
Who would have thought that an on-demand delivery service would create an in-house ad network five years ago? (Anyone, I guess, who looked at grocery stores and the advertising they sold via shopping carts, and had an uncommon amount of imagination.)
Combine this with the on-platform retail purchase capability that Facebook, TikTok, Snap, and who knows which other platforms would like to have and you have the full meal deal: all the ingredients for a modern re-creation of the walled garden:
FatTail CEO and co-founder Doug Huntington sees impending competition between social and commerce platforms.
Social sites continue to grow and multiply. A high and increasing percentage of buying decisions are made on them. Their commerce capabilities are getting stronger. Consumers who cut their teeth buying on Amazon now expect to be able to buy anything, anywhere, and anytime.”
– Doug Huntingdon, CEO, FatTail
That sword cuts both ways. Media companies sell, retail companies advertise. Brick and mortar retailers, who lost billions of dollars during the pandemic, sit on treasure troves of first party data, says Huntingdon. That means “retail media spend” will balloon.
It’s another “big smush.”
An ongoing collapse of everything into everything.
A reinvention of the Chinese-style superapp into new mega-apps with Western characteristics. In other words, a social app (Facebook) that offers classifieds (Facebook Marketplace) along with ads (Facebook Ads) and entertainment (Facebook Watch) and gaming (Facebook Gaming) plus employment services (Facebook Jobs) and retail (Facebook Shops) and … and … and …
Not all the western platforms are as advanced, of course, and not all will choose to offer so many services.
But all with the ingredient for a marketing fortress could, if they choose, do exactly this.
The result of this rapidly increased digitalization has been a merging of digital environments, as evidenced by tech giants like Facebook and Instagram launching shopping capabilities, and social platforms like TikTok rolling out their own marketplaces,” says Payoneer director Irina Marciano. “In this super-app, omni-channel, omni-device environment, marketers who focus on user experience will find themselves able to push ahead of competition.”
A merging of digital environments?
Exactly: everyone offers everything. Every platform becomes a marketing fortress. And finding ways for marketers to access all of the scalably becomes a new challenge for adtech and martech.
Marketing 2022 prediction 8, just for fun: Kitchen sink
Any time you ask hundreds of people a question with limited context and arcane implications, you’re going to get some odd responses.
Why should I have all the fun?
Here are some of the oddest responses to the question: what technology, space, or area will be most critical in 2022? Naturally, I am not attributing these.
In no particular order:
- Product reviews (good to have … most important?)
- PR (pretty sure this was from a PR agency)
- Memes (where’s lost John Travolta when you need him)
- QR codes (reinvigorated thanks to the pandemic … but …)
- Conversational marketing (I like it, but no)
- Targeting the anti-work crowd (hmmmm)
- Selling to the limbic system (have I got a neuron for you!)
- Email marketing (sure, still important. Most important? Nope.)
- AMP (yes, accelerated mobile pages!)
- Face-to-face in-person marketing
- Push notifications (!!)
- Pricing (?)
- Synthetic data (needed for AI, not sure critical for marketing)
- Green energy (I like it to, but …)
- Joyful company culture (hey, better than the alternative)
- Recruiting (hmmmm)
- Making excuses business (I analyzed this one a bit. It seemed to be about providing customers who do not buy a valid excuse for not buying so they did not feel bad and have a negative brand opinion which would depress future buying intent)
- LinkedIn (okay)
- Influencers will be sued (maybe, but not sure how this fits …)
Summing up: marketing predictions 2022
2021 wasn’t much better.
Omicron doesn’t want us to have any fun either.
However, hope springs eternal.
Here’s to a great 2021 in spite of the struggles for our mobile marketing community. Here’s to you for making it through. Here’s to you for sharing your insight. Here’s to you for spreading your light. Here’s to you for getting up, every single day. For doing your job. For writing those words, designing those graphics, buying those ads, crunching those numbers.
May we all have a better 2022.
Here’s to you!