“A much more competitive ads landscape”: 23 performance marketing predictions for 2023

From retail media and social commerce to ad net zero and Google’s ‘endless scroll’, PMW’s panel of experts look into their crystal balls to give us their top trends and tips for the year ahead.

2022 has marked another evolution in the performance marketing industry, from an accidental Twitter takeover to Netflix launching ads. So what will 2023 hold for us?

PMW has asked a selection of senior marketers and practitioners agencies from brands, agencies and tech vendors experts to give us their thoughts on the marketing watch outs for next year. 

From CTV to social commerce, carbon reduction initiatives to the growing challenges of managing your customer’s expectations, read on to find out what 2023 is going to be the year for.

The year for a “proliferation of new ad options”

Tom Smith, CEO, GWI: “We’re going to see a proliferation of new advertising options open up as companies look to grow margins and a faster path to profitability as the headwinds of reduced tech valuations continue. Uber, Lyft, Deliveroo, Disney+ and Netflix are gearing up ads offerings. These are great opportunities for marketers and a much more competitive ads landscape. Expect more to come in 2023 and a new era of innovation.”

The year to “connect” and innovate with CTV 

Dave Castell, General Manager, Inventory and Partnerships, EMEA, The Trade Desk: “Against a backdrop of economic headwinds, the growing number of AVOD services on our screens are set to increasingly influence the future of TV in the UK. The past year has seen advertisers continue to shift spend from linear TV to CTV and that’s a trend unlikely to change in 2023.  

“There will be growing expectations from consumers and advertisers alike for innovation in the way ads are delivered. With industry trailblazers such as Netflix and Disney leading the way, we can expect to see significant leaps forward in creative advertising formats, powered by smart data and technology.” 

Rob Blake, UK MD, Channel Factory: “As streaming services follow in Netflix’s footsteps and introduce ad-supported subscriptions, this provides an opportunity for CTV to become the greatest conduit for advertising. 

“YouTube is both a ‘new’ platform born out of the digital age, but also one of the most familiar and most-watched CTV environments for audiences. In 2023 it will be all about efficiently reaching the right audience with your messages. Investing in this and minimising waste will be crucial for advertisers next year.”

The year Netflix is set to introduce third-party ad serving

Aaron Goldman, CMO at Mediaocean: “Change is afoot. Netflix has seen fierce competition from Disney+ and other streaming players. While this isn’t the case for all services, the cost of living crisis is forcing consumers to rethink their subscriptions and, in many cases, reduce spending.

“To enable targeted ads and measurement, Netflix has partnered with Microsoft and others but it must go further to integrate into the systems used by global marketers and agencies. A third-party ad server gives advertisers more control over their ad creatives and a source of truth for delivery and reporting. In 2023, we can expect to see Netflix enable third-party ad serving and additional forms of dynamic creative optimization and multi-touch attribution.” 

The year of scaled, addressable audio

Silke Zetzsche, Commercial Director, A Million Ads: “As we move into 2023, addressability will become a big growth area across multiple formats and channels. The ultimate goal will be to access all channels and formats with addressable content across a single buying platform with content production being as cost-effective as possible.  

“I suspect that scaled and addressable audio content will be the norm in 2023 and beyond. Measurement will be a big factor in supporting addressable growth and both agencies and brands will be looking to their own solutions to prove effectiveness within their own econometric models as well as external partners.” 

The year for AR and the metaverse to “grow out of infancy”

Florian Hübner, CEO and Founder, Uberall: “Augmented reality (AR) is gradually growing out of its infancy and could soon become an indispensable part of a digital marketing strategy. More brands have started integrating AR features into their apps and online campaigns. Consumers are trying out AR and experiencing upgraded customer journeys. Whoever scores here in the coming year with the most creative and intuitive implementation can set new standards and secure a long-term competitive advantage.”  

“Social media and technologies such as AI or the metaverse offer creative marketers new playgrounds to come closer to their customers online and offline. In the next year and beyond, these environments will become an even stronger focus for the industry to become part of a long-term transformation of digital marketing strategies and take the hybrid customer experience to a new level.”

The year to ‘BeReal’ and ‘TikTok’

Megan Gall, VP, Strategy – Social GTM, Mediaocean: “It’s important to remember that consumer activity on social media platforms is extremely fluid. Many popular social media platforms from the early noughties now cease to exist and users moved towards newer platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat in the 2010s. This churn hasn’t slowed in recent years, with the rapid rise in popularity of Tik Tok and BeReal.

“Consumers increasingly want to see brands with purpose. Those who care about more than just their bottom line and which demonstrate a level of authenticity in their approach. In 2023 and beyond, we can expect to see marketers continue to utilise established social platforms in their campaigns but also increase focus on TikTok and BeReal, driving creative flex and the attention of the hard-to-reach Gen Z. 

“One thing to watch out for will be BeReal’s next step to maturity and what monetization model it lands on.”

What about retail media?

Retail media has already been identified as a golden opportunity for marketing in 2022, and this is only set to grow.

Here’s what five experts have to say about the outlook for 2023 in an arena that is forecast to see adspend grow by 22% across the globe next year.

“The opportunities are immense, regardless of which camp you serve today” Zarina Lam Standford, CMO, Bazaarvoice: “The line between marketing and commerce has blurred. Traditional views of marketing focus heavily on brand and demand generation. The forward-looking and transformational marketers have moved deep into revenue and customer-for-life as core to marketing. Commerce has always been about purchase and revenue contribution. Viewing this from the buyer’s perspective, it should be one seamless experience. This is particularly critical for brands and retailers to address given the exponential growth of digital, social, and omnichannel shopping and purchasing.

“The CMO/CCO/CRO/CDO roles of companies are merging into one. More businesses will follow organisations like Unilever who have done this. In association, the technology stack will continue to consolidate and become much more efficient. Platform approach will become increasingly appealing, leading to better outcomes and less work. The opportunities are immense, regardless of which camp you serve today.”

“Retailers putting their data into the game” – a trend that will grow in 2023 Steve Martin, VP Data Partnerships, EMEA & APAC, The Trade Desk: “Growing numbers of retailers are putting their data into the game. This is a trend that’s only going to get bigger in 2023. Retail data allows advertisers to connect the dots from the top of the funnel to that final in-store purchase, fundamentally changing the way brands can understand and attribute their marketing activity. And as these retail networks become more established, they’ll cause changes in the wider industry.

'Because of their data and comprehensive end-to-end experience, we’re going to see growing numbers of advertisers shifting spend towards them and the open internet. This will fundamentally disrupt the current state of play, and it’s likely we’ll see key players evolving their approaches to keep pace with the benefits the open internet offers: transparency, and objectivity.”

“Brands will continue to find ways to connect their customer data sets strategically” Hugh Stevens, Head of Strategic Growth, LiveRamp: “Data collaboration will continue developing into one of the backbones of modern digital advertising, and in 2023 brands will find different ways to connect their customer data sets strategically. The ability to unlock profiled new audiences, improve campaign planning and improve measurement will provide a great deal of value for media owners and the brands or agencies they work closely with.

“If we look at the retail customer journey, e-commerce data often exists separately from data generated by in-store purchases. But merchandisers have the technology available to them to analyse transactions across the full customer journey, enabling strong insights that power more efficient and personalised consumer interactions. Marketers who know their audiences thoroughly, through the use of sophisticated data collaboration strategies, will be one step ahead when the economy stabilises.”

The year to “make big bets” on social commerce

Jonathan Yantz, Managing Partner, M&C Saatchi Performance Marketing: “Influencers will use live commerce tools to drive another valuable revenue stream, and the more adventurous brands will sign up as partners. 2023 will be the year TikTok and many brands make big bets on live commerce.”

Inken-Kuhlmann-Rhinow, Marketing Director, EMEA at HubSpot: “It’s encouraging to see that brands continue to understand the value of investing in social media platforms to achieve their goals. In a constantly changing world and with new social media apps and ecommerce channels emerging left, right and centre there will always be a new way to shop. But as ever, customer experience remains key in attracting and sustaining your audience – especially when consumers are carefully monitoring their spending.

“If your customer is looking to spend more they are also expecting a five-star service while they do so. Social media can be a guiding light for your customers and the predicted spend here demonstrates the importance of this connection.”  

The year of tech consolidation

Scott Brinker, VP, Platform Ecosystem, HubSpot: “The world has become obsessed with software, but that means marketers are working with several different providers. 2023 will become the year of consolidation. Marketers and tech companies will look to address the problems brought on by the increasing use of various pieces of software. Cloud data warehouses will be key. Because of the convergence of data from businesses, having very large apps in their tech stacks – where the data is closed in their own little world – slows down operations. This will be a good change as businesses will have a more unified view and can turn around and feed new data back into this system, making for better decisions across the board.

“The year to reframe the conversation around cookies”

Philippa Snare, SVP, EMEA, The Trade Desk: “2023 is the year we need to reframe the conversation around cookies. It’s crucial we put our energies into solutions that aren’t just a replacement for cookies, but instead are an entirely new approach to identity.

"One that is inherently consent-based, meaning more customers will opt into relationships with brands and publishers and in turn, relevant, meaningful advertising that funds the open internet can flourish.” 

The year for a “robust data strategy”

James Sleaford, Chief Growth Officer UK, Incubeta: “The economic downturn hitting the nation in 2023 will naturally put pressure on organisational budget planning, and despite all the evidence and analysis which tells us not to do so, marketing will find itself at the forefront of those tightening conversations.

"The challenge will be balancing a sharp eye on efficiencies with the confidence to continue with long-term branding and privacy essential investments. Advertisers will need a robust data strategy to provide the insights and measurement which will guide them based on their own personal brand position and categories.”

The year for the industry to “double-down” on reducing digital carbon emissions

Luca Masiello, Advertiser Partnerships, Senior Manager, Xandr: “The internet accounts for around 4% of the world's carbon emissions. That's a higher percentage than the aviation industry. Education will be key in driving actionable blueprints for greener advertising moving forward and we can expect 2023 to be the year the industry doubles down in making strides to educate all players on how to understand and address digital carbon emissions.” 

Matt Nash, UK MD of Scibids: “Economic uncertainty, the increasing fragmentation of the media landscape and its drive toward greater privacy will see brands make efficiency of adspend a priority in 2023. There will be a tangible shift in focus toward the ad stack, as marketers look to maximise both performance and cost effectiveness.

"Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions will be key to achieving this, especially customisable algorithms. This is because they can utilise privacy-compliant user data to inform custom-media buying, significantly improving reach and productivity.

“In addition, it will play a big part in reducing carbon emissions. As more brands make sustainability a key business objective, AI’s ability to reallocate budgets in real time will spell the end to the ‘spray and pray’ tactics which have been so detrimental to the industry’s carbon footprint.”

The year for advertisers to give back to get ahead

Steven Filler, UK Country Manager, ShowHeroes Group: “Consumers are increasingly putting pressure on brands to take their civic and environmental responsibilities much more seriously. A digital ad campaign that creates one million impressions equals one metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. The same amount is roughly emitted by a return flight from London to Boston. In 2023 and beyond, we’ll see advertisers taking real steps to help reduce this impact by turning to carbon-neutral ad initiatives that allow them to measure their C02 footprint and offset it by investing in carbon capture schemes. 

“Another way that advertisers will give back is to make it clear in their campaigns that donations are made to charities every time a user clicks on an ad or plays a video, incentivising a more progressive value exchange with audiences and sending a strong message that creates positive associations for the brand.”

The year of conscious contextual advertising

Rob Blake, UK MD, Channel Factory: “Our research has shown that 60% of consumers want to buy from brands that support and promote causes that they are passionate about. This is the kind of figure that brands can no longer ignore and will drive greater awareness of the type of content, creators and conversations that they should be helping to monetise and support in 2023. Not only does brand alignment with the values of the creator and the audience make sense ethically, it is actually a way to ensure commercial longevity with an increasingly globalised society that is growing in consciousness about issues that matter to them – race, sex and gender, religion, sexuality, culture, environment and more.”

The year of balance: self-produced content versus UGC

Doug Straton, Chief Customer Evangelist, Bazaarvoice: "Branded content will always be useful and have its place, but to meet the demand and different types of content, brands will need to better balance high-quality, self-produced content with highly-curated and on-brand user generated content (UGC). This is where companies will need to ensure their processes, organisational wiring, and the technology underpinning their content creation and management are all connected. 

“They’ll need to build a purpose-built content supply chain that allows them to create, curate, manage and distribute content at scale regardless of channel – and to balance their content mix between brand-generated and UGC. Not only will this allow them to have the quantity required, it puts more emphasis on high-quality content that converts due to its authenticity."

The year we’ll “stay on top of data privacy” 

Scott Brinker, VP, Platform Ecosystem at HubSpot: “App data is often siloed and information about a customer is available via different touchpoints. When a customer asks to be removed, it becomes really hard to know where their data is. But the increasing move to unification makes it much more succinct. In theory, businesses will have an easier job at staying on top of data privacy in 2023 – not to mention the ease of having data in one safe place.

“Thanks to second-party data, account mapping with partners in an ecosystem will become more apparent. Businesses will be able to see their own customers, partners’ customers, their partners and all account-level data, and they can leverage that. This is really valuable, especially when growing your customer base is critical to cope with current economic worries.”

The year of attention-based measurement

Steven Filler, UK Country Manager, ShowHeroes Group: “Consumers are exposed to thousands of ads everyday and cutting through that noise is proving increasingly tough. This challenge will help to drive greatly-needed creative innovation in the video ad space in 2023. 

“The need to cut through the clutter will help to push the industry away from basic measurement metrics like CTR and viewability and towards smarter attention-based measurement technologies that can show how audiences actually engage with ads and for how long. Advertisers will look to continually optimise their campaigns based on these valuable insights, driving ever higher levels of consumer attention for ads.”

The year to focus on measurable results

Mateusz Jędrocha, Head of Upper Funnel Solutions, RTB House: “The economic slowdown means brands will be more cautious about how they spend their budgets in 2023, meaning marketers will likely focus more on measurable results. In 2023, campaigns will be aimed at delivering business value.

"Whilst some brands will rethink their marketing strategy to balance short-term sales with brand growth, it's been proven a number of times that brands who invest in their marketing during tough times are more resilient, and gain market share over competitors who cut down marketing budgets. Therefore, now is the time to be brave and make those changes if you can.” 

The year reachability overtakes addressability

Ned Jones, Head of Advertiser Customer Success, Permutive: “In 2023, reachability will begin to overtake addressability as the new key audience metric for brands. As if the various data privacy laws that will go into effect aren’t indication enough, consumers are already taking matters into their own hands: browsing in cookie-blocked environments or independently disabling cookies already renders 70% of consumers on the open web unreachable to advertisers today.

“2023 will begin to usher in a new way of buying and selling media; one that acknowledges the reach problem that exists today and works proactively to prioritise consumer privacy while driving revenue for advertisers and publishers.” 

The year of the Millennials and the Gen X-ers

Jonathan Yantz, Managing Partner, M&C Saatchi Performance Marketing: “People are increasingly concerned about spending. A recent NCS study found that 45% of respondents felt they could no longer afford their lifestyle and 66% were more mindful of how they spent their money. Those entry-level employees or otherwise struggling to make ends meet will likely save money soon. But older Millennials and Gen X workers, who have likely built up nest eggs, will have more opportunities to spend. Targeting these groups, especially if a recession hits, will likely be a simple way to boost media efficacy during a challenging time.”

The year of “no more focus on “first page results”

Krystal Taing, Director Pre-Sales Solutions, Uberall: “With the introduction of Google endless scroll, there is no more focus on ''first page results.” Business owners need to make their websites more captivating to convince consumers to click, by offering local inventory, online appointment booking or product images. 

“Given that, I expect 2023 to be a year where companies will implement new features to capture consumers’ attention on Google Search. Endless scroll has changed the way users interact with Google, so the opportunity for businesses lies in appearing in the right area during this new search experience.  

The year to prioritise creativity and interactivity

Amy China Wire, Head of Teads Studio UK, Teads: “With channels such as CTV set to skyrocket in 2023, ad competition here will be extremely fierce. Marketers looking to maximise performance on these platforms will need to prioritise creativity, as only engaging and interactive ads will stand out from the crowd.

"Brands that focus on the look and feel of their ads, whilst ensuring the creative resonates on the right channels, will see strong strategic growth. 

Paul Coggins, CEO, Adludio: “Creativity was always the ad industry's greatest weapon but it got lost somewhere along the way as the focus switched to data and tracking consumers on an ever greater scale. But with 2023 promising the prioritisation of privacy and further deprecation of third-party cookies, advertisers need to go back to the drawing board, literally. 

“To this end, we can expect that brands will look to AI for optimised campaign design. Some brands will take this in-house. Others will leverage third-party, AI-led platforms. Nevertheless, the end result will be more engaging and efficient ads, informed by data.” 


The year for marketing to take the lead in breaking down silos

Esther Flammer, CMO, Wrike: “Marketing will take the lead on breaking down silos. To demonstrate true leadership, marketing will need to partner more closely with sales to deliver maximum ROI, as well as with product teams to ensure their 2023 roadmap is built with customer retention and expansion in mind. And, as one of the biggest champions of work management solutions within their organisation, they hold the power to bring teams together to achieve shared goals.

"Marketing and IT have an opportunity to work side-by-side in 2023 to demonstrate how efficiency and productivity can be improved by bringing all departments together into one digital workspace.”

The year to merge product and marketing teams

Adam Greco, Product Evangelist, Amplitude: “The traditional model of marketing owning the top of the funnel and product owning the rest will continue to break as customers demand seamless experiences. As more experiences become digital, leading organisations will find merging the marketing and product team leads to increased customer satisfaction. Organisations that continue to treat marketing and product as distinct teams will lose ground to those that combine them. The combined team may take the name of “customer experience” or “customer growth.”

Deloitte forecasts: 2023 in hard numbers

What does the outlook for 2023 mean in dollars, sales and business?

Here’s the views from the team at Deloitte:

  • All major video subscription services in Europe will launch an ad-funded tier alongside ad-free packages by mid 2023.
  • Around two-thirds of consumers will use at least one advertising video on demand service monthly.

Paul Lee, Global Head of Technology, Media and Telecommunications Research, Deloitte: “We know that consumers are often willing to trade ads for discounted or free content, and AVOD offers a way to keep watching, while also saving.”

  • The virtual reality (VR) market will generate global revenues of almost $7bn.
  • Headsets will be 90% of next year’s VR revenue, and around 14 million units are expected to sell.
  • The number of actively in-use VR headsets worldwide will reach 22 million.

“The growth of VR will be dependent on the industry creating engaging content that cannot be found elsewhere, which might include an accessible and immersive ‘metaverse’ experience, at a competitive price,” Lee adds.

  • Global spending on goods and services via social media platforms will surpass $1trn.

Celine Fenech, Consumer Insights Lead at Deloitte: “For retailers, social media platforms will remain important virtual shop windows, acting as additional streams of revenue and drivers of traffic.”

  • Mergers and acquisitions in the gaming industry will grow by 25%.

Jonathan Sharp, gaming sector M&A lead, Deloitte: “Gaming M&A deal flow will be driven by acquisitions that help with talent and IP attraction, access new markets and gain exposure to the growing opportunities in the metaverse."