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Will 2022 Mark the Birth of the Post-Pandemic Advertising Age? 8 Marketing Predictions for the Year to Come 

In looking forward to the year ahead, TEGNA’s Dave Neway predicts that 2022 will usher in a new era in advertising typified by increased consumer control and privacy, new habits and routines, continued collaboration between man and machine, and boundless opportunities to delight consumers at every turn. 

Meredith Cunningham Published: December 29, 2021

By Dave Neway, VP of Ad Sales Marketing, TEGNA

Admittedly, 2021 didn’t quite materialize as we initially envisioned, replete with promises of “the best summer ever!” and “a full return to normalcy!” Though we’ve witnessed momentous progress in the battle against COVID, coupled with burgeoning signs of economic recovery, 2021 proved to be yet another exercise in unpredictability and contingency planning. 

As we attempt to collectively navigate these persistent “unprecedented times,” many of our habits and routines will evolve in kind, both on and offline. We know that past is often prologue in the world of advertising and media, so what trends should we expect to take center stage in 2022? I would posit the following:   

1. Lean-In to Local

The pandemic brought a myriad of imperatives into focus, especially the criticality of getting timely information about local conditions. As public health and safety continue to be top-of-mind among consumers across the country, we should anticipate a continued lean-in to personalized delivery through local news in 2022. In addition, we’ve seen local news build momentum in 2021 because of its impartiality. Indeed, recent Gallup polling corroborates that the public perceives less ideological bias in local news vs. national news media. If 2021 marked the beginning of a local renaissance, then expect a second act to follow in 2022.  

2. Cuckoo for Content

Demand for original content has likely never been higher than it is today. While many of our favorite programs had to halt production (or delay releases) during the pandemic, our insatiable appetite for fresh, original content only compounded, creating a massive opportunity for creators. Without a doubt, 2022 will come as sweet relief to those who feared they’d reached the end of the internet; indeed, it will be a banner year for the entertainment industry as this pent-up demand is addressed with content that surprises and delights.   

3. Power of The Podcast

It should come as no surprise that podcasts didn’t just survive the pandemic – they thrived. As podcast adoption soared over the last year, driven both by new listeners and new listening occasions (i.e.: in the comfort of one’s home), we should anticipate even greater audience affinity for podcasting in 2022 as lapsed listeners increasingly return to the office and resume their daily commute. Concomitantly, we’ll also see more content being adapted to, or specifically created for, a podcast format.  

4. Privacy, Please 

At the outset, 2021 appeared to be the year when cookies would FINALLY meet their maker and new IDFA regulations would all but upend the advertising ecosystem. And in a 2021-like twist, neither of these events ever really came to pass, or at least not in the way some may have hoped (or feared). 

Instead, what transpired was a flourishing of permission-based marketing. Though the term has existed since Seth Godin introduced the concept in 1999, it took on new meaning in 2021 as we observed brands increasingly and explicitly asking for our permission to track our in-app activity in exchange for more relevant and personalized advertising. Getting to “yes” in the face of this question isn’t something brands can take for granted, and that will certainly remain the case in 2022 as the import of brand trust looms larger than ever before. After all, in this context, “yes” roughly translates to “I trust you, so go right ahead and see what I’m up to in your app.”   

5. The Safety Dance

A close relative of brand trust, brand safety will play a similarly pivotal role in 2022 as emerging channels – including audio, OTT, CTV, and digital out-of-home – present new opportunities to render the advertising supply chain more transparent and give marketers better visibility into where their ads will actually appear. As a result, it will be imperative for the industry to agree upon a common set of standards to safely navigate these newer ad environments (in addition to the usual suspects), lest advertisers run the risk of placing ads in an increasingly complex ecosystem.     

6. A-OK with OTT

OTT has become one of the most popular new acronyms in the contemporary lexicon, and for good reason. Untethered to third-party cookies, OTT advertising offers a bevy of benefits to brands, including extended reach, more precise targeting, less media waste, and stronger engagement (especially video completion rates). In 2021, we saw audiences tighten their embrace of OTT while the industry harvested the fruit of this flourishing ad environment. With new OTT apps and sell-side players entering the market at a regular, if not frenetic pace, we should anticipate widespread adoption of OTT by brands of all shapes and sizes in 2022 as it becomes a default component of media buys.   

7. Targeting Transformation

As cookies inched closer to crumbling in 2021, we saw a wave of innovation in audience targeting, especially with methods that leverage 1st party data or other cookie-less signals, including contextual targeting and universal IDs. Even with a slight delay in cookies’ final expiration date, the largest publishers and ad tech companies have shown that they understand the assignment, and are rapidly innovating in this space to help brands maintain a comprehensive, cross-platform view of their consumers. We should expect to see continued ingenuity in this part of the advertising ecosystem as CDPs become the gold standard for unifying and activating first-party data. At the same time, targeting based on particular demographic categories, especially gender, will also begin to evolve in 2022 as these classifications become increasingly less defined and/or perceived in a binary fashion.   

8. Man & Machine  

Once a mere buzzword that portended little for marketers, artificial intelligence has quickly become standard ad tech currency as it continues to permeate nearly all facets of the ecosystem, from programmatic media to audience targeting to dynamic creative optimization. In 2021, we saw interest in AI soar as companies faced new questions about algorithmic bias and how to mitigate it accordingly, especially in the context of righting the wrongs of social injustice.   

Though uncertainty may still loom in many facets of our lives, there’s little doubt that 2022 will be a watershed year for those in media. With the majority of Americans now fully vaccinated just one year after vaccinations first debuted, 2022 will mark the birth of the post-pandemic advertising age – a new era typified by increased consumer control and privacy, new habits, and routines, continued collaboration between man and machine, and boundless opportunities to delight consumers at every turn. 

And while there are many organizations that can help deliver value to advertisers, TEGNA is uniquely poised to do so by offering brands the ability to reach consumers across linear, digital, audio, and OTT, all while serving the greater good of our communities. 

To learn more about how TEGNA can help you make the most of this banner year, just visit us at tegna.com/advertise.  

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