What was on everyone’s mind at the 2022 Digital Marketing World Forum?

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Bringing together over 2,000 attendees from the worldwide digital marketing community, DMWF was full of strategic insight into the challenges and opportunities for marketers and content creators. Over 100 speakers discussed the latest trends, strategies and technology that will help them look to the digital marketing trends of the future. So, what seemed to be front of mind for attendees across the Forum?

1. Keeping creativity in your social content creation

Kenny Metham, Social Media Manager at connective3, discussed how social media teams can experience burnout and declining traction trying to constantly create new content. The Forum was full of tips on keeping social content innovative, but Kenny highlighted that really, data is your friend, so you don’t have to create creativity from scratch. Are you seeing certain colours working on a particular channel? Build a campaign around it. You can use social listening to see what your competitors are doing that lands. If posts do well on a particular day, can you create a regular campaign around that?

Rachel Morman, Global Head of social media at PHD, highlighted that for data-driven content, you must use the right metrics. She discussed using the attention economy as a key KPI – you have half a second to grab people, so that’s where you’re competing. Counting follows and likes is less important than thinking about time spent or shares. Gabriela Torres, Head of social media for BBC World Service, said that when they looked to grow an organic loyal audience, they similarly prioritised metrics around engagement of users or returning users and that fed back into future content creation.

The other factor is a thick skin to failure. Alex Ioana, Manager of Digital Content Experience at Booking.com said resilience is key. When it comes to digital journeys you should only be testing things you think are statistically significant, which means lots of them should fail, but the purpose is they can still teach you about what to test next. And that takes marketers out of ‘what next’ limbo and into building effective content.

2. Influencer marketing is trending upwards

For all the brands attending Digital Marketing World Forum, there was a message loud and clear: unfortunately, people don’t trust you. Declining trust in brands means consumers are increasingly turning to other people – even strangers – to gauge who they should or shouldn’t buy from. Darren Teague, Senior Account Executive at Spotler, highlighted that 85% of people now trust customer reviews as much as they’d trust a friend.

How is this being leveraged by brands? It’s why user-generated content continues to grow. Finding your brand champions and giving them a platform will be more effective than what you are saying. That humanisation is also shown in the growth of Tiktok and new platforms such as BeReal where users are given two minutes to take a photo at a different, randomly chosen time each day. People are after more authentic humanisation.

Amrita Lal from LinkedIn said that B2B brands should consider using senior leaders and people across the business to share posts. Amy Woods. CEO of Content10x, said that people-to-people conversation videos are becoming increasingly popular. And Darren from Spotler pointed out that if customer reviews and user-generated content are so powerful, use them in nurture campaigns, but also put a lot of work into your customer experience. Remember the counter is also true, 95% of dissatisfied customers tell others about their bad experiences.

BeReal gives users 2 minutes to share a photo of themselves and what they’re up to. Source: Be Real

3. Last click attribution models are dead. Long live brand marketing.

Okay, well it might not be that extreme, but after years of digital marketers being told brand marketing was dead in the water, it appears to be making a comeback. With the end of third-party cookies, traditional attribution models will soon become less valuable. Abhi Juneja discussed the journey American Express has been on, shifting to aggregated rather than individual customer journeys, which has allowed them to rethink the value of brand advertising.

For example, a focus on last-click attribution models meant they were investing in remarketing and not in audio adverts. They transitioned to multi-touch attribution but could see it wasn’t future-proofed, so now view it in aggregate, and that’s shown them they get far more value out of audio advertising and they can reinvest there. The disadvantage of this modelling is that it takes time to get results, especially around performance marketing, but it may also open up previously neglected opportunities.

For Duarte Garrido, Group Head of social media at Coca-Cola HBC, people are increasingly making decisions around value and purpose. He said that if 58% of people buy or advocate for brands based on their beliefs and values, and that the same generation is also less likely to click on adverts, you may need to rethink for the future. Brands that can build a community of trust with their audience and think about how they can help them, will benefit in the long run. And that will inevitably lead to more brand marketing and less focus on sell, sell, sell. As Amrita from LinkedIn said, brand awareness now is the demand generation of the future.

4. The rise of the metaverse

Gartner predicts that by 2026 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse. That stat looks more realistic when you consider that it’s unlikely to be one metaverse, it will be multiple. As Andy Martinus, Global Head of Innovation at Team Lewis pointed out, if people are already watching Travis Scott perform a concert on Fortnite, it’s not as far away in the future as you might think.

James Poulter, CEO of Vixen Labs, said that thinking about the future of the metaverse means thinking about conversational AI, as people aren’t going to be typing in virtual reality. There is already significant progress with digitally synthetic voices, which bodes well for customer service avatars. And if you think that isn’t already happening there has already been a CEO who used it for an earnings call so that all they had to do was approve a script and let the machines do the work. These ‘fakes’ may be slightly terrifying, but also not having to record every piece of audio content, and the personalisation that could provide? Appealingly efficient.

If you’re still not convinced, James stressed not to just think about big VR headsets, it’s more likely people will have partial wear. We already have people used to having AirPods in most of the day, or the collaboration between RayBan and Meta, which means people walking around with a camera on all day.

Although this is early days, you’re already seeing the likes of JP Morgan set up in Decentraland, and cyborg influencer Lil Miquela having a brand partnership with Samsung and Prada. If it feels too soon for your brand to have a relevant space in the Metaverse (and it probably is) it’s still worth considering your understanding of voice search and how you can leverage advances in natural language processing, so you’re ready if indeed the predictions are true!

5. TikTok ain’t just for kids

If there was one media channel on everyone’s lips at the Forum, it was TikTok. It’s the fastest growing social media platform by far, and while in lockdown people may have written it off as a bunch of dancing tweens, by 2022 the content is varied, shortform video content is still growing in popularity, and it’s no longer just Gen-Zs with eMarketer showing that over half of users in the US are 25 and over.

Roberta Cianetti, Social Media Director at Conde Nast Italia, highlighted that TikTok has a lot of benefits over other platforms. There is still a lot of space for brands, there are communities you can tap into, and content is incredibly easy to create and send out. Naturally, you must consider whether the audience is right for your brand as the worst thing would be creating a TikTok just because it’s the newest thing (see social media burnout in point one!) but if you are interested in user-generated content, Gen-Z and Millennial audiences, and see relevant communities there, it’s a growing channel that shouldn’t be dismissed.

We always love to meet ambitious digital marketing businesses, so if you’re considering investment now or in the future please do get in touch!

About the author

Fiona Moore

"I take a lead on progressing ESG initiatives for ECI and its portfolio, and sit on ECI’s ESG Committee. There is a huge opportunity for companies that can take a lead on areas such as D&I and sustainability, and ESG is now intrinsic to running a successful business. I also manage marketing activity across ECI and you may recognise me as the host of ECI’s podcast, Building Successful Businesses."

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