July 5, 2022

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The most overhyped and overlooked marketing trends of 2021, according to our readers

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To cap off the year, we asked marketers which industry trends were overlooked and overhyped in 2021. We also asked readers, and hundreds of you answered—668 marketers, to be exact.

So, what’s the verdict? Turns out, many of you are pretty bullish on out-of-home advertising: 16.3% said its resurgence was this year’s most overlooked trend, followed by nostalgia marketing (14.2%) and marketers going freelance (12%). Breaking each trend down:

  • OOH advertising did enjoy a comeback this year after last year’s massive hit. And DTC companies like swimwear brand Andie have been leaning into it lately.
  • Throwbacks were big in 2021; Pizza Hut brought back Book It!, Uber Eats revived Wayne’s World, and Domino’s Noid returned. Some marketers think 2021’s rush of nostalgia is tied to the pandemic: Agency executives told Digiday that “showing people a time prior to Covid-19 can remind them of when they were potentially happier and thereby help brands to reconnect with them.”
  • ICYMI, we recently wrote about why many marketers are opting to go freelance. For some, back-to-office mandates spurred them to leave their corporate gigs.

+1: Nearly 12% of survey respondents picked “concerns about consumer privacy” as this year’s most overlooked trend.

And what about overhyped? Lots of platforms are investing in social audio. Is it all for naught? A lot of you seem to think so…roughly a third, or 32.2%, of respondents chose social audio as the marketing trend most overhyped in 2021.

  • That’s not too surprising considering OG social audio app Clubhouse isn’t exactly, uh, thriving: Comedian and writer Marlena Rodriguez recently told Business Insider her Friday-night “party room” on the app, which once drew more than 1,000 people, now only attracts about 30. ????
  • But, but, but: Twitter and Meta have been building out their own social audio features as of late.

NFTs and the metaverse: 26.5% picked the former as most overhyped, 14.5% said the latter. We’re on the same page here—the marketers we spoke with agreed the metaverse is this year’s most overblown trend, partly because it…isn’t really a thing yet.

Looking ahead: 2021 might be coming to a close, but the trends that defined it likely aren’t going anywhere…at least just yet. So what will the industry still be obsessing over next year?

According to the survey, shoppable ads—18.4% said it will be 2022’s “most important” trend. As we reported earlier this year, if shoppable ads really catch on will come down to consumer behavior. “At the end of the day, people want to watch content. People don’t want to be taken down the rabbit hole of advertising,” a media buyer told Marketing Brew in May.—MS