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After looking back, buyers look forward

Media execs make their predictions for 2022 and lay out some resolutions for the industry to commit to.

By Jennifer Horn
Nov 4, 2021

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Pictured, clockwise from top left: Kevin Kivi, Ishma Alexander-Huet, Richard Fofana, Cathy Collier, Lindsey Talbot, Sarah Thompson, Scott Stewart and Devon MacDonald.

Yesterday, we shared with you the biggest regrets and surprises eight Canadian media execs saw after looking back at the year that was. Today, they are looking ahead to see what predictions they have for 2022, as well as the resolutions they hope the industry will take to heart.



If you could bet on the next big media opportunity for advertisers in 2022 – what would it be?

Sarah Thompson: Back to local. We need to get back to understanding what is happening town by town, county by county and neighbourhood by neighbourhood. The CMDC is leading the way, but we need brands to start engaging in this conversation with their media agency.

Cathy Collier: The next big opportunity for advertisers in 2022 will be recognizing the importance of attention and evolving measurement methodologies to use attention-based metrics to inform media decisions. This year OMD completed global research in partnership with Amplified Intelligence, which made clear that for brands to drive mental availability, they need to focus on getting people's attention. Mental availability is a metric that's closely related to changes in market share and is a metric that is widely accepted by marketers as an indicator of brand strength.

Scott Stewart: Precision replaces scale due to acceleration in addressable media capabilities, and in response, advertisers really start to weaponize micro-market level targeting and push away from buying national ratings.

Lindsey Talbot: Advanced TV. Dynamic ad insertion, addressable VOD and audience targeting capabilities that allow advertisers to reach the right TV viewers on the big screen in broadcast quality content.

Ishma Alexander-Huet: Apart from preparing for a cookie-less world through ethical data collection and development of first party audience segments, reframing media practices to be inclusive by default is a huge opportunity. Simple adjustments to targeting strategies, expanding vehicle selection through strategic PMPs and offline vehicles, and examining audience assumptions can lead to brand growth as they allow for increased reach and relevancy amongst our diverse population.

Kevin Kivi: We have been waiting for over a decade for major broadcasters and media companies to collaborate on creating unification around data, automation and methods to trade with their immersive mediums. Is this a non-fungible solution? Or does the metaverse offer a fresh start…

Richard Fofana: Making testing and learning an active, foundational priority upfront in the planning process to accelerate business advantage. This move will futureproof advertisers by better arming them to quickly capitalize on market changes and shifts in consumer shopping patterns. At UM, we have invested in learning-based growth drivers like Futurecaster, which identifies emerging media by audience, and Demand Forecaster, a consumer behaviour prediction tool.

Devon MacDonald: The overall shift in culture and consumer demand is going to shift media to niche executions and opportunities. The importance of martech as the interface between a brand and consumer is going to demand more from marketers. That interface, and the data sources it supports and provides, is the practical translation of brand values in media.



What's one thing you hope the industry plans to start doing, one thing it needs to stop, and one thing you hope it changes in 2022?

Sarah Thompson: Start correlating the brand to demand. Brand truly benefits conversion and the data is there to start understanding how that works.

Stop focusing on the short term only. The feedback of data in digital media can be distracting, but truthfully, you need to know the your businesses' trajectory and how you are building for the future – because it gets here quickly, and with massive market dynamic shifts, like the supply chain issues of today, you need a long-term view to sustain that turmoil.

Change the way you look at the total media investment and challenge what is missing in your reports – what pressing questions do you need to ask about how you're allocating your spend? It's important to ask because how we consume media is evolving every minute.

Cathy Collier: Start bringing more diversity to our industry by recruiting at the high school level so more people know earlier about media as an interesting career. There are individual agencies who have started but this is something our industry should work together on.

Stop the race to the bottom by competing less on compensation and rates and more on our media expertise. We run businesses not charities.

Change the way we look at consumer connections. We have spent the past few years focused on data, ingesting it and the pipes it runs through. Our business has become very functional, and we would be well-served to inject consumer empathy into our media solutions. We have a rich history of developing innovative connections between people and brands, which has been lost in recent years.

Scott Stewart: Start prioritizing putting your people first. You owe it to both your staff and colleagues to help build a culture that is dedicated to getting better, and being better, so that your people can thrive. Invest in their progress and development as both a short-term and long-term strategy.

Marketers, stop letting procurement drive the RFP agenda. There are too many shell games going on right now in the dark corners of the industry as a result of this practice. You get what you pay for. Think: people and strategy first.

Change how we support Canadian-owned and -operated media companies. Like every other industry talking about sustainability, we need to behave accordingly. So stop paying lip service to that fact, and start prioritizing these relationships.

Lindsey Talbot: Start attracting new, diverse talent into our industry. Stop letting cost be the leading factor in pitches, focus on long-term business growth and the ideas your prospective agency partner proposes to get you there. Change your media plans to better support Canadian, factual, journalism and news sources.

Ishma Alexander-Huet: Start investing in inclusive media as opposed to selective multicultural campaigns. Stop asking for more with less. The investment in time and resources leads to happier people and better work. Change the dependency on lower funnel activity to drive short term goals at the expense of upper funnel, brand building activity.

Kevin Kivi: Much attention has been given in recent years to the lack of DEI in our industry; and while most agencies agree on the importance of diversity across organizations, business remains as usual, or the attitude is cursory: "just add DEI to the mix." Which begs the question: have we really done enough to combat DEI gaps in our industry? Or are agencies reactively being forced to act on this front? We fully recognize there's much work to be done, and the best we can do is take advantage of this opportunity to improve, and learn, but there's a long way to go.

Richard Fofana: On the people front, our industry needs to find effective ways to delineate between work and home. And make a genuine investment in formal approaches that facilitate downtime and disconnecting. A recent study cited 9 of 10 knowledge workers prioritize flexibility as a critical driver of employer choice. Stop simply trying to find ways to do things cheaper, at the expense of all else. Low quality, ineffective impressions may be cheaper by the pound, but they don't drive growth and they don't build brands. This race to the bottom dilutes the value of our industry, drives out top talent and commoditizes our profession.

Devon MacDonald: The tabled government legislation around after-hours work and amazing recent campaign from NABS about late hours is the strongest signal yet about the change needed in the industry. Employees must be permitted to set boundaries about their work. Agencies and brands must adhere to those boundaries and also be more flexible in their approach to remote and in office working. My wish for the industry and its leaders is the continued focus on marginalized groups, support for those in vulnerable situations and an overall increase in empathy for individuals. We're in this together.