Marketers are prioritizing digital first, but have struggled over the past two years to keep up with consumers’ changing media habits, according to new research from Nielsen. The firm’s new 2022 annual marketing report, Era of Alignment, the first global report of its kind, illustrates how marketers need confidence in their data to focus equally on brand building and customer acquisition, doing so through both upper-funnel and lower-funnel planning and execution.
The report, which surveyed nearly 2,000 global marketers between December 2021 and January 2022, revealed a digital dominance in how dollars are being spent and exposed marketers’ lack of confidence in the data behind those decisions. With continued digital fragmentation, marketers report data accuracy, measurement, and ROI as paramount concerns. While 69 percent of marketers believe first-party data is essential for their strategies and campaigns, and 72 percent of marketers believe they have access to quality data, only 26 percent of global marketers are fully confident in their audience data.
The report found marketers around the world are experiencing similar areas of success and challenges, as shown by:
Brand awareness is marketers’ top objective
To reach this goal, brands need to leverage an array of channels to reach the widest audience. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents stated that social media is the most effective paid channel with TikTok and Instagram dominating spend. Social media spend increased by 5 percent across global marketers, significantly more than the aggregate increase of TV and radio spend. Customer acquisition is their second objective, showing that marketers must focus efforts on the entire customer journey.
Increased media fragmentation amplifies the need for holistic measurement
Marketers’ confidence in measuring ROI of the full-funnel is only 54 percent. Remove online and mobile video, and confidence in measuring ROI across all other channels is under 50 percent globally, and while nearly half of marketers plan to increase their spending on podcasts, their confidence in measuring the ROI of that investment is 44 percent.
It’s vital for marketers to use data to champion personalized marketing strategies
The increasing proliferation of channels produces an abundance of unique data sets. However, 36 percent of marketers still claim that data access, identity resolution, and deriving actionable insights from data is either extremely or very difficult. With the rise of connected TV (CTV) this presents new challenges to traditional targeting solutions. CTV is a growing focus for global marketers, with 51 percent planning to increase their over-the-top/CTV spending in the coming year. In 2021, Americans streamed almost 15 million years’ worth of content across subscription- and ad-supported platforms.
By placing a greater emphasis on purpose-driven initiatives, marketers can better connect with consumers
Nielsen research shows over half of U.S. consumers (52 percent) purchase from brands that support causes they care about; similarly, more than 36 percent expect the brands they buy to support social causes. While global marketers say their brands are emphasizing purpose, Nielsen data shows that 55 percent of consumers aren’t convinced that brands are fostering true progress.
“Our work at Nielsen is to provide the most complete view of consumer behavior across industries, and our longtime experience in measurement and comprehensive view of the media universe gives brands a 360-degree view that can’t be found anywhere else,” said Jamie Moldafsky, chief marketing and communications officer at Nielsen, in a news release.
“This research reaffirms that marketers want to put money into channels to deliver immediate ROI, but this must be balanced with overall brand lift,” Moldafsky added. “As media engagement shifts, agility and data are critical to optimize the entire marketing funnel. With the upcoming depreciation of third-party cookies, it’s understandable to see marketers prioritizing personalization and aligning their brand with causes their customers care about. Through our solutions—and this report—we’re continuing to help brands and marketers get actionable insights to make more informed, and quicker decisions.”
This is the fifth Annual Marketing Report produced by Nielsen. The report is based on survey responses from marketers who manage marketing budgets $1 million or more; who work across a variety of industries (auto, financial services, FMCG, technology, health care, pharmaceuticals, travel, tourism, and retail); and whose focus pertains to media, technology, and measurement strategies.