These are the five questions we ask this time of year

31 January 2022

Firstly, to all our clients, media owner partners, agency partners, and friends in the media and marketing fraternity – a very Happy New Year! May 2022 be a blessed one for you and yours.

The beginning of a new year very often comes with massive uncertainty, and a million questions.

Everyone wants to know what our expectation is of the new year for this wonderful media industry of ours, and where we think growth will come from. I’ve grouped our most frequently asked questions together and given an educated guess of what I think will happen and where we will end up. I’m keen to hear what you think so drop me a mail with your thoughts.

What’s going to be the hot trends of 2022?

Where to begin? Is the biggest trend adequately planning for the cookiepocalypse? Yes. Is it the creation of programmatic media buying for non-digital media? Yes. Blurring of the lines between digital and traditional media? Yes. Short form video content? Most definitely. A lot of trends remain the same as in previous years but they’re constantly evolving and morphing.

BUT where I do think we’re going to see a global and steep change is the move to digital audio. Google is extending its programmatic selling of audio content through YouTube which means that there is now scale to be bought online that can slowly start competing with radio. It is still expensive, but as marketers’ thirst for more data, knowledge, and accountability, I think we are going to see a steep upward curve in digital audio.

Audiences are flocking to new audio platforms. Apps like Spotify continue to grow fuelled by smart content creators like Joe Rogan, whose podcasts now have more than double the audience of CNN and Fox in the USA combined!

Digital Audio for now is still expensive (multiples of radio) but as scale increases, I believe that prices will drop. Many “traditional radio operations” are also investing and gearing to accommodate for this increasing consumer demand.

The other hot trend I believe we will see blow up is the commercialisation of advertising on e-commerce platforms. Amazon Search is now a multibillion-dollar business. In South Africa both Shoprite (through Sixty60 and their Rainmaker platform) and Takealot are growing and offering marketers superb data, at great prices with targeted promotion. I suspect we will see some big moves in this space.

From a consumer perspective, I believe that agility and change will lead the charge. The world is now moving at an exponentially faster rate, and consumers with it. This pace will be an expectation of businesses too. Adapt – quickly – or die.

What will inflation be?

I believe that the inflation rate will start climbing again as the market turns around and media owners start looking to grow after what has been a disastrous two years. Last year we said negative rate inflation - but I believe that this will not be the case in 2022. I suspect that we will see between 3-4% rate inflation in 2022. As consumer inflation rises, media inflation will follow suit.

However, what happens if you add audience growth or decline to this figure? That is where we get to real media inflation (weighted rate increase, to audience delivery). I think many media owners will lose audiences due to proliferation of platforms, so I believe we will end up with real media inflation that could be as high as 6-7%.

Clients and agencies will fight this number down with all their might. If your audience isn’t growing – don’t even think about putting your rates up. The market is too competition.

How much growth can we expect in 2022?

Last year we all aimed for 90% of 2019. The general consensus is that this is where many people ended up. I think that this year the target must be to hit what we did in 2019. I think the market will see aggressive growth again. I have a gut feeling (nothing else) – that we will see about 7% growth in the market, but the challenges are obvious – Eskom, an ANC election towards the end of the year, unemployment and slow domestic growth will hamper us.

However, the global markets are all rock ‘n rolling again. I do believe some of that will benefit South Africa. As borders open up and tourists start coming back in, we will see a definite uptick in tourism. Our farmers have had great rains meaning we can manage food prices a bit better, and I am quietly optimistic for a bullish year ahead.

Can we see each other in person again?


I think more businesses will go back to full operations at their offices. Us media folk are “face to face” people. I look forward to seeing all our friends, clients, partners and colleagues in person again. Safety will always be a priority, but we need to get back to direct human contact. Our offices around the country are opening up again, and media owners are all welcome to come see us in person again.

Where will money move?

Hopefully as the tide comes in – all the boats will rise. I’m so hoping that everyone sees an uptick but there is no surprise that digital media will continue to eat away at the pie. Depending on the sector, and who you ask – digital now makes up 25-30% of adspend. I think this number will continue to grow, as platforms like TikTok keep delivering compelling numbers.

Television is a beast. As it adapts to different sales techniques (CPP trading, guaranteed audiences, and monetising of digital video audiences) we will continue to see them grow. The move away from “cherry picked spots” will continue and TV owners will evolve the packaged sell.

I think that radio might have a tough year until the real money starts coming in for their digital audio products. OOH is undervalued post the pandemic. I think we will see more money headed in this direction. As a lover of cinema, I hope to see audiences (and ad revenue) flock back. Print will continue its tough battle, but as smaller niche titles continue to pop up, managed by smaller niche publishers, the medium might find its place in the future.

These are my two cents worth. I really mean it when I say I think we could have a great year in 2022. Hard and smart work will continue to be rewarded.

Wishing you only the best.