Merkle’s Q4 2021 Digital Marketing Report



With the year 2021 behind us, we want to analyze trends and outlooks for the media space in 2022. Here at BrandVerge, we are always looking to make our clients smarter and more efficient so we are happy to share our take on Merkle’s Q4 2021 Digital Marketing Report.

Merkle, a leading technology-enabled, data-driven customer experience management company, released its Q4 Digital Marketing Report, a quarterly research report that analyzes and highlights trends within paid and organic search, Amazon ads, paid social, and display ad spend. Q4 2021 was shaped by trends in advertising and consumer behavior across retail, travel, and digital media, which are defining marketing strategies in Q1 2022 and beyond.

The Q4 2021 report indicates that the marketing industry must heavily rely on the ability to balance changing consumer preferences with the desire for pandemic escape and for normalcy. In 2020, issues concerning shipping and supply chain challenges triggered the earlier holiday shopping season in 2021. Along with that, consumers have started to return to normal pre-pandemic behaviors such as in-store shopping and travel. Emerging platforms such as TikTok and connected TV (CTV) are continuing to grow and push the advertising industry forward. 

TikTok and Connected TV Advertising Increase

TikTok, along with Connect TV saw an increasing share of spend within paid and social display. TikTok captured double advertisers’ spend in Q4, compared to 2% in Q3, and is expected to continue to grow as more features and capabilities are added to the app. CTV saw a two-point increase in Q3, encompassing 22% of display and paid social spend share for advertisers investing at least $1k on the platform. Looking closely at Amazon, advertisers saw an increase in Sponsored Display as an off-the-shelf option to increase brand awareness. This off-the-shelf option saw an increase in its spend to 6% and impression share to 8%. 

Holiday Shopping Season Starts Sooner

In all channels, retailers saw an extended shopping season compared to years past. Consumers began shopping earlier in the quarter, and inventory and staffing issues caused some advertisers to set their shipping deadline and reduce ad presence earlier than normal. Balancing the advertising timelines with inventory availability is always tricky, but the shift in demand and supply chain challenges made 2021 particularly complex for brands to manage.

Travel Continues to Show Strong Year over Year Performance

Clicks for travel brand advertising increased 25% and spend increased 40%from 2020 to 2021, and finally cost-per-click rose by 12% year over year. Similarly, search engine optimization increased with visits up to 41% Y/Y, peaking at 55% in November. 

Year over Year Paid Search and Social Advertising Costs Decrease

In Q2 and Q3, Cost Per Click (CPC) and Cost Per Mile (CPM) significantly increased across channels year over year within strong competition. Fortunately, the increased price measures dwindled down with paid search CPC up only 13% in Q4 compared to 41% in Q3. Similarly, paid social media such as Facebook’s CPM was up 8% in Q4 compared to 46% in Q3 while Instagram CPM was down 9% year over year in Q4. Overall, there was a significant reduction in year over year increase across the board in 2021’s Q4 with less discounted CPC in Q4 2020, compared to Q2 and Q3 2020.

In summary, the Q4 2021 report shows advertisers trends from the previous year to better comprehend industry outlooks as we move in 2022. Everyday changing consumer preferences and a desire for pre pandemic behavior makes our jobs, here at BrandVerge, increasingly more difficult but continuing to analyze trends and outlooks for the media space allows us to make our clients more efficient and smarter! 

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