If there’s anything marketers have learned in the past 18 months, it’s the importance of pivoting their strategies with confidence and aligning with the behaviors of the target audience they want to connect with. ‘to hire. Because this approach will remain relevant, we’ve identified some of the key learning opportunities from the past year to help you meet today’s unique challenges and seamlessly pivot your marketing strategies.
Stay aligned with the digital switchover
Throughout 2020 and into 2021, we have witnessed a historic shift to digital. This change is significant for marketers because of the subtle impact it permanently has on consumer behavior. Consumer habits are constantly changing, and by keeping the pulse on the channels experiencing the biggest change in digital, you can find ways to align with consumer expectations and trends.
Here are three specific areas where we have seen both short- and long-term effects of going digital:
More time spent with digital media.
Last year, we saw unprecedented growth in time spent on digital media: 15% year over year. This growth was driven by pandemic-related lifestyle changes. With so many people staying home due to health restrictions, video streaming, connected tv (CTV) and the use of smartphones has increased. In the United States, the average adult added 1 hour of digital consumption to their daily media time. This trend is expected to persist in 2021 as consumers have indicated they will continue to spend time on activities such as online streaming (67%) and fitness (60%).
Subscription Services and Cord Cutter.
The increased use of digital media has also led to more cable cuts. More than a third of US consumers added new subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services during the pandemic, while the percentage who “cut the cord” increased to 28.2%. US cable cutters are now expected to experience double-digit annual growth through 2024.
Adoption of e-commerce.
This shift to digital has also influenced online shopping. Under orders to stay home, consumers have turned to online shopping channels. As a result, e-commerce sales in the United States have increased 32.4% YoY to a record $791 billion. Online shopping has become a habit, especially for consumers who appreciate the convenience of alternative fulfillment methods like click-and-collect. Unsurprisingly, in-store sales were hit as closures and public safety concerns caused physical retail sales to plummet. down 9% below the second quarter of 2019. Today, more than three-quarters of Americans have tried a new shopping behavior, switching to e-commerce, and most intend to continue using it beyond the crisis.
Take advantage of growing channels
Two channels in particular have seen impressive growth since the start of the pandemic: CTV and Audio. Both have increased in part because of the changing digital media consumption habits we mentioned above. A large number of consumers have switched to video and audio streaming, which means now is the time to take advantage of the channels that reach consumers through these digital platforms.
With people spending more time at home and looking for ways to be entertained without having to stare at a screen, digital audio has seen an increase in adoption over the past 18 months. For example, audio is a great way to multitask while working from home, which has led to greater scalability in this channel this year. In 2021, digital audio accounted for 11.7% of total media time among American adults. Digital audio subscription revenue saw double-digit growth in 2021 driven by exclusive content and podcast expansion.
The relevance of digital audio is especially apparent when looking at ad spend. Digital radio ad spend fell 17% to $3.72 billion in 2020, while podcast ad spend increased 10.4% as listenership exploded and podcasts became an attractive advertising platform. Sixteen percent of digital radio ads were handled by programming in 2020 and spending is expected exceed $1.05 billion by 2022.
Connected TV (CTV) is rapidly becoming a popular mode of media consumption, and digital marketers are realizing the opportunities in CTV advertising. The pandemic helped accelerate CTV’s growth as people stuck at home sought new ways to entertain themselves. As consumers flocked to online streaming, CTV advertising soared, with ad spend increasing 27.1% to $4.53 billion in 2020. This growth is expected to double by 2024 as CTV is expected to be in 4 out of 5 US homes by the end of 2021.
Both audio and CTV present great opportunities to evolve your campaign strategy in a way that reflects changing media consumption habits and therefore your campaigns remain relevant. Use a cross-channel strategy that includes CTV and audio, so you don’t miss out on reaching this engaged and growing audience.
Introduce tactics that thrive in cookieless environments
Cookies are being phased out in some environments and are becoming increasingly important at the forefront of consumer consent on many digital pages. This changing sentiment is not a trend that is only driven by the pandemic. It was in motion long before, and privacy awareness is now becoming a norm for consumers.
That doesn’t mean audience targeting is going nowhere, it’s just evolving. One way to adapt to new privacy regulations is to start testing new targeting and measurement tactics in a privacy-focused advertising future where cookies aren’t ubiquitous. This will help you keep up with changing expectations and legislation.
Here are two strategies you can start testing right now:
- Use cookieless tactics: Focus on using solutions that are inherently cookie-free, such as IP address targeting and contextual targeting. Use contextual targeting to target people based on web browsing content and capture targeted audiences based on intent.
- Leverage first-party data: Execute PMP agreements with publishers who have access to unique proprietary subscription data. You can also leverage transactional data to capture these users by creating retargeting and lookalike audiences.
Build Your Digital Marketing Strategies Around 2022 Consumer Trends
Consumer trends will continue to evolve through 2022. Leverage data-driven analytics to inform your strategies going forward. This will allow you to stay ahead of evolving consumer behaviors that have changed forever to achieve the best digital advertising results for your business.
To learn more about practical recommendations that will help you navigate today’s digital landscape, download our comprehensive guide Evolving beyond the crisis: consumer trends and digital marketing.