What are the digital trends we’ll see in 2022? We asked members of our digital and also our technology teams what they expect to happen next year. Find out what they had to say below.

1) Social audio turns up the volume

With the launch of Twitter Spaces, social audio has finally hit the mainstream, with brands and influencers eager to take advantage. Inherently experiential in nature, it drives a captive audience who are keen to not miss out on timely content. However, brands should be wary of potential damage from aligning with potentially chaotic proceedings. Equally, publishers will need to take responsibility for safeguarding, while also delivering measurable insights for brands as it increasingly becomes part of the mix.

2) A virtual reality check for Metaverse

Much has been made of Mark Zuckerberg’s dream of Metaverse, and with the newly renamed Meta employing 10,000 staff to work on the project, it’s clear that it will be a central focus for the social media giant in the upcoming years. Many futurologists have excitedly pointed out the possibility of NFT crossover, but is this little more than a pipedream? The expensive price point to engage with the platform, and the lack of interaction with other planned rivals (Epic Games are planning something similar), means another walled garden for fanatics and not necessarily a fundamental shift in how we access social.

3) Subscription saturation

At what point is enough, enough? In the beginning, the lure of platforms such as Netflix was that it had most of the television shows and films you’d ever want to watch. Now we find ourselves having a NOW TV subscription to watch Succession, Apple TV to watch Ted Lasso, as well as Gousto boxes for when we go hungry. The media has been relatively slow to turn to the subscription model, but now we’ve seen the rise of platforms such as Patreon and Substack, which is simply adding to the long list of direct debits each month. Will this mean that journalists and writers are able to create their own community and make revenue from it in the long run? We’re not convinced. This subscription saturation point may push users back towards aggregators such as Apple News, which provides you with all the news you want under one subscription. If only the entertainment industry regressed to such simplicity.

4) Getting regulatory grips on artificial intelligence

In 2022, the UK Government will publish a white paper on how it plans to regulate and potentially legislate for the use of AI technologies, recognising that their advanced use is now stretching the limits of existing frameworks. For the UK’s tech and digital sector, this is an important indication of how the UK plans to act post-Brexit. AI is a sector the Government hopes to see the UK lead in, and to do that it will attempt be more pro-innovation than the EU’s advanced but strict approach, and more hands-on than the US light-touch but comparatively earlier stage regulations. The recent launch of a new Algorithmic Transparency Standard for the UK’s public sector, one of the world’s first, indicates the Government will not shy away from using AI technologies but does expect to have clear expectations in place.

5) Digital advertising will continue to increase

As the United Kingdom enters Plan B of its COVID-19 response, marketers will be quickly rethinking their strategies ahead of the Christmas break and the start of a new year. With footfall dropping in city centres, people stuck at home isolating and no end in sight, it is no surprise that Zenith have forecast that digital advertising will account for over 60% of global ad spend in 2022. The battleground has been set, and those that are quickest and smartest will win. Just look how Peloton won recently, following the Sex and the City spin off. Whether you’re catering towards a B2B, B2C, or even B2E audience, companies will need paid advertising at the centre of their strategies, because without it, not only are you reaching a small percentage of your current audience, but you’ll be also drowned out by those who are ahead of the curve.

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