Brands should continue to prepare for the eventual demise of cookies and be on the lookout for “alternatives to cookie-based targeting,” as well as a greater presence of ads in streaming platforms, Margolin added. “Despite a split Congress, it will be interesting to see if Amazon and Apple will finally receive some level of regulation,” he said.
The new year will likely see advertisers continue to get creative in finding ways around restriction to data access and ads.
“I’m intrigued to see how far we can continue to leverage addressable audience solutions amid obstacles like growing consumer privacy concerns, built-in ad blocking tech and the end of the third-party-tracking/cookies era,” said Kimberly Torries, senior digital analyst at Big Communications.
For some advertisers, that work began in 2022, with new avenues opening up for advertisers.
“The proliferation of ads in previously ad-free environments is a notable trend that kicked into high gear in 2022,” said Richard Yao, senior manager of strategy at IPG Media Lab, UM’s innovation division. “Subscription-based video on demand services Netflix, HBO Max and Disney+ all launched their respective ad-supported services this year, and companies like Uber and Roblox debuted their own turnkey ad solutions to diversify their revenue streams. All this opened new channels for brands to reach consumers and engage with them in different contexts.”
Much ado about the metaverse
Even if it never quite lived up to its hype—in large part spurred on by the announcement of Facebook’s name change toward the end of 2021—the metaverse was a major item on advertisers’ radar in 2022.
“It feels like we’re moving through a hype cycle at hyperspeed,” said Media.Monks cofounder Wesley ter Haar. “The reality is that this decade has seen a transformation of digital, and of the value it has in peoples’ lives and livelihoods. The time we spent in and on digital channels and devices is no longer a ‘second life’; it’s just life now and that’s leading to outputs you’d expect: People are spending more time in virtual and tactile spaces. This was already happening broadly with gaming, but we now have a first wave of metaverse platforms, and people are imbuing purely digital assets with monetary value.”
Naturally, brands want to be on the cusp of whatever that next big thing is, and the metaverse was one of several much-fabled pots of gold at the end of the virtual rainbow. Was it really?
“If we look back at the start of this year, we can see the rise of things like crypto, the secret place where you can get rich fast, or Web3 being the ‘promised land,’” said John Higgins, CEO and cofounder of OS Studios. “When brands heard about the buzz, they wanted to have a seat at the table first or at least make their presence known immediately. Many people believed NFTs would be the next big thing and have a great impact as opposed to the impact they actually have today. The hype for what could’ve been is almost silent now following the many failed metaverse collabs and projects. The past 12 months have been fairly difficult for the metaverse.”
Forecasts for the coming year
Brands will be defining and redefining how they approach their audiences, with even greater shifts around data and tracking coming down the pike. Given the spending frenzies and marketing blowouts that defined the earlier part of the year, some are predicting a return to moderation in the coming months. A looming recession may mean more restriction on marketing budgets as brands continue to adapt to changing consumer patterns.
“Our forecast for 2023 is going back to the basics,” said OS Studios’ John Higgins. “Everyone was trying hard on metaphysical realities and trying to reinvent the wheel digitally, but for 2023 we plan on focusing more on our social media platforms, attending live events, being present in the office—not a virtual one—and simply showing up at the right place and at the right time.
“I like to recall the most talked about Super Bowl commercial this year, being the QR code that was floating on our screens for a minute straight,” Higgins continued. “Coinbase brought in over 20 million scans using a method that has been around since the 1990s. I truly believe that going back to the basics will lead us into building a stronger foundation moving forward.”
For Grant Owens, chief strategy officer at Critical Mass, 2023 will see the emergence of five major trends:
1. Finding our people again. “Consumers are still redefining digital and real-life relationships upended by the pandemic. I see this continuing in 2023, where they’re dropping existing social platforms and starting new ones within new communities, often more local and intimate than before.”
2. Tuning the tech. “As the economy looms large and many of our clients have already spent large capital funds on tech stacks, they’re now determined to squeeze all the ROI out of them that was promised.”
3. Findability. “With valuable content across a wider array of platforms, the search game is up for grabs in new places. We’re predicting a concerted industry effort to further structure that data and extend its value and context.”
4. Wellness design. “This trend continues post pandemic as people are waking up to both the harmful and helpful aspects of digital experiences. We’re going to be advising our clients on how to design for experiences that improve people’s lives, rather than simply impose marketing upon them.”
5. The foundations of Web3. “No doubt some of the hype has dimmed, but what I see happening is that consumers are wanting to learn more about and exploring elements of Web3 that will benefit them. Whether or not pure decentralized platforms emerge to facilitate it, consumers are going to expect better privacy, IP ownership and digital security in 2023.”