MEDIA BUYING BLOG

The CMO’s Guide: Top 5 Paid Media Trends You Can’t Ignore in 2023

The CMO's Guide: 2023 Paid Media Trends

Given the nature of the rapidly evolving advertising industry, consumers have the power to shape trends more than ever. Your agencies need to stay ahead of the curve to:

Between economic fluctuations, advertising measurement shifts, and further-nuanced customer journeys, CMOs are working in many undefined territories.

The CMO's Guide: 2023 Paid Media Trends

While it’s important to have trust in your agency partners, knowing what to ask and how to evaluate them remains critical especially when you are on the hook to justify the costs. Despite all of these changing areas, the opportunities emerging in paid media remain captivating. To help CMOs understand campaign priorities for 2023, Marketing Doctor’s senior media buyers put together the following guide of the top 5. Don’t sleep on these trends, and don’t let your agencies sleep on them either!

Given the nature of the rapidly evolving advertising industry, consumers have the power to shape trends more than ever. Your agencies need to stay ahead of the curve to:

Between economic fluctuations, advertising measurement shifts, and further-nuanced customer journeys, CMOs are working in many undefined territories. While it’s important to have trust in your agency partners, knowing what to ask and how to evaluate them remains critical especially when you are on the hook to justify the costs. Despite all of these changing areas, the opportunities emerging in paid media remain captivating. To help CMOs understand campaign priorities for 2023, Marketing Doctor’s senior media buyers put together the following guide of the top 5. Don’t sleep on these trends, and don’t let your agencies sleep on them either!

1. Data Strategy to Prepare for Full Cookie Deprecation

The demise of third-party cookies has officially shifted from 2023 to 2024–a sign that Google is still ironing out kinks in new systems. The pursuit of new, standardized media measurement solutions is in full force. Coalitions are forming among tech companies to establish new, privacy-centric methodologies as industry norms. Likewise, the paid media industry is on a mission to find tools that succeed in addressability while being compliant with state, federal, and international data privacy policies. 

As a CMO, be mindful of what are quick fixes vs. long-term sustainable solutions (yes, they are possible!). Depreciation of cookies will affect data collection, audience segmentation, targeting optimizations, performance, measurement and attribution. You (or your agency) should take the proper steps to maximize your capabilities, which ultimately maximize profits. Transparent data collection and future-proofing are necessary to execute paid media campaigns that maximize ROI going forward.

Bottom line: collect your own zero-party data and/or purchase data from third parties to bolster media strategy development. Establish processes to warehouse, enrich, and extract insights from this data. Odds are you’re sitting on a lot of valuable consumer data (or at least should be — work with your agency to reduce waste!).

2. Contextual Targeting to Future-Proof and Enhance Customer Journeys

In response to pending cookie deprecation, contextual advertising is receiving renewed attention. Media buyers leverage contextual targeting to intentionally reach the right people with the right messaging. Research shows that:

  • 61% of U.S. advertisers use contextual ads, and 
  • 24% of them will likely increase their budget for this ad type in the coming year. 

There are several studies showcasing “recall” improvements thanks to this tactic. For example, one study reported that 82% more people recalled ads for a less-popular brand compared to well-known companies. 

Today’s AI advancements assist in reducing random (non-contextualized) placements as well. Programmatic advertising vendors can provide proprietary page context AI to scan pages and ensure ads appear alongside the most relevant content only.

Bottom line: include contextual advertising in your media mix. You will better align your paid media campaigns with your audience’s actual consumption habits. This enhances the relevance of your ads and personalizes the customer journey to drive greater, quality conversions. This tactic future-proofs your efforts, being less dependent on cookies.

3. Expansion of CTV to Align with Media Consumption Habits

Streaming platforms shot past cable for the first time in 2022, capturing a record 34.8% of TV viewership. ConnectedTV (CTV) is expected to secure an even larger share of viewership, especially if high-profile releases continue on streaming platforms. Netflix represented the biggest share of overall TV/Streaming viewing, and recently introduced its own advertising capabilities. As ad-supported tiers roll out, media buyers have more opportunities to place ads on streaming platforms with their own audiences, data collection, and personalization for increased relevance to consumers. 

Another important outcome of this media behavior shift is that less time was spent watching sports on cable and broadcast (broadcast sports viewing dropped by 41% in July vs. June 2022). Media companies are vying for rights to various packages and bringing sports deeper into streaming services. In fact, YouTube TV recently confirmed a multi-year agreement for the exclusive rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket package in the U.S. Your media planning and buying teams must follow the bouncing ball as streaming platforms acquire new users as this pattern will only continue. 

Bottom line: Agencies should reflect ongoing shifts in media consumption habits with dynamic media plans. Media buyers who place ads based on antiquated viewership habits will waste your valuable media dollars. Reach audiences where they are as the industry adapts to changing consumer behaviors.

4. Recession-Proofing as Growth-Planning

Economic considerations should always be front of mind as media planning and buying is largely focused on the fiscal side of advertising. Regardless of what the economy is doing, pay attention to the winners in down economies. While studies show that 2022 ad spend growth decelerated in the U.S. from 20% in 2021 to 12%, and may drop to 5% in 2023, businesses have learned that quick cuts only provide temporary relief and actively work against how the advertising algorithms are designed. Maintaining ad spend provides the best efficiencies, allowing algorithms to optimize further, especially if they are optimized and monitored daily by your agency partner. 

Research shows that:

  • 60% percent of brands that increased media investment during the last recession saw improvements in ROI
  • Those who boosted paid advertising experienced a 17% increase in incremental sales
  • Brand who reduce ad spend during recessions risk losing 15% of their revenue

Bottom line: lean into a critical mix of long-term and short-term tactics. Make sure your media agency thrives on delivering cost-efficiencies and can prove it to you with the numbers! They should be able to describe how their media plans align with best practices, particularly as it pertains to how the algorithms work on the backend 

5. Rise of Virtual Ad Experiences and Blockchain Marketing Technology

93% of media buyers plan to use in-game advertising by 2025. Many brands, including one of our international e-commerce clients, achieve competitive CPMs by immersing ads in popular video games. More broadly, many major brands are dipping their toes into metaverse advertising activations. For example, iHeartMedia and Netflix both introduced unique spaces within Roblox and Fortnite to engage consumers in a new way.

Blockchain technology within marketing is becoming more popular in the digital advertising evolution as well. While blockchain is primarily discussed with respect to buying and selling cryptocurrency, advertisers have started to recognize its value for addressability and attribution. It empowers transparent, reliable advertising that media buyers can use to gather more accurate leads and enhance cost-efficiencies. Users may even be able to receive compensation for viewing ads, and their data remains secure.

Bottom line: consider connecting with audiences in the metaverse and beyond to stay on the cutting-edge of emerging virtual media placements. Make sure your agency partners have guidance around brand-safety and relevance within any new advertising arena.

Partner with An Award-Winning Media Buying Agency in 2023

CMOs who prioritize data strategy, media measurement methodologies, and the customer journey will come out on top in 2023. If you need more cost-efficient media planning and buying, let’s talk

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