2021 Performance Marketing Wrap Up


As we enter the last few days of 2021, we, as performance marketers, are taking stock of the year. Specifically, how did we perform in 2021?

And things are no different at the Creative Clicks blog. We reviewed the predictions we made last December to see how well they turned out.

So how did we do?

You’ll find out as we wrap up 2021 and recount the leading performance marketing trends of the year.

Reels is for real

Via Shutterstock

The first prediction we made last December was to checkout Reels, the latest video offering from Instagram. As Facebook’s answer to TikTok, we’ve learned to never underestimate the impact of products from their development team.

And 12 months later, it looks as if we were right. Reels, which has added advertising solutions since we first wrote about the company, is providing real competition for TikTok. According to this case study from ad design platform Creatopy comparing performance between TikTok and Instagram Reels conducted in September and October 2021, Instagram Reels achieved greater reach (with the same budget) as well as lower CPMs and Costs Per Click.

While we don’t recommend counting out TikTok, definitely keep Instagram Reels in mind as one of your mobile marketing solutions for video.

Augmented Reality is a gateway to the metaverse

Via General Mills

Our final prediction last December was to encourage marketers to invest in experiential marketing, most notably augmented reality.

And marketers certainly invested more resources into augmented reality as one of their mobile marketing solutions in 2021. Volkswagen ran a campaign inviting users to scan the QR code on select Amazon delivery boxes for an augmented reality driving experience. Reese’s Puffs cereal collaborated with the artist Kaws on limited-edition boxes featuring a QR code which enables unlocking an augmented reality game starring the signature Companion character. Among the platforms, Snapchat is the one that has pushed augmented reality most aggressively as one of the company’s mobile marketing solutions.

But the big boost that will propel augmented reality forward came when the company formerly known as Facebook rebranded as Meta and announced its commitment to the metaverse. Niantic, the creator of Pokémon Go, announced its vision of the metaverse, which centered on augmented reality in the real world.

It’s an omnichannel marketing world

Via Shutterstock

If there is one lasting impact of COVID-19 on the retailing and marketing worlds, then it is the acceleration of the move to digital shopping and buying. This means that from now on, we’re living in a marketing to an omnichannel world.

Omnichannel marketing is a marketing approach that provides an integrated shopping experience. According to data from Emarsys, each channel works together to create a unified and seamless experience, regardless of whether the user is shopping online from their desktop or mobile device, via phone or, in a brick-and-mortar store.

Advertisers are increasingly seeking omnichannel marketing opportunities for all marketing objectives including user acquisition.

No stopping TikTok

Via Unsplash

Despite the challenge for Reels, TikTok has had an amazing year. TikTok is expected to reach 1.5 billion users in 2022, according to App Annie. This achievement should make TikTok the second biggest social media platform behind only Facebook. The driver for TikTok’s meteoric growth as a marketing platform can be summed up in one word: authenticity. This was backed up by research conducted by the company with Flamingo, which found that 56% of users feel closer to brands they see on TikTok “when they publish human, unpolished content.”

From user acquisition to pure branding, TikTok is delivering results for marketers, in its unique TikTok way. A real driver for sales this year was #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. A perfect example of this trend is GAP’s brown hoodie, which the retailer brought back in stock after ending production over a decade ago.

Taking advantage of TikTok’s Duet feature, peanut butter brand Jif partnered with rapper Ludacris on the #JifRapChallenge. This campaign challenged users to share a clip of themselves rapping while eating a spoon full of Jif. Videos using this hashtag have been viewed more than 7.2 billion times.

If you’re looking to get started on TikTok, check out this blog post we wrote.

The year Crypto took off

Via Shutterstock

Here’s one holiday trend few would have predicted 12 months ago: Millennials and Gen Z spending thousands on cryptocurrencies and NFTs as holiday presents.

Among cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin hit a record high of $64,000 in April of this year before plunging to $32,000 and rebounding to $68,000 in November. The growth of crypto in 2021 was driven by the entrance of new users/investors. These new users invested in Bitcoin as well as other cryptocurrencies like Cardano, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Ripple.

According to research conducted by professional services network Deloitte, three-quarters of global executives surveyed will invest in creating hybrid experiences over the next 12 months with the goals of improving personalization, customer connections, and inclusive experiences.

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are unique and non-interchangeable assets stored on public-facing digital ledgers known as a blockchain. It is this transparent structure, inherent in the technology, which enables proving the ownership of an NFT at any point in time and to trace its history of previous ownership. Marketers including McDonald’s, Marriott, American Eagle, Toys R Us, and Pepsi have all issued NFTs. Pepsi’s NFTs are a collection of 1893 unique assets, which pays homage to 1893, the year Pepsi was founded. Each NFT features a microphone icon that ties to Pepsi’s history of supporting music and pop culture. They are all randomly generated by an algorithm to ensure that each NFT is unique.

One of the technologies supporting cryptocurrencies and NFTs is blockchain. Blockchain is a technology that enables keeping records of digital assets which cannot be modified. That makes it potentially disrupting for industries including marketing, finance, and healthcare.

We’re watching closely to see how these blockchain-based industries develop in 2022.


In summary, as you read above, our predictions last year were fairly accurate.

Come back to the CC blog next December to see how well we did with our predictions for 2022.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for some marketing support with these or any other marketing solutions and technologies in 2022, reach out to Creative Clicks.

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