The tech stack massacre, programmatic posters and 18 other marketing predictions for 2023

PMW’s panel of experts delve into what will happen in this year’s primary channels, and the tech and data moves marketers need to make to stay ahead of the curve.

From data strategies, streamlining, getting to grips with attention and how to drive success in both established and emerging channels, performance marketing in 2023 is set to be a road of opportunity. But how can this be made as effective as possible after three turbulent years and continued uncertainty ahead?

After PMW’s initial round-up of predictions from our expert panel of what to expect from the performance marketing industry this year, we take a look at what marketing leaders think you should be doing to ensure success in the year ahead and beyond.

Seek that attention

The ‘new’ metric on the block, our experts predict that attention will become a “dominant advertising currency in 2023”.

Nick Reid, SVP and Managing Director, EMEA at DoubleVerify: “As economic uncertainty looms, we’ll see brands increasingly favour technologies which offer a stronger ROI. But, it’s not just macroeconomic circumstances causing this shift. With more advertising platforms opening up, advertisers not only need to fuel ROI but will need to measure performance more accurately than ever before.

“Attention metrics, from audibility to screen touches, will become a dominant advertising currency in 2023, driving positive media and business outcomes. With this powerful dataset, brands will be able to use attention metrics to predict the outcome of their ads, whether they’re looking to drive awareness or conversion. What’s more, they can use such data to optimise their campaigns. This is vital as our recent Four Fundamental Shifts in Advertising and Media report found that two thirds (66%) of consumers globally state they are more likely to pay attention if an ad captures their interest in the first five seconds.”

Dom Tillson, Marketing Director, Azerion: “In a recent creative survey we commissioned, 73% of respondents are after collaboration between creative teams and their media partners. Trusting a designer to inject creative flair isn't just 'to make things look pretty' but to actually drive real brand results. 2023 will be the year that creative teams become more integral at the start of the campaign planning process – especially where the much-hyped attention levels are concerned. High attention drives brand performance but it shouldn’t be the goal. Next year, creative teams will be focused more on the quality of attention relative to a brand's life stage and competitive set, and the performance output it delivers.”

Martech consolidation and adapting after disruption

This year, martech will come under scrutiny as organisations look to consolidate, according to our experts. And after an unprecedented three years, will 2023 be the year we look to adapt to ‘new normals’?

Stuart Russell, Chief Strategy Officer at Planning-inc: “Next year, an increasing number of marketers are likely to become disillusioned with some of the martech on offer today. From harnessing vast amounts of customer data, to streamlining reporting, and enabling personalisation, martech has contributed massively to the modernisation, and effectiveness, of customer marketing. Yet there’s no denying the martech space has become crowded – making it easier for chaff to hide amongst wheat.

“Marketers will start to scrutinise their tech stack and become ruthless. For the martech that makes the cut, reliance will grow and marketers will use them to truly optimise campaigns and increase brand loyalty in 2023. However, before the selection process begins, marketers must take into consideration that implementation of martech without the necessary people or processes will hinder their ability to generate desired results. Those that invest in the right technology, streamline their processes, and hire or upskill employees with the right skills and experience will survive the expected challenges of 2023, and thrive after it."

Harriet Durnford-Smith, CMO, Adverity: “The last three years have been about disruption, recovery, and resilience. Now it’s time for adaptation – and a core part of that is going to be improving data integration.

“Understanding that audiences now engage with brands anywhere, at any time, forward-thinking players are embracing the Flywheel model, which focuses on delivering marketing that makes customers happy and turns them into brand champions who help drive long-term business success. This change is a big shift that hugely raises the stakes for experience quality. To effectively attract, engage and delight individuals, marketers must ensure every single interaction is informed by accurate, up-to-date insight about unique habits and tastes.”

Levi Matkins, CEO, Lifestreet: "2023 will be a year of adjustment. In 2022, we saw over-hyped predictions about the imminent arrival of the metaverse and the continued growth of mobile gaming, considered to be a precursor to this new virtual world. Instead, there was a slowdown to mobile growth after the boom years when people turned to their mobile devices for entertainment, connection and support at the start of the pandemic. “In mobile gaming, developers will tap into popular brand intellectual property to affordably acquire large, existing audiences that are already engaged with a brand. As LTV curves become more volatile in response to the economy, there will also be calls for enhanced transparency and more scrutiny on how ad dollars are being spent.

“From a business perspective, the focus in user acquisition will turn from growth to profitability as developers shift from investing in the future to investing in proven channels and strategies".

Scott Brinker, VP Platform EcoSystem, HubSpot: “Ecosystems will help with dramatic change across big tech. Marketing started out as a fragmented universe, got consolidated, then fragmented again. There is so much change for marketers to think about because of this. Then there’s the rise in retail media networks – another, often fragmented media method. However, as marketers look to bring all their systems into one place, where businesses form these strong partnerships, this means an ecosystem will help marketers adapt and be agile because often, someone within the partnership quickly has a solution to a problem that arises.”

Spend – but optimise

Much has been made this year of concerns for cuts to marketing budgets – and the damage this does. But beyond the calls to keep budgets in place, 2023 will be the year of scrutiny and optimisation, say our experts.

Anthony Lamy, VP EMEA Client Partnerships, VidMob: “Advertisers are searching for ways to optimise their budgets and create the biggest impact while balancing the responsibility of ROI and overall spend. Increasingly they are looking to data as they seek more and deeper insights to help monitor campaign performance and clearly identify what creative is working successfully and can be uplifted, or what isn’t and must be rethought.

“I predict that investments in martech will reflect marketers’ growing demand for data, improved results tracking and reporting. Having this information will assist creativity, which in itself will stretch budgets by giving existing assets a new lease of life and allow them to be repurposed. Current budgetary pressures means that going forward, prioritising campaign creative, and the data that supports intelligent creative, won’t be just another choice for advertisers, they will have no other choice.”

Karl Van den Bergh, CMO, Gigamon: “In hard times, enterprises often turn to their existing customers so it’s likely we’ll see an increase in install base or customer marketing, with teams trying to expand, upsell or cross sell. However, it’s also crucial that organisations turn to their community – be that resellers, partners, or industry influencers – to help amplify the message they’re trying to communicate. This community will be a key part of growing customer confidence in a business landscape where trust is at an all time low.

“It can be very tempting to cut marketing in general in tough times and out of that, brand awareness seems like the easiest area to reduce. But I would encourage marketing leaders and organisations to be bolder in their approach to marketing spend and the marketing mix. Establish your brand profile, deliver messages important to customers and prospects in a tough environment, and become a trusted advisor offering authentic advice.”

Nigel Clarkson, Chief Revenue Officer, Hivestack: "In what is likely to be a year of recession and high inflation globally, there is likely to be a tightening of marketing budgets in the next year. 2022 saw the out of home (OOH) industry unite behind a real drive towards programmatic and platform technologies to improve audience targeting, improve relevant times and locations to advertise, and to improve measurement and accountability in the channel.

"These advances will bolster the whole OOH channel in a recession as brands want to maintain OOH for its obvious strengths – targeting at scale, broadcast nature, cost effective coverage, whilst utilising real time data to ensure every OOH spot works harder than ever before. Brands still need to advertise in downturns, but they will want to be more cautious and targeted in their comms, without reducing the general awareness that all brands need, which works perfectly for OOH and should protect and grow the channel through a potentially turbulent 2023."

Daniel Bailey, VP, EMEA, Amplitude: “In 2023, the ‘try before you buy’ mentality will become the norm. Today’s consumers do not want to rely on reviews or other second hand experiences, they want to test products through free trials or freemium offerings before ever clicking purchase. This means that there is nowhere for a bad product to hide.

“Even the best marketing campaigns will not cover up a poor customer experience. To move free users to paying customers, brands will invest more in product-led growth than ever before. Our own data supports that. More than one-third of business leaders cited product-led growth as a top priority, and I expect to see even more brands adopt this strategy in the New Year.”

Christen Evans, Director of Affiliate Marketing at LaRue PR, and President of the Performance Marketing Association: “As recession or economic downturn fears loom, brands will be looking to make efficient use of their marketing spend and leaning into ROAS as a key driver. The affiliate channel always sees a boom during these economic moments. Agencies, networks and thought leaders have an opportunity to lean into best practices and true affiliate education to ensure longevity for these brands.

“Cookieless tracking continues to dominate with more and more OS developments, reinvigorating not only more influencer-focused partnerships but opening up increased opportunities for truly omnichannel experiences. With QR codes, branded exclusives and more, brands will be able to build out unique moments of engagement to entice and inspire new customers.”

“Efficiency” – the new face of social media?

The role of social in performance marketing is clear, but what further moves can marketers make to navigate top results on this platform – particularly if – as one of our experts points out in relation to financial firms – you’re perhaps a newer entrant to the channel?

Krystal Taing, Director Pre-Sales Solutions, Uberall: “The opportunity that social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels present to businesses is quite intriguing. As a consumer, I love the idea of being able to discover experiences in a world where search results can seemingly be manipulated by whichever business is best at SEO. As marketers, leveraging social media in a way that authentically represents your brand can enable you to engage new consumers that may have otherwise ignored you in a standard search.”

Rob Blake, UK MD, Channel Factory: “Media wastage and efficiency will become the name of the game in 2023, particularly in this current financial climate. I would expect to see more brands playing it safe and outsourcing their brand suitability and contextual advertising to third parties to ensure each ad placement leads to the greatest possible return.”

“YouTube in 2023 will be all about efficiently reaching the right audience with your messages. Investing in reaching the right audiences and minimising waste will be crucial for advertisers on YouTube next year. Partnering with a tech platform that can help them connect with these audiences on the right content will help drive ROI for advertisers.”

Rosie Guest, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Apex Group: “Financial services firms are finally waking up to applications of technology in the marketing function. We are seeing the martech capabilities of these businesses begin to expand outside of the traditional CRM and MAP tools into leveraging more of the automation and tech opportunities out there. A turn toward modernisation of the function is emerging, and the leaders in the traditional space are looking to evolve their teams away from the tendency to have a heavy brand focus, to implementing a more innovative, data-driven and enhanced operational approach to be able to demonstrate ROI.

“Financial services marketing teams are very well acquainted with aligning marketing efforts with regulation, so in many ways were some of the first to become compliant. Now it’s about bridging the gap between adhering to the regulation while still being able to effectively communicate with clients and the market. That’s where advances in personalisation are driving subscriptions up – and the number of ‘unsubscribes’ down – while at the same time leaders move away from relying on email marketing and dive into the benefits of the social media arena to build brand relationships.”

Terrestrial to digital: audio, video and CTV developments

It’s all to play for in the markets of digital and audio streaming, but our experts offer the top ways to optimise your activities.

Xavier Klein, Marketing Services Director UK, Making Science: “With budgets expected to expand on connected TV (CTV) in 2023, there will be a more incremental balance between linear TV and CTV. Prudent marketers will continue to supplement CTV budgets with linear TV investments, as both coexist in the market due to generational viewing differences. The traditional linear TV model is typically preferred by an older demographic and is well suited to brand awareness exercises. In contrast, CTV, while appealing to a range of demographics, can also offer marketers the potential to target niche segments of their audience. This evolving symbiotic relationship between the two channels means marketers must utilise a marketing tech stack that can sufficiently integrate both planning and reporting from each TV type to optimise the budget split.”

Stefanie Briec, Director, Head of Demand Sales UK & International, AudienceXpress, FreeWheel: “In 2023, CTV will continue to secure a prime spot in marketers’ media plans as they focus on maximising reach. A recent AudienceXpress marketer survey found that 44% of respondents consider CTV the best Advanced TV channel for reach extension. With the marketers surveyed also ranking customer acquisition as the top priority for their wider marketing strategies, CTV appears to be a valuable channel that many more brands will leverage to connect with new, highly-engaged audiences and hit their core objectives.”

Tilly Sheppard, Product Manager, Xaxis: “2023 will be about closing the gap between consumer behaviour and ad spend. The growth in year-on-year listenership across connected audio and podcasts isn’t in question, however advertisers’ spend continues to lag behind. Brands can look for support in three ways to ensure they reach the right listeners; firstly, through working with specialist partners to adopt actionable audio ad campaigns. Secondly, by increasing the targeting capabilities for digital audio campaigns through specialist podcast technology which now allows for keyword targeting. Thirdly, by leaning on research to prove the incremental value of digital audio reach.”

Steven Filler, UK Country Manager, ShowHeroes Group: “Revenue is continuing to move out of the publisher ecosystem and into the big platforms. This is still a key industry trend that needs to be rebalanced and video will be a powerful catalyst for making this happen. Advertisers are clambering for quality video inventory and the platforms dominated by user-generated content simply aren’t able to meet that demand. “In 2023, publishers, with their solid reputations for quality and trusted editorial output, will play a key role in plugging the gap. However, editorial teams often lack the resources to significantly ramp up video output. Because of this, we’ll see an uptick of publishers partnering with online video platforms to access curated video libraries to complement their own video production. Publishers will need to ensure their video partners combine both content studio production and monetisation technologies to make the partnership worthwhile.”