26 December 2022 04:29:58 IST

Shubho Sengupta is a digital marketer with an analogue ad agency past. He can be found at @shubhos, pontificating on food, fetishes and football

Digital Marketing: Things that didn’t happen in 2022

Reality versus expectations in the world of digital marketing | Photo Credit: Getty Images

It is the end of the year and everyone’s getting pen and paper ready to fire off an exciting set of predictions for 2023 — in digital marketing that is. Problem is, almost none of the predictions for 2022 came true. And many were simple rehashes of what we had been hearing since 2018. Perhaps 2015. Perhaps earlier.

So here’s my best of the best — Duds. Rehashes. Recycled stuff generally, though recycling is good for the environment, I am told.

Metaverse will make a big splash

Specifically, metaverse was going to change everything in 2022. The Gurugram pundits opined that it would be an improved digital environment where it was possible to move seamlessly between work, play, shopping, socialising, and creativity in one digital landscape.

Errr, didn’t happen. Maybe wait a few years for 5G to kick in, and kick in hard? Till then, metaverse is good for cool status updates. Like Google Glasses. Remember?

Blockchain technologies will get a big boost

Blockchain’s decentralised ledger technology would help marketing and advertising teams “better manage data, gain deeper insights into audience interactions with ad campaigns and cultivate meaningful customer relationships.”

In other words, for digital marketers, this would be the magic wand to tackle excessive markups and ad frauds in the digital advertising industry.

Not really. Not yet. It’s still Excel sheets, with data monkeys poring over the best — and cheapest — media buys. This is as good as it gets — new and improved, since 2002. Okay 2010 if you want to throw in Facebook buys.

Artificial Intelligence will take over everything

You won’t hear a sentence in digital marketing seminars these days without the word AI showing up after every third word. Yes, AI has led to significant advances in many areas such as speech recognition, natural language processing, robotics, machine learning and computer vision… but not digital marketing.

Blogs written by AI software and videos created by AI are good on social media but when the rubber hits the road, you need an old-fashioned copywriter. Even a bad copywriter will do.

Social commerce is the engine of growth

“Social commerce is now the engine of growth in the e-commerce space” — I can’t remember which enthu cutlet said this, must be someone at a digital marketing conference in South Mumbai, but I’m willing to give him a long rope.

It could just come true, in say, two years. It depends on a few external factors such as regional social media influencers, lower entry-level tech barriers, and online fraud, but they should be manageable. Integrations with WhatsApp and other payment platforms are already making it easier for brands and influencers to set up shop.

Content creators will overthrow Bollywood celebrities

“The popularity of influencers, especially nano- and micro-influencers, will grow phenomenally to the extent that they will be more trusted than celebrities, by consumers” — that’s actually an industry report, never mind what they were smoking, but it didn’t happen in 2022.

While micro- and nano- influencers did rock the boat for smaller but highly aggressive and aspirational brands, they didn’t come close to even a Bollywood extra. Virat Kohli earns a reported ₹2.5 crore per tweet, that’s probably bigger than 98 per cent of annual Indian advertising budgets.

Indian social media platforms will overtake foreign ones

No. As long as people copy Twitter, it is not going to happen. Most Indian social platforms are so mediocre that they haven’t even figured out a revenue model. Most don’t have an advertiser dashboard, which is the other bugaboo. A few are very good, the exceptions that proves the rule.

Some silver linings

There is much to be happy and hopeful about, though. Short video is getting increasingly sophisticated. Things are getting decentralised, walled gardens are coming down. Twitter is — or seems to be — getting democratised and transparent. New privacy laws are on the anvil. And 5G is already being rolled out.

2023 will be the year of… no, wait. I don’t do predictions. So, have a wonderful 2023.