21/12/21 // Written by AmbaWilkes

What Can We Expect From the Digital World in 2022?

The move to digital has continued at an accelerated rate. Due to the pandemic, it’s likely your business and audience’s needs will have been impacted in some way.

Have your digital efforts become even more critical to success? Is your digital activity supporting your conversions? Are you aware of what your customers and clients expect from you today? Is your business making the most out of the digital world?

There’s no denying that digital is front and centre to success for many businesses today. With industries doubling down on digital investment to meet increased demand, changes are afoot.

In this blog…

Speaking to our specialists, we share first-hand insight into:

  • What we expect to grow in importance in 2022
  • What may have less significance next year
  • Digital events to prepare for

What do we expect to grow in importance in 2022?

EAT guidelines continue to be refined

Year by year, Google is becoming more intelligent in how it considers content and determines rankings. In line with the search engines many updates this year, businesses and content creators have been advised to continue focusing on:

Alongside this, there is a growing need for greater depth and quality of content across all industries. When the EAT update (also known as Medic) was launched in 2018, the major impact was felt in Your Money Your Life (YMYL) sectors such as finance, personal injury, automotive, legal, housing and medical. However, as Google continues to refine their search quality rater guidelines with two major updates set to occur in 2022, now is the time to get your content prepared to satisfy the search engine. With the right strategy and implementation, these guidelines can play a major role in ranking success.  

This importance is reflected in the work our content specialists do here at Ingenuity Digital. Senior Content Strategist, Pete Hayman, advises:

“Each time we pick up our digital pens, we put ourselves in a user’s shoes and ask, “what do they want to get out of this?”. Doing this gives us the best chance of creating bespoke content that Google values for its quality and relevance to users.”

Will Google take on Amazon?

In 2020, Google introduced free, or organic, listings into the Shopping results in an ongoing effort to better compete with eCommerce giant, Amazon.

When we talked with Head of Organic Research and Insights, James Betts, he took this one step further sharing a prediction for what he thinks could be on the cards for Google Shopping next year:

“I think Google is keen to take on Amazon in the eCommerce space. We’ve seen the start of this through their introduction of Google Shopping for organic listings. But I suspect that by next year, you’ll be able to buy products directly on Google Search Results without having to visit the store’s website.”

The Google ‘Buy’ button is set to appear and is expected to take a cut out of Amazon’s market share. After all, shoppers love the convenience of making purchases with minimal steps and without being redirected to new domains.

This could create an increase in conversions for those businesses on Google Shopping. If your audience can find what they need on the search engine results page, make their purchase decision and buy there and then without moving from website to website, they’re likely to do just that.

Page speed

We’re expecting page speed to become even more prevalent next year due to the introduction of Core Web Vitals into the ranking algorithm in March 2021.

Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics used to measure a site’s loading speed, responsiveness and visual stability. They act as important guidance for businesses on the essential ranking signals required to deliver a positive user experience.

In response to the release of Core Web Vitals, our Research and Development team developed an in-house Page Speed Analysis tool. This tools uses Google’s Page Speed Insights API to collate data relating to page speed on a page-by-page basis.

This audit will come in useful as page speed becomes increasingly important, allowing us to be more productive and specific with the recommendations we provide to improve page speed.

More automation

The use of automation in bidding strategies is something we expect to see grow next year. This could include smart bidding and broad match, automatically assembled ads such as responsive search ads (RSAs) and campaign types like smart shopping. With so many formats and options available, it will also become more important to understand which ones are right for your business goals.

In line with this, our experts predict that the day-to-day management of ads will move towards automation. Eventually, we could reach a point where advertisers will only support the controlling of budgets alongside creating and implementing the strategy.

Social media opportunities

Now a priority channel for many B2C and B2B businesses, paid social advertising, social shopping, social proof and influencers have become important elements of digital strategies.

Influencers in particular are expected to continue growing in popularity as users opt to trust in and buy from those who promote a lifestyle they strive for. The shift in brands opting to use micro and nano influencers instead of well-known or celebrity influencers is also set to continue.

These influencer types have a smaller following who are loyal supporters. They’re often more willing to buy products or service promoted by these individuals as their communications are increasingly relatable, trustworthy and authentic in comparison to renowned social influencers. Alongside this, micro influencers will be more favourable for your 2022 budget as they’re usually much lower in cost to work with.

Getting to know your audience with personalisation

The importance of getting to know your audience will continue to increase as users demand more personalised digital experiences.

Personalisation has advanced beyond simply adding first names to emails. Today, businesses need to ensure the entire journey – regardless of device, time or stage in the customer journey – is tailormade to what each individual wants to see.

With a higher focus on these one-to-one, personalised relationships, customer retention becomes easier to focus on by bringing existing customers back to your website or social media with relevant, targeted communications.

What could be less significant in 2022?

Accelerated mobile pages (AMP)

You may have heard the acronym AMP. In short, an AMP is a lightweight, stripped-down form of HTML and is designed to create fast mobile pages.

However, ever since AMP was launched, it has been surrounded by controversy and confusion. While it promised faster pages and better rankings, it also demanded radical mobile optimisation. Initially, there were a large number of early adopters, but most developers remained sceptical, and, for that reason, it never really took off. As a result, we expect to see AMPs used less and less across 2022.

The decline of physical retail locations

The long and slow decline of brick-and-mortar retail is evident. While the pandemic exacerbated matters, store closures were mounting, and high streets were becoming barer before the outbreak hit.

One category after another has succumbed to digital retail. Firstly, it was books, audio and video media, then came everyday apparel and household products before moving into the realm of convenience goods such as health and beauty items. Over the years, the ease and convenience of online search, user ratings and price comparisons have outweighed the want for physically seeing or touching an item before purchasing.

Alongside this, more traditional sectors such as finance, insurance, housing and motor also seem to be taking the same route. Buyers are becoming confident in making large, significant purchases such as buying a home or a car without physically seeing the end product. Could this mean less offices and showrooms will be required for businesses going forward?

A multichannel approach to digital marketing

As more and more purchases are made online, shoppers want to learn about the products or services they’re interested in and develop trust in brands from the comfort of their devices.

A strategic combination of various channels and tactics such as display, paid social, SEO and digital out of home are more likely to become popular advertising methods while the immediacy of PPC is expected to become part of a bigger picture.

Aligned cross-channel strategies are expected to take the spotlight as businesses look to show impact across all stages of the buyer journey.

Digital events to prepare for in 2022

Preparing for a cookie-less world  

2021 marked the start of a significant change in the ad ecosystem. As the public desire more privacy online, Google announced that they will be removing the use of third-party cookies in Chrome by the end of 2023. Some businesses are already one step ahead such as Apple with their latest iOS update that gives users the option to block online tracking.

The lack of third-party cookies will have less of an impact on traditional keyword-based targeting in PPC campaigns, but it will impact other paid tactics such as programmatic display. While you will still be able to serve PPC ads, audience-based targeting is likely to be affected due to audience data becoming less accurate.

But what does this mean for next year? While the change may not be set to occur in 2022, this is the year to get prepared. To lessen the impact when the update does take place, we’re encouraging our clients to get used to gathering and using first-party data within their strategies, so their campaigns are less reliant on third-party cookies. This could include:

  • Uploading data for Google Customer Match
  • Improving first-party data collection
  • Leveraging Facebook lookalike audiences and applying them elsewhere

The impact of Google’s Multitask Unified Model (MUM)

It’s not uncommon for a user to conduct several searches to get all the information they need to answer their query due to a lack of human intuition on the search engine. Google’s MUM update was created to answer modern search demands, improve online search capability and match users up with the information they need faster by using an AI-powered algorithm.

1,000 more times powerful than the BERT update which occurred in 2019, MUM not only understands language but also generates it. Trained in 75 different languages and capable of conducting multiple tasks at once, MUM has developed a more comprehensive understanding of knowledge and human language than any previous update. Not only this but MUM is multimodal meaning it understands information across text and images. It’s also expected to expand across more formats in the future such as video and audio.

Right now, there isn’t enough information to understand exactly how the release of MUM should be tackled. The best way to prepare is to continue creating excellent content that’s engaging, value adding and informative. By focusing on quality content, you likely won’t see any major changes once the update has rolled out.

Online media moves behind paywalls

Put simply, a paywall is a method of blocking access to content. It can hide different media types such as audio, video or written content behind a digital wall that can only be passed after the user has paid a fee or purchased a subscription.

These paywalls and paid subscription models are becoming more popular among businesses as they can provide a significant boost to your bottom line. If you can build a loyal readership that’s willing to pay to access your site’s content, you will become less reliant on advertisements or income from other channels.

Are you prepared for a new year?

A new year brings new opportunities. With the right strategy and the right support, you can achieve your 2022 goals. If you want talk to one of our specialists to learn how they can help you make the most of digital next year and beyond, don’t hesitate to contact us.