As consumer behaviors change, so do advertising strategies. We’ve seen the spike in audio and gaming, which has added other mediums to the digital advertising media mix. Now, the notion of the metaverse—as distant a reality as it might be—challenges us to consider the interconnectivity between all platforms through which we consume content, conduct business and relate to one another. As new channels continue to find their footing, the ability to measure, verify, and predict the quality and performance of media investments will follow.
Here’s what to expect in 2022:
Metaverse interoperability will be key
The metaverse—whose extended reality technologies permit the sharing of fully immersive online experiences—will continue to have a moment with Meta attempting to scale a first-mover advantage. Mark Zuckerberg has staked his company’s future on this new ecosystem, calling it a North Star and saying his mission “to bring the metaverse to life.”
Still, the metaverse remains mostly conceptual. It’s early days for both the hardware and software and the content required to meet the meta-opportunity. Interoperability is key to long-term viability. For the metaverse to function like the physical world, virtual environments must be interconnected. It can’t be a series of individual walled gardens. Solving the interoperability challenge is like sharing characters between the Marvel and DC universes. Both require significant investment in defining rights, ownership of content and technology.
While the metaverse will take years to be realized, expect progress in 2022 to be driven by advancements in augmented and virtual reality. Like with any new channel, advertisers will demand better measurement in order to invest with confidence.
Brand suitability concerns in digital audio
Programmatic execution of digital audio media buys is growing but is still a comparatively small percentage of total dollars spent. Available impressions are in the low single digits in podcasting, for example. In 2022, more audio inventory will be transacted programmatically, pressing the need for quality and performance measurement. Whether an ad actually ran will be key, but brand suitability will also be a major concern. There are tens of thousands of podcasts and podcast episodes, but there is no streamlined way to look at each across all distribution points to determine if it is appropriate for a campaign. Much of the infrastructure from audio companies still requires manual intervention from advertisers. We expect there to be greater progress in this area in the New Year as agencies and advertisers push for better measurement.
As spend on gaming goes up, advertisers will demand verification
According to eMarketer, consumers spent 9 billion hours in Q2 2021 watching livestreamed video game content around the world, excluding China. This is a significant increase from 3.8 billion hours in Q2 2019. This new high follows a 56.9% quarter-over-quarter jump in Q2 2020.
Advertisers know that there is a huge opportunity in getting in front of gaming audiences. But gaming is a complex, fragmented ecosystem. Users pick and choose their preferred environments, and marketers will want to understand how they can measure campaigns in those spaces. We’re likely to see more gaming companies adopt open measurement standards to help advertisers spend dollars with confidence. As advertisers invest in the gaming space, third-party verification providers will also need to partner with inventory holders and buying platforms to bring new measurement solutions to the category.
We’ll also see a greater focus in 2022 from large scale brand advertisers on making in- and around-game advertising a more standard part of their media buys. At the same time, publishers will make gaming inventory easier to buy. We should see console games, for example, move closer to the web and CTV model of dynamic ad insertion and measurement. As this happens, advertisers will be able to more easily join casual, console and other kinds of gaming together and align it to broader campaign goals.
Advertisers and agencies jobs continue to increase in complexity. Easier execution for operational teams, alignment to standard campaign and performance measurement for analytics teams and a more holistic view into gaming’s contribution to the media plan for investment teams, will help agencies and advertisers justify shifting dollars into the channel.
Our industry evolves every year and we must continue to embrace emerging channels, ensuring advertisers and publishers are able to meet consumers wherever they are through secure, measurable and verified platforms. The time is now to develop such technologies to ensure advertisers are able to execute strategic campaigns in the new year and beyond.