By Jon Stamell, CEO of Oomiji
Year-end prediction think-pieces are a perennial part of the business news cycle. Like New Year’s Resolutions in our personal lives, prediction pieces proliferate around the end of every year as a surefire way to drum up attention and impress colleagues with our prescience.
It’s especially true for those of us in the marketing industry. SEO, branding and the thirst for digital presence and relevance motivate us to ponder what ongoing trends we expect to accelerate in the coming months. While it might be fair to judge the marketing profession on our self-aggrandizing prognostications, year-end predictions still serve as an interesting opportunity to step back from the daily grind of chasing KPIs and think big-picture about the year to come.
Lest you think that we’re hypocrites for critiquing the idea of making predictions and then making some, we plead guilty. Here, then, are some 2023 predictions for the digital marketing industry that will hopefully serve as good conversational fodder as well as meaningful insight:
- People will seek out in-person connections – The pandemic forced us all into lives of isolation, barred from the day-to-day activity and connections that defined much of our waking lives in the Before Times. Now, many columnists and pundits point toward an “epidemic of loneliness” that’s burdening our mental health after our prolonged isolation. Although some people seem to be content with a more inward-facing perspective in the wake of pandemic disruption, many more are looking to reconnect with their fellow humans and forge new relationships in 2023.
- We will be more distracted than ever – TikTok may be the most obvious culprit but the fact remains that an ever-more-fractured diet of algorithmically curated media have made it difficult for many people – of all ages – to concentrate on long-form content. Just ask yourself: When was the last time you read something uninterrupted for an hour, without looking at one of your competing screens?
- The economy will get better. Or maybe worse – If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we need to be comfortable with uncertainty. At the moment, economic prognostications from those who should know are all over the map. We should buckle in for a bumpy ride. Or, maybe, smooth sailing. We’re in an age where everybody’s a pundit but nobody knows anything for sure.
- Everything old will be new again – This is especially true in a digital marketing industry that’s on the verge of a profound shift in how things are done. Third-party tracking cookies are going away and marketers that have relied on technology and freely-available behavioral data during the past decade will find themselves returning to first principles like real relationships, creative excellence and context in their search for performance. Simplicity will become more important than ever.
- Old ways of communicating with customers will go by the wayside – Technology and vast data collection at scale have ushered in a new way of communicating with customers and potential customers: segmentation and ad targeting. Simply put, if you were willing to throw enough technology and data at scale at an advertising algorithm, you could hit enough people at the right time and place to drive measurable ROI. In the new era of data scarcity, that’s not going to cut it anymore. People are more aware than ever that their online behavior is being tracked and the trend toward privacy is only likely to accelerate in 2023.
2022 may have been the first time since March of 2020 that many of us felt like things had truly gone “back to normal.” Theaters, airplanes and restaurants were full, masks were gone and the rush to ecommerce slowed as consumers gingerly went back to in-person shopping. As we look toward a future that isn’t nearly as clear as it seemed just a few short years ago, getting comfortable with uncertainty – and with best-guess predictions – will be an essential skill for all of us moving forward.
At year-end, we’ll look back to see how accurate our soothsaying was. We’ll measure our hits and misses and then, as always, make a new set of predictions for 2024.