Elise: Today we are talking about 2023 digital marketing trends and predictions. I’m joined by Sean Cotton, Coegi’s President, as well as Ryan Green, Vice President of Marketing and Innovation.
I want to start by talking about if your viewpoints to marketing have seen a big change over the year. Ryan, do you wanna start us off?
Ryan: The thing that I think has changed the most is how important content actually is to media. For several years, we’ve really talked about campaigns – campaign numbers, IOs, and target audiences. But, what’s important going into 2023 is the merging of media, audience, and automation with the content and the message. Those need to be thought of together now, and they have to be part of the media buy.
Leaning into publisher and influencer relationships – sometimes as the creative agency in some ways, right? I think this happened during the pandemic. it was hard to go to production to build an old school campaign. But, you were able to create content. You were able to write. You were able to leverage influencers. And the media agencies started to do a lot more of the work there. So that’s really changed my viewpoint this year.
Elise: Sean, what about you? Any changes to your personal viewpoints over the last year for marketing?
Sean: My thoughts are closely related to Ryan’s. At the beginning of last year, there were still a lot of effective things that could be done around audience. And there still is, but that signal is becoming weaker with privacy laws and regulations.
In 2022, we saw the impact of our audience targeting capabilities lessen – which we expected. So in 2023, we need to continue to lean into research and content as Ryan was discussing. By using tactics such as influencer marketing, we can make sure we’re really engaging our best customers throughout their journey and not relying on the easy button.
Elise: Right, the audience signal is weaker, so the content has to work even harder to stop the scroll. Plus, personalization is going to change quite a bit.
Ryan: And I think what content is has changed too. We’ve seen success with shorter content. We’ve also seen success with long-form content. It’s not just the trope that the modern consumer has a three-second attention span. That may be their attention span on TikTok. But, that’s not true when people are watching 30 minute videos on YouTube or reading 10,000 word articles.
The modern marketing campaign needs to take a broader lens on what content is and where it plays in the consumer journey. And then, we need to amplify it to the right audience using automated tools to make the perfect mix and ultimately achieve business goals.
2022 Year in Review
Elise: I think that’s a good segue to talk about some of the predictions you had at the start of this year. Sean, you predicted there would be more emphasis on social short-form video across multiple different platforms. So how did that play out in 2022?
Sean: Well, we certainly saw the growth in short-form video production and distribution with the growth of TikTok, YouTube Shorts and so forth. But, I don’t think brands are capitalizing on short-form video and telling their story. Content needs to be tailored for each platform differently. The social media environment with short-form video requires us to be much more agile.
Sometimes, it’s better to focus less on quality and more on authenticity in terms of content production. So I think part of that prediction came true. As users, we are engaging more with short-form content. But, brands and agencies are still trying to catch up as to how to capitalize on that to it’s full potential.
Elise: And then, Ryan, you made a prediction that the metaverse and augmented reality and virtual reality were going to be driving factors in brands’ marketing plans. How did that play out throughout 2022?
Ryan: It hasn’t, at least not for most marketers. It has for gaming. It has in fashion. But I don’t think anybody could have predicted some of the struggles Meta had. There are some Web3.0 things I’m still bullish on long-term. So, if I could revise my 2022 prediction, I would lean in more to retail media. It certainly has come on as a driving force. There’s been a strengthening of signal from retailer point of sale and media networks that advertisers can really lean into. Retail media needs to be a major part of lower funnel plans for CPG brands and a variety of industries.
Elise: And then you both predicted that the availability of consumer data was going to be more of a force in terms of ad quality and how we measure marketing. I’d like to hear where you think that is heading as we enter 2023.
Sean: We spoke a lot about incrementality over attribution last year. I was really surprised at how quickly that approach gained popularity over the course of the year. A lot of other marketers were thinking the same way. The beauty of digital has always been that we could tie together touchpoints and show attribution or ROI. I expected it would take a while longer for people to shift. Even going back to the way we used to measure with advanced forms of media mixed modeling and incrementality.
So, I think that prediction really came to fruition right before our eyes in 2022. And I think moving forward we’ll see savvy marketers become even more skilled. There’s not a lot of doubt about whether it’s the right approach now. At this point, it’s about perfecting that approach and making it more meaningful when we deliver campaign analysis.
Ryan: I’ve been pleasantly surprised that, even with cookie deprecation delays, brands and advertisers didn’t fall back on click-based attribution. They did still continue to lean into incrementality, even when they had an excuse not to. I think that goes into reliance on audience targeting as well. It’s not just browsers and cookie deprecation, it’s also legal and regulation that’s coming. Sean mentioned news that came out from the EU on Meta today that potentially is going to nullify personal ad targeting – period . If that does become law there, that’s going to have a trickle down effect across the globe. So, it’s good that brands are moving forward with what modern marketing is going to look like.
Privacy and Regulation Trends for Digital Marketing in 2023
Elise: So, would you say that regulation is a top challenge brands should be looking to tackle in 2023? How should they be looking at the changes in the privacy landscape?
Ryan: It depends where they’re transacting. They definitely need to be on more alert if they’re operating in the European Union. The United States is still to be determined, but we have stronger regulation coming out of California. So there’s several different angles, but we have an idea of what’s going to shape out.
It’s actually an opportunity for brands to put a stake in the ground about their values as it pertains to data collection and regulation. They don’t have to wait to be told what to do. They can decide themselves to continue to have great campaign performance while still clearly defining brand safe data collection.
Sean: And at this point, we should be implementing best practices around data collection, storage, and security on top of our marketing campaigns. If an advertiser was to find themself with first-party data without a strategy for how to use it, I would suggest they reach out to a professional as soon as possible.
Retire These Digital Marketing Trends
Elise: I’d like to hear each of your hard-hitting takes on trends that marketers should retire in 2022?
Ryan: This probably should have been done a couple of years ago. The reliance on Facebook as an easy button and as your primary social platform. That needs to go. Not only has the world diversified in where our consumer’s eyeballs are, but there’s well-noted privacy regulations that Meta is the center of. Their stock went down 80% over the past 10 months for a reason – that’s unprecedented. If that’s not a signal to advertisers that maybe that’s not the one place you want to bet on, it definitely should be.
Advertisers should have been diversifying their social and digital media spend for a long time. iOS 14.5 was a wake-up call to brands looking at last click attribution. There was so much shift between what the platform reported versus what their backend sales were showing.
There’s not going to be an easy button. It’s challenging to create content that plays well on a half a dozen different social platforms and screens. This is the time when advertisers that do the hard work are going to be rewarded. The ones that want to make it easy are going to be downstream.
Sean: If I had to pick one trend to retire, I’d point to viewing CTV/OTT video as simply an incremental video strategy. Historically, brands would view linear as the majority of the big screen budget and carve off maybe 5% for CTV/OTT. There’s still a lot of marketers that approach it that way. Whereas if we analyze a CTV/OTT buy versus a linear buy, we can attain greater reach and a more manageable frequency.
With linear, we often get high frequency to a very small pool of linear TV watchers. And, all the data shows people are cutting the cord. So CTV/OTT should be a central part of advertising on the big screen. It’s measurable and targetable to attain the appropriate reach and frequency goals. Now, linear TV still has its place without a doubt, but they need to be looked at in tandem
Ryan: And now you’re seeing the Nielsens of the world coming together and measuring CTV and linear TV in the same language. We’re going to transact on CPMs – not on GRPs. That’s a big step towards a more apples to apples comparison. When there’s two different measurements, they end up naturally going to different places. There’s less excuse now, with measurement partners that are able to translate both. You need to lean into that to be effective in 2023.
2023 Programmatic Marketing Trend Predictions
Elise: What are some other big digital marketing trends for 2023?
Ryan: One of the big things we’re going to look at in 2023 is the emergence of retail media as a primary vehicle for digital marketing campaigns. Retail media only emerged in the past two or three years with any real emphasis. It was something experimental. But now it could be the backbone of a CPG marketing campaign. Social may become secondary or tertiary to retail media, and that really flips things on its head.
Sean: One trend would be redefining what performance marketing and media is, especially as we go into a recession. Every dollar matters, so all media needs to deliver some type of performance. Now typically, when you say performance marketing, people think of lower funnel tactics where you can see a direct conversion. But the fact is – every marketing dollar needs to perform.
There’s pressure on CMOs and CEOs to show return on all of their marketing investment. So, marketers are challenged for all media to perform. Now, you’re going to measure awareness differently than consideration or intent, but there needs to be some sort of accountability. So a trend we’ll continue to see as marketers embrace incrementality, is looking at performance marketing with a wider lens.
Ryan: I agree with that. One other thing that’s come up this year is sustainability and the effect of digital marketing on our carbon footprint. We are really starting to dive into supply path optimization – having fewer touchpoints from the ad server to the consumer. I think we’re going to see a lot of brands start to demand this across every third-party partner.
2023 Social Media Marketing Trend Predictions
Elise: To wrap us up, I want to talk about the future of paid social media and influencer marketing. Are there other 2023 social media trend predictions marketers should be looking out for?
Ryan: There’s never been so much headwind with social. Social media has always been a growth channel, in every aspect. But, you have headline after headline coming in – from Meta’s demise to Twitter now having 70% less staff. And TikTok is not going to run the way that it is forever, with government regulation coming against China there. Even in the influencer space, we’re starting to see Gen-Z and Gen Alpha rebelling against the perfect influencer lifestyle. We’re seeing less time being given to those platforms.
A lot of those platforms make it very easy to have great reach. In some ways, this actually may be an opportunity to do more on social media. The billions of logins Facebook has are not suddenly going away. And there’s plenty of people that still use these platforms. But there needs to be balance in your social strategy next to other media.
Balance is going to be a calling card for 2023. The brands that go heavy into search and social are going to be at a disadvantage if they don’t think about all the places it takes to garner attention. Attention is still the number one commodity we’re looking to harness as marketers. And we’re going to have to be more creative in how we message audiences and place ads to be competitive.
Elise: Well, thank you both for being here today and I’m excited to see how these digital marketing trends play out in 2023.