AI and Social Commerce: Digital Marketing Trends to Watch For in 2022

“Unprecedented” has become a clichéd term to describe the past two years, but that doesn’t diminish its accuracy. The global pandemic upended patterns, accelerated adoption of emerging consumer behaviors, and disrupted the carefully laid plans of even the most savvy brands. Agile marketers pivoted quickly, implementing new experiences to address changing consumer needs. The one question on every digital marketer’s mind is….what will next year bring?

It’s becoming apparent that while there’s a clear point of inflection at the start of the pandemic, moving forward will be a gradual process. 2022 will bring new opportunities for digital marketers across a variety of fronts, ranging from innovative ways to connect with consumers in new spaces to the infusion of AI into more and more marketing practices.

Here are two of my predictions for what’s to come next year.

AI-driven automation becomes standard operating procedure

After being heralded for many years as an upcoming revolution, artificial intelligence-driven marketing has finally arrived—and that arrival has been surprisingly subtle. The AI-powered automation Google launched over the past few years is focused on individual features within existing marketing activities, such as auction-time bidding and responsive search ads. Some of these features are even baked right into the functionality of the platform, such as Google’s improved Broad match relevance launched last February.

We already know that Responsive Search Ads will become the primary ad format in 2022, and we can expect more in-platform AI-driven automation to become the default (and eventually only) option throughout 2022 across Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and other advertising ecosystems. Next year will also see the emergence of Performance Max as a powerful cross-channel marketing solution from Google, enabling advertisers to access more inventory across a variety of ad types in a streamlined fashion. We’ve been testing Performance Max, and the results have been impressive thus far—although the real test will come in the first half of next year when Google incorporates Smart Shopping campaigns, truly unlocking this campaign type for ecommerce brands.

These features are powerful and effective—but only when fueled by accurate marketing data. Digital marketers will need to not only understand how to strategically implement AI-driven automation, but also ensure they’re “feeding the machine” with the most relevant KPIs. The advertisers who see the most benefit from automation in 2022 will be the ones who take the time to ensure robust conversion data gives these tools the best first-party audience and conversion information to incorporate into their calculations.

The continued rise of social commerce and livestream shopping

Today’s consumers move seamlessly between devices and experiences throughout their day. They are in control of where they consume media, and they’re watching more and more short-form video across multiple interaction points—especially on social platforms. Savvy brands have built video content strategies to reach consumers on social with powerful video experiences, creating both owned assets and influencer amplification. All of these experiences include a subtle (or not-so-subtle) call to action, attempting to influence viewers to make a purchase or engage in some other way. However, the combination of consumer control and an endless feed of content often interrupts this opportunity. Shoppable videos aim to change all of that.

While many platforms have experimented with solutions that integrate the point of conversion into the video experience itself, often they’re done as an afterthought, overlaid on top of pre-existing video assets. In the coming year there is a massive opportunity for brands to integrate commerce into social video from the ground up, building experiences that enable viewers to seamlessly purchase within the video itself. Livestream ecommerce in China has demonstrated the potential, and is projected to drive more than $300 billion in sales in that market in 2021.

Social video has the opportunity to move from a “push” branding play to a “pull” conversion tactic, but only when marketers craft it from the start with that purpose in mind. 2022 will see an explosion of platforms and tools that enable seamless social commerce, and the brands that lean into the opportunity will reap the benefits.

For more of our predictions about privacy, the rise of the metaverse, and the final death of third party cookies, be sure to tune in Wednesday December 8th to the Brainlabs Webinar “Digital Marketing in 2022: Industry Trends to Watch For.” I hope to see you there!