Confused? Here’s how to thrive in 2022

Given that nobody could have predicted the past couple of years, how can we now best approach the immediate future? 

Making predictions is a bold business at the best of times, and let’s face it for most of us 2020 and 2021 have not often felt like they were that. So it would take a brave (or foolhardy?) person to map out their business expectations. With that in mind, rather than their usual ‘what’s the year going to bring?’ predictions for 2022, instead some of the brightest minds at MI Media offer us their views on what could help us all thrive in the year ahead…

Limber up! – Richard Slater, Managing Director 

Wouldn’t it be lovely to be in a position of greater certainty after the turbulence we’ve all been through since March 2020? Sadly, although we are seeing normality return in some areas, agility is still likely to be the key to success next year. 

Large-scale macroeconomic shifts relating to supply-side issues are not only hitting businesses in unexpected ways, but also creating big fluctuations in consumer confidence. This, in addition to some brands trying to catch up on losses from lockdown, is making it hard to predict where things will land month to month. In the last two months of 2021 we have already seen unparalleled levels of ad spend moving through AV channels, creating big price rises. This seems unsustainable if the downward trend in viewing figures continues, but there’s no way of knowing how long it could last. Equally, although we can guess at potential big decisions from the Alphabets, Apples and Metas of the world, how and when they make changes are harder to predict and could have wide-ranging implications. 

The key to offering effective client solutions next year will be monitoring the market closely and responding quickly. How can this agility be achieved? Firstly, by committing to giving clients access to the people with the experience to give informed guidance and teams who are skilled and resourced to be able to implement quick changes. Secondly by trying to get ahead of the curve and investing quickly in areas, like connected TV [CTV], where new opportunities are likely to emerge that could be game changers for 2022. 

“It’s the economy, stupid” – Andy Brander, Planning Director 

This was the mantra that helped propel Bill Clinton to the White House and it remains as true as ever in the here and now. 

Just a few months ago, forecasters were cheering the UK’s prospects, expecting a strong bounce back in consumer expenditure fuelled by the pent-up demand of households feeling flush with lockdown-induced savings. How quickly the economic headwinds change. In stark contrast, now is our winter of discontent, with consumers and businesses reeling from supply shocks, rising inflation and the imminent threats to disposable income of higher tax and interest rates. Consumer confidence, a barometer for discretionary expenditure, has slumped all the way back to levels last seen in the deep lockdown of Spring 20 (according to YouGov’s tracker): 

Source: YouGov 8th November 2021, ‘Personal finance pessimism drags down consumer confidence for the third consecutive month’

The rollercoaster in demand (and supply) volatility over the last 18 months seems set to continue into 2022, but there are glimmers of light. The UK job market remains strong, with high vacancies bolstering job security and wages. And business confidence appears robust, with 80 percent expecting growth of at least 10 percent in the next 12 months, according to HSBC business leader research. I’m no economist but I do know that what goes down generally comes back up. Hopefully supply-side challenges will unravel quickly so that inflationary pressures and interest rate rises subside, so we’ll see consumer sentiment bounce back up once more in the light of better economic news. Until that happens, marketers and their agencies will need to work as hard as ever, keeping their targeting sharp and their messaging motivating, to drive the desired consumer demand. 

Anything is possible – Jo Blake, Investment Director 

Probably since about 2017, the industry has talked about programmatic OOH [Out Of Home]. I always felt that it was being talked about but in a slightly unobtainable way. Then the pandemic happened, and pretty much halted OOH spend, let alone a whole new way of thinking! But this year, coming out of lockdown, growth in OOH revenue is expected to be at 14.9 percent with a global market of $36.6billion. making OOH the second fastest-growing ad medium, fuelled by digital. During the pandemic period, OOH media owners have made moves to make their digital inventory available to OOH DSPs [Demand-Side Platforms] and to be traded programmatically. For clients, this is a good thing and will mean flexible pricing models and genuine agility – enabling clients to increase or decrease spend, pause campaigns and generally just respond more quickly to external changes, reaching targeted audiences with contextual advertising in real time. 

Alongside advances in programmatic, creative boundaries will continue to be pushed in OOH. Only recently we have seen plant-topped bus stops in Leicester (Bee Stops), the Costa campaign featuring a pop-out Chocolate Orange and an After Eight, and my favourite, the 3D billboard in Piccadilly for Amazon. A truly jaw-dropping experience, blurring the lines between experiential, content and OOH. Anything is possible in OOH, absolutely anything – but clients need to be brave and have the appetite to drive innovation alongside real-time, contextual programmatic buying. 

Keeping pace with hyper-automation – Marie Comarmond, Digital Planning Director 

We are hearing different industries talking about hyper-automation and how it would change their productivity and improve their performance. When it comes to digital advertising, that can be seen as a continuation of what we have been working towards for the last few months and years. 

With Google and Microsoft prioritising their Responsive ads, Facebook working on the metaverse and the end of cookies, we are clearly entering a period of hyper-automation. But while automation is most of the time associated with making things easy, it is more about reaching the right users at the right time, using the right media. 

But how can we leverage it for our clients, when the digital technology and rules are always evolving? Here are five key actions that could help clients into 2022: 

  1. Understand your audience. Keep building first party data and behavioural data outside of cookies 

  2. One size does not fit all. Tailor advertising to mirror the user’s journey from awareness to conversion 

  3. Take a step back. Analyse the impact of targeting and prioritise what is working, but also understand what is not working. 

  4. Identify new users and platforms and keep up with the changes! 

  5. Test, test, test!