Many major markets around the world can look towards the year ahead with a far more positive outlook than the past two years. With vaccines being administered globally, the idea of a return to ‘normal’, or as close to normal as possible, seems a much more achievable goal. As a result, more brands in more categories will be increasing their campaigns across all media channels. We can hope that this brings 2022 ad spend back up to its peak and we predict that real growth will be seen in the years to follow.
In previous years, brands would audit agency contract compliance a couple of years after they’d made their marketing investment. However, with campaigns increasingly becoming paused, slashed or even cut entirely, brands have been faced with the opportunity to update their contract compliance audits and assess agency performance in real-time. As investment will continue to ramp up over the next 12 months, advertisers should make sure they are holding their agency partners to account by maintaining auditing as close as possible to when investment is actually made.
Looking out across the year as a whole, I think there are four areas where brands should focus.
Review marketing investment as soon as possible
As we all know, the last few years have been extremely abnormal. As a result of this, many carefully crafted marketing plans were ripped up. So many changes were made in such a short amount of time and in the chaos of this, agency contracts may not have been updated. Therefore, brands must review their contracts and ensure everything is up to date and reflective of the past year.
Embracing the empathy dividend
Everyone has been willing to go the extra mile over the past year to make sure that work is completed to a high standard. However, a good thing to come out of the pandemic is that this meant we’ve seen an explosion in empathy in corporate culture. Everyone has found it easier to put themselves in customers shoes. To be successful moving forward, brands must embrace this empathy, keep staff happy and as a result create a more positive and understanding environment.
Continuing to work on sustaining and improving relationships
Working together in genuine collaboration so closely and so intensely over the course of the past 12 months has meant that many relationships have evolved from purely transactional into mutual, long-term partnerships. Advertisers should consider carefully how to capitalise further on the enhanced goodwill and spirit of partnership generated.
Removing complexity from operations
As digital transformation across businesses continues to increase, more digital media and marketing models are becoming more complex. Complexity always creates mistrust. For this reason, I’d encourage advertisers to aim for complete transparency – or at least strip out as much complexity as they can – in their dealings with multiple vendors, suppliers, and partners. Make sure you bake this into regularly reviewed, binding contracts.
Opportunities for 2022
In 2022, advertisers and their agency partners will be presented with the opportunity to hold onto the very real positives that have emerged from the most challenging of years ever seen. For contract compliance, this means “trust but verify” – and do so in a more straightforward, more human, and fundamentally empathetic way.
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