Seven partner predictions for 2023
Seven of WFA’s strategic partners reflect on what will define marketing for the year ahead.
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Starting top-left, clockwise: Stuart Pocock (Observatory International), Nick Waters (Ebiquity), Paul Kemp-Robertson (Contagious), Ozlem Senturk (Kantar), Ian Malcolm (Lumency), Jamie Barnard (Compliant), Robin Seasock (Decideware).
Rough weather ahead
By Stuart Pocock, Managing Partner and Founder, The Observatory International
In 2023 we expect ongoing economic and socio-political forces to continue to loom large across the industry. Cost pressures from multiple directions – inflation, ongoing supply chain issues and significantly increased third-party costs will continue with the combined pressures resulting in reduced marketing budgets.
The relentless press from businesses to get more for less from their agencies may well have reached its zenith given that agencies too are suffering from rising costs – especially in relation to the well-documented issues of acquiring and retaining their talent. As a result, 2023 has all the makings of an industry-wide perfect storm.
To combat this there will need to be a significant degree of focus on efficiency and effectiveness. The trend towards consolidation of agency rosters will inevitably continue with the result that more businesses will be looking to work with fewer, more focussed agencies.
On the positive side this clinical focus on efficiency should have positive outcomes for sustainability – less wastage, more precision. But don’t think for one moment this will be painless. Especially for marketers and their agency counterparts who are highly likely to never have experienced a recession before.
The three trends that will determine investment
By Nick Waters, Group CEO, Ebiquity
As we look ahead to 2023, there are three trends in digital that I believe will dominate advertising investment by the world’s biggest brands in the coming year. First, Advanced TV will accelerate, driving growth overall. In the US, streaming has overtaken cable, while in the UK SVOD/BVOD account for a quarter of viewing, a third among young adults. Advanced TV revenue will enjoy the highest growth of all sectors in 2023, while linear ad spend falls.
Second, brands are seizing the opportunities presented on retailers' own websites. eRetail advertising grew five times as fast as social in 2022, and this emerging sector has been described as the “third wave in digital advertising” after search and social.
And third, social media will take a decreasing share of spend, as structural changes in the market mean it is both more expensive but also delivers lower conversion rates and ROI.
Brands will need to show generosity and be fun
By Paul Kemp-Robertson, Co-founder & Chief Brand Officer, Contagious
People hate the mega-rich elite more than they dislike or mistrust corporations, and by extension, brands. This is a subject Contagious explored in an article by Weber Shandwick’s Tom Beckman. In the Great Recession of 2008/09, capitalism became the villain, causing the marketing agenda to pivot to Purpose. But now, as the world teeters on the brink of the next big recession, the villains are the planet’s seemingly untouchable ultra-high net worth individuals. You know, the ones we’ve enjoyed sneering at in Succession, Glass Onion, and The White Lotus.
Our prediction (or advice, really) is that marketers need to shift their focus to:
Munificence / Times are tough for people. This presents an opportunity for brands to be proactive and act generously. Think price freezes, enhanced loyalty schemes, experiential surprises and even microloans.
Mischief / While marketers can’t ignore the challenges facing a troubled world, it’s time to ditch the existential guilt and have some fun; just like advertising used to. As last year’s Kantar survey showed, humour is the most powerful creative enhancer of receptivity. Time for some leftfield ideas and right-brain creativity to shine.
Green hushing on the rise and pressing need for measurement standards
By Ozlem Senturk, Senior Partner, Kantar's global sustainable transformation practice
People are sceptical about business taking responsibility on solving climate change. Kantar data shows only 16% of people say they have never seen/heard false or misleading green claims by companies. The regulatory context has shifted dramatically over the last two years in a bid to reduce greenwashing. Whilst this is a necessary shift, it has created a trend of “green hushing” which is a huge threat to progress on sustainable transformation.
In 2023 brands will increasingly invest in measurement. An objective and simple-to-understand measure of their carbon impact will be critical to making credible sustainability claims and building trust. Another necessary step will be to link the planet and people impact with brand’s reputation and business results. Organisations will need to embed these KPIs into company performance appraisal and bonus schemes to steer everyone in the right direction.
Tanglible demonstrations of brand values have become a necessity
By Ian Malcolm, President and CEO, Lumency
Virtue signaling, green washing, rainbow washing, performative non-action – consumers aren’t buying it anymore.
Every enterprise needs clearly articulated positions around ESG and DEIB. What matters to consumers is seeing that organizations demonstrate those positions, not just talk about them.
Brands that message a commitment to environmental sustainability, for example, had better be providing proof points. Energy use, waste, production processes, water consumption, emissions, packaging, product life cycle need to be considerations in how the business operates within its commitments and aligned with its values.
Our remit as marketers is to tell the stories around the demonstration points for our commitments around ESG and DEIB. Stories around our manufacturing, distribution, and governance processes, but more importantly around the impact our people are making.
It’s also around the causes and communities we support and the sponsorships that we invest in. Stories about how our brands are adding value and making a difference in those spaces.
The year of reckoning for digital marketing
By Jamie Barnard, CEO, Compliant
In 2023, marketers will re-evaluate their media choices once again, prioritising channels and publishers based on four market forces: privacy, safety, sustainability and diversity. As new tools emerge, the measurement of media inventory will expand beyond performance to include social, regulatory and environmental criteria.
Progressive advertisers will take advantage of this, auditing their media supply chain and tailoring publisher lists to:
- reduce exposure to privacy risk, prioritising safer media inventory over publishers that play fast and loose with people’s data;
- reduce ad fraud and bot traffic to save precious media dollars;
- lessen the environmental impact by avoiding wasted ad impressions; and
- experiment with media placement to show up to a broader, more representative audience.
Over time, this will create a flywheel effect. Under increasing scrutiny, savvy publishers and retailers will realize the increasing value of responsible inventory, taking on the titans of tech with high volumes of high quality data.
I swear AI didn’t create this prediction
By Robin Seasock, CEO, Decideware
You can’t look ten feet in front of you without seeing another discussion on artificial intelligence, especially when it comes to creative work in our industry.
I believe that 2023 is going to be a “great awakening” of sorts when it comes to AI supplementing our marketing mixes. I hear the rumble from creatives across the globe resisting, even fearing that things like ChatGPT are going to replace their function; I however disagree.
2023 will show that while AI is a ‘smart’ tool to be used by creatives, it cannot replace the wisdom of the humans putting it to work – that wisdom brings a reimagining of how we work with technology from a creative perspective for decades to come.