Search and social shunned in favour of new digital channels

60% of media agency leaders believe newer digital channels will be the key to growth in 2023.

57% of UK media agency professionals are confident brands can drive growth with the right strategy, revealed a new study from commerce media company, Criteo.

This boils down to one key recommendation: investment in emerging media. 88% agree their clients should be exploring new digital channels in 2023.

“We’re entering a time of the most rational media investing in fifteen years,” said Rob Smolarski, Global Commerce Lead at Omnicom Media Group. 

The Advertiser’s Guide to New and Emerging Channels in 2023 from Criteo surveyed 800 senior media agency professionals across Europe and the US, finding that a majority are confident growth is possible over the next year with investments in CTV and retail media.

Rethinking the media mix

While it’s still advised to increase budget for more established channels, agency professionals have a renewed focus on the benefits of emerging media, such as retail media, connected TV (CTV), audio and the metaverse. 

In fact, three-in-five (60%) believe newer digital channels like retail media will deliver greater ROI than search or social. Retail media offers brands presence directly at the point of sale, meaning return on ad spend (ROAS) is easy to prove, suggested Criteo.

Similarly, audio channels such as Spotify are now well regarded for ROAS by most agency professionals (83%), surpassing the numbers for both search (75%) and social media (71%).

CTV – an advertising channel that’s proliferating thanks to new tiers introduced by the likes of Netflix and Disney+ – topped the list for consumer experience (82%). Many streaming services, such as ITVX, are even looking at how they can strengthen their audiences with data from other channels.

Leaning into first-party data 

UK agencies estimate the cost of running campaigns across digital media channels will rise by over a quarter (26%) in 2023. CTV is expected to see the highest rise, prompting 51% of respondents to express concerns that smaller brands will continue to be priced out.

Rising costs highlight clear priorities when it comes to campaign measurement. Cost-per-order is now the top metric among agency professionals (26%), alongside overall ROAS (25%).

Incrementality will be a north star for agencies and their clients. For many agency professionals, such metrics are pushing them towards retail media (57%), which brings commerce data into the equation to close the measurement loop across other channels such as CTV, where transaction data is less abundant.

“What’s clear is that new and emerging media channels are leaning into first-party data and are beginning to work together to deliver relevant advertising across the buying journey,” said Brian Gleason, Chief Revenue Officer at Criteo. 

“Taking the kind of purchase and shopper behaviour insights supermarkets and other retailers can provide and harnessing it across the open internet sits at the core of commerce media. This approach combines the power of retail media and search to allow advertisers to create well-rounded plans that truly deliver against desired commerce outcomes.”

Smolarski concluded: “Agencies and clients will have to make some tough choices on the precise audiences, media channels, regional markets, and retail partners to invest in to support commerce.”