The advertising technology world is a bit of a head-scratcher.
On the one hand, it feels like it changes at a rapid, unstoppable pace — with new tools, buzzwords, and “must-have” strategies emerging every day. But on the other hand, momentous shifts can take years to come to fruition (see: Google’s deprecation of third-party cookies) and the so-called “hottest channels,” touted by tech blogs as the foundation of any good digital marketing strategy, can be surprisingly slow to adopt (see: podcasts).
So, as we head into 2023, it’s time to clear the air.
That is, it’s time to take a stab at the advertising tech trends that should actually make an impact in the coming year — and check in with some past advertising trends that are still developing. So you can prepare for the changes ahead and harness new opportunities to drive revenue.
1. A growth in first-party data strategies
There are many advertising technology trends that we need to cover, one that is essential to keep in mind is data strategies. Yes, first-party data has been on advertisers’ minds for a while now — or, at least, it should’ve been. But going forward, building a robust first-party data strategy will become increasingly important. In fact, it will be key to survival in a world without third-party cookies.
“With cookie deprecation, you’re going to see a lot of first-party data strategies come to light,” said Phil Reich, VP of ad sales at Jeeng. “Digital marketers will focus on collecting personal data and using that to target certain audiences based on their interests.”
First-party data isn’t just beneficial for advertisers, either. It can also help publishers learn more about their subscribers and build better overall experiences. As Reich added, “Publishers will see better CPMs and advertisers see better returns.”
With this enhanced focus on customer data, we should also see a growth in data harvesting and data matching tools. These will help brands merge their online and offline data, and fill in major gaps in their datasets for better identity resolution.
2. Doubling down on data privacy
Data privacy will continue to be top-of-mind for customers and advertisers. As KPMG found, 86% of consumers feel a growing concern about data privacy and 40% don’t trust companies to use their data ethically. Meanwhile 62% of business leaders admit they could do more to protect customer data.
To help address these concerns, Apple have launched new privacy updates like Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) and App Tracking Transparency, giving users more control over how they use their data. In 2023, Google and Microsoft might even follow suit with their own privacy features.
As a result, advertisers will need to adapt. That means they’ll need to be transparent about how they collect and share customer data, find ways to gather hashed and anonymous data, and start using new metrics to track customer engagement.
3. Less intrusive email ad experiences
Just as many websites have become overloaded with flashy ads, email risks becoming a new hotspot for intrusive display and banner ad units. So, the question now is: If customers inevitably develop a sort of banner blindness on email, how can ad tech solutions help brands adapt?
As Alexa Sachs, director of sales operations at Jeeng, put it: “As customers become wise to display ads in email, over the next couple years, advertisers will have to find ways to make ads that are much more subtle.”
Thankfully, there are already options out there to help. For example, brands can launch native email ads that blend in with their surrounding content and don’t interrupt the customer experience. “These ads are native to the publisher’s newsletter design and they give the advertiser an opportunity to share contextually relevant content,” Sachs said.
An eye-care publisher, for instance, might include a native ad from an optical brand about 10 ways to avoid cataracts. “There are subtleties to native that I think more advertisers will start grasping onto,” Sachs added. “It provides opportunities to further evolve brand trust as opposed to just pushing a product.”
Advertisers can also partner with publishers to launch sponsored and dedicated emails, which are simply called out with above-the-fold disclaimers like “Sponsored by,” or “Paid for by.”
4. The explosive growth of retail media
There’s a new major advertising channel on the block, and it’s brought to you by huge corporations like Target and Walmart. Yes, we’re talking about retail media networks: retail-owned platforms where brands can buy ad space to get in front of massive audiences of shoppers.
With retail media networks, advertisers can reach customers throughout the path to purchase and meet them at the point of sale with personalized messaging.
“Traditionally, a lot of CPG dollars would go towards banner ads and brand awareness,” Reich said. “Now, you have Target and Walmart running their own advertising networks. So, if you’re a chip brand, you can buy a sponsored placement on the search results page for chips and be at the top. Instacart does it, Shipt is doing it, Uber Eats is going to start doing it. It’s been a massive explosion.”
As GroupM reported, retail media networks now account for 18% of all digital advertising, and that market is expected to grow a whopping 60% by 2027. eMarketer even predicts that these networks will bring along the third major wave in digital advertising, following the explosion of search and social media.
5. Bonus: New and old trends to keep an eye on
Now, let’s go back to the future for a bit and unpack a few trends that have been on past annual advertising technology trends lists and may hit future lists as they continue to evolve:
Another advertising trend to keep an eye on is one that we’ve all heard of over the past few years. Combining virtual reality and augmented reality, media companies like Meta, Roblox, and Pokemon Go are building their own metaverses.
“It’ll be interesting to see how brands plan to advertise in the metaverse and publishers plan to monetize it,” said Mark Monjeau, director of publisher products at Jeeng.
Podcast ad spend is expected to pass $2 billion by 2023, but many brands are still figuring out how to enter this market and launch audio marketing campaigns.
“Podcasts aren’t as buzz-worthy as they used to be, but their usage is still increasing every year,” said Monjeau. “It isn’t a trend as much as it is a kind of necessity.”
QR codes experienced a resurgence during the pandemic, as restaurants and retailers started relying on them for touch-less transactions. Now, it seems more advertisers are getting in on the QR code game, and finding innovative ways to build them into their campaigns.
“I’ve seen so many TV commercials where QR codes are linked, so customers can just go straight to the retail site and the brand can track their journey,” said Sachs. “I think cross-platform tracking, whether it’s multi-touch attribution or connecting traditional ‘offline’ to online channels, is going to get better and better.”