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The top digital trends 2022 by digitalwerk CEO Mike Gattereder
Image partially created by AI

What developments the year 2022 has in store for agencies, corporate culture, design, commerce and digital marketing.

The top 10 digital trends 2022

After 2021, less changes than expected - the great awakening has stuttered due to new virus mutations. We have once again examined 10 developments and trends across the areas of new work, employer branding, digital marketing and performance:

1. Corporate culture and new work as the basis for "real" employer branding

After a 2-year pandemic, hybrid forms of work are the "new normal" - the discussions on new working time models that were pushed forward in 2021 will lead to pilot projects in 2022. Large digital agencies, for example, are starting with 32 hours for 90 % of the salary with freedom of choice. We are curious to see what insights these pilot projects will bring and whether the output will change. However, it feels like the discussion in the industry is greater than the willingness to actually take this step. One thing is certain, the many new approaches pay a great deal into a modern corporate culture and thus into successful employer branding - because they deliver one of the strongest benefits for employees.

For the first movers in the agency scene, there is a clear competitive advantage over the long-established players in the market who still rely on all-in contracts and agency presence. In the long run, the latter will have a hard time getting or keeping qualified employees. Because those who have the choice as employees in 2022 will be focusing on life-work balance.

As with any brand, the same applies to the employer brand: without the appropriate communication of benefits and jobs and a transparent, creative appearance, it will not stand out. If this homework has been done, expenses for job advertisements on classic, expensive job portals can be massively reduced by using your own channels with efficient media budgets. Those who are serious about the promised benefits and do not misuse them as buzzwords will be rewarded in the long run: a modern and flexible corporate culture increases employer attractiveness, lowers the costs for job advertisements and reduces employee turnover. In addition to a leading digital agency from Salzburg, we are also trying to set a good example, most recently through our successful employer branding and recruiting page.

2. Corporate influencer-marketing & content creators

The growing use of video content increases the demand for content creators and professional influencers who have expertise in moving image storytelling. Event videos and product presentations have long been handled by professional influencers. They benefit more than ever from the lack of individuality of classic online advertising, from the restrictive iOS cookie policy and, in the future, also from Google. What has also proven to be very useful for brands is the development of corporate content creators. Users like recurring faces that they associate directly with the corporate account over time and at the same time humanise the brand behind it. This is also or especially successful with micro-influencers. The billing for this cooperation will also change - 10 euros per 1,000 followers is not the right amount for small "engagement-strong" influencers - in the future, it will be about creative performance and not just about (artificial) reach.

3. Social media commerce and retro online live shopping

Instagram and TikTok are increasingly becoming shopping apps - in the future, video content there will not only serve as communication, product recommendation and inspiration, the platforms will directly become a sales platform. Customers will no longer even have to leave their favourite site to buy products - a good argument for companies to expand their distribution, even if they have to submit to the rules of the platform. In the coming year, shoppable posts (i.e. social media posts in which content marketing and commerce merge and users are led directly to the check-out page of a product) will be an essential part of digital marketing. This is where the Viennese company "DMS" Digitale Medien Systeme conducts research and organises "LIVE shopping" via social media channels. You can find more about this here.

4. Video long formats for social media and YouTube

Social media video content in all kinds of formats is clearly still becoming more and more important. After years of becoming shorter and shorter in duration, this trend now seems to be reversing: While Instagram reels were initially limited to 15 to max. 30 seconds, up to 60 seconds are now possible. On YouTube, it's getting even longer: car/hardware product reviews up to 30 minutes long are conquering the USA and Europe. Classic test magazines can no longer keep up with the production of cross-media content and the business model, including sponsoring, is different from classic ad sales.

5. E-Commerce and websites with(out) tracking

As the advertising market shifts to a cookieless environment, e-commerce companies - and the agencies that serve these clients - will move from acquisition and conversion to personalised retention strategies and optimising customer lifetime value. We see retention tools and subscription/loyalty programmes as particularly important in trying to counteract this. Already, up to 30 % of accesses can no longer be assigned to channels or platforms, etc. The various browser providers are already massively restricting tracking with various security upgrades such as ITP, ETP & Co. Only Google Chrome still allows the use of 3rd party cookies, but has already announced that it will also discontinue them in 2023.

This decreasing efficiency of advertising will drive small and medium-sized retailers to marketplaces, especially Amazon Marketplace. As a result, Amazon Ads will take their place in the service portfolio of many agencies. Black Friday is losing its dominance and sales relevance - consumers want to go back to traditional shops; moreover, the Black Friday principle contradicts the strong sustainability culture. Instead, one could increasingly rely on an omni-channel/geo-targeting strategy and direct the traffic directly into the real shop.

6. Performance and SEO are partially automated

AI is taking over more and more tasks in the area of performance marketing. Audience targeting and segmentation in combination with testing strategies are gaining importance in the management and optimisation of campaigns. Facebook is already delivering a significantly lower ROAS than in 2020 - expect more use of alternative channels (TikTok Ads, Amazon Ads, LinkedIn etc.). As the amount of tracking data shrinks and becomes less relevant, campaign ROAS is slowly being replaced by marketing ROAS - a KPI calculated based on total marketing spend and total revenue. In the area of SEO optimisation (especially in the creation of SEO-optimised texts with a focus on the product area), platforms controlled via AI are proving useful and successful in the USA. Initial A/B tests support this automated development.

7. Creative excellence, lead agencies, pitches, collaborations and agency tools

The trench warfare between traditional advertising, digital disciplines and PR agencies makes less sense than ever and has been replaced. Marketers demand a radical "user centric" approach and have no resources for silo thinking. This has resulted in two developments:

1. the separation into classic and digital is a thing of the past once and for all. Those who approach communication and campaigns holistically, who do not think in terms of touchpoints, but in terms of people and messages, are challenged and on the right path. The idea is the idea, digital and analogue. And this is gaining in importance not only because of the limited tracking possibilities. Content alone is no longer king - uniqueness, clarity and relevance are what the success of successful communication is built on. People want to hear stories - but not about how a brand's products or services are better than the competition. They want to hear how a brand delivers on its promises in a way that meets the needs and expectations of its customers. Advertising must inspire. Therefore, the focus in the conception and implementation of online and offline advertising must clearly be on creativity.

The KPIs for 2022 are expertise and, above all, the management and sharing of knowledge between client, agencies and producer. This requires new tools and technologies to manage the complex variety of concepts, media, formats, interactions and leads.
Pitches will change massively in the future, so that excellence is not characterised by concept and price negotiations alone, but by cooperation culture (chemistry) and trust. Fewer and fewer agencies will participate in pitches - instead, they will increasingly approach clients through consulting expertise and workshops. Therefore, the positioning and reputation of the agency will move to the centre of attention when selecting an agency.

8. Text design by inclusivity

Social developments are also changing web design trends - and these are moving more towards inclusive language and content. We are not talking about a short-term trend, but rather a permanent shift towards a more universal awareness of the impact of language. Inclusivity in design will soon be the norm. Inclusive texts will make the web a place that is accessible to more people. Webflow has its own reference for inclusive language, which is used as a guide for written work and has been made publicly available as part of the Webflow brand design system. Language guidelines can be a useful feature to add to any corporate website. It's not just what you say, but how and where you say it that matters. Alt text, readable text (font type, size and colour) and avoiding text as an image are all ways to ensure that everyone (including Google's algorithm) can read what your website has to say, regardless of their own language skills.

9. Gender-neutral web design

Gender-neutral web design will continue to gain relevance. The first obvious step is to move away from unnecessary supposedly gender-specific details that used to be so ubiquitous: aggressively pink body care pages or hypermasculine firewolf-and-knife themes for camping gear. Women* buy power tools and men* buy skincare products. In forms and dropdown menus, a variety of options beyond the binary have become standard. 42% of Americans believe that multiple options should be offered. Even better, websites that don't desperately need these options can simply remove them altogether, as Snapchat has done.

10. Development 2022 and cookieless tracking

Our teams from Development and Performance 2022 are working together on new tracking models and their integration on various platforms. At the moment, the following approaches are under consideration:

A) Authenticated user principle

Bei dieser Lösung geht es, einfach gesagt, darum einen User auf der Website durch eine Variable zu identifizieren und so auch beim nächsten Mal wiederzuerkennen.

B) Aggregated audience

Another possibility, which Google in particular relies on, is the formation of so-called cohorts. Users are grouped together on the basis of their interests, which are collected through 1st-party cookies. Each cohort is given an ID to show advertisers which interest group a user belongs to.

C) Contextual targeting

The third approach is to display advertisements based on predefined keywords in the advertising-relevant environment. Here, no extra user consent is required, as no personal data is collected. The problem is, however, that this variant offers almost no or difficult monitoring of the success of campaigns.

Even though it may sound as if the year 2022 brings more challenges than opportunities, we are certain that we are in for an exciting and eventful year in which creative, solution-oriented thinking will once again be rewarded in all areas. And that can only benefit us, digitalwerk.

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