Mark Johnson, Media Shotz
Predictions are never easy, and as we end 2022 mired in a heady mix of cost-of-living crises, rampant inflation and a war in Ukraine, who knows what will be on the cards for next year?
In our first look at business predictions for 2023, we’ve canvassed the leading lights of the marketing world to gauge what they see as the key priorities for the sector in the year ahead.
Having emerged from the global pandemic in 2022, we should remember that we’re all survivors.
Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that kindness, empathy and being authentic are coming to the fore as we prepare to head into a new year…
Sharon Flaherty, CEO Folk
“Empathy and authenticity are key for 2023.
“The cost of living crisis has made the world a darker place for many, and there is a real risk brands might misstep because they don’t give enough thought to this reality.
“Brand activism is real, and people will call out brands who create content and campaigns that aren’t in tune with what is happening in the world.
“Cultural authenticity, empathy and crucially, allyship needs to be on the mind of every person in every marketing department if they are to connect with audiences in a way that is meaningful, moral and drives commercial impact.”
Sivan Tafla, CEO, Total Media Solutions
“Alongside the immediate need to navigate the economic climate, long term issues, such as privacy concerns and the impending loss of the cookie, must be addressed.
“Pausing adoption of first-party data strategies could lead to long term ramifications, leaving businesses behind the competition.
“Similarly, the maintaining and improving of quality in all business practices cannot be sidelined. Slipping standards leads to slipping visitor numbers, and ultimately slipping ROI.
“Both publishers and advertisers need to ensure the upkeep of the quality and effectiveness of their offerings, encouraging strong relationships with consumers, and maintaining the support of loyal brand users in 2023.”
Mordecai, Founder, Day After
“The Relevance Economy – It’s actually happening, we’re finally moving from influence to relevance due to the algorithmic and government regulations on digital.
“The Relevance Economy, one of our 2023 trends, is doing what cultural marketers long claimed to be masters of.
“What’s exciting about The Relevance Economy which is most evident on TikTok is that it is further driving marketing out of archaic age/gender/race personas and pushing a more equitable understanding of an audience.
“Furthering the overall trend that consumers want to be the ones telling brands what they like and not vice versa.”
From Jacques van Niekerk, Global CEO, Edisen
“A Content Revolution; both real and fake. The amazing opportunities and real risks of generative AI will be a key focus for content creators in 2023.
“It brings with it the opportunity to revolutionise the production industry in incredibly exciting ways – but everyone ready to take advantage of this has a responsibility to be mindful of the inherent biases within the publicly available AI tools’ algorithms and training data sets.
“There is a clash coming between original and synthetic content (real and fake if you like) and brands must be aware of the benefits and downsides of each if they are to take full advantages of the pending content revolution.”
Jo Eckersley, CEO, Bubbl
“Despite the cost of living crisis and ensuing discretionary spend cutbacks, consumer purchasing power does still exist – even if audiences are being more selective.
“In this context, marketers must invest wisely and ensure that communications boost engagement and trust.
“With apps still on a phenomenal growth path and mobile technology capability unlocking new innovation at every software release, mobile will fast become the absolute go to channel for consumer experience and engagement for 2023.
“Hyper relevance and creativity matter, and this is especially apparent via mobile channels. Encouraging greater creativity in what marketers deliver via mobile channels, and finding new ways of engaging at the right time with a consumer, is critical to get attention.
“Marketers must seek to deliver situation-specific rich content ,offers and customer engagement based on factors such as the environmental context, intent, time and location.
“Looking ahead to 2023, we will almost certainly see continued growth across mobile shopping, loyalty, entertainment and customer service through new ‘out of app’ channel opportunities.
“Today, it is possible to use a variety of contextual triggers including geo-fencing, bringing hyper relevance to mobile interactions while still negating the need for cookies or personal data. Innovation in this space is progressing rapidly.
“A privacy-first, convenient and friction free mobile experience is paramount as consumer expectations continue to grow. Today audiences expect seamless service and intuitive, responsive design.”
Louie Sumpter, co-Founder & Strategy Director, EveryFriday
“Stability. Sanity. Simplicity. Coming off the back of Covid, numerous Boris-gates, Ukraine, the cost of living crisis, and most recently the Truss-o-nomic car crash… you get the sense that most people are exhausted, both mentally and emotionally.
“Add to that the spectre of a US election year that sees Trump stirring an increasingly febrile pot, and it’s enough for anyone to stick their head in the sand.
“What the world needs more than ever are grown up brands with cool heads. Brands that provide leadership through a steady and reassuring presence.
“People are going to have enough on their plates just getting by next year, they’ll thank the brands that don’t make life any more crazy than it needs to be.”
James Sleaford, Chief Growth Officer UK, Incubeta
“The economic downturn hitting the nation in 2023 will naturally put pressure on organisational budget planning, and despite all the evidence and analysis which tells us not to do so, marketing will find itself at the forefront of those tightening conversations.
“Ultimately this climate will drive a focus on efficiencies, which is no bad thing as there are opportunities in automation.
“The challenge will be balancing a sharp eye on efficiencies with the confidence to continue with long-term branding and privacy essential investments.
“Advertisers will need a robust data strategy to provide the insights and measurement which will guide them based on their own personal brand position and categories.”
Mateusz Jędrocha, Head of Upper Funnel Solutions, RTB House
“In the year ahead, contextual targeting will continue to gain traction. This technology was used for a long time, but thanks to advancements in AI, marketers can now leverage contextual signals for the purpose of targeting and personalisation.
“Further, current contextual segments allow brands to build audience segments in a privacy-safe way through Natural Language Processing and the predictive power of algorithms.
“And the benefit of a contextual approach is that the data is highly relevant, because media buying is based on what the user is interested in at a given moment, rather than in the past.
“Most importantly, because contextual targeting relies on what the user is browsing at any given moment, it is much more relevant when compared with strategies based on behaviours and interests from the past.
“That’s why marketers can confidently look at contextual as a valuable alternative, ready to be used at scale throughout 2023.”
Sid McGrath, CSO, Wunderman Thompson
“2023 has to be when marketing earns its stripes in the boardroom by fighting for the money brands need to weather the economic storm.
“The tendency to slash budgets, focus on short-term tactics and shift funds into performance marketing has problems: it’ll erode brand equity that’s been built up in previous years; the brand experience will fracture if only bit parts rather than the whole are focused on; whatever the brand does in the short-term, will have to be lived with for the long-term because this recession is going nowhere fast.
“We predict a period of intense economic chaos where marketers will need to embrace unpredictability and use its momentum to make smarter, brand-enhancing solutions, demonstrating a longer-term duty of care.”
Alex Young, Managing Director, We Are Futures
“Going into 2023 the driver for marketing success will lie in the ability of brands to make deeper connections with consumers.
“Those that are seen to be responding to the ongoing crises will fare better, and those that keep that elusive ‘purpose’ at the heart of their communications and activities will come out on top.
“Consumers want to feel a connection with the brands they are spending their carefully saved earnings with, so messages that don’t just speak to the hardship but do something and give something back will win.
“That might be supporting communities with products or donations, or activities that help people retrain or upskill to improve their employability and prospects.
“However they go about it, brands must strike the right tone and be sensitive to the stresses on people’s everyday lives to avoid alienating them.”
Adam Goodman, Founder ACA Live
“We know from the latest IPA Bellwether report that events was the only category to see growth in Q3, which shows a confidence in and commitment to a sector that suffered so badly through the pandemic.
“Consumers will be spending less in 2023 but will be making more careful choices. Many will still do what they can to get out and have fun so I don’t see there being a drop off in people attending festivals or ticketed events, they might just choose to attend less than usual.
“There are fewer more powerful ways to connect with consumers than through live events, with the opportunities for multi-sensory, immersive moments, so brands would do well to commit marketing budget to the sector and simply scale their activity up or down accordingly.”
Daniel Todaro, MD, Gekko
“Inevitably next year will be dominated by the need for brands to understand a campaign’s Return on Investment (ROI).
“With so much pressure on the bottom line, ROI will become the single most important driver for marketing in 2023.
“After all, the ability to demonstrate the value of every pound spent and the weighted impact of your marketing efforts, leads to the only barometer that matters, sales.
“And in a period where 60% of consumers are prepared to switch brands based on value, the customer journey must be re-understood to be curated effectively”.
Jo-ann Fortune, Head of Content, iCrossing UK
“The key ambition marketers should keep front and centre for 2023 is to be helpful.
“Whether that’s by offering expert guidance or improving the customer experience so it’s easier for users to complete a task.
“Brands need to pinpoint the opportunities for them to make their customers’ lives easier, by identifying gaps and digging into their unique expertise on specific subjects.
“Being conscious not to simply add to the noise on saturated topics, which could detract from more authoritative sources.
“With finite resource, the greatest skill marketers can nurture in 2023 is prioritisation – weighing up opportunities to drive value and visibility through content, against the effort involved.”
Elliot Hill, CMO, VeraViews
“In the new year, we hope the industry will take a stand against ad funded crime.
“This is why we joined the founding advisory team of the newly created UK Stop Ad Funded Crime (UKSAFC) initiative.
“It’s important to increase trust and value in the media ecosystem. Every year, hundreds of billions of pounds are lost to fraudulent advertising.
“British businesses and the government itself are unwittingly paying millions for invalid traffic (IVT) and much of this is orchestrated by criminal gangs.
“Thanks to a new, multi-stakeholder approach, we can make a difference, with a world-leading initiative that drives people to action.
“I look forward to progress in this area. After all, whether you’re a brand, advertiser or publisher, IVT is one of the greatest threats to the success of a digital ad campaign.”
Owen Hancock, RVP, Marketing EMEA, impact.com
“In 2023, we expect to see brands turn to innovative partnerships for more trusted and personalised interactions especially in tough market conditions.
“Partnerships can offer a more authentic call to action, through reviews sites, bloggers or influencers and they are a creative and and cost-effective way to turbocharge campaign impact.
“What’s more, we expect to see a shift towards technology platforms that help to find those creators and partners with the best fit.
“There’s an enormous volume of new talent in the partnership economy, but it’s tough to find those efficiently (which is what technology can support with).”
“Meanwhile, automation can free up time for marketers to focus on strategy.
“For instance, automatic link updates for retailers ensure content remains relevant, up to date and profitable, while integrations with e-commerce platforms such as Shopify can give small and medium business owners access to global partners in just a few clicks.
“In 2023, macroeconomic pressures will make these types of efficient integration priceless.”
Roger Barr, Chief Digital Officer, iCrossing UK
“Search trends tell us that there’s been huge changes in consumer behaviour, and that is only going to continue into 2023.
“Whether that be searching for inflation busting deals, products to help reduce energy use or simply ways to manage finances and reduce the daily cost of living.
“Brands therefore need to double down on creating and leveraging customer insights so that customer experience marketing is more human and sensitive to their economic realities.
“With customer retention a key challenge for 2023 brands will need to stay ahead and proactively intervene based on customer signals.”
Rachel Peace, UK MD, Hearts & Science
“In the coming year, focusing on the relationships between agencies and clients will become even more critical. Notably, we’ll need to help CMOs make a case that marketing is a business investment not a cost.
“As such, agencies need to speak the language of the boardroom, to place marketing spend in the context of long-term growth and the P&L.
“Clarity and context will become all the more important. We will need to justify every decision in order to keep all stakeholders onboard and be transparent on how spend will drive sustainable and measurable impact.
“The challenge will lie in fixing variable budgets – but it pays to be reactive in uncertain times and so makes sense to allocate more to the variable list.”
Bhavin Balvantrai, Chief Market Analyst, Omnicom Media Group UK
“Economic headwinds will continue to increase scrutiny on all media investment. The focus will be on measurement and attribution to ensure marketing spend is efficient and effective.
“This will dovetail with the need for a progressive approach to privacy, ethics and compliance. One thing that is becoming clear is that video is the consumer format of choice.
“We’re seeing a decline in appetite for text-based social media, applying pressure to Meta and Twitter as audiences migrate to TikTok.
“And the fight for streaming ad pounds begins as ITVX, a rebranded Channel 4 and an IP-delivered Sky services take on commercial solutions from previously subscription-based platforms.”
Mike Fantis, VP Managing Partner, DAC Group
“Marketing budgets are going to be cut in 2023. This will place greater emphasis on personalisation to generate cut through and gain attention.
“In practice, this means bringing genuine value to audiences through earned and owned content that is closely aligned to their particular needs – and across all touchpoints.
“Success will be contingent on understanding those audiences of course, but at this stage most brands will have the data they need to do so. Now they need to work out how they can use it to benefit their customers over pushing their own agendas.”
Hugh Stevens, Head of Strategic Growth, LiveRamp
“Data collaboration will continue developing into one of the backbones of modern digital advertising, and in 2023 brands will continue to find different ways to connect their customer data sets strategically.
“The ability to unlock profiled new audiences, improve campaign planning and to improve measurement will provide a great deal of value for media owners and the brands or agencies they work closely with.”
“For example, if we look at the retail customer journey, e-commerce data often exists separately from data generated by in-store purchases.
“However, merchandisers have the technology available to them to analyse transactions across the full customer journey, enabling strong insights that power more efficient and personalised consumer interactions.”
“Marketers who know their audiences thoroughly, through the use of sophisticated data collaboration strategies, will be one step ahead when the economy stabilises.”