With 2022 now behind us, and both feet now firmly planted in 2023, it is high time to look ahead to the upcoming year and consider what success will look like- for our clients, our industry and ourselves- and what we will do to achieve it. Lindsay Garfinkle, Managing Director, Strategy, walks us through her thoughts, predictions and key areas to consider when planning for a successful 2023.

As we close off our first month of the year and look forward to what is to come, our focus inevitably turns to the uncertainties we are currently facing. With consumers’ focus shifts from COVID to potential economic turmoil, some behaviors and trends revert to the mean, returning to their normal trajectory, while others continue to accelerate.

In light of this uncertainty, the one thing we do know for sure is that 2023 will prove to be an interesting year when it comes to the media landscape. We find ourselves in a middle zone between the unbundling of the old and the reforming of the new.  The last ten years saw a tech duopoly, with plenty of digital signals to track and optimize, all of which are starting to unravel, fragmented with new players, the loss of tracking signals and new regulations.

That said, the new media landscape has not quite taken off yet. The hype of web 3 / the metaverse has crashed down, new players are gaining consumers attention, and emerging technologies are being experimented with. Out of this will come a new order, but likely not for another few years. What this means is that we are in a time of testing, focusing, and staying close to our audiences as they explore and experience the playground that is a new media landscape struggling to take shape.  Bottom line, 2023 will give us plenty to look forward to: Opportunities to seize, major shifts in the landscape to leverage, moments to grab onto and great work to do for our clients.

Here are a few key areas to consider in order to build out a successful year.

Economic Uncertainty: Finding ways to emerge stronger.

With rumblings of recession continuing to build, as advertisers we have the impossible task of maintaining and growing business as usual, while balancing budgets in a way that accounts for potential downfalls. While the economy is certainly uncertain, there are several levers that we know are critical to continue to pull in order to ensure brands do not suffer from what is to come.

  1. Keep The Lights on While Building for The Future: And not just from a conversion driving perspective. While it may be at a reduced spend, only investing in lower funnel tactics will have undesirable consequences in the mid and long term from a brand and overall performance perspective. Knowing the uncertain economic times, continuing to invest and maintain campaigns also has the advantage of increasing competitive share of voice. In a time where others may not be spending or may be pulling back simply staying live becomes an opportunity to grow short term and come out ahead of the game long term. Keeping the lights on and maintaining a holistic approach to advertising will allow advertisers to maintain and continue to grow their base, albeit at a potentially slower speed.
  2. Simplicity is Key: In line with keeping the lights on, with potential reduced spend, simplifying campaigns by diminishing the volume of tactics and focusing in on historic top performers is a great and straightforward way of maintaining performance in uncertain times. Outside of spend, we know simplicity is a theme in the current realities of consumers. Leaning into the idea and focusing on fewer, bigger, and better will be key. To be successful this year, it will be essential for brands to focus their messaging, their offerings and overall campaign complexities, all in an effort to zone in on what consumers really want – simplicity.
  3. Continue To Diversify, Test and Learn: While simplicity will be key, audiences continue to fragment, while continuing to expect personalization and relevance.  This is an opportunity to explore different audience segments, creative lines, and formats to engage users and differentiate from competitors.

Web3 Uncertainty: Finding opportunity beyond the hype

It is safe to say that the hype bubble has essentially burst. While NFTs, Crypto and the Metaverse were the hot topics of 2022, their casting as the dawn of the future has not exactly come to fruition. What 2022 brought were some key opportunities and trends that will continue to grow in 2023, that lean into elements of what Web3 promised to be, without the promise of web3 in its truest form. As we move forward into 2023, we expect the trend and the importance of Extended Reality (XR) to continue to grow and there are lots of ways brands can get involved. In the simplest form, ad units that offer in-ad XR experiences are a great way to dip ones’ toes into the Metaverse adjacent world. Following Apple’s XR headset official release, as well as many other players moving further into the XR space, we know that it is time for brands to do just this – dip their toes into the pool of XR. Other trends that have already begun to build traction for brands are AI, with Chat GPT at the forefront of conversation in this regard. Finding ways to leverage AI to help brands / campaigns work smarter and not harder will be a big trend for the next year.

GenZ: Finding consumers beyond the cohort.

Another buzz word of the past 12 months (and beyond) has been Gen Z, with a major focus being future-proofing business to appeal to this highly lucrative and supposedly hard to crack audience. While Gen Z will continue to be an important focus in 2023, leaning into the idea of audiences in general remains integral for a successful year. With our audience first approach, we feel the importance of understanding the high value, opportunity audiences unique to your business today is equally important to building towards the harder to break through audience groups for the future. What this means for us is moving away from the idea of demographic cohorts as a whole. It means not caring if someone is Gen Z, Millenial, etc simply based on the year they were born, but rather focusing on the mindset of an individual, removing the necessity to de-code these generational audiences, and finding the psychographic overlaps that make most sense for your business. As we enter a potential economic recession honing in on the most lucrative audiences for your business today will be a key to success in 2023.

So, what does this mean for us as advertisers as we enter a new year? What action can brands take to leverage past success and build for the future? For us the key theme of 2023 is going to be focus.  A focus on setting a solid foundation to weather economic uncertainty and come out stronger.  A focus on moving beyond the hype to test what’s real as new behaviors and opportunities emerge.  A focus on moving beyond the broad cohort labels to a much more nuanced understanding of who our audiences are.  Audiences remain at the core, especially when taking a more simplistic and focused approach, zeroing in on audiences and making sure there is an in-depth understanding of who it is your trying to reach, is what is going to drive success in 2023.