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This time, it’s personal: How social advertising will evolve in 2023
February 21, 2023
2022 was the year of the “unexpected” for marketers. New platforms began to rapidly proliferate, and economic forces produced more than a few surprises. Apple also put the squeeze on mobile identifiers, upending the mobile attribution system that previously underpinned millions of dollars of ad spend. When you add all of this to the ongoing impact of inflation on consumer sentiment, there’s no doubt advertisers had their resilience and adaptability tested last year – and that will continue in 2023.
As we head into a fresh new year, all of this disruption to established practices gives marketers the perfect opportunity to strike out for new shores when it comes to strategy. Results from a recent Mediaocean survey of over 600 advertising professionals shows marketers are planning to increase their investment in social advertising in 2023, and we are excited to see the creativity and change this has the potential to bring.
Social video continues to reign
In our research, we asked the marketing community to choose the top three consumer trends they’re watching for 2023. “TikTok/social video” came out on top with 63% of people identifying it as a key area of interest, with “CTV/streaming” (54%) and “e-commerce everywhere” (47%) following closely behind.
Clearly TikTok surged in popularity last year, thanks to its combination of dynamism, diversity, and video. Meanwhile, BeReal’s rapid uptick showed that there’s always room for disruption in the social media game, with marketers needing to stay alert to disruptors.
The entrance and rise of new platforms is expected to continue in 2023. The speed at which social media platforms can fall out of favor and be usurped by ‘new kids on the block’ sends a clear message: don’t expect today’s dominant channel to reign alone forever.
But, at the same time, just because a platform isn’t new and shiny doesn’t mean it’s not important. When it comes to scaling to billions of people, there are only a few options in play and you ignore them at your peril. Moreover, all the major platforms now offer TikTok style video formats with short-form vertical video.
In addition to driving the need for dynamism in social advertising, we can expect social video to become a central plank in ecommerce offerings in the year ahead. The connection of shopping with social video will also prompt a change in the way marketers plan, produce and distribute creative content. Marketers are becoming excited about the fresh opportunities offered by the newer social media channels, and demand for better creative and production tools that enable dynamic output on trending platforms will increase.
Attribution fluctuation expectations
Apple’s introduction of a new App Tracking Transparency (ATT) policy in mid-2021, and subsequent scrapping of mobile identifiers, has thrown an established revenue attribution model into flux. In addition, Facebook and Instagram have announced new restrictions around advertisers’ access to the data of teenagers, with these changes marking a new landscape for marketers to navigate.
While there will be improved ad opportunities this year in emerging channels (social video, video games and ad-based streaming to name a few), the need for accurate omnichannel measurement will increase the demand for new innovations in attribution tooling.
Industry research has also highlighted the potential for upper-funnel advertising to outperform investment expectations, with ‘brand advertising’ listed as a critical area for investments to be maintained. The Wall Street Journal has, for example, reported on Airbnb’s move away from search as an acquisition vehicle to focus on upper-funnel campaigns and PR efforts to build its brand. We saw this in our research too with brand advertising ranking in the top three of critical media investments given current macroeconomic uncertainty. Still, for upper-funnel advertising to find sustained success, the problem of measurement and attribution must be solved.
New creative methodologies are required
Increasingly over the last few years, we have seen consumer priorities begin to coalesce around three key qualities: personalization, brand authenticity, and dynamism. Indeed, a massive 70% of consumers now expect brands to know their preferences. These are not necessarily new concepts to most advertisers, but the fact is that some creative processes remain mired in the moribund marshes of the past, struggling to produce all-purpose content to their entire audience. The approach to versioning and sign-off of creative, which served marketers well in a slower-paced world, must now be overhauled to enable rapid output and ongoing optimization of content.
Software which enables centralized campaign management and omni-platform bulk production will be vital. This will enable creative production to be informed by data insights, facilitating the personalization that consumers crave, and delivering scaled distribution of new content so that marketers can strike while the iron is hot. In-market automation and optimization will also be required, making use of live data to increase the effectiveness of social ads over time. We expect the adoption of better creative and product tools to spike in 2023 as evidenced by the top result to a question we asked about the biggest opportunities to improve execution in social channels.
Into a more dynamic future
2023 will be both a challenging and exciting year ahead for social marketers. Social video is likely to be the battleground on which brands fight for consumer attention and the winners will be those that deploy advanced tools for automation and personalization. Creative will continue to increase in importance, and brands will need to add dynamism to deal with newly dominant and emerging social channels. As ever, marketers will do well to remain agile with budgets and strategies and adjust messaging to meet the moment. It’s time to get personal.