How are we nearing the end of another year? I feel like I say it every year – that time passes by the older you get – but this year seems to have gone by in a flash!

2022, as with many years gone by, has had its fair share of ups and downs. For many, it was the first year where life found some level of normality, and the challenges of the global pandemic and numerous lockdowns began to feel like a distant (yet traumatic) memory. But, as with many things in life, new challenges and obstacles were just around the corner, and as we approach the final chapter of the year, we find ourselves in strange times once again.

But I don’t want my final words of 2022 to be dwelling on what we all know. When tough times challenge us, more often than not we build strength and resilience in how we approach the future. And so I want to explore some of the most exciting developments and predictions in the industry that I see for the next 12 months and beyond.

So join me in my positive affirmations for 2023, as we get ourselves excited for what incredible innovations lie ahead for the wonderfully complex world of (m)adtech.

“Challenges are what make work interesting, and overcoming them is what makes it meaningful”

The Service Layer | Despite the current economic crisis where we are witnessing more and more budget cuts, marketers will need more support than ever before to navigate through a complex, fragmented and ever-changing advertising and marketing technology ecosystem. And the “service layer” will do just that. Service providers who will find success in 2023 are those that will be able to diversify their offering, focusing less on business as usual (BAU) campaign operations, and more so on the ‘hands-on’ consulting approach that can provide real tangible ROI and long-term value.

I expect the big focus areas to be maximizing the use of current customer data assets for more cost-effective marketing comms, data value measurement and tech stack optimization. What has been incredible to witness this year, is the change in marketer’s mindset. There seems to be a real want to change, and overcome the challenges they face to build a better future – not only for them, their business and their revenues, but for their audiences and the value they provide them.

“The world accommodates you for fitting in, but only rewards you for standing out.” (Matshona Dhliwayo)

Data Infrastructure | CDPs (Customer Data Platforms) and Data Clean Rooms will continue their fame as the hottest platforms in madtech throughout 2023. CDPs will advance to add features that stand out in a very crowded market, with some vendors adding proprietary campaign orchestration or consent management layers to their offering. Others may go in the opposite direction, doubling down on their core enterprise data infrastructure credentials to strengthen its abilities. Furthermore, we will see a bigger push from the CDP players, positioning themselves for non-marketing buyers – Customer Service and Sales Teams at large companies will be prime targets for indie Sales Teams next year.

The Data Clean Room space is starting to get quite crowded, with lots of new entrants claiming some interesting USPs. In fact, many CDPs and large marketing clouds are building their own flavor of clean room. I think the winners in this space will be those who will fully embrace and double down on their status as next-gen marketplace builders, rather than standing firmly on being pure-play infrastructure providers. Nevertheless, Data Clean Rooms will continue to be the foundational layer of a new era of data-driven marketing and advertising collaboration. And, we will soon see consolidation here too (but not quite yet!)

“I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it.” (Niccolo Machiavelli)

Open Web vs Walled Gardens | Despite the real possibility of Google delaying the third-party cookie deprecation deadline once again, in 2023, we are likely to see a shift in media dollars from the walled gardens to the open web. This would be the result of an increased interest in contextual targeting solutions, which are constantly evolving and becoming more sophisticated, whilst representing a more cost-effective way to reach audiences in paid media than walled gardens and where bid density tends to be generally higher, (especially for high-quality audiences). The next 12 months could see a real change in mindset, where marketers want to challenge the status quo, and overthrow it for more future-proofed strategies.

When it comes to the activation of customer data in media, walled gardens will still dominate over the next 12 months, as open web ID solutions are still struggling to reach significant scale outside the US. A more interesting trend to observe, however, will be the fragmentation of walled garden spend. The advertising pie is unlikely to grow significantly in 2023 due to widespread BAU budget cuts, and the available walled garden spend will be redistributed across a larger selection of players. Google and Facebook likely to shed ad revenue in favor of other tech walled gardens, such as Amazon and Apple, as well as an increasingly larger group of “private gardens” including key CTV and Retail Media players.

“Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction.” (C.S. Lewis)

Retail Media Networks | Retail media offerings will continue to grow and attract more ad dollars converging into this new channel from the open web, walled gardens, and shopper marketing. As with every innovation, this space is extremely crowded and fragmented, and therefore we may potentially see more consolidation throughout 2023. The recent announcement of the merger between Albertsons & Kroger in the US is a clear indication of what we could expect to see in the future. Advertisers are looking for scale, and retail media outlets that cannot provide it on their own will either merge, partner, or fail after remaining in the experimentation bucket of agencies and brands for a while.

Scale issues aside, retail media presents a fantastic opportunity for marketers that have struggled for decades to acquire valuable intent and purchase data, as well as advanced measurement practices such as closed-loop attribution. Recent partnerships between CTV and Retail Media players are another interesting development to watch closely in 2023. In fact, a very recent example is the partnership between ITV, Tesco, and Boots, that will enable advertisers to target consumers on ITV premium video inventory leveraging the retailers’ data. So, as the age-old saying goes, are two heads better than one, and will collaboration be the key to success for the coming year?

There are so many areas to be excited about next year. However, as Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing worth having comes easy.”

I’d love to hear your positive vibes, trends, and predictions for 2023, so make sure you drop me a message via LinkedIn!