adtech trends

As another year comes to a close, it seems unlikely that 2022 will be any less eventful than the years before. Though each new year brings some unpredictability with it, we know that at least in the digital advertising world, nothing is ever stagnant for too long. An industry evolving at such a fast rate is also reaching new levels of maturity with new tech, features, and platforms. It’s the type of environment marketers thrive in, and can feel challenged every day to improve themselves and achieve long term growth at scale. 

Looking back at the developments over the past year, here’s our top trends in AdTech and ways to prepare for 2022. 

Data Privacy 

Data has always been, and still is, the number one most valuable asset in digital marketing. Typically in the past, consumers have trusted brands with their personal data and were willing to part with it to receive more personalized offers and better overall experiences.  

But recent developments involving data leaks and misuse of personal data have led to consumer concerns, and rightfully so. Legislation like GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act were passed for these very reasons, and the federal U.S. government isn’t far behind in passing laws of its own to enact stricter regulations regarding data collection, and greater privacy security. 

The conundrum this presents for marketers is that, while consumers expect highly personalized brand experiences, the data needed to construct these experiences has become less available. Likewise, clients expect their advertising agencies to find the perfect customer at the lowest cost, but with less data to do advanced targeting, or to optimize campaigns by tracking best ROI per channel and ad type. 


data privacy


The effects of data privacy regulation have been most notable on the two biggest ad platforms, Facebook and Google.  


The social media giant’s ad business suffered a significant setback the day Apple announced the iOS 14.5 update, which requires Apple users to opt in to tracking in an effort to protect them against data collection. This significantly limited the amount of trackable data on its apps, causing issues with targeting and attribution. Because so much of Facebook’s traffic comes from iOS devices like iPhones and iPads, the available audiences that advertisers could now target became significantly smaller. 

Another major repercussion of this is advertisers are less likely to identify users who have shown an interest in one of their products, shrinking their retargeting pool and lessening the chances of driving a customer back to their website through a retargeting ad. The extent of audience reach overall will be smaller, especially in more niche categories, as less data is available that aligns with the traits of your ideal customer 


On Google, advertisers use to have insight into every search term that triggered their ad to display. They could then optimize campaigns by analyzing these search terms, develop new keyword ideas to add to their ad groups, and add irrelevant or high-cost keywords to their negative keyword lists. This year, Google has cut down the number of viewable search terms by 30%, making it harder for advertisers to understand the search queries they are bidding on, and appropriately adjust their strategies based on these findings.  

While Google hasn’t experienced as many problems with attribution as Facebook has, the inevitable sunsetting of 3rd party cookies scheduled for 2023 will still have a significant impact for paid search advertisers and on Google’s ad business. 

Advertisers, agencies, and tech platforms should take it upon themselves to be as transparent as possible with data usage. The biggest concern users have with data is not knowing what it’s being used for. If tech companies and advertisers keep the lines of communication open about data usage it’s more likely users will opt in to having their data collected.


CTV/OTT Advertising

Connected TV usage skyrocketed in 2020 with people spending more time indoors, and the momentum continued this past year. With what seems like new streaming services popping up every day, the chord cutting trend continues its surge in popularity, and online video will soon become the normal medium to view broadcasted and televised content. eMarketer predicts 204.1 million CTV users by 2022, making it a goldmine channel for advertisers. Although there are challenges with CTV in terms of measuring its direct impact on revenue, there are data companies that provide identity solutions and cross device tracking, making it possible for CTV to be a performance marketing channel. Regardless of what advancements may come next for CTV, video has always been a high-performing ad type in terms of engagement and top-of-funnel metrics, and the most effective way to introduce a product or tell a brand story.   

Brands getting the most out of CTV are using a multi-channel approach, tracking users across devices and leveraging CTV as a brand awareness touchpoint. Once the users they’ve reached via CTV are in the midst of purchasing decisions, using more direct-response tactics and product-focused messaging to sway prospects into become customers. 

CTV advertising


Contextual Targeting 

With less reliance on 3rd party cookies and user data, advertisers have been more adept in using contextual targeting in their ad campaigns. Contextual targeting does not rely on behavioral data, but instead is based on the subject matter of the website 

Advertisers can target publisher inventory whose content aligns thematically with the ads they want to serve. These website visitors are far more likely to take an interest in the ads’ content, leading to a more additive experience, and greater ROAS for the advertiser. 

If you’ve ever visited, and were served an ad featuring golf products from a sporting goods brand, that is an example of contextual targeting. It’s a tactic that’s been around for a while but is only starting to regain in popularity as an alternative to 3rd party cookies. Advancements in programmatic AI are making the tactic more precise and cost-effective by analyzing buying intent of a page’s subject matter. 

Interested in seeing a list of publishers that would be best for your contextual targeting campaign? Contact one of our experts! 

contextual targeting


The Path Forward: 

Customer centricity, diversified media buys, and the collaboration and sharing of data will be keys to success in 2022. Expanding to new channels and ad formats requires an experimental approach where you can be nimble and agile, quickly allocating resources to the higher performing tactics. It most likely requires additional resources, where data can be analyzed quickly and tactics can be deployed responsively across multiple platforms and devices 

As consumer demands become greater, and advertisers mature and make use of sophisticated technology, serving irrelevant ads will no longer be an option. Every touchpoint is increasing in significance. Take into account each one in the context of the user’s journey as stepping stones towards a loyal relationship. 


John Haslinger
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