Medialab December Trends Tracker

By December 23, 2021 News, Opinion

Christmas: a time for seasonal scepticism. Predictions for the year ahead come from all directions, and events change faster than you can say ‘Level 4’. Winter is biting. Inflation is at the highest level since December 2011. Household income growth for the 15 years to 2022 is the lowest on record. How long ago ‘freedom day’ on 19th July now seems.

In our final tracker of 2021 we look at cash flow, generational change in audiences, how lockdown has driven both convenience and purpose, and media developments for 2022.

Cash Flow

Recessions make marketing decision making more short-term. Yet, 59% of decision makers surveyed in the FT/IPA Board-Brand Rift (2020 update) agree the pandemic has made future cash-flows more important. Marketing is well placed to deliver these cash-flows, but partnership with finance colleagues is key to (borrowing JP Castlin’s language) get the right balance of accelerating short-term cash flows through activation and stabilising future cash flows through brand building.

Audiences – Covid, Lockdown, and Generational Change

The ‘great recession’ of 2008 drove a wedge between the prospects of Boomers vs Gen X & Millennials. Professor Bobby Duffy’s new book ‘Generations’ shows how Gen X and Millennials will never reach the level of home ownership of Baby Boomers, with many left as private renters. The pandemic and lockdown have only exacerbated this trend.

As well as financial challenges for the young there are broader health inequalities, with mental health problems since lockdown rising most steeply amongst younger audiences and women.

Lockdown has seen shifts in media consumption amongst older and younger audiences, resulting in the lowest correlation in time spent with, and reach of, commercial media channels between 16-34s and 55+s.

How lockdown has driven both convenience and purpose

For all audiences, lockdown living and D2C has made convenience king. Convenience cited as the Primary consideration when deciding where to shop.

Yet, we also expect more from the companies we buy from and addressing this can be a differentiator.

Recent research by System 1 & ITV also shows the ‘dividend’ received by brands that embrace diversity.

Media – In what will undoubtedly be another unpredictable year full of innovation and audience diversification, here are some key headline observations across specific media channels in 2022

TV will continue to evolve and diversify across audiences and platforms. Strong revenue growth is forecast for TV in 2022, with consistent price inflation potentially diluted by strong audience ratings forecasts. However, audiences will continue to fragment across Linear, On-demand, SVOD and AVOD platforms.  All eyes have already turned to a potentially unprecedented Q4 with the FIFA World Cup wrestling with Black Friday and the run up to the Festive period for audience and advertiser attention.

Key for OOH to capitalise in 2022 on the hopes for continued return to mobility is understanding how travel patterns re-establish across work and leisure and using data to understand, map and engage with audience journeys, seamlessly across OOH platforms.  It remains a medium full of innovative and engaging opportunities.

Cinema will fight back in 2022 as Spider-Man’s most recent performance highlights.  A strong, star-studded film slate will create audience demand, predicted at 90% of 2019’s record-breaking year. The industry is working hard to deliver creativity, flexibility and accountability in a TV and Digital world. Expect more contextualised content, bespoke brand experiences and partnership/sponsorship opportunities to create deeper connections with films, cinemas and audiences.

In Social, iOS 14.5 will continue to have an impact on Facebook effectiveness as more users upgrade. The ongoing demise of third-party tracking ensures the compliant collection of customer data remains a priority. The growth of TikTok has further diversified social media use. Many marketers are looking to increase their investment in the platform.


This is a summary from a more detailed COVID Tracker. If you are an advertiser and would like to access the full version, please contact our Integration Director, Nick Parker, at