4 trends that shaped content marketing in 2022
Judges from The Drum Awards for Content give us a rundown of the biggest trends emerging from this year’s winning work.
Content Awards Chair winner Prostate Cancer UK for The 30-sec Risk Checker
Earlier this month we celebrated the very best in content marketing at The Drum Awards for Content during the first-ever The Drum Awards Festival. (You can watch the reveal again here or read the full list of winners here .)
We also caught up with the judges of the 2022 show to hear their thoughts on this year’s entrants and about the innovative trends in the experiential space. Here’s what they had to say...
1. ‘Show up authentically or not at all’
Mike Goddard, head of campaign, Cheil Worldwide: “One major theme that consumers are desperately looking for in advertising is authenticity. This was apparent throughout many of this year's submissions when analyzing the work and outcome; those that created a real, relatable message saw tangible successful results. Today, consumers have access to information at the tip of their fingertips and brands need to find a way to show up in an authentic way while creating a lasting memory.
“I truly enjoyed reviewing submissions within the Most Effective and Creative User-Generated Content category. It’s difficult for brands to stand out in normal circumstances, but inspiring loyal fans to participate in a campaign is a big challenge. All submissions within this category creatively executed campaigns that attracted thousands of authentic responses from consumers, some even generating their own content. This way of marketing your brand reverses the traditional form of advertising where brands speak first by instead providing a platform for consumers to share their own opinions and stories.”
2. ‘Freshening up the client and consumer needs’
Chris Brody, marketing director, global content architect, Mars: “In the Best Branded Content Strategy category, we had the chance to see so many amazing examples of ways in which teams have been able to infuse new meaning and power in brands through creativity, resourcefulness and unexpected twists. The top submissions varied wildly in size, campaign style and company type – from a job placement site in Australia to the tourism board in Singapore to a big smartphone brand in the UK – but they all excelled at channeling big personality (from the brand and from the talent they partnered with), mining consumer insights packed with the tensions of real human needs, and meeting those needs in a very fresh and memorable way that only their brand could.
“In terms of opportunities for the future, I’d love to see more submissions showcasing a holistic strategy and content ecosystem beyond the hero long-form videos and more examples of brands embracing purpose and positive social impact in a distinctive way.”
3. ‘The best content had next to no branding’
Mel Ho, head of content, LadBible Australia: “It was great to review incredible work across the board. I loved seeing brands work on campaigns that reflected the context of the world around them and create elegant outputs in an authentic approach.
“With all the highs and lows that the world has thrown us – Covid travel bans, the Queen’s Jubilee and the shifts to remote working – it was really interesting seeing how brands and creative agencies incorporated these narratives into their body of work.
“A key thread I noticed across the entrants was true authentic storytelling and the brands that did the best job of that were the ones that weren’t forcing their branding or corporate messaging in their assets. In fact, the best pieces of content were the ones where there was next to no branding.
“One other thing that stuck out positively for me was campaigns that authentically highlighted social issues or causes – such as climate change, unfair pay gaps and the rescue efforts of Ukrainian refugees. There are some things that we can and should ask ourselves as content marketers – how can use our brand to do more good in the world? Secondly, how can we encourage others to do so without it making it feel like they are simply just ticking off their corporate social responsibility box?”
4. ‘Bringing the consumer along for the journey’
Ayumi Nakajima, head of content and creators, APAC, Pinterest: “When judging for the best celebrity/influencer brand partnership, campaigns that leaned into community building and gamification stood out. Successful brands brought the consumer along with them on the journey, rather than simply channeling their message through the influencer as a megaphone. For example, there was a campaign that asked consumers for their thoughts and built the product together as a community which I thought was uniquely fitting in this digital world.
“Other successful campaigns really leaned into the channel’s unique strengths. It’s important to recognize that the consumer mindset when people are on platform A versus B could be different – eg one person could be an avid gamer with a large network on one platform or a quiet browser on another. Campaigns that stood out really leaned into these differences and understood that ’native’ content looks different depending on the channel. So if you’re promoting on a gaming platform, why not gamify your campaign? This is becoming increasingly hard to do with multi-channel approaches, but winning campaigns nailed it really well.
“Lastly, when it comes to influencer marketing, consumers are getting savvy and can quickly assess whether the content is being promoted or not. I think we’ve all experienced those moments when branded content feels inauthentic and a bit cringe because it seems forced. Great ads avoid this by leaning into the voice of the influencer and leveraging their strengths versus just merely leveraging their popularity as a megaphone. It could be the influencer’s aesthetic, sense of humor, life values or hobbies, etc – brands that honor and celebrate the influencer’s strength shine through as great examples.”
The Drum Awards for Marketing are now open for entry . Make sure you apply before the early deadline on January 26, 2023.