When Christmas decorations start to spring up, it’s only natural that we look to the future and wonder what 2022 has in store for us all. What are the trends in data and marketing going to look like?
There are a number of areas that have risen in prominence during 2021 that will be even more important in 2022. And these are the things that anyone in data and marketing should be excited about, even if they can make us nervous too.
First up, it’s privacy.
1 / Data privacy
We don’t think anybody could have avoided the topic of privacy over the last year. It’s the hot topic in the tech world.
Public concerns and public awareness of the kind of data tech is gathering in our day-to-day lives – and what they’re doing with it – is rightly on the forefront of people’s minds and that will very much continue in 2022.
Having recently spoken to the ICO – Information Commissioner’s Office – who uphold data privacy for individuals, they talked about having a lot of focus on privacy coming out soon.
There’s a lot of work that was being done pre-pandemic that was put on hold, just as everything else in the world was put on hold. But, that’s going to be ramped up in 2022.
This will affect us as marketers and the way in which we target adverts and campaigns. Keeping an eye on regulation announcements in 2022 will be crucial.
Ultimately, any changes are coming through public pressure. So, if they can help us provide a better customer experience and help us grow as a business, it’s a good thing.
People are becoming more aware of how tech can impact their lives – Ring doorbells are a great example of this. Earlier this year in the UK, a person sued their neighbour over their use of Ring tech.1
That case didn’t just involve someone having a Ring doorbell in place. It was more a case of a number of Ring devices being used to purposely harass an individual.
ProPrivacy – the digital rights group – said the ruling did not create a legal precedent in the UK but should prompt people to consider “whether we’re comfortable decorating our neighbourhoods with powerful CCTV gadgets”.
It’s a good example of how one person using tech erroneously to encroach on a persons privacy can then affect how we all use it.
The cookie monster
Cookies are something we’ve spoken about a lot in the last year – and for good cause. It’s been shown quite clearly, that when given the choice to properly opt-out of third-party cookies, people will.
At the moment, a large number of sites don’t make it easy to opt out of cookies. Some even make it compulsory to accept cookies to access the website – which means they’re breaking the law.2
One major thing that was meant to happen this year, but has been pushed to mid-2023 and finishing by the end of that year, is the removal of third-party cookies from Chrome. This will be a big worry to marketers.
Google is developing some replacements, but how good they will be we don’t yet know. Marketers who have been in the game a few years will remember the panic that surrounded Google removing organic search data from Google Analytics.
That was a big shock to the system and deprived us of a key marketing tool. Removal of all third-party data will be even worse and may make Google Analytics only good for analysing historic data.
Another major worry with any replacements Google provide is that users will get one option to turn them off from a central location. This means you won’t have a chance to circumvent it every time a user hits your website.
As people are made more aware of any sources that are collecting data and given the option to turn collection off, they’re taking it. We’re seeing Apple users turn off location data for iOS apps.
So, all in all, we’re already on the path to a new world as marketers. One where cookies are no more.
IP as a cookie alternative
One really interesting thing that doesn’t get a lot of air time is IP addresses being classed as PII – personally identifiable information.
Your devices IP address is not something that’s really talked about in terms of compliance. However, we think 2022 will be the year that we see a big push and be the crystallisation of what is the post cookie landscape on Chrome.
Google has been using its privacy sandbox – as they call it – to test out cookie alternatives that sort of protect privacy. These haven’t gone brilliantly as it’s not like they’re going to perfectly replace cookies.
There’s also, we believe, ongoing legal trouble that surrounds using IP addresses for targeting. In effect, this is because, all ad targeting will be basically done by Google, who will then sell the targeted cohorts to advertisers.
This raises major competition concerns as it’s basically saying that Google is the only company in the world that can use ad targeting as they’ve got Chrome and all of its data.
What we think we’ll see next year, to a certain extent, is a transition from thinking “how will we replicate cookies, but within compliance” to “what were we doing with cookies and how can we do that properly for the long term?”
Trying to make tactical changes that only work in the short term means you’re going to be chasing your tail and making more changes when regulation changes in 2023, then again in 2024 and so on.
So, it’s a good time for marketers as a whole to look back and say, “well, how do we make long term change that actually solves how we find customers? A method that aligns long term to the customer and the consumer requirements around their privacy being respected?”
2 / Data and data science will continue to grow
Data and data science is booming and will continue to. As a side effect of this, we see more FOMO in data science as people don’t want to miss out on the gains that can be made.
Conversely, a lot of big data projects aren’t succeeding. But – as we’ve talked about in our podcasts – a lot of this is driven by a lack of clear goals. A number of data science projects aren’t particularly clear and people are driven by the desire to do something, rather than the desire to do a particular thing.
And we see that continuing into the new year, unfortunately.
An interesting aspect within data science seems to be recruitment for the sake of recruitment. A number of large organisations that can pay big salaries are hiring lots of data science people. Yet, they don’t have enough work to give them.
Stories such as Google hiring graduates for a million dollars inflate salaries and mean smaller businesses don’t have a look in when it comes to recruiting the right data skillset.
The issue is that Google’s needs to remain at the cutting edge are very different from smaller organisations.
A way for smaller businesses to compete is to use data science services – such as our GDlabs platform – where smaller, bespoke, data models can be built.
3 / AI working with small data
Small data, sometimes called tiny ML – machine learning – is an exciting area of research that can be very specific. What it is that interests us is the use of small data with smaller machines – not big cloud computing problems.
To give an example, we can look at self-driving cars where small data is used for areas:
Not having to send data back to a central hub to be processed is great for privacy.
It’s even better for safety, as decisions are taken quickly – if you’re about to hit a brick wall, you don’t have a lot of spare time. Sending data back to a central hub for it to make a decision will more likely end up in a crash than not.
4 / Know your own first-party data
In regards to the FOMO of data we mentioned earlier, small data is also good for smaller businesses as it’s easier to get into the data space. It allows you to dip your toes into the data ocean and for a much smaller investment.
When we speak to customers, we speak to marketing, growth teams, or sales. We let them know that we can help them find more customers, quicker – but, we need your first-party data.
You, you can almost see the anxiety building in their head of like “well, how am I gonna get hold of that?” Once you explain that it can be as simple as your Google Analytics or CRM data, you can almost feel them breathe out and go “okay, that’s doable.”
Where it arises from in the first place is that someone at some point has asked them to get some data and it’s been an absolute nightmare to find all the different pieces you need.
Mince pie time
So, that’s our predictions for data in 2022:
- Small data and FOMO
- Know your own data
Keep an eye on our podcasts page to hear our full conversation on the trends to watch out for next year.
One thing we can definitely be sure of is, as it’s December, it’s officially time for a mince pie. Have a great festive holiday and a happy new year!
1 / Amazon asks Ring owners to respect privacy after court rules usage broke law / theguardian.com