Before laying out our expectations for digital marketing this year, let’s first take a journey back to see how digital marketing predictions for 2022 fared. We were optimistic about digital spend, which was proven correct. eMarketer projected +12% and we saw +12.5% driven by paid search and display (including rich media, video, and banners). In fact, Cyber Monday 2022 was the largest retail ecommerce sales day in US history.
We expected a big year for video, including addressable TV and CTV, programmatic, influencer marketing, TikTok, and analytics.
We got most of that right, but Congress banned TikTok on all devices owned by the federal government in December 2022, causing some advertisers to bail too (but maybe not as many as you’d think). While still growing its ad revenue and user base, TikTok didn’t have as much revenue growth as anticipated, and as such, we didn’t see as many improved ad products, particularly for lower funnel or shopping efforts. So we’ll give ourselves an A minus.
Here are the digital marketing trends we’re watching for in 2023 as we ride out a possible recession.
TV Viewership Shifts Digital
Streaming claimed the largest piece of the TV viewing pie for the first time in July: larger than cable and broadcast separately, but not larger than cable and broadcast combined (source: Nielsen). Non-pay TV viewers will outnumber pay TV viewers by the end of 2023 and CTV has nearly tripled since before the pandemic, according to eMarketer. Measurement solutions will continue to improve here.
Creator Economy Gets Real
Content development is simultaneously both easier and harder than ever before. Brands need a lot of it, it should feel authentic, and that’s where the creator economy, including influencers, comes in. The emergence of BeReal is further driving a trend toward authentic and imperfect short clips, and influencers are a big business to help deliver assets and eyeballs.
Social Media Levels Off
PR teams at the major social media platforms have been working hard with all the news, privacy changes, bans, politics, and incoming CEOs. With that, social media is not growing as much as it has in the past. eMarketer said, “we’ve made a massive and unprecedented reduction in our US social network ad spending forecast” by the end of 2022. Additionally, social media’s share of digital spend will shrink every year through 2024 at an accelerated rate. Social is still incredibly important for reach and attention from our audiences though – and will likely still take up 25% of digital budgets over the next couple of years. Gen Z in particular discovers brands on social media, according to GWI. We’re holding out for ad product innovation in 2023, particularly in the shopping realm.
Brand Image (and Activism) is Huge
Consumers want brands with a moral compass (social responsibility, reduce environmental impact, support local, support charities, and more). They want brands with strong and healthy images, and are discouraged from buying brands if they see negative social media comments, bad press, or lack of diversity in the workplace, according to a GWI study in 2022. It’s a good time to invest in PR (we can help!)
Automation and AI Goes Mainstream
ChatGPT, a chatbot launched by OpenAI in November 2022, has been the talk of the town ever since, while AI also has the art world tied up in lawsuits. Meanwhile, we’ve known AI and automation has been at play for programmatic, paid social, and paid search for awhile but it’s finally feeling standard. We wrote about automation 2023 predictions in paid search and we’re encouraged as buyers to let the AI do the work of optimizing. We hope this leads to efficiency in terms of dollars and time.
‘Nimble Innovation’ is a Must
It’s never felt like a more creative, exciting, and complex time to be in this industry. We’ve seen consumer behavior change drastically in the last three years. We’ve had to pivot strategy and creative to compete for attention and create better experiences, while maintaining privacy with less data, and now we’re facing a possible recession again. We’ll need to innovate, potentially with less dollars, while staying true to a brand’s North Star and honing in on the most important audiences to focus on business goals.
We’ve weathered many storms now, so generally we’re feeling hopeful and ready to go. But we’re keeping in mind a recurring lesson learned, which is that we just can’t predict the unprecedented (Covid, TikTok bans, Elon Musk running Twitter, a chatbot writing this blog post… kidding, for now).