CMO has collated the opinions of marketing chiefs, agencies, industry thought leaders, adtech, martech, media players and more to bring you an assortment of hefty digital marketing predictions for the new year
Within, n3 Hub Business Development Director, Stephen Schwalger, predicts a big investment in customer data platforms (CDP).
Brands must up the ante on demonstrating value
Hand-in-hand with this lens on wellbeing is literally demonstrating consumer value. For Cheddar general manager, Helen Hey, this makes financial rewards such as deal, cashback and loyalty recognition a must. The shopping platform’s recent survey shows the cost of living was the largest concern for nine out of 10 young Australians.
“Nearly half of Gen-Z’s [48 per cent] already use cash back programs, and we expect this to grow in the coming year,” she says.
GoCardless marketing manager, Emily-Jane Shurey, sees end-user appetite for relevant and valuable content continuing to soar in 2023. “Content that’s relevant, valuable, applicable and easily digestible will see prospects build a relationship with your brand as one to seek out when looking to learn more,” she says.
“For example, we saw a gap in the market when it came to understanding new payment technology PayTo and built PayTo University, a self-paced learning platform initially for customers and prospects. We soon had transformational experts, communication leaders and financial leaders of large financial institutions enrolling and getting value as much as our customers and prospects.”
Gartner is predicting one-in-three businesses without a loyalty program today will establish one by 2027 to shore up first-party data collection and retain high-priority customers. Only 36 per cent of 1068 brands the analyst firm analysed in 2022 had a loyalty program.
“The competition for customers’ attention and first-party data will increase as more companies launch and revamp loyalty programs,” says Gartner director analyst, Brad Jashinsky. “CMOs running best in-class loyalty programs will elevate their approach beyond transactional benefits and recognise personalisation as a critical differentiator.”
Understanding content’s value is an imperative
Without unified customer data in a single coherent view, you’ll most likely drown in non-convertible leads before you satisfy your thirst for new customers – and that can lead to was
In line with the larger trend of marketers needing to do more with less is understanding creative and content’s impact.
Neuro-Insight GM for APAC, Brian Hill, is fascinated by emphasis on test-and-learn when refining digital media placements to gain effectiveness. Yet he questions whether advertisers do enough to understand creative’s role.
“There seems to be very little rigour around creative development, which is at odds with the widely accepted understanding that creative is a critical element in the recipe for driving effectiveness,” he comments. “Perhaps creative will be a new frontier next year?”
Lucid Software chief marketing officer, Nathan Rawlins, is another advocating for a better understanding of messaging effectiveness. “Lax targeting and tepid messages may have worked in the past, but it will not be sufficient in today’s landscape,” he says. “Digital marketers will have to muster a level of focus and attention to detail exceeding the expectations of the recent past or risk seeing results plummet at expectations shift.”
Generative AI reshapes engagement and brand risk
Another emerging technology with potential to disrupt the content, creative and experience capabilities of brands is generative AI. As a consequence, Gartner forecasts eight in 10 enterprise marketers will establish a dedicated content authenticity function to combat misinformation and fake material by 2027.
“The proliferation of generative AI and user-generated content will dramatically increase the volume and variety of content brands must monitor,” Gartner states. “Proactive reputation management is critical but scanning for inaccurate or defamatory content at scale in real-time is increasingly difficult in a polarised and high-velocity landscape.”
Generative AI is coming into the customer service and experience side too, through Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3). “It may be too early in the cycle, but digital marketers may benefit from adding this medium to current team infrastructure via intelligent chatbots and content writing at scale – that is, aligning this to your SEO strategy,” WLTH’s Zande says.
“Content is still king. With all this in mind, GPT-3 will not replace human writers outright. Rather, GPT-3 can be used as a great tool to help in the creative process, such as writer’s block, to save time, and reduce expenses via additional headcount. Those who want to be competitive in this space will consider adopting this as an enablement tool.”
There’s more digitisation – and digital measurement – coming in OOH
Even as we saw digitisation rapidly accelerate during the pandemic, industry thought leaders predict there’s still plenty more to come. Twilio’s Pimpini points out 64 per cent of Australian businesses investing in digital customer engagement over the past two years saw average top-line revenue increases. For 15 per cent, revenues doubled.
And on the out-of-home front, marketers are migrating swiftly to digital OOH (DooH). Statistica figures predict global expenditure to hit US$45 billion by the end of 2024. JCDecaux Australia CMO, Essie Wake, says convergence of data, mobile and digital out-of-home marketing is happening faster than ever.
“This is pushing digital functions to merge, and one can easily imagine ‘digital media’ being viewed as a single platform. It is now the turn of advertisers to embrace and leverage that shift – the industry is ready,” she says.
Programmatic technologies are one of the obvious components fuelling channel growth. A State of the Nation report from VIOOH indicated 19 per cent of marketing execs believe advertising investment in programmatic DOOH will more than double over the next 18 months.
“However, it’s the audience data capabilities that have really expanded the ability for advertisers to activate the same audience data across multiple touchpoints, enabling them to retarget and build impact across the funnel,” Wake says. “These are giving advertisers a single view of a campaign and allowing them to optimise across media, as they’re able to monitor campaign exposure and turn on and off different channel activations as needed. Out-of-home is no longer planned or activated in a silo.”
Performance accountability is another facet in DooH growth and Wake notes the industry is working to find advanced reporting solutions so advertisers can measure campaign exposure and track aggregated and anonymised behavioural results.
“When it comes to setting the KPIs and role of digital out-of-home in 2023, allocation of performance and brand spend will warrant more consideration and we will see more brands testing and quantifying in the performance domain,” Wake predicts.
More AI is embraced to drive operational efficiency
As marketers strive to improve efficiencies and economies of scale, automation will be a key tool for. Many contributing to our 2023 predictions pitch automation and data-driven efficiency improvements for this reason. CloseFactor head of marketing, Cody Bernard, expects B2B tech CMOs and teams to prioritise data-supported efficiency next year.
“For many, that’ll mean accelerating the use of machine learning and automation within their ABM [account-based marketing] strategies to more quickly, and accurately, identify target customers most ready to buy,” he says. “For example, organisations launching projects to modernise their customer experience, undertake digital transformations or cloud migrations, or that recently added fresh leadership in key positions leave telltale signs for ML processes to identify and surface to marketing teams quickly. Businesses displaying those indicators are much more likely to be adopting new B2B technologies.
“A 2023 strategy with ML-backed insights into a prospect’s requirements will also better enable hyper-personalisation, giving marketing teams a closer contextual understanding of customer personas and pain points required to craft more meaningful marketing messaging that speaks directly to a customer’s specific needs at that moment.”
Databricks regional VP A/NZ, Bede Hackney, sees AI helping businesses managing rising ballooning data management costs in an uncertain economic environment.
“We see AI as playing more of a role in reducing costs by understanding customers’ workloads over time and automatically right sizing their deployments for optimal cost and productivity trade-offs,” he says. “Cost will become a critical focus over the next year as organisations turn to AI and machine learning to streamline their operations and manage the areas they can control in an increasingly volatile economic climate.”
Market research is another area expected to benefit from automation levels exponentially increasing. “The strategy, cost and execution around how CMOs plan key market intelligence projects are going to come under the microscope more and more throughout 2023,” says Instreamatic CMO, Simon Dunlop.
“Market research and customer feedback analysis are generally expensive undertakings. But AI has really matured now to the point where a smart approach can gather – faster and more continually – the insights marketing leaders require to hone customer and marketing experiences,” he says. “I think we’ll see AI play a far greater role in these processes, particularly as budgets for traditional market research projects tighten.
“Similarly, social listening and CX platforms are still largely manual in terms of gleaning CMO-friendly signals from the noise. To unearth market insights faster from both customers and prospective customers, AI will be playing an outsized role in the coming year as a way to coalesce the most updated customer sentiments and preferences.”
Then there’s the automation necessary to manage fragmented digital media channels. “In a platform-driven world, where any given campaign can include using five to 10 tech platforms, tools to aggregate platforms and data using automation are becoming more useful and increasingly necessary for campaign management, reporting and insights,” Switch managing director, Andrew Davenport, says.
Agility remains an imperative
Another trigger helping AI gain ground is the agility of marketing teams. This, most agree, remains a critical muscle as brands battle 2023 economic headwinds. By 2025, Gartner predicts organisations using AI across the marketing function will shift 75 per cent of their staff’s operations from production to more strategic activities.
AI will continue to refine marketing operations processes to drive more agile, data-based responses to the challenges ahead that have no signs of slowing down.
Nicole Green, Gartner
“The use of AI in marketing operations will reduce friction and eliminate redundancy, allowing marketers to shift their budgets and resources to activities that support a more dynamic marketing organisation,” senior direct analyst, Nicole Greene, predicts. “For example, marketers can leverage AI in the creative process to automate capturing, processing and analysing of real-world images and videos, improving image quality and developing digital twins.
“AI will continue to refine marketing operations processes to drive more agile, data-based responses to the challenges ahead that have no signs of slowing down.”
If resources are limited, making the most of them requires agility, says BlackLine’s Botero. “Test and evolve how you get your buyers’ attention,” he advises. “Show you respect your audience’s time by delivering value at every touchpoint. Limited resources mean you can’t do everything, so find and invest in what delivers the best results.”
Attention gets even more attention as connected TV and BVOD take over
As third-party cookie deprecation is finally realised and connected and broadcast video-on-demand (BVOD) become the dominant TV viewing forms over linear TV, several industry pundits expect attention metrics to become an increasingly important currency for how performance is measured.
“While historically it’s been true attention metrics scored higher on linear TV, that gap has gradually begun to close, particularly as more advertisers buy a mix of linear and streaming,” says Magnite MD for Australia, James Young, noting IAB Australia’s recent report, which correlated higher ad attention to better business outcomes. “In the coming year, we’ll see CTV close the gap on linear TV in overall attention and viewability scores, making CTV an even more effective advertising format.”
“In the coming year, we’ll see CTV close the gap on linear TV in overall attention and viewability scores, making CTV an even more effective advertising format.” James Young, Magnite
DoubleVerify Country Manager A/NZ, Imran Masood, attributes attention’s importance to growing online consumption. A recent DoubleVerify report shows 52 per cent of Australians spending more time online than pre-pandemic.
“It will be critical marketers have consistent and accurate measurement standards and applications in place to drive campaign optimisation and effectiveness. Specifically, a single source of truth in the areas of CTV, streaming and social will enable consistent evaluation of their advertising investments,” Masood says.
“As brands look for growth, connecting with not only their ‘known’ but also new customers, creating more efficient and effective campaigns to grab consumer attention will be increasingly important in a fragmented and scaling digital ecosystem. Paired with the looming third-party cookie deprecation, attention is set to become the new currency against which performance will be measured.”
The Trade Desk A/NZ GM, James Bayes, believes 2023 will trigger a complete flip in advertising mentality when it comes to BVOD and linear TV.
“We now have a plethora of free ad-supported streaming TV [FAST] channels across the various BVOD services alongside Tubi and Pluto, which replicate the traditional TV experience but in a way that better serves niche audiences and interests. And with the introduction of ads to Netflix, Disney+, and Binge the transition of audiences to BVOD will accelerate so much that in 2023, it’ll make sense for more advertisers to start with BVOD first,” he says.
“In a funny way, while ads on Netflix and Disney+ will provide new competition for broadcasters, making these audiences accessible to advertisers has the potential to work in broadcasters’ favour as YouTube loses exclusivity on the way to connect to younger audiences with video, dragging money back into the premium content arena.”
Brands really get into gaming
Another outcome from third-party cookie demise and shifts in consumer behaviour for Iion co-founder, Sanjaya Molligoda, is brands getting more into gaming.
“The onus is on advertisers to be future-fit in order to engage with audiences in more personalised ways,” he says. “The ways audiences engage with digital marketing and advertising campaigns is also now rapidly shifting in a booming gaming economy.”
Molligoda points to an In-Game Advertising (IGA) Global Market Report 2022, which found video game usage increased by 75 per cent. Valued at AU$296 billion in 2021, the gaming market is expected nearly double to reach AU$507.5bn by 2027.
“Latest research shows gamers spend twice as much time watching intrinsic in-game ads than on other digital channels,” Molligoda says. “Gaming viewers are in front of the screen with 100 per cent attention on the screen. You won’t find that opportunity anywhere else in today’s digital environment.
“In order to engage this growing audience, brands in 2023 will need to find more innovative ways to provide better advertising experiences in the game, around the game, and away from the game, across all digital worlds.”
Metaverse hits the trough of disillusionment
Yet while gaming may flourish, there’s less enthusiasm for the metaverse in 2023. The few who brave a prediction suggest the metaverse has hit what Gartner commonly refers to as tech’s trough of disillusionment.
Lotame COO, Mike Woosley, sees Meta flaking on metaverse investments in 2023. “The handwriting is on the wall for the metaverse based on Meta’s last earnings report,” he suggests. “Unfortunately, it’s sufficiently bloody to make Leno LaBianca spin in his grave. Facebook ‘invested’ US$9 billion on this metaverse thing – and every drop of that $9bn came out of its profits. Its VR service has just 200,000 users.
“My advice to Meta: If you want to expand in VR, be like Microsoft and buy a gaming company for $75bn.”
Forrester is convinced brands will step back from the metaverse in favour of tried and tested channels in 2023. For those who do push ahead, it’ll be a sober year as brands pivot away from superficial ‘one and done’ headline-grabbers towards efforts delivering employee and consumer utility in the metaverse.
“The as-yet non-existent metaverse became the ‘next big thing’ in 2021 and 2022. But the end of lockdowns outside of China has reduced consumers’ appetite for spending time in online spaces, and economic headwinds have already exposed the vulnerabilities of a supposed experience revolution that has yet to garner mass consumer interest,” Forrester’s 2023 predictions report on the metaverse and NFTs states.
Zoho chief strategy officer, Vijay Sundaram, is less dismissive and points to a growing number of marketers slowly testing new technologies like the metaverse, exploring immersive virtual reality alongside other digital marketing channels in 2023. But he admits we’re in wait-and-see mode.
“For these platforms to achieve widespread adoption, data practices and clearly defined uses of how artificial intelligence will be implemented are critical,” he warns. “How will customers be properly verified on the platform without having to share excessive personal data? As we have seen with the data breaches this year, consumers and businesses have become cautious about their privacy and have put the onus on businesses to be transparent about how they consume customer data.”
Retail media extends its tentacles into new categories
Retail media by contrast looks set to keep growing. Lotame general manager for its Spherical CDP accelerator solutions, Alexandra Theriault, predicts brands reaching a fork in the road in 2023 and taking one of these two paths: Retail media networks or walled gardens.
“In one lane are those without first-party data and a direct relationship with consumers, like big CPG. They’ll lean harder into retail media networks like Amazon, Walmart, Target and others, which are estimated to triple what they were in 2019 to $37.39 billion in ad spend per eMarketer,” she says. “Consider these relationships golden handcuffs as they’ll rely on these networks for data.
“In the opposite lane are those flush with data who will pull out of the retail media networks to erect their own fortresses, forcing consumers to go direct to their website or app to buy or subscribe,” Theriault claims. “There will be increased competition in the category over the next one to three years as more retail networks emerge and more non-endemic brands get into retail media advertising.”
Ogilvy’s Davey sees retail media networks growing beyond major supermarket and retail chains, presenting challenges to Google and Meta as brands explore extracting more value from commercialising their (digital and physical) real estate. Marriott International already broke ground through its Yahoo-backed retail media offering this year.
“Retail media networks will evolve to encompass performance media exchanges: Think airlines, hotel chains, car hire companies and tour operators collaborating to present their products in the appropriate places and stages in the consumer holiday journey, with ‘just in time’ offers that are convenient for holiday makers,” Davey says.
It’s thanks to retail media dominance as well as its recent data clean rooms announcement that Amazon will one-up Google in 2023, says Lotame’s chief product officer, Eliza Nevers.
“While Google holds its death grip firmly on the ad products side of the business, Amazon not so quietly builds up an ever-growing tech stack to cover every and all marketing needs,” she says. “The question remains whether these moves will put Amazon in the crosshairs of antitrust or if it can keep flying under the radar of government scrutiny.”
Marketers need to keep a firm eye on brand building
Even when challenged to do more with less, industry thought leaders stress retaining commitment to consistent brand experiences and enhancement next year.
“In today’s digital HQ, customers have high expectations from the brands they interact with. Consequently, providing a consistent brand experience is no longer a ‘nice-to have’, it is a standard requirement for all marketers,” says Templafy co-founder, Christian Lund. “Moving into 2023, we’re going to see more marketing teams safeguard their brand by focusing on innovative ways to increase brand awareness.
“To do so, marketers are likely going to implement technologies to enhance how consumers experience a brand. For example, content enablement solutions help marketers ensure a consistent brand image is presented by ensuring that materials are up to date.”
KeyPay head of marketing, Kate Brown, is leaning into brand building at the cloud payroll software in 2023. “Marketers should identify how they can empower customers in order to engage with them on a deeper and more emotional level,” she says. “To achieve this, it is best to avoid the temptation of only focusing on shorter-term gains which could degrade brand integrity in the long run.”
Brand building is crucial as more Gen Zs begin to enter the workforce and wield increasing purchase power, says TotallyAwesome MD A/NZ, James Sawyer. “CMOs need to ensure they have strategies in place to target a youth-audience to not only make up the gap of sales but capture brand loyalty that could last a lifetime,” he urges.
“The teenage into early 20s are packed with numerous ‘firsts’… and characterised by neurological growth that allows brands to engage with a receptive audience that is vocal about sharing positive brand experiences, has money and low overheads [relatively]. Reaching this demographic with meaning will be key for marketers in 2023, as CMOs need to find new ways to grow and reach new audiences in a recessionary environment.”
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