As 2022 draws to its inevitable close, senior marketers and business leaders have once again been sharing their thoughts about the year ahead.

And it is little surprise that the improved optimisation of consumer data is the number one marketing trend, given the upcoming loss of third-party cookies from Google.

Other notable marketing movements included the continued rise of artificial intelligence, Tiktok’s short-form video saturation, companies dealing with budgets amid a global recession and ‘workday consumers’.

Data is a precious thing

SirTim Berners-Lee knew a bit about the significance of digital data, once predicting it will last longer than the systems themselves, and it continues to represent the most important commodity in modern marketing and advertising.

Bango’s CMO, Anil Malhotra, certainly agrees. “The imminent death of cookies, coupled with the already witnessed end of Apple’s IDFA last year, is changing the world of mobile marketing forever. This also comes while governments and consumers are becoming increasingly wary of how their data is used.

“The resulting situation is so cataclysmic, that many have dubbed it ‘The App-ocalypse’, with app marketers lacking the data to provide relevant promotions or boost user acquisition. In fact, research suggests almost two thirds (59%) of app marketers now struggle to expand their user base.”

This, in turn, will result in more brands focusing on their owned data rather than third-party journeys. Global chief strategy officer at TMS, Gareth Kane, says: “Across the last year, we have seen an acceleration of clients investing in owned and earned media to drive sales and build their brands.

“As the cost and fragmentation of media continues to rise, we will see brands a lot more focused on their holistic customer experience to sustain engagement. It’s more important than ever to ensure that not only are brands omnipresent across all touchpoints but, more specifically, ensuring consumers feel connected and ultimately invested in the brands product and what they stand for.”

In this age of third-party data depreciation, Rachel Thornton, CMO at MessageBird, forecasts that, “brands will shift marketing efforts that use tracking data to efforts that put the customer front and centre of dialogue with the brand across any channel. This form of conversational marketing will help bridge the gap between the loss of third-party data and the personalised experiences customers expect”.

This data trend affects both B2B and B2C marketing. Steve Martin, VP data partnerships, EMEA & APAC at The Trade Desk puts particular focus in retail. “Growing numbers of retailers are putting their data into the game. This is a trend we’ve seen building over the past few years, and it’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.”

Guy Hanson, VP of customer engagement at Validity, meanwhile, emphasises the benefit of this supposed data regression. “In 2023, we can expect brands to further adopt technology-led marketing strategies to better connect with their target market. An example of this can be seen with the email channel, where global revenue is forecast to double by 2027. This will also create broader marketing challenges because of greater focus on data privacy, and the imminent deprecation of third-party cookies, which will mean a redirection of ad spend. Email stands to benefit, and while this is good news in its own right, it also provides a solid business case for investment in technology that will maximise the effectiveness of this channel.”

Enjoy our latest Marketing Maestro interview with David Kells, Director of Strategic Partnerships at B2B business publisher Raconteur

The ultimate cost of living

It is tough to ignore the cumulative effects of the war in Ukraine, global energy prices and the aftershocks of Covid-19, and marketers – like most sectors – are having to cut their collective cloths appropriately.

Annika Bizon, marketing and omnichannel director at Samsung expands: “Looking ahead, we cannot think about marketing trends for next year without considering the wider economic backdrop. Campaigns in the coming year will have to work harder than ever before, with clear metrics underpinning a strategy for delivering a return on investment. Critical to delivering on these will be making genuine connections with customers so that they get a more authentic understanding of what a business stands for. This year alone, we’ve seen a stronger sense of community forming around, and inspired by, brands, which in turn is altering their behaviour and deepening interactions with their customers.”

Claire Foster, co-author of The Williams Nicolson Trend Index, points to a bigger paradigm shift. “The pandemic put pressure on supply chains; logistic disruptions, and soaring energy prices have contributed to shortages and spiralling transport costs. Against this backdrop, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated the situation adding additional pressure to the already unpredictable global trade landscape.

“Globalisation, as we know it, is over. The frequency and severity of climate events persist and demand a survival strategy focused on autonomy, resiliency, and risk management.

“Consider how your business can sustain success amidst a turbulent economy. Social impact encompasses long-term solutions and the overall longevity of your business. It’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel, but a reassessment in production is needed as inflation and supply chain disruptions are expected to continue to rise.”

AI

AI is the smartest tech

Artificial intelligence – together with machine learning – has always put marketers in a spin. The notion of computers being able to fulfil the energy- and time-consuming human tasks with 100% accuracy and in a nanosecond of the time sounds very good indeed. The idea that these computers will improve and evolve that process with minimal human impact is a little more scary.

That said, as more and more brands adopt and adapt the technology, 2023 could be a breakthrough year.

Managing partner at Contagious, Alex Jenkins, sees the creative nature of AI above all else. “The year will see any number of opinions and chin-stroking thought leadership teams on the possibilities of AI creativity, with people touting the near-magical capabilities of text, image and video generators. The industry will debate whether it’s an existential threat or a boondoggle distracting from the real business of selling stuff. (FWIW – little bit of column A, little bit of column B).

“We have previously only interacted with AI with large corporations such as Google and Apple due to the significant investment required in machine learning and R&D. Now, AI and smart features are becoming more widely available outside of tech giants, with many more providers and smaller businesses on the market,” comments Nadia Alramli, VP of engineering and Scott Brinker, VP, platform ecosystem at HubSpot.

“AI vs connectedness does not have to be a tension. For example, bot refunds can be even more straightforward than dealing with a person. AI can be an important tool for all, starting in the most basic ways.

“Recently, there have been some interesting advances in content generation technology, such as GBT 3, that are not only easily accessible but also reasonably priced, and the results are of very high quality. However, this raises an intriguing ethical question about Intellectual Property and who owns the right to AI-generated art, as well as whether it is art at all. Consider this: who owns a novel written by an AI machine? Especially since AI-generated content is nearly identical to human-generated content. We have no idea how much of the content we consume on a daily basis is generated by AI.

“Businesses should ask questions as with any new technology, but this is one to be embraced. However, it is critical to understand that AI should serve as a supplement to humans rather than as a replacement. And it should be checked by a human.”

Tiktok won’t stop

Social media rising star Tiktok has pretty much cornered the short-form video marketing and will continue its dominance into 2023 according to Pace, Mediaocean and Studiospace; MD Anita Pace, VP Megan Gall and CEO Pete Sayburn respectively.

“People want to be entertained before being sold to so ‘advertainment’, via short form video, is only going to grow in popularity in 2023, especially as Meta is pushing this form of content across their social platforms. We saw reach and engagement on a number of our client accounts rise on reels and decline on grid posts towards the end of 2022. Similarly, UGC, in the form of Tiktok videos and Instagram Reels, will also continue to rise in popularity as the trend in authentic and organic posts can really help brands reach new audiences and build trust.”

“In 2023 and beyond, we can expect to see marketers continue to utilise the 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 monetisation model it lands on.”

“We’re going to see Tiktok explode in the corporate world in the next 12 months as more brands recognise this platform isn’t just about cute cats and bad dancing!  For example, we’re seeing fitness content moving into mainstream wellbeing and insurance and cooking being heavily targeted by retail brands.”

And finally from a marketing heavyweight…

Been there, done that software and hardware giants Microsoft probably deserve the last 2023 trend, and it is the rise of the ‘Workday Consumer’.

Regional vice president and general manager at Microsoft Advertising, Mark Richardson, does the explaining. “In 2022, the world saw the emergence of the Workday Consumer – an individual who unapologetically switches between employee, personal, and consumer modes throughout the day. This new mindset is set to cement a permanent behavioural change as we move into 2023 and more and more individuals continue with their hybrid way of work and life.

“Businesses will continue to see consumers raising their expectations for their online engagement with brands. Rather than wanting purely transactional experiences, we also expect consumers will seek conversational encounters with the brands they interact with – but alongside this demand greater data transparency and control. To cater to this new wave of personas born out of the Workday Consumer mindset, empowered marketeers must understand the motives behind their target audiences’ purchasing patterns. Ultimately, those who are prepared to give back control to their customers and reward their engagement and loyalty will no doubt set themselves up for a more efficient return on their marketing budget amid the current economic slowdown.”

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