The last couple of years were quite disruptive for the digital world. From privacy regulations to mobile-first experiences to the rise of short video content, publishers now have to be constantly on their toes to keep up with changing technologies, content advances and maturing users.
Here is what publishers need to keep on their radar to remain relevant and engaging for their audiences in 2022.
First-party identity plans
The upcoming death of third-party cookies sent a shockwave through the digital world. According to McKinsey, 80% percent of publishers (not including walled platforms) were using this form to understand, target and monetize their audience. The consultancy now thinks $10 billion in revenues are at risk in the U.S. alone.
The privacy regulation movement, however, stimulated innovation across all platforms. Publishers and advertisers who were relying on third-party information about their users are now collecting their own data through a variety of tactics, from discounts and free trials to loyalty rewards and exclusive content for subscribers. However, they still depend on big-tech post-cookie options, like the Privacy Sandbox or contextual targeting.
Revenue diversification is prompted by updates to digital technologies, formats and consumption habits – all of them compounded by the slow demise of third-party cookies.
While programmatic has been constantly growing and is expected to increase significantly in 2022, publishers must move fast and adapt to the changes in their audience’s profiles. Revenue streams must come from more than just advertising; although, it does remain the central and most impactful source. Below are some expansion opportunities to diversify.
E-commerce is growing faster on mobile than on tablet or desktop. Users are by now accustomed to their favorite businesses offering branded, related or complementary merchandise, either through their own store or via affiliate marketing.
New ad formats
Rewarded video ads, as the name indicates, can be watched in exchange for a reward or an incentive. They often help users progress across levels in gaming and various interactive formats.
Unskippable ads are not new and need to be used with caution; however, using them in the style of bumper ads and at very short durations can deliver an impactful message.
Stories ads are used more and more by companies across their social media accounts, such as Facebook and Instagram. They require imaginative creatives but low-resource promotion.
Other ad formats that will be gaining in popularity in 2022 include some discussed elsewhere in this article, such as video, 3D, or motion graphic content, as well as classic formats with bold visuals: striking typography, cleverly integrated content-matching graphics, color play, and more.
According to some estimates, sponsored content is one of the largest sources of revenue for most publishers, only second behind display advertising. There is no expectation for this trend to slow down, especially since, when done right, it offers a clear benefit to the user by delivering useful information in a favorable context.
For many content providers, subscription plans are low-hanging fruit. It does not have to be an all-or-nothing model but can be a freemium-like subscription as practiced by many content providers, from Harvard Business Review to Spotify. A subscription can offer exclusive content on top of the freely available regular content.
Digital video viewership is increasing every year. Even in the 65+ demographics, over 60% of internet users watched online videos. The expansion, however, is driven by all demographics between 12 and 44 years of age, accounting for over 90% online video viewership. Publishers and advertisers who ignore this trend will be left far, far behind.
In a market where graphic excellence no longer helps you stand out, interactive content can be the key to differentiation. Quizzes are possibly the most popular interactive format, but online calculators, 360° videos, interactive timelines and scrollytelling will also be making waves and delighting audiences in 2022.
CWV optimization and mobile experience
Building for a great mobile experience in a mobile-first world is non-negotiable. In 2021, people spent nearly 5 hours on their phones every day in top mobile markets, while mobile traffic accounted for 54% of all internet traffic.
While mobile continues to grow, there is a growing expectation that in order to perform on all platforms — tablet and desktop included —, your site must be “healthy.” Gone are the days when you thought your website needs only to be responsive to be effective. The three elements that Google groups under the Core Web Vitals category analyze the speed of loading, the speed of interactive response and the overall visual stability of elements on a web page. Catering to these factors means ensuring that your users have a great experience when they reach your page and interact with dynamic elements.
New trends in web design
Also called white space, negative space refers to the spaces between design elements that are deliberately left empty. This modern concept has gained an increased following to the point that, in 2022, cluttered design will look outdated and aesthetically unappealing.
While 3D design is not new, it is becoming more widespread and more easily accessible. Once more or less restricted to industrial design and derivative fields, there is increased usage of, and interest in, using 3D as a differentiating factor in web design and advertising visuals.
After minimalist design and skeuomorphism, it is time now for glassmorphism, a combination of transparency and movement-like graphics that replicate the structure of glass or the appearance of looking through glass.
A full-on static website just doesn’t cut it anymore. Motion graphics added to at least some elements of your website are almost a prerequisite in 2022. From kinetic typography and hover effects to dynamic map markers and animated visuals, motion graphics are essential to a modern-looking platform.
Parallax and dynamic scrolling are also not new, but in 2022, they will represent that part of the digital world that is running ahead of the herd. Dynamic scrolling refers to the user scrolling with simple mouse movements across elements on a single page, creating a smooth movement that tells a story in dynamic visual elements.
This refers to content that changes based on certain predefined data points. For instance, users in different locations will experience different content at the same web page address, and returning users will see different content from what first-comers are seeing. These adjustments ensure that your content matches the user journey stage and can better convert.
With continuing growth in internet usage, cheaper creator platforms and increased adoption of e-commerce, 2022 is giving publishers unprecedented opportunities for growth and differentiation. A maturing and expanding market is now ripe for new technologies and tactics, from graphic formats to make content stand out to high-ROI monetization options. In fact, given such rich choices, the worst thing publishers could do is — nothing.