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Marketers buckle up for cookie-less future, immersive experiences in 2022

From metaverse to digital content growth, experts share how AI/ML will continue to progress and play an increasingly central role in digital marketing. They share their positive outlooks for digital currency, commerce platforms and discuss personalised marketing nuances

Digital marketing is always changing and evolving, but 2022 will likely usher in some dramatic changes, as per the industry experts.

Discussing how the digital landscape will change, they shared how marketers can prepare themselves to take advantage of the situation.

As technology changes and evolves so does digital marketing, and 2022 may hold some interesting surprises for us all!

Bala Kumaran

Bala Kumaran, CEO, Brandstory, said that the power of this new medium can't be ignored. Its reach is across all platforms, with the ability for brands or businesses to connect with their customers in ways they would’ve never thought were possible.

Rise in short-format content videos:

“Video is the new social media now, but short-form videos are where it's at. The rise in popularity for short-form videos is unarguably the one that is here to stay. With their tangible SEO benefits and versatility across platforms, they can help your brand at different stages throughout the funnel while enjoying extreme social reach like no other form factor out there today! All you need to succeed in this digital age is inspiration, creativity and humour,” Kumaran saod.

 Acceleration in e-commerce businesses due to in-house consumption

Manish Bandlish

Manish Bandlish, Managing Director, Mother Dairy Fruit and Vegetable, said that despite the challenges amid the pandemic, this year saw consistent supplies as varied channels such as e-commerce continued big-time. In addition, the consumption trend, which began witnessing a change last year, was persistent this year as well with in-home consumption and preference for packaged foods going strong and the same will continue in the coming year as well.

D2C went from being an unknown thing to becoming the most popular activity for this year, as per Pradeep Krishnakumar, Co-Founder and COO, Zouk.

Pradeep Krishnakumar

“2022 will be a test to see if consumer behaviour continues to be online or not. Personally, I expect an even bigger shift towards online, given a consumer will have access to high-quality, branded products across India. They no longer have to adjust to what's available in their local shop. This will be a game-changer for online D2C brands. Also, just like India-SAAS, I expect many D2C brands will start selling their products globally from India,” Krishnakumar added.

Dinesh Juneja

Dinesh Juneja, Founder of Emporiom, added that the acceleration of D2C businesses also contributed to the agency’s growth numbers and it will invest further in e-commerce offerings. 

Technology adoption in financial services

In the last two years, India witnessed a gradual rise in technology adoption in financial services. One segment that has been changed forever is lending. Many customers have realised the inefficiencies that plague traditional lending, such as the need to complete physical paperwork, undergo cumbersome KYC and deal with in-person interactions. In the past year, digital lending has come to the fore and showcased its ability to eliminate these common problems, thus, making the complicated process seamless.

Lalit Mehta

Lalit Mehta, Co-founder and CEO, Decimal Technologies, said that equitable growth and financial inclusion are critical for India’s recovery in 2022 and FinTechs can support it by expanding the reach of digital lending to the farthest corners of India. 

Ashraf Rizvi

Ashraf Rizvi, Founder and CEO, Gilded, said that the outlook for digital gold in 2022 is positive as people continue to grow comfortable with digital alternatives that make ownership of the precious metal easier than ever before.

2022 will witness more FinTechs tap into the business opportunity in rural India. More companies will realise the benefit of creating a tech-driven ecosystem and come together as partners to address the needs of the untapped customer in India’s tier-two towns.

Security and privacy to remain a major concern:

Madhura Moulik

Madhura Moulik, Co- Founder and Director, Skilfinity, said that security and privacy will rule the headlines, especially when it comes to digital advertising in 2022.

“App stores (IOS 14 update), search engines (Google third party cookie disablement) all are working towards protecting target audience’s user data, hence companies should work towards improving organic ranking and building brand value,” she said.

She also believes Linkedin (for professionals) and Instagram (more towards consumers) will grow massively. The latter is focussing on social selling, which Moulik thinks is a winning strategy, especially when influencers are added to the mix.

Rise in empathetic digital content:

In the year 2021, enterprises and brands have realized the importance of having an empathetic approach in their communication to strike a chord with their target audience.

Sharmin Ali

The empathetic approach of engaging with consumers is the future of marketing, said Sharmin Ali, Founder and CEO, Instoried. Leveraging and optimizing written content using artificial technology, data driven analytics will continue to grow in 2022.

Growth of influencers, creators in parallel to monetisation opportunities:

From the onset of the pandemic there has been a spotlight on influencer marketing as a crucial part of the marketing mix. The rapid growth of the creator ecosystem over the last few years, collided with the overnight realization of marketers everywhere that most of their traditional mediums were obsolete in the post-Covid world. The result was not just a “trend” towards influencer marketing, but more of a paradigm shift.

Digital content and influencer strategy is now a top priority right from the beginning of the media planning phase for most brands and agencies. All this has happened at the same time when the platform and social media ecosystem has seen seismic shifts as well.

Malini Agarwal

The surge in demand from brands, and the increasingly complicated platform landscape has left the creator/influencer ecosystem in need of two things – support and organisation, said Malini Agarwal- Founder and Creative Director MissMalini Entertainment and Girl Tribe.

“The community needs support to navigate all the format and platform choices, to collaborate with other creators more regularly, and to create content - especially video content - more efficiently. The community needs organisations to maximise their earnings and to amplify their content at scale. In other words, to take control of their own monetisation and career growth,” she added.

Mohit Bhasin

Mohit Bhasin, COO Keeda Media - Vitamin Stree, added that Web3 is a very exciting concept for the communities. It provides a new approach to engage with audiences, and it will allow them greater opportunities to participate in the shaping of the community.

He added that the place for long-form content is also changing. With so many options, content is increasingly oriented toward niches and sub-communities rather than the general public.

“Web3 technologies are becoming more widely used. Virtual production, short form content, audio content, interactive content, and other new means of creating and consuming information- rise in social interaction across the board - whether branded or not, communities are interacting in the real world,” he said.

Shreyansh Bhandari, COO and Co-Founder, Lyxel&Flamingo Digital, added that Nano influencers and creators were one of the core facets of all major ongoing campaigns and they helped in providing brands with valuable awareness and recall amongst a niche audience. Nano influencers often see the highest percentage of engagement, as they have a small and more closely linked community of followers. Major brands dedicated about 20-25% of their brand promotion budget to influencer marketing and focused primarily on nano-influencers that can reach their target group. They will continue to play an exceptional role going forward too.

UID and cookie-less future:

As Indian consumers become more tech savvy, data privacy and transparency are becoming a topic of concern for many.

Tejinder Gill

According to Tejinder Gill, General Manager, The Trade Desk, India, this coming year will be a crucial time for marketers to learn about the different identity solutions available and test new approaches for leveraging data in a post-cookie world. One identity solution that stakeholders within the Open Internet ecosystem are rallying around is Unified ID 2.0. Unified ID 2.0 operates across advertising channels including mobile, audio, browsers, OTT/TV apps and devices with a single ID.

“This solution gives marketers a common currency for digital advertising, while aiming to allow consumers to retain transparency and control, with the ability to opt-out. 2022 represents the year that the internet will reset itself and where we will build something better as we bid farewell to cookies,” he added. He also shared that programmatic advertising will take centre stage for marketers.

2021 has been a rollercoaster ride for the cookie. While the ride may last a little longer than originally thought, the good news is that, as an industry, we now have a lot more clarity on what a cookie-less future might look like.

While third-party cookies are set to go away in a short while, he added that brands have some time to understand the different identity solutions available and work with a trusted technology partner to test new approaches for leveraging data in a post-cookie world. Importantly, they have the opportunity to build consented, first-party relationships with consumers.

Immersive experiences, AI/ML and automation in business processes

Till today, the digital world was a 2D idea, but now, it is on its way to transform into an immersive 3D experience and 2022 will be a ground breaking year for the same, as per experts.

Angad Singh Manchanda

Angad Singh Manchanda, CEO and Co-founder, Chimp&z Inc, said, "As the world continues to alleviate the repercussions of the pandemic, the trend of businesses digitizing services and marketing strategies has increased in 2021. IoT, AI, and ML are making strides in all sectors, and as a creative industry, we must keep up with these technologies' rapid progress. We saw a constant transition of social media algorithms in the middle of the dazed situation. The creator's economy was one element that stood out. It is anticipated that 2022 will be a year of increasing influencer engagement along with expanding demand for integrated content creation, AI-led gamification, and blockchain services in digital marketing. It will increase the number of NFTs created by innovative brands. One trend to watch for in 2022 is animated conversations, in which brands will use 3D characters and interactive narratives for digital advertising. The 5G development has intrigued a massive population already. As the 5G network intensifies, it will be a significant driver of growth in IoT and other intelligent automation applications. All of these advancements are only the tip of the iceberg.”

2022 will witness brands’ heightened reliance on emerging technologies, automation, AI/ML, augmented reality.

Bhandari, of Lyxel&Flamingo Digital, said that marketing automation indeed stood at the top of every marketer’s strategic pyramid this year. Automation played a pivotal role in providing brands with more detailed insights on behavioural patterns of their users, apart from giving them an opportunity to nurture the leads.

Its research estimates that some brands even saw 30% - 35% increase in leads generated after implementing automation software. With each channel working together, brands were able to create a unified customer experience, thereby facilitating a seamless journey.

As per industry research, 70% of companies observed that AI-powered personalized marketing strategies generated around 200% ROI while 86% of brands noticed a spike in business after integration.

“With AI, marketers were able to make product recommendations to users, hyper-personalization of messages, optimization of display and search ads, email marketing and even content marketing by discovering what works better and what type of content is more effective. All in all, it empowered brands to have a better engagement with their customers and gave a boost to customer loyalty and retention,” he added. He also shared that live streaming will continue to emerge as a strong medium for brands to create relationships with their customers.

Experts also emphasised on how voice search emerged as a new market for marketers and smart speakers will continue to change the ways users interact and spend.

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