There are going to be a series of challenges for digital marketers in 2023. The industry is facing something of a reckoning, with a number of long-running battles coming to a head.
Concerns around consumer privacy will cause agitation for big tech companies. Advertisers will need to find more sophisticated user attribution methods. Meanwhile, consumers will continue to expect improved personalisation.
Similarly, a range of social platforms are facing off with the giant walled gardens that dominate the internet. The industry anticipates that these digital giants will try to bolster the walls of their respective gardens and make the most of their extensive user bases to dominate the digital marketing landscape to an even greater degree.
Richard O’Sullivan, InMobi’s VP and general manager for Australia and New Zealand, has given B&T his expert insights on the coming 12 months for digital marketing and marketers.
Privacy, Identity, And Attribution
Consumer privacy has been a big talking point for years in the digital marketing world. However, next year, we can expect privacy to take centre stage in the debate as a number of the largest players in digital advertising lock horns.
“Next year, the advertising industry will realise the full impact of recent changes to privacy measures,” said O’Sullivan.
One significant change to mobile phone operating systems has led to even fewer consumers than normal — around a quarter — consenting to tracking across different apps and websites.
At the same time, another equally significant change has created a new method to gather information about these same users, which could then potentially be send to advertisers without revealing their identity. This, plus the sheer size of the potential user base, could lead to a new demand-side ad platform (DSP) with significant ramifications for everyone in the industry.
Cookie depreciation has been a hot topic for some time in the industry. However, recent announcements have indicated that the cookie will not finally crumble until 2025 at the earliest.
But any supply-side platforms (SSP) continuing to base their business on cookies is expected to lose ground. Clients will prefer to move elsewhere to more technologically advanced rivals and, as privacy regulations similar to Europe’s GDPR spread around the world, requests for cookie consent will leave consumers with a bitter taste.
“DSPs will shift their focus to rationalising vendors and consolidating inventory outside of Tier 1 publishers through the best SSPs,” said O’Sullivan.
“Old-fashioned cookie-based SSPs will suffer from a declining ability to connect users across publications with advertisers. Those that survive and use the decline of the cookie to adopt different business models will need to capitalise on their core strengths and double-down on unique, privacy-first inventory such as connected TV, in-app, and audio, for example.”
Consumers often say that they do not want to be giving away information to tech companies. However, consumers’ actions frequently don’t match sentiments.
“There’s a privacy paradox,” said O’Sullivan.
“With existing online identifiers disappearing, audiences are going to be harder to reach and, when a brand can reach them, the advertising will be more generic and less relevant.”
The Walled Gardens Of Eden
One of the most significant trends that the industry anticipates coming to the world of digital marketing in 2023 will be the battle between the walled gardens and the open internet.
Social media platforms, while previously able to use user information for monetization through advertisers, will be impacted by the entry of phone companies into the digital advertising game.
“There would be limited reasons for an advertiser to choose a social app when they could spend directly with the phone or operating system manufacturer,” said O’Sullivan.
There is a way for the social and digital platforms, apps, and other businesses to fight back that doesn’t involve a day in court, however.
“Companies will be scrambling to collect first-party data wherever they can,” said O’Sullivan.
“We believe there will be more requirements to create accounts and log-in to access content and services. More apps will try and offer user incentives and rewards in exchange for personally identifiable information. App developers may also look to differentiate their tiers of service and reserve premium content for users willing to part with their information.”
However, it isn’t just social media and big tech companies trying to set up walls around their gardens. Connected TV companies are set for a big 2023 when it comes to first-party data.
“The large streaming services all have their own targeting, measurement, and monetisation opportunities for advertisers,” said O’Sullivan.
“Coupled with huge revenue targets and increasing user growth, these platforms could challenge the current open ecosystem. One of the ways round this could be through pre-bid block lists and category selection.”
How To Get Ahead Of The Game
With all those challenges on the horizon, O’Sullivan said that it is important for marketers to be aware of, and open to, new approaches to working in order to stay competitive in the industry.
“Next year, marketers will need to take a holistic and agile approach to their planning,” he said.
“Being aware that the number of available online identifiers will reduce over the next 12 months, it’s important that marketers consider alternative solutions.”
If marketers do not adapt and find new solutions, O’Sullivan said that they risk targeting declining audiences or paying more to target the same users. As a result, they will lose their competitive edge.
The other factor that will be key for marketers in the coming year will be improving measurement. Yes, you might have heard this one before, but as budgets look set to decline, CMOs will shift more spend towards easily measurable performance marketing channels.
“They will look to stay away from traditionally hard-to-measure brand channels and objectives,” explained O’Sullivan.
“Marketers should prioritise better analytics and reporting capabilities next year in order to clearly demonstrate their value. However, marketers — especially larger advertisers who can build capabilities in-house — should also invest more in media mix modelling and incrementality measurement capabilities.”
It seems unlikely that 2023 will be a particularly smooth year for marketers — there are certainly plenty of bumps in the road ahead. However, despite the challenges posed by changing privacy and identification rules, as well as potential companies and platforms seeking to rustle-up as much first-party data as possible, there are big opportunities for savvy marketers.
To ensure success next year, think deeply and critically about your points of difference and get better at measuring your success.