2021 Review: Marketing Trends and Strategies
Dec 21 2021
New advertising formats, privacy regulations and consumer behaviors each made a significant impact on how marketers approached their digital campaigns over this past year. Before we take a closer look at marketing trends approaching in 2022, let’s consider what worked (and what didn’t) for advertisers in 2021.
Ecommerce Boomed, and Social Platforms Took Notice
Even with many COVID-related safety protocols loosening across the country in 2021, the time consumers spent online continued to surge — that meant more video views, more ad engagement and (perhaps most importantly to your marketing department) more time spent discovering new products.
Bloomberg reported in June 2021 an increase in so-called “Revenge Shopping” — an eagerness to splurge on impulse purchases both online and in-store to account for the social distancing measures and other Covid-related difficulties. Many industries experienced a sudden jump in sales as user behavior adapted to pandemic and post-pandemic conditions, including the following:
Amazon luggage sales increased 460% compared to the previous year, indicating a major rise in vacation and leisure trip planning.
Amazon also reports sales of party supplies have more than doubled, with sales of party-fashion (dresses and tuxedos) tripling over the past year as in-person events slowly return.
Sales of toothpaste, teeth whiteners and mouthwash products were up 66% in April 2021 compared to January 2020 — we’re not sure if it’s the masks or the Zoom meetings, but something is prompting a larger interest in fresh breath and a nice smile this year.
It Looks Like CTV is Here to Stay
Wouldn’t you know it, CTV is the fastest-growing advertising platform. Marketers are throwing their budgets behind the rising star of video content for its robust targeting capabilities, strong user engagement and opportunity for continued growth amid lighter competition. Wyzowl found 96% of people surveyed said they have watched an explainer video to discover more information about a product or service they were considering purchasing, with 84% of respondents saying the video was what sold them on their purchase.
COVID-19 also presented an opportunity for people who hadn’t previously interacted with video online to get more comfortable with the concept — approximately 80% of U.S. households now stream video to a connected device. With so much momentum pushing streaming services forward as the new standard of entertainment, savvy advertisers must now consider CTV ads a core piece of their marketing campaigns. Here’s what makes CTV so appealing:
It’s better for both parties. CTV isn’t limited by typical commercial restraints, giving advertisers more freedom to innovate and find what works for their audience in real-time. Advertisers reap the benefits of showing an unskippable ad to a specific viewer in its entirety, and users receive more creative ads relevant to their interests.
It’s easily connected to business outcomes. One of the biggest drivers behind CTV advertising is the ability to apply first-party data to track performance in detail as users shop and view media on their unique devices.
It’s more efficient. Tracking performance also means more chances to optimize active campaigns. Improvements to targeting parameters, measurement and attribution will help deliver CTV in more cost-effective ways.
It’s less saturated than social (for now). Despite an uptick in ad-spend last year, CTV and OTT spending still lags behind — more than 60% of advertisers have not yet spent on CTV/OTT advertising, though many consider it to be a top priority in the coming year.
Marketers Grappled with New Privacy Rules
While the increased social media usage produced greater opportunities for advertisers, a significant Apple iOs update and its associated privacy regulations further challenged the existing ecommerce third-party cookie model. Major social platforms enacted various forms of “opt-in” cookie tracking options for their users, threatening to thin audiences concerned with how their data may be used.
These evolving privacy policies and decreased reliance on third-party cookies has marketers placing a heavier focus on collecting and utilizing first party data. In many ways this has led to net positives for advertisers who’ve learned to adapt — for many brands, implementing easy ways or incentives for users to opt-in to your brand eliminates the guess-work previously associated with attracting new customers and has resulted in more highly-qualified audiences.
The majority of customers are willing to provide basic personal data for a better brand experience — and even more are willing if a business is open about how that data is used. Fully integrating first-party data into a marketing strategy allows brands to properly segment audiences and create actionable plans to better personalize the customer experience.
Customers Have Come to Expect Ad Personalization
Personalization in advertising helps marketers focus their budgets and efforts with the best chance of a return on investment. This past year had marketers balancing relevant personalization with potential over-invasiveness that turns customers off. Plenty of useful data emerged in 2021 has attempted to determine what degree of personalization is “acceptable” while online shopping:
67.9% say a product recommendation based on their purchase history was welcome
67.7% liked getting a birthday email
61.6% think an email reminding them there’s an item in their cart is appropriate
52.4% don’t mind seei
ng ads for a website that they visited recently
41% said it’s okay for stores to email them coupons while they’re in the store
21% don’t mind a pop-up ad for an item they’ve been talking about latelyNobody likes to be bombarded with spam ads, which is why most shoppers respond more positively to ads adapted to their personal preferences. Improving your brand’s personalization practices benefits both sides of the business-customer relationship, building loyalty and trust among shoppers new to your products while highlighting areas of your marketing strategy that may warrant some refining.