2022 was a turbulent year. The aftermath of the pandemic, the invasion of Ukraine, cryptocurrency scandals, inflation, recession, and other economic and political factors has left many with a bleak outlook for 2023.
2022 was also disruptive in terms of new technologies and 2023 is going to follow suit. In addition, there have been major changes in social media and, as usual, changes to SEO practice.
Marketing during a recession is not necessarily easy, but it is possible. By keeping ahead of emerging trends and incorporating them into the coming year’s strategy, organisations can not only weather the storm but come out on top.
Increased Focus on First Party Data
In response to hacks, data leaks and other security concerns, a range of new data privacy regulations came into place in recent years. In addition, third party cookies are now being phased out.
Third party cookies allow marketers to track user behaviour on the platform in question and use that data to target them with highly personalised ads on other platforms. They were blocked on Firefox and Safari in 2019; as for Chrome, Google wanted to give marketers more time to prepare and therefore, they will be phased out during 2023.
As businesses transition away from third-party cookies, the long-term implications for the online advertising industry and businesses that rely on tracking cookie data remain to be seen. In the short-term, however, these changes will have a significant impact. To minimise disruption, it is important for businesses to begin exploring alternative methods of collecting user data, such as first-party cookies.
Google has also been developing the ‘Privacy Sandbox’ to provide marketers with an alternative. It is a collection of tools that allow marketers to target consumers while maintaining privacy standards. One of the tools in development is the Topics API, which can be used for broad targeting with users being categorised based on high-level topics such as travel, fitness, and so on.
“71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions” (McKinsey, 2021).
Whilst the reduced options for tracking user behaviour may be considered a big win for consumers due to their privacy concerns, they still expect personalisation. They do not want their time and attention wasted on irrelevant ads, and this is more than just a preference. It is an expectation. The above figure illustrates how important it is that businesses adapt.
An added benefit of this change is the relationships it enables businesses to build relationships with the consumer, ultimately helping to maximise Customer Lifetime Value.
Web 3.0 is Here
‘Web 3.0’ refers to the new landscape of the internet that has been emerging for some time. Web 3.0 is based on decentralisation, which will give rise to an internet that provides greater autonomy and control than ever before. Technologies such as blockchain, the Internet of Things, and Virtual Reality are all impacting the everyday use of the internet, as well as marketing practises.
Another development to watch out for is the Decentralised Autonomous Organisation, or DAO. A DAO is an organisation that has no central authority, instead relying on token holders to vote on proposals that govern the organisation’s activities. This allows for more democratic decision-making processes, as well as greater transparency and accountability.
One drawback of this model is the reduced speed of decision making when compared to a traditional organisation that needs only the votes from the CEO and board members. There are also security concerns due to some of the earliest DAOs losing a large proportion of their funds due to breaches.
DAOs may provide numerous benefits for marketers, such as easier insights into the Voice of the Customer as well as new advertising and community building opportunities.
Overall, we must stay alert to the implications of DAOs, as many established processes may be on their way out.
The Rise of AI
It’s safe to say that AI is now so prevalent that organisations not using it in some form or another are falling behind. The consumer uses AI on a daily basis, whether they are aware of it or not. In other words, applications powered by intelligent algorithms are now the norm, and this norm is not going to disappear. More advancements in AI are always around the corner, which will further solidify their place in our world.
Everyday uses of AI include business intelligence functions such as predictive analytics, allowing businesses to determine what goods and services will be in demand and when, as well as marketing automation fuelled by AI.
The use of AI content generators, as well as art/graphic generators, are helping content marketers to save a great deal of time. These tools are not perfect and require the oversight of a human, but they are saving costs. AI-generated visual content is now competing with stock images, as Adobe has now started to accept AI-generated images to be sold on Adobe Stock.
Other applications of Artificial Intelligence include Google’s capacity to suggest and produce ads and make decisions on targeting and bidding strategies. Its algorithms can also optimise page titles in search results; however, this application of AI is not to be trusted so far. For compliance purposes, some organisations are required to use specific wording and if Google changes it, fines may follow.
These use cases are a significant development from the applications of AI that were around a few short years ago; who knows what will be on the market a year from now. In fact, perhaps by then Google will be seriously under threat from chatbots such as ChatGPT, the new release from OpenAI.
ChatGPT’s Natural Language Generation capabilities lets users get the answers to all sorts of queries and is a far more convenient solution than trawling through the websites found in search engine results. If this trend gains traction, the implications for digital marketing will be vast, affecting everything from PPC to SEO and beyond.
The Twitter Exodus
As the new owner of Twitter, Elon Musk has implemented significant changes to the social media platform. However, these changes have not been well-received by some advertisers, leading them to reduce or discontinue their spending on the platform. In fact, some of the platform’s biggest advertisers have frozen ad spending since Musk took over. Among numerous concerns are those relating to brand safety.
Not everyone believes that Musk’s activities are as chaotic as they appear, and that all the current changes are part of his master plan to create an “everything app” similar to WeChat in China. Regardless, the changes have caused some advertisers to leave Twitter in favour of other platforms with more favourable terms and conditions. Many of them do not rely on Twitter for advertising and have plenty more option in that regard.
While the future of the platform is uncertain, it is clear that advertisers will continue to be cautious about their involvement on Twitter until a more stable environment has been established.
The Continuing Importance of Content
No matter what technological developments are catching on, content is still the thread that ties it all together. The popularity of short-form content continues to rise, with TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube shorts being prime examples. Of course, they do not negate the need for long-form content but failing to make use of these formats means missing out on a great deal of exposure.
Businesses should also consider building audio into their content strategy, as this format is also growing.
Finally, always ensure that content is informative, entertaining, or both; after all, that’s what makes it convert. When it comes to SEO, keep in mind the SEO Triangle, expressed by the acronym E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. In Google’s words, “High E-A-T news articles should be produced with journalistic professionalism –they should contain factually accurate content presented in a way that helps users achieve a better understanding of events. High E-A-T news sources typically have published established editorial policies and robust review processes.”
Ethics and Gen Z
Targeting Gen Z requires its own strategy, but one important factor to keep in mind is ethics. This generation has grown up without the prejudice of previous generations and cares about equality, as well as sustainability and other areas under the corporate social responsibility umbrella. Addressing these issues wins the hearts and minds of this demographic, but it is important that organisations’ efforts in this regard are genuine and that practices such as green washing and rainbow washing (i.e., supporting these issues to simply check off a list – or as PR stunts) should be left behind.
We cannot know what’s in store economically or politically this year, but we can be sure that the coming year will be disruptive due to advances in technology, and organisations will need to adapt in many ways.
To stay ahead, organisations must start looking at ways to collect and use first party data and provide content in formats that are in-demand. They must also learn continuously about the technologies of Web 3.0, from chatbots to the blockchain, and find ways to leverage them.
To discover how we’re helping businesses worldwide develop leading marketing strategies, contact us – we would be delighted to assist.