It has been another busy year here at Customer First Digital. With 12 editions and more than 50 updates of The Digital Revolution, we thought we would do a wrap up of the 3 major changes that has impacted the industry this year. Plus discover Dave's predictions on how these will evolve and what he expects to be new in 2022. 

Lets Get Social ... 

What we saw in 2021 
It is very clear all social platforms have developed across the last 12 months. Instagram and Facebook optimised videos and reels as they were concerned of the loss of marketshare to TikTok as discussed in our March edition. Reddit has also made further moves in to the ad space along with TikTok causing an impact and being more dominant this year, September and October editions cover alot of the social media platforms. We, like many others in the industry have also seen the iOS changes in 2021, has had a siginficant affect on the ability to target customers and generate a positive return from paid channels such as Facebook and Instagram. Challenges haven't just been limited to paid, where the reach of organic posts have reduced as competition has intensified. 
Our Social Media Prediction for 2022 
While the longer term vision for Meta (and the Metaverse) is much more far reaching than their advertising proposition, they have openly acknowledged that advertisers have struggled with returns from their campaigns, especially since the iOS updates. Expect to see more improvements to the targeting. 
From a content perspective, the increase in investment in Reels and continued growth of TikTok means that brands should be investing in both short form and longer form video content. Gone are the days where this needs to be high production tv advertising. Authentic in-house videos bringing brands to life are seeing the highest engagement and should be a key part of 2022. 

The Death of the Cookie ...  

What we saw in 2021 
All the way back in January google announced the testing of an alternative to 3rd party cookies. We covered this topic in most of our editions including February and of course when high profile publishers began to resist Floc in our April and May editions. Our latest coverage on this topic was July's edition with the new timeline announcements following the delayed rollout. 
Our Cookie Predictions for 2022 
As always there will be an arms race for technology solutions providing a soluton in the market. The events in 2021, with FLoc not gaining any momentum with publishers outside of Google shows that the solution will be fragmented, only to support one specific digital marketing provider. Google's recent full launch of Consent Mode out of beta to help with the tracking and optimisation of Google Ads is a clear example of this fragmentation. 
Unfortunately there will need to be an acceptance that the discrepancy between backend platform data and tracking data via Google Analytics and other platforms will not be aligned. Understanding what this level is for your brand (by country) factoring this into your regular KPI reporting will be the only short term way forward.  

The Art of Paid Search Advertising is Slipping Away ... 

What we saw in 2021 
As with previous years, we've seen an increased investment in Google Automation, with Mircosoft as always following closely behind. Many challenges with Googles automated bid management has been it's ability to react quickly to market changes. May saw the launch of Seasonality into Smart Bidding in response to this. In August, Google then announced the removal of Enhanced Text Ads in favour of Responsive Text Ads. Whilst advertisers have time to test and rollout with a sunset of June, this announcement takes the art of creative management away, with advertisers feeling that the control that they have over their accounts is diminishing.  
Our Automation Predictons for 2022 
The increase in automation from Google (and Microsoft) puts increased pressure on the whole advertising ecosystem. Paid for third party bid management solutions such as Marin, Kenshoo and Bidnamic (as well as Google's own solution) continue to become marginalised, with advertisers quite rightly doing A/B tests to understand the true ROI of their paid solution. The solutions are also having to continue to adapt and complement the changes from the search engines.  
Advertising agencies will also have to show the added value that they are offering, with an increase in brands questioning the monthly retainer fees they are paying.  

Dave's Digital Marketing Predictions for 2022 

Create that two way conversation with SMS  
Many brands have started to re-embrace the usage of SMS to customers in 2021. Being classed by some as the new breakout channel, we can see that SMS will go significantly beyond the traditional broadcast campaigns. As email marketing and peoples inboxes become saturated, we see sending automated actions linked to key on site actions e.g. Abandon Basket as an important way to acquire new customers. This intimate channel goes far beyond acquisition marketing, with the ability to have a two way conversation with your potential customers giving an alternative approach to delivering excellence in customer service. 
Understand your leads and customers with data capture 
As a customer, you will have noticed an increase in the amount of websites serving popups very quickly after you arrive at their site, more often than not promoting new customer offers in exchange for an email. This has been in response to the Year on Year downturn in new customers. A more considered approach should however be taken in 2022. An overlay like this should be personalised to the customers behaviour on site, avoiding a one size fits all approach to serving immediately. Using average pages viewed and time on site can be a great starting point. It is also not enough to just capture someones email address. Whilst volume of leads to retarget is important, the quality of information should override this. Collecting mobile numbers, birthdays and how they want to be engaged with is important, to ensure that you start as you mean to go on with tailored communications. Whilst some of this data can be captured at this initial touchpoint, be careful of not asking for too much too soon. A strong welcome series campaign where you incentivise your customers to provide more personal information about their preferences via initiatives such as loyalty programmes, should be developed. 
Site speed will be an important factor ... however not as important as it was expected to be in 2021 
Having an optimised site with a strong page load speed isn't. Back in 2013, I was part of a project to raise awareness of the importance, with 7% of conversions being lost for every second that site performed above the 3 second benchmark. Fast forward to today, whilst the benchmarks haven't massively changed since 2013, the amount of online traffic and missed sales opportunity has amplified. This coupled with Google's delayed launch of page experience as an SEO ranking factor tell us that every brand should invest in site speed improvement initiatives in 2022. We however feel that the original fan fare around Google's ranking changes are going to be less significant. Firstly, the new rollout plan is due to hit desktop first (typically 20% to 30% of a brands overall traffic, dependent on sector). We also feel that the benefit of the change will be softer, with Google giving less weighting than what was first anticipated. 

That's a wrap ... 

That's it for 2021, we hope you have taken something away to benefit your plans. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and we look forward to what the world of digital has planned for us in 2022! 
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