Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Looking back at the success and challenges of 2022

By Karan Singh, Head of Advertiser Partnerships, Xandr

2022 was another big year for advertising, it was the first year of relative normality after Covid-19
but also the year we started to really feel the economic ramifications both in terms of advertising
and wider society. Advertising is a fascinating industry because it’s dynamic at the best of times, but
the last year saw a lot of movement (and pertinent non-movement) take place some of which I’ve
detailed below.

The rise of the conscious consumer

In 2022 we saw the meteoric rise of the conscious consumer, laying down a massive challenge for
brands to demonstrate their commitments to the causes most important to society. Gen Z are
leading the charge here, seeing straight through surface-level CSR policies and thinly veiled attempts
at ‘diversifying’ advertising creative, they want material change and the stats show that they’re
willing to spend more with brands whose ethics match their own. This trend isn’t going away
anytime soon, Gen Alpha is the group coming up behind this one and they show no signs of being
more compromising when it comes to their beliefs. For advertisers 2022 was the year that
greenwashing was called out immediately and bad attempts to highlight their commitment to DE&I
caused more harm than good. 2022 was the year brands had to look at societal shifts and make
wholesale changes to match the values of their consumers and as this expectation continues in
2023, brands need to make sure they are keeping up.

We’re no clearer on the future of identity

Whilst consumers led the charge on sustainability, the need for privacy with their data also
continued. However the year the cookie crumbled is becoming a bit like the year of the mobile, it’s
dragging and 2022 wasn’t the year we finally cracked it. With certain deadlines being pushed back
and regulation giving zero clarity, we seem to still be in the holding pattern or at least that’s how it
feels. Ensuring consumer privacy is so important as consumers are more savvy than ever about how
their data is being used, which is why advertisers must meaningfully make the shift in the coming
year. There is a distinction and while the more innovative brands did spend the last year testing and
getting themselves set, the vast majority still seem to be taking a ‘wait and see’ approach in 2022. As
we head into 2023 brands will need to put identity solutions front and centre before the end of the
third-party cookie in 2024, it will be the year for action.

Advertisers continue to take control of tech

In years gone by advertisers would generally rely on their agency to make decisions around the tech
they engage with, especially in the programmatic world. This year we saw a seismic shift here,
seeing brands (with their agency in tow) take control of the tech partners they use and therefore the
fees they pay. The most interesting development was seeing global brands start to invest in
technology on the supply side of the ecosystem rather than just the demand side, highlighting their
ambition to control as much as they can between them and the consumer they want to engage with.
Next year I expect to see this continue, where brands will be considering end-to-end platforms to
help them have greater transparency and ensure advertisers have the ability to gain cost advantages
that will benefit their business at a time when budgets are likely to be squeezed.

Streaming giants brought on ads

Last but definitely not least and arguably the news that really took over our industry in 2022 was
around the likes of Disney+ and Netflix launching their advertising ad-funded models, a huge
milestone within digital advertising as a whole. For me this not only presents an exciting opportunity
for advertisers but it also gives consumers more choice than ever, helping provide a new access
point to quality content which will only accelerate the ‘cord-cutting’ we’ve seen, particularly among the younger consumer groups we mentioned above. One of the most interesting developments
within this CTV change has been the role of programmatic as a buying option across some of these
platforms, for me this signals a maturation point for programmatic buying which should see further
strides into 2023 and beyond.
2022 has been a big year but there is still plenty to do in the advertising world and I’m looking
forward to seeing what 2023 brings.