Half-Time Talk – How to Harness the Biggest Marketing Trends for the Second Half of 2023

By Aaron Goldman, CMO, Mediaocean

As we speed past the mid-point of 2023, AI has already cemented its place as THE top trend of this year. And the hoopla shows no sign of slowing down, with 59% of respondents citing AI as the most important consumer trend in a survey of 700+ marketers. Text generation tools like ChatGPT and image generation tools like Dall-E are increasingly facilitating smarter storytelling, faster production, and more personalised messaging.

But while AI may be the queen bee, it’s certainly not the new kid on the block – machine learning and automation have been used for digital marketing campaigns for years. What’s different is how accessible new technologies have become and how they have been adopted by consumers as well. Beyond the AI noise (as deafening as it can be), the recent research shows there are several other exciting trends and pressing concerns facing marketers in the second half of 2023 and going into 2024.

Big picture

The most reassuring trend on the horizon is a steady stabilisation of the advertising industry. Almost all media channels are expected to see increased ad spending, reflecting the larger trend of moving away from recession-readiness and toward driving growth. In addition, the top three areas of marketing investment are performance-driven paid media, measurement and attribution capabilities, and brand advertising – the exact same top three as last year, another sign of continued stabilisation.

There has also been a 16% decrease in concern over talent retention and access to expertise. Whether this is because of the augmentation of tasks made possible by generative AI tools, or because of an increased investment in people development, the fact that businesses are finding ways to manage resources in a post-pandemic environment is a huge positive.

Changing channels

Given the amount of scrutiny social media platforms have faced recently, you’d think brands would be racing to pull their ads from these sites. But what we’re seeing is quite the opposite – despite continued pressure on TikTok, Meta, and Twitter (X), over 50% of marketers intend to increase spending on these platforms in the second half of this year. In a clear sign of just how valuable short-form video is to marketers today, 57% of respondents cited TikTok and social video when asked about significant customer trends.

Connected TV (CTV) was also flagged as a critical channel, as more than 50% of marketers are planning to increase their ad budgets in this space before the year is out. However, despite added investment, CTV and other digital channels are seeing a 40% increase in concern over managing reach and frequency. It’s clear that, to streamline these channels as part of an effective omnichannel advertising strategy, organisations should be innovating their planning, measurement, and analytics processes.

Surround sound

Given the shrinking attention spans of today’s consumers and the data deprecation from stricter regulations, creative is becoming a key variable for the performance of advertising. And in today’s landscape of continued economic turbulence, marketers are seeking opportunities to optimise their messaging. In fact, creative testing and analysis has increased in importance by 27% for marketers since last year, and the application of AI will further enable personalisation.

Marketers are also looking to justify their investments at all costs (pun intended) as evidenced by the 26% lift in investment for measurement and attribution capabilities. By augmenting the analytics process with AI, marketers can both improve performance and drive efficiencies while adapting to fluctuations in the landscape.

Change is an inevitability in every industry, but navigating these changes successfully is not. While macro-economic and socio-political factors have cast a shadow on marketing, we seem to have crossed the chasm. By continuing to invest in new creative technologies, automation processes, and activation platforms, marketers will be able to turn the challenges of the first half of the year into opportunities for the second.

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