Efforts to encourage resilience in the digital advertising industry are focusing on the argument that we’ve been in scary, tight spots before. But while the idea that unshakable determination has seen us through tough situations offers some motivation, it’s not the only factor driving progress. After another dip into economic turmoil, further delays to third-party cookie execution, lingering measurement challenges and ongoing brand safety woes, innovators are looking to reignite stalled engines and make 2023 the year that change moves tangibly ahead, on multiple fronts.
For publishers, advertisers, and technology players, now is the perfect time to fuel positive shifts across the already unsettled digital space.
1. Tackling the cookie conundrum
Making the most of owned assets
“Uncertainty around the demise of the third-party cookie will remain front of mind for publishers and brands in 2023. Publishers are, however, in a unique position to access first-party data from user registrations and onsite interactions — and are therefore well placed to deliver rich audience insights to brands.
“This year we saw an acceleration in the development of bespoke and off-the-shelf solutions to gather and analyze first party data, giving partnering brands a far greater ability to understand who their readers are and help better connect them with their passions. Continuing to drive innovation through these data systems will ensure brand partners can remain confident they can reach high intent audiences at scale. This is crucial to getting ahead of cookie deprecation next year.”
Honing privacy-preserving strategies:
“Next year it is vital that advertisers and publishers step back and look at the bigger picture. Those that maintain a focus on long-term strategic issues will, ultimately, put themselves in a stronger position when the economy starts to recover. Increasing data privacy rules and the loss of third-party data are not going away. Pausing the implementation of first-party data strategies now will leave businesses in a weaker position as the economy recovers.
For these data-rich strategies to be effective, there is also a need to maintain high levels of quality. Dropping standards mean visitors are less likely to engage and share personal data, click on ads, and, ultimately, spend money. Quality needs to be a constant ongoing process that aims to enhance the experience of users online, and businesses need to constantly re-evaluate their offering to the delivery of excellent content and valued ads, at all times. Creating a positive and memorable consumer experience, throughout the entire journey, will see businesses stronger and better equipped to scale up and grow in the new year.”
Balancing safety measures with suitability
“The big question next year will revolve around which contextual ad partners can deliver on the promise of optimal brand safety without compromising targeting accuracy. Contextual targeting is one of the strongest contenders to replace cookie-based targeting. But while the benefits of this strategy have been much discussed over the past few years – how well it works is another matter.
While AI has come on leaps and bounds, it’s no secret that it still makes mistakes when it comes to blocking legitimate ads and placements, as well as missing unsafe content. Human verification is necessary to provide nuance, to balance efficiency with accuracy. So, any reputable contextual ad partner will need to demonstrate that it’s effectively using both to achieve the best results, leveraging other tools and technologies (such as image or video metadata).”
2. Improving clarity through sharper measurement
Looking beyond legacy perspectives
“Netflix’s entry into the AVOD space was touted as revolutionary, but the streaming giant has a long way to go. Expensive ad space and too few systems in place for campaign measurement have left brands questioning whether they can achieve advertising effectiveness on the platform. Amid economic headwinds, Netflix is a risky investment for brands who need to make every penny count.
“So where should brands be spending next year? Answering this question depends on having the right data. We’ve seen consumer behavior change drastically and rapidly over the last year with brands struggling to keep up due to their dependence on legacy models for campaign measurement that patch different channels together to gain a ‘holistic’ view of what was achieved. But this approach is flawed and makes marketers vulnerable to basing future media planning decisions on inaccurate correlations. Only once marketers are able to meaningfully assess the contribution that each channel or combination of channels makes to a campaign, can they move budget to the areas that will enable them to drive success.”
Directing budgets to the right opportunities
As the cost-of-living crisis hits the pockets of shoppers and a recession looms, it has become more urgent than ever for brands to maximize every media dollar spent effectively. Combine this with the depreciation of third-party cookies, and the challenge of measuring attention to gauge the effectiveness of these budgets will be a top priority in 2023. We live in a time of unpredictability, and advertisers will need to once again brace for a rapidly shifting economy.
Every marketer is now an efficiency marketer. Whilst it’s important to scrutinize media budgets, it is also important that brands have the tools in place to ensure that budget goes as far as possible.
A concerning macroeconomic picture can hit budgets hard, so there will be an increased focus on programmatic solutions that are able to drive greater consumer attention and outcomes. With the advancements in privacy compliant technology including contextual targeting, and an increasing interest in consumer attention, these areas will be more and more appealing for advertisers. Marketers who can understand and capitalize on the interplay between quality media, contextual and real ROI will navigate economic headwinds and even turn them into tailwinds.
There are two key ways to do that: minimize wastage and increase efficiency. By utilizing the right tools and data points, marketers can not only know exactly where they ads are landing, but also optimize these ads to ensure they’re achieving the best outcome at the most cost-efficient price.
3. Broadening open web horizons
Streamlining the supply chain
“While supply path optimization (SPO) is nothing new, its adoption will increase in importance next year. As ad budgets become more stretched and marketers look to improve the effectiveness of their spend, SPO can provide media buyers with bid efficiency and cost transparency. Beside these already proven benefits, SPO’s ability to streamline access to inventory will go hand in hand with maximizing addressability in 2023.
“With cookies already deprecated on Safari and Firefox, and soon on Chrome, brands will start pushing more of their budgets towards the solutions that ensure an optimal path to their media buys, but also extend reach in cookie-constrained environments: first party data and user intelligence tools will be the lifeblood of digital advertising.”
Choosing partners based on realized value
Jeremy Steinberg, Chief Revenue Officer & GM, Exchange, Yieldmo
“Against the backdrop of the current market contraction and ongoing privacy issues, it’s clear that marketers must maximize the value of their outputs wherever possible. Digital media buying is only becoming more complex, and ads being purchased are less effective than they should be given the promise of programmatic advertising and executing media buys on low quality inventory is pervasive.
“As a result, 2023 will be the year of the great clean-up: marketers will likely have fewer partners such that the majority of today’s ad exchanges are at risk of extinction by the end of next year. This will give both the buy and sell sides greater control and transparency over their spending and performance. But it will also leave a lot of companies out in the cold. Among them may be one or more of the tech giants.”
Setting a course for decentralization
Paul Dimmock, Co-Founder & Director of Strategy, Eidgensi
“Next year, we’ll see big tech continue to invest heavily in Web3 concepts, as Meta pins hopes on platform creators minting NFTs as the company develops its wallet for the metaverse. While any progress towards mainstream adoption of NFTs is great to see, their potential to democratize the creation, sale, and collection of digital goods will be on the decentralized open web, not within walled gardens. The integration of digital wallets into Facebook and Instagram is simply Meta looking to find a meaningful and addressable replacement for device IDs — which are blocked by Apple & Google — to track users across devices and platforms.
We’re increasingly seeing that users don’t care whether applications use blockchain or NFTs, they care about their utility. As we proceed into 2023, this utility will be delivered through companies using decentralized technology to develop bustling community platforms, rewarding engagement and protecting privacy.”
4. Putting users back in center stage
AI-powered localization unlocks global connection at scale
In the UK, 81% of £1m+ turnover businesses trade overseas, but Brexit complications and supply chain gridlock has made it difficult to acquire and maintain international customers. Effective marketing can make all the difference, but only if fosters an authentic, engaging connection with local audiences. Truly authentic and localized campaigns and content must consider specific cultural and linguistic nuances, which can be difficult to achieve due to a reliance on fragmented, slow, and laborious processes to contextualize content.
Technology and AI is set to revolutionize this. Constantly improving machine learning algorithms are generating detailed glossaries of phrases that go far beyond one-to-one translation; producing translated text that feels authentic – not just grammatically – but culturally. Without these improvements campaigns run the risk of alienating consumers or not hitting the emotional connection mark and seeing low engagement as a result. Businesses of any size will be able to reap the rewards of global commerce and rapid international expansion with more efficient international marketing campaigns that resonate with local audiences, thanks to intelligent automation and technology.
Clinging to certainty is understandable, but not always the best route to survival in periods of turmoil. For change-makers committed to powering development, 2023 will be about helping the industry thrive by addressing persistent issues and maximizing efficiency.