Data marketing spend tops $29B in US as cookie deadline looms

Diving Brief:

  • Advertising spending in the United States reached $436.3 billion in 2021, an increase of 21.6% year-over-year over the year that halted the pandemic and the strongest performance for the sector in the past decade, according to the latest annual assessment by Winterberry Group. The management consulting firm forecasts growth of 11.8% to $487.8 billion in 2022.
  • Data-related spending that includes identity, analytics, measurement and attribution jumped 26% year-over-year to $29.3 billion in 2021. With the pending shutdown of cookies and changes to mobile identifiers, Winterberry Group expects the category to gain another 13% this year. Investments will be directed toward first-party data collection, adoption of data management and cleanroom solutions and direct mail recovery for third-party data.
  • Winterberry Group said data tactics as a percentage of total media spending will grow from 11.6% in 2021 to 12.3% in 2022. Other areas of over-indexing include retail media marketing, which doubled from $20 billion in 2020 to $40 billion last year, experiential marketing and connected TV marketing.

Diving Insight:

The Winterberry Group’s assessment of the media landscape is the latest to support a marked recovery in the advertising market last year on the heels of a bleak 2020. The power of channels that lean toward performance marketing.

Despite supply chain pressures, inflation and labor shortages, 2022 appears set to experience further growth, albeit not at the same meteoric level as last year. The Winterberry Group analyzed 20 media channels – nine offline, 11 digital – for its report.

“The expectation is that while the growth rate will halve in 2022, macro trends will continue to drive market expansion — although they are always subject to the macroeconomic and COVID-related impacts,” said Bruce Beagle, Senior Managing Partner at Winterberry Group, said in a statement.

An ongoing blessing for class data is no surprise. Marketers struggle with neglecting third-party cookies, by far a major method of targeting online ads. Google is expected to phase out cookies in Chrome sometime next year, a decision that has seismic implications given the broad adoption of the web browser.

The policy switch, positioned by Google as protecting user privacy, has started a scramble for alternative solutions, particularly those that provide access to first-party data. Meanwhile, Apple’s recent change to make its mobile ID as an optional feature by default has negatively impacted major platforms’ revenue and impacted campaign performance in a possible omen of the impact that neglecting cookies could have.

Retail media has become a hot item as a result of these disruptions, seeing its spending double between 2020 and 2021, according to Winterberry Group. Brands including Walmart, Target, Kroger and CVS are rapidly building ad networks that leverage in-store and online shopper data while looking to draw in packaged merchandise marketers dollars who don’t have a point of sale.

Neighboring technologies are also receiving a surge of interest. Clean data rooms — services where different organizations can dump their own first-party data and see it anonymised, aggregated, and matched — have proliferated, with hard-hitting platforms like Amazon recently offering in the space.

With third-party cookies on the chopping block, alternative ways of placing ads are also seeing their star rise. Contextual targeting, where ads are tailored according to the content of websites based on factors such as keywords and topics, has gained more serious traction. A previous report from the Winterberry Group found that more than half (52%) of marketers surveyed plan to increase their spending on content targeting.

The Winterberry Group predicted that marketers would adopt a wide range of identifiers and move from the testing phase to larger rollouts by the end of the year. The company also expects continued marketing consolidation, driven by significant inflows of venture capital, private equity and public market capital.

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