Creative Personalised Engagement, The Metaverse and The Hybrid Work Environment: Tech Topics Taboola Experts Are Embracing in 2022

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What happens when you ask five experienced, advertising account directors for their predictions on technology trends, shifting behaviours, and new marketing opportunities in 2022?

You get five savvy answers, of course.

From hybrid work environments and remote working challenges to the metaverse, personalisation, and customer engagement shifts, our experts offered their insights and predictions on the intersection and opportunities of tech, marketing and more for 2022.

A hybrid work environment will be the new normal

Prediction by Laura Blanco, Advertising Account Director, Spain

Over the past three years, pandemic restrictions forced a rapid increase and acceptance of a hybrid work environment, with workweeks including a combination of office days and work-from-home days. And workers like it.

As Harvard Business Review reports, 81% of employees prefer not returning to the office or working in a hybrid environment.

Laura Blanco, Taboola’s Advertising Account Director for Spain, says that not only is the hybrid work environment here to stay, but it will also become the new normal.

“When things start to settle down, we can expect hybrid work to become the standard in the tech industry, which means companies will have to build a new and healthy hybrid workplace culture proactively,” she says.

Blanco believes that since employees’ expectations can widely differ, finding a balance that works for everyone will be difficult. Still, technology will help companies develop collaboration products as part of the metaverse, a new online world to enhance social presence.

She also predicts that the hybrid work environment will influence more than just employer responsibilities, shifting required skill sets in workers.

“Interestingly, hybrid work does not just require companies to adapt, it will change the way people interact together, and employees will play a pivotal role,” she says.

According to Blanco, self-awareness, the foundation of emotional intelligence, will become the most important soft skill to keep forming positive relationships and trusting one another.

“Effective collaboration will only work if we truly understand ourselves and know how others really see us,” she says.

Metaverse will go mainstream

Prediction by Eric Lamptey, Advertising Account Director, UK

The buzzword on everybody’s lips as we start 2022 is, of course, the ‘metaverse’. But, as Eric Lamptey, Advertising Account Director for the UK, points out, everyone seems to have a unique way of explaining what the metaverse is, why it’s interesting, and what brands should think or do about it.

“The metaverse is not a new concept, but it is an interesting one that combines quite a few existing and emerging trends and behaviors. A well known social media platform has appropriated the term and the concept of the metaverse and brought it to life,” he says.

Lamptey says that even though the term “metaverse” hasn’t yet been clearly defined, it’s definitely an emerging digital marketing opportunity in 2022 and beyond. And it is one that brands should explore getting involved with now.

According to Lamptey, the metaverse may offer inventive and rich ways for brands to connect with audiences, view experiences, and even influence the evolution of media.

“Brands that provide compelling in-world experiences, ranging from games to desirable digital objects, will find themselves in a strong position in any future metaverse,” he says.

However, Lamptey cautions marketers to remember that personalisation, offering customised experiences to customers, and offering opportunities for self-expression are vital to mastering marketing in the metaverse.

“The metaverse already exists,” says Lamptey. “All that’s left to do is integrate all those features, and it becomes mainstream.”

Remote workers will drive demands for new technology

Prediction by Alex Landschulz, Advertising Group Director, Central Europe

One of the hallmarks of remote working teams is the opportunity to put together diverse global teams with members who bring a wide variety of experiences, expertise, and points of view. Yet for all the diversity, these teams and their members share a common need for robust and innovative technology to communicate and collaborate across time zones.

Alex Landschulz, Advertising Group Director for Central Europe, sees an opportunity to develop technological tools to support remote workers’ needs. These could include better tech for collaboration and engagement across and within remote teams.

“I think in terms of remote working, we are in an extremely exciting time, a kind of new dawn,” says Landschulz. “Do you remember how it was when newspapers (print) suddenly went online in the late 90s, or we held the first mobile phone in our hands? It’s a bit like that now.”

Landschulz sees the remote workforce as an appealing new market with a demand for upgraded technology. He feels that the past few years have shown us that the remote workplace and lifestyle have specific technical needs “beyond just video calls.”

“Right at the beginning of the pandemic, we all tried to copy – pick up our offline working lives and upload them into the digital world. Then came adaptation.”

Landschulz predicts that a new phase in remote work technology is on the horizon. “Now, I expect innovation.”

Landschulz believes video calls are “only a first step” and that what’s needed is “a second attempt at virtual reality, new visions in screen sharing or AI that processes emotions and thus adapts settings.”

“We are witnesses to the emergence of a new market,” he says.

Marketers must adapt in order to progress and thrive

Prediction by Charles Binet, Advertising Group Director, Southern Europe

When predicting marketing moves in 2022, Charles Binet, Advertising Group Director for Southern Europe, foresees a focus on personalisation over scale.

“The pandemic-induced global economic crisis will mean that brands want to send a customised and relevant message to their clients,” says Binet. As he sees it, the customer journey via the web is a complex and uncertain process. But, going forward, he believes that every brand will try to target its own segment.

According to Binet, brands must “provide the best personalised online experience” that reflects their clients’ needs. At the same time, they must adapt to the privacy challenges facing the digital marketing and advertising industries, including GDPR, the coming cookieless future, and IDFA.

Yet Binet is confident that today’s marketing professionals will rise to that challenge.

“A lot happened last year,” he says. “ I learned that we all always adapt and find creative solutions to move on and innovate. I’m 100 percent confident we will also adapt to all the privacy regulations. That’s the beauty of our Digital ecosystem.”

Binet refers to the rapidly changing online car sales market to illustrate advertising and marketing adaptability.

“Pre-pandemic, 42% of UK consumers were open to purchasing a car online. By the end of 2020, that figure was up to 63%.”

Binet predicts that “after two years of uncertainty, the automotive industry will resurface strongly with a quality digital experience promoting new, creative ways of finding your future hybrid or fully electric car.”

He sees the automotive industry continuing to “innovate and revisit the digital customer experience with the push of tools like online cars configurators such as Fiat‘s.”

Binet also sees continued growth opportunities with targeted campaigns using first-party data via DMPs through Contextual Targeting and Reporting.

Above all, Binet predicts the need for tech platforms to adapt to brands’ requirements, providing better targeting capabilities, alongside reach.

“Brands will be focussed on creating a simple and transparent customer journey, and delivering the right advertising message to their customers,” he says.“In 2022, brands will use various digital touchpoints more than ever to provide their customers with a fully innovative and customised experience.”

Creative engagement with consumers will shift

Prediction by Caitlin Rose, Head of Advertising Account Management, EMEA

At the same time that new demands and opportunities arise from the changing work environment, changing laws around communication and technology will significantly impact how brands connect with consumers, says Caitlin Rose, Head of Advertising Account Management.

“After a few quiet years, we are seeing the rise in privacy concerns not just in the EU but globally as well,” Rose says.” With the imminent ghosting of cookies, brands will have to reshuffle the deck they have been working with, or maybe even throw it out completely in order to locate new audiences that want to engage, without relying on platforms leveraging personal data.”

According to Rose, digital advertisers will need to find ways to empathise with the consumer and understand their journey from end to end. This will allow them to create the ideal customer experience at scale and with viable staying power. And while she foresees the continued use of programmatic ad buying, she believes it is important to balance technology with human creativity in advertising.

“Buying programmatically will continue to rise, so it’s important to ensure the creative drive is not lost amongst efficient buying mechanics,” she says.

Additionally, Rose says the most effective digital ads themselves will look different in 2022 and beyond, in response to changing customer experience signals. Brands should prepare for this shift.

“Cultivating the ideal ad design and format that is not intrusive but complementary during content consumption mode on any type of device needs a strategy,” says Rose. “Programmatic creative options should be explored to set up a beautiful marriage of data and creativity, enhancing the consumer experience and allowing brands to buy with ease.”

Rose believes focusing on customisation and targeting will be key for leading-edge advertising platforms in 2022.

“Platforms that focus on personalisation solutions in response to emerging privacy concerns, and move away from relying on cookies for targeting will lead the way in this next wave of advertising.”

Exciting Opportunities in 2022

Our experts see exciting opportunities in 2022, as the hybrid work environment of the pandemic becomes normalised in the post-pandemic world and the metaverse becomes engrained in our lives as consumers, employers, and workers.

At the same time, the rise of remote workers will give birth to a new technology market driven by their emerging needs.

Harnessing technology to create and deliver highly personalised customer journeys at scale will trump mass messaging. And the most successful platforms in 2022 will focus on increasingly creative and targeted consumer engagement strategies, placing them at the forefront of digital advertising.

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