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Data & analytics in 2022: What do the experts predict?

Publisched on
December 20, 2021


Between new privacy legislation, increased scrutiny of big tech’s approach to data collection, and the continued maturation of strategies to replace third-party tracking cookies, 2021 has brought some interesting developments for data and analytics.

What do the experts predict 2022 will look like? Here are some key trends highlighted by our contacts in the world of data…

For more on what’s on the horizon for 2022, don’t miss Econsultancy’s upcoming briefing, Digital Marketing and Ecommerce Trends For 2022 on 26th January at 3pm GMT/10am EST. Register your place now!

  1. Privacy and ethics considerations
  2. AI and automation
  3. Personnel
  4. Cookies are (almost) history: now what?

Privacy and ethics considerations

The demise of third-party tracking cookies is just one consequence of the more widespread concern for consumer privacy that we have been seeing emerge in recent years. New and more stringent privacy legislation also continues to take effect, and regulators are applying closer scrutiny to the methods used by advertisers and tech giants when it comes to data collection and targeting.

How do our experts believe this will impact marketers in 2022?

Reviews, and stricter enforcement, of privacy legislation

Julie Rubash, Chief Privacy Counsel at Sourcepoint:

“Moving into 2022 we’ll see more global privacy laws come into force. In the US in particular there will be revisions to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), Colorado Privacy Act (CPA), and “Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (VCDPA) which will mean more nuanced privacy laws to comply with. For those publishers and advertisers already struggling to keep abreast of an evolving landscape, it’s only going to become harder.

“With more regulation to abide by and with heightened enforcement, businesses will need to ensure they are working with trusted partners and implementing robust technology to ensure they remain compliant. Some of the trends we’ve been seeing in the most recent state privacy laws, like provisions for universal opt-outs, requiring consent for sensitive data, and reduced loopholes due to redefined legislation, will become staples of privacy and compliance. Consumers will have the right to appeal via a denial of rights request according to the VCDPA and CPA, and it’s likely other states will follow suit.

“The industry is currently breaking new ground when it comes to privacy and consent for its consumers, so continued review of legislation is to be expected. What will set businesses apart is when they truly embrace good data ethics as part of their ethos and stop seeing it as a simple ‘tick box’ exercise. Vetting partners to ensure their privacy standards match your own, utilizing advanced technology, and hiring specialist talent such as Data Protection Officers are just some of the steps businesses can take to become better digital citizens and ensure they’re future-proofing their data against future regulatory and ecosystem changes.”

Ben Walmsley, Commercial Director of Publishing at News UK:

“Interpretations of privacy regulation could get far stricter. With so much discussion about “replacing functionality” and “mitigating workarounds”, are we overlooking the possibility that the strictest interpretation may require a more fundamental rethink. That may be a very uncomfortable discussion. Maybe 2022 will be the time to have it.”

Consumer perceptions around privacy continue to drive change

Andrew Hood, CEO at Lynchpin:

“There has rightfully been a lot of focus on robust consent management and privacy in 2021, and that is undoubtedly going to continue in 2022 as regulators slowly but surely start to flex their muscles (the Belgian DPA rulings on the IAB Transparency & Consent Framework is perhaps a sign of things to come).

“As regulators grapple with the balance between privacy and competition, The Privacy Sandbox is very likely to emerge as the lesser consumer evil with big changes to ad serving as a result. For brands it will only continue to accentuate the criticality of first party data.

“Ultimately consumer perceptions and their preferences and choices around privacy will drive the biggest change. The privacy approach in iOS and Safari already means the cohort of Apple device owners are being measured in a very different way to Android users for example.”

A clearer value exchange for consumers

Ian Fremaux, Head of Technical Pre-Sales Europe at LiveRamp:

“Today, consumers want the internet experience to be tailored to their interests and previous online behaviours, but they don’t want to feel followed or frustrated by retargeting activity. So, with that in mind, in 2022 we predict there will be further adoption of addressable, people-based targeting solutions that will achieve this by enabling frequency capping across devices and channels. Further, people-based buys are tied to a value exchange that helps build continued trust with consumers.

“Simultaneously, we will see more brands and publishers building ‘first-party relationships’ with their users in order to personalise the customer experience.

“First-party relationships flow from value exchanges over time and, if done right, a downstream result is robust, privacy-first, first-party data which is willingly shared by customers, giving publishers a real competitive advantage.”

Contactless convenience trumps privacy?

Shorful Islam, Chief Data Scientist at Tribal Worldwide:

“Concerns about touching surfaces when we engage with products and services should see in 2022 a rise in more voice assisted products and even a more prolific use of facial recognition technologies. These, once considered invasive, may become more accepted as convenience trumps privacy.”

AI and automation

AI hype on the rise in 2022

Shorful Islam, Chief Data Scientist at Tribal Worldwide:

“One thing that will still be hyped in 2022, as has been in 2021, will be the use of the term AI. The health sector, already stretched due to the pandemic, will potentially see a growing need for AI powered solutions to assist and compliment the health professional to do their job more effectively. Pharma will also see the need for AI to help with speeding up clinical trials as they try and stay one step ahead of the next mutation of the coronavirus.

“Even automotive manufacturers, striving for that holy grail of a fully autonomous vehicles, will be experimenting with AI. Market leader Tesla has done so, to make the driver experience more enjoyable and safer. Assisted technologies powered by AI should become mainstream in 2022 as sales of electric vehicles continue to gain traction.

“However, existing, and new solution providers will be hawking their AI wares claiming that just plugging in their solution will take care of everything and provide the business with a quick route to success with data. Rarely has this been the case in 2021, and may also not be the case in 2022, but we should see the emergence of really nice narrow AI solutions.”

The growth of conversational AI

Anthony Magee, Director of Data and Experience Technology at SYZYGY:

“Further adoption will spread of AI-assisted technology to drive ‘conversational intelligence’ to enable optimal decision making across increasingly remote and hybrid workforces. We (SYZYGY) have already deeply embedded anomaly detection, natural language alerts and a contexualised decisioning engine across our media operations to further democratise the embedded use of data insights for making smarter media buying and creative optimisations.

“This is a wave finally hitting organisations, where conversational dynamically generated insights, explainable AI and interactive non-code analytics is open to all – powering the right person to access augmented intelligence and build an action in their system of activation at a speed only dreamt of before.”

Shorful Islam, Chief Data Scientist at Tribal Worldwide:

“Other narrow AI solutions which should see growth in 2022 will be chatbots, as more consumers continue their engagement with brands online, post pandemic, the ability to order items, even from your local takeaway, can be handled by an AI powered chatbot, that can even be integrated into Alexa or Siri, and so in 2022 instead of opening your UberEats app, you tell Alexa to order you that pizza.

“These AI powered chatbots could then be a natural interface or touchpoint through which to collect more first and zero party data. Instead of telling Alexa exactly what pizza you want, maybe Alexa gets to ask you what mood you are in, what you fancy and if you are ordering in because you have a cold, in which case a more spicy version of your pepperoni pizza might hit the spot.”

Personnel

A continued demand for data analysts

Shorful Islam, Chief Data Scientist at Tribal Worldwide:

“While employees were furloughed, anecdotal evidence gleaned from discussion with analytic managers and recruiters suggested that 2021 was a high demand year for data analysts. Brands were fighting for an already scarce talent pool, and with analysts finding themselves able to remotely more effectively and efficiently, more opportunities opened up for them.

“This demand for data analysts will continue into 2022, suggesting an undercurrent of focus on data by brands. This will eventually translate into the greater use of data for business decision making, data powered products and marketing activities. Technologies and platforms that manage data will also be in more demand in 2022, and we expect to see more solutions coming to market which provide a no code or low code approach to analytics, as scarcity of (good) data analysts continues into 2022. We might see some of the hype for data scientist abate, as businesses realise that they need solid data analytics.

“Also, companies which provide services such as building or provisioning data lakes, data warehouses, databases or even unifying data will find themselves in more demand in 2022 as organisations start buying data technologies, hiring analysts, growing their first and zero party data sets, to drive more business value. However, with an eye towards regulatory and technological changes on what data can be collected or is possible to collect, the business will seek the advice of data strategists who understand how to navigate this complex landscape of regulation, technology and innovation to help business move towards a sustainable data ecosystem.”

Cookies are (almost) history: now what?

As 2020 came to a close, we rounded up a range of expert comment and predictions on the impending death of third-party tracking cookies and how the marketing and advertising industry might adapt. 2021 saw a number of developments on this front, although not all of them were as expected: Google pushed back its self-imposed deadline for phasing out third-party cookies from 2022 to 2023, amid widespread criticisms of its ‘Federated Learning of Cohorts’ (FLoC) proposal, granting cookies a stay of execution in the most widely-used internet browser.

But marketers are well aware that this is a temporary reprieve. There’s no doubt that the industry will have to do without third-party tracking cookies, and the sooner they are prepared to adapt to this reality, the better. So, what do our experts think will emerge to take their place in 2022?

A more urgent emphasis on first- and zero-party data

Shorful Islam, Chief Data Scientist at Tribal Worldwide:

“Many of the concerns of 2021 will continue into 2022, such as no more 3rd party cookies for marketing, privacy concerns around data collection, first party data strategy, data technology and platform choices. However, where 2022 should differ is that we no longer believe that data is a ‘nice to have’.

“If 2021 has taught us anything it is that as consumer behaviours change. Whether it’s external or internal factors, a window into that change can be gleaned through data. Companies who weren’t using data before realised through the pandemic, when they needed to digitise their offerings in order to allow consumers to order online, that they had to use data to stay ahead or even keep up with the competition.

“This transformation allowed businesses to have access to not just transactional data, but behavioural data, which would have allowed them to see what people bought and how they bought it. Coupled with a push to collect more first party and zero party data, brands could also understand who their customers were and what their opinions, attitudes and feelings were towards their brands. This focus towards data as a ‘must have’ has always been a topic of the board room, but not universally, given the focus it should have had.”

Justine O’Neill, Senior Director at Analytic Partners:

“Fueled by the past two years and the certain death of cookies, this year saw many brands finally taking serious steps to prepare for the future of measurement and targeting. Brands started to build up analytics capabilities, become more agile and flexible in decision making, and be more open to experiments. If you have not done so yet, we recommend putting it on the top of your to do list for 2022!

“We expect to see the consumer remain the center of attention for targeting strategies. In a cookie-less world, first-party data will be key to success. Brands must find way of understanding the needs and motivations of their target audience, and many brands have already refined their D2C approach in 2021.”

Anthony Magee, Director of Data and Experience Technology at SYZYGY:

“I predict that in 2022 we will see a proliferation of transparent inter-brand data exchange partnerships – addressing the need to scale valuable first-party data, deepen human understanding and increase full-funnel stitching and addressability for post-cookie marketing.

“Another trend I think will come into play is the acceleration of the emergence of proprietary first-party consumer testing panels, moving us beyond cost-prohibitive panel solution providers.

Clark Boyd, Head of Strategy at Cadeera:

“Search marketers will find novel ways to capture and use both first- and zero-party data. This is partially enforced, as the industry moves away from third-party tracking and we all need to put data privacy at the heart of our digital presence. But it will also be a result of taking a more customer-centric approach to search.

“Marketers will need to work with other teams, including UX and product, to ensure that their data requirements are built into the architecture of their websites.

“By capturing higher quality first-party data, marketers can then use this information to power more effective customer match efforts, for example. This will also require integration with Offline Conversion Tracking to get a rounded picture of the customer journey.

“Search marketers will also develop a deeper understanding of how the data ecosystem works in the process.”

Customer Data Platforms and the need for authentication

Filippo Gamigna, CEO at Audiencerate:

“2022 will be the year of marketing at scale and the rise of CDPs. While the pandemic has undeniably been a challenging time for businesses, it has also been incredibly enlightening. As technology helped customers access the goods and services they needed, and vice versa, supported companies in providing them, it highlighted how essential digital transformation is to drive recovery and growth.

“Going forward, too, this will be key to continue keeping pace with consumers’ evolving habits and needs, with a focus on how brands can maintain and strengthen the relationship they have with their audiences, especially as third-party cookies are phased out. We have already seen a shift towards extending independent technological solutions, and this will doubtlessly continue. Current tools will have to keep up with changes around data and privacy, so that companies can stay customer-centric in their offerings. This means there will be continued optimisation around data collection, management, and activation, as well as finding solutions that can be integrated into CRM systems, websites, and other applications. Everything will be built to truly drive comprehensive consumer profiles.

“Customer data platforms will play an important role in this respect, considering their advanced capabilities from customer segmentation and analytics to execution layers and identity management.”

Ian Fremaux, Head of Technical Pre-Sales Europe at LiveRamp:

“The upcoming deprecation of third-party cookies will certainly have the biggest impact in 2022. As such, the industry will be working hard to find ways in which it can continue to be effective in a world without easy access to consumer data. To combat this, there are a number of strategies which publishers should be looking to adopt; one of which focuses on authenticated first-party data.

To do this, they will need to build stronger, more direct relationships with users and must make the value exchange clear to their readers. But for some publishers who do not necessarily get a large volume of repeat visitors, the collection of data can be more difficult. This will mean they will have to find alternative authentication strategies such as revamping newsletters, new login strategies or employing a Customer Data Platform.

“But, there is not a one-size fits all approach to driving authentication. And with the countdown ticking, publishers will be busy testing multiple authentication strategies to figure out what works best for them and grow their authentication base.”

The return of contextual targeting

Ben Walmsley, Commercial Director of Publishing at News UK:

“If the trend of 2022 is a sharper focus on consumer-centricity and data used more sparingly to greater effect, the developments of 2021 leading us to this point came in many forms: Belgian regulators questioned The Consent Framework, Google’s FLoC proposals came under severe criticism, the ICO made clear IDs cannot be shared across the open bidstream, Universal IDs may not comply with the GDPR, IDFA opt-out by default took hold, IP cannot be used as a proxy for ID, the DCMS indicated the terms of legitimate interest may change – the list goes on.

“A further impact of this will be seen in the quest for standardisation in capabilities that do not rely on ID in these forms. Innovation in contextual buying and measurement will see old ideas revisited, reimagined and reinvigorated as a consequence.”

Caroline Hugonenc, Global VP Insights & Research at Teads:

“With the deprecation of cookies, the industry will revisit the traditional approach used to target an audience: context. This year will also be a big year for testing solutions to replace cookies for measurement such as first-party cookies or geo-testing the market using a control and test approach. We are also seeing marketing mix modeling making a comeback and being considered the ultimate solution to make decisions on budget allocation.”

Andrew Hood, CEO at Lynchpin:

“Although things like The Privacy Sandbox are in principle about grouping users into cohorts based on their interests, a lot of those “interests” are essentially being inferred by context: what sites and content do users visit?

“And given all that inference is happening in the browser (to negate the need to track users centrally), the effectiveness of those contextual algorithms and in particular how they deploy natural language processing (NLP) to infer preferences and interests will be a critical success factor for relevance.”

The rise of walled gardens and data ‘clean rooms’

Ben Walmsley, Commercial Director of Publishing at News UK:

“The combination of cookie deprecation and the walled gardens locking their campaign exposure data within their own hosted clean rooms is going to present both challenges and opportunities. Each of these clean rooms has different mechanisms for uploading sales conversion data and matching it with campaign exposure data. The different concepts and methodologies for identifying a person and a household causes complexity for campaign measurement, especially when the data is obscured via differential privacy and other technologies deployed within the clean room.

“Another challenge is that many of the biggest digital advertisers have an intermediated relationship with their customers. Consequently, they need to collaborate with strategic partners like grocery retailers to access that sales conversion data. But, will retailers want to load data into a clean room operated by an advertiser unless they fully understand the technology and associated risks, or offer measurement as a service? The walled garden clean rooms do have the potential of providing the greater transparency that P&G and others have demanded in recent years. However, this technical and data landscape needs to be simple enough to operate to convince advertisers not to invest in other alternative providers.”

A shift away from user-level approaches to measurement

Justine O’Neill, Senior Director at Analytic Partners:

“To measure effectiveness and continually optimize, we will also see a shift away from measurement solutions such as MTA and consumer research. Instead, we expect and encourage a greater adoption of methods that are independent from user-level data, such as MMM. Using this holistic approach helps brands to build a holistic view across channels and metrics to make sure they capture the whole business. Test and Learn solutions can complement them to ensure a rapid response to the market and potential market changes.”

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