The role of paid social in 2022

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

What makes paid social advertising such an exciting area to work in is the rate of change in the industry. These changes keep us constantly innovating in response to updates in advertising platforms and shifts in user behaviours.

2021 saw some particularly seismic industry shifts, and the way brands use paid social as part of a wider digital marketing strategy has irreversibly changed. 

In this blog post, we look at the role paid social will have in 2022 for marketers to get the most out of their campaigns.

Recent changes in the industry.

First, examining recent industry changes will provide the backdrop we need to explain paid social’s role in 2022. 

Naturally, Apple’s iOS 14 update, which was rolled out in April 2021, followed by iOS 15 in September 2021, takes centre stage here. With this update Apple gave users the opportunity to opt out of being tracked by apps such as Facebook and Instagram.

 And opt out, the people did. 

Around 80% of iOS users surveyed globally have chosen to not be tracked, although the figure, in reality, is likely to be higher than this.

With this in mind, it would be fair to say that Apple’s changes are part of a wider paradigm shift in the digital marketing space, which is, in turn, driven by the need for greater user privacy, putting the control firmly back in the hands of the people.

The good thing for all of us? It has made companies reexamine the value they provide to their customers and clients. 

The same can be said for Google’s announcement to scrap 3rd party cookies, and while this has been delayed until late 2023, it has forced brands large and small to rethink how they target their audiences and what value they truly offer.

Paid social’s role(s) in 2022.

So, with privacy at the forefront and some significant changes in how platforms can collect, track, and use people’s data, what will paid social’s role be in the bigger picture for 2022?

Transparent data collection.

Paid social will remain an effective way to collect data, whether in-platform or on-site, but with marketers unable to use the social media platforms’ proprietary data in the same way as before, brands have been forced to rethink how, and why, they collect user data in the first place.  

In 2022 and beyond Data collection will have to be transparent and offer users something of genuine value in return for their information. 

If a strong first-party data collection strategy is in place backed by a clear value proposition, then it continues to be a win-win situation, even post-iOS 14: brands gather the valuable data they need to make strategic targeting decisions on social, and users get something of value from the interaction, i.e., access to discounts, free resources, etc.

Communicating what matters.

Users don’t want to be sold to all the time. In fact, research has shown that people develop stronger relationships with brands who communicate a message with a societal impact, but only when this comes from a genuine place.

A recent study conducted by Microsoft found that over 75% of Gen Z are more likely to support brands that are authentic in their advertising. 

Consumers are savvy, they know when brands aren’t quite telling the truth in their marketing. So, brands in 2022 and beyond will need to use paid social media to communicate messages that matter, as long as these truly align with their brand values. Paid social will also give companies an opportunity to revitalise their message (if necessary) and broadcast it to their target audience(s) at scale.


It’s bad practice in the investing world to have a portfolio with a narrow range of assets. Digital marketing is no different. Putting all your advertising budget into one channel or platform means that a) you’re only reaching a small percentage of your audience at any given time, and b) if something happens to that platform you’re faced with a dilemma.

As such, we see one of paid social’s continued key roles in 2022 as that of allowing Marketing Managers to diversify their brand touchpoints.

Think about it, if you’re spending all your ad budget on, say, Facebook (which is something we see often), then you’re only reaching people in your target audience who use Facebook. What about the 1 billion users on TikTok?

Of course, it’s not just about diversifying to reach new people who might be interested in your product/service, it’s all about varying how you communicate your message.

Like any other marketing channel, we don’t recommend becoming overly reliant on one particular paid social platform, but rather be constantly testing and keeping one eye on the horizon to see what’s coming next.

Scaling your audiences.

Despite the industry changes we’ve discussed, paid social is still one of the most effective ways of reaching your target audience at scale wherever they spend their time online.

As such, another of paid social’s key roles in 2022 will be to continue to offer a fantastic way of reaching new audiences at scale, while being mindful of how you do it, because this is what will set you apart from the competition. 

As we’ve seen, Advertisers that focus on the value of their offering, the quality of their creative, and the consistency of their message will, if anything, see more overall value from paid social, albeit measured in a different way.

Key takeaways.

To conclude, we think that 2022 will certainly see paid social’s role shift from where it’s been in previous years, but as long as marketers pay thorough attention to the basics – such as providing clear value, speaking about things that matter in a sincere way, and focusing on where their audience spends time online – there’s no reason why paid social won’t continue to be a high-performing marketing channel.

Set against the backdrop of changes in tracking and considerations around user privacy, marketers will also need to adapt how they measure their paid social campaigns to ensure the channel fills the roles we’ve examined in this blog post in an efficient way.

Ultimately, this year will effectively be the first full year of paid social advertising in a privacy-first world, not to mention the myriad other external influences that have come into play recently (let’s not name any names). And here at Clicky, we’re excited to see what happens as the year unfolds.