Five predictions for 2023

WFA Better Marketing Pod Ep 22: On reasons to be optimistic about 2023 with Tom Standage, The Economist
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Five predictions for 2023

From sustainability claims to tech regulations around the world and greater emphasis on capability building: the WFA team share some predictions for what the next 12 months hold for brands.

Can regulators end the greenhush?

Will 2023 be the year that marketers finally step up on climate change? Critics and most senior marketers agree that there is a big gap between what’s actually being done today and what needs to be done. The good news is that many at COP27 saw marketers as allies; creativity and innovation can help deliver the consumer behaviour changes we need to meet critical climate goals.

Right now, however, too many marketers are doing too little while also claiming too much – hence the torrent of brands who have been caught out for greenwashing. This, in turn, has led to many to ‘greenhush’,and stay quiet about their green credentials.

2023 could be the year that regulators start giving companies the legal frameworks and back up they need to be bolder about communicating their environmental efforts. In the EU, for instance, we might see the banning of standalone generic claims (e.g. 'eco-friendly', 'biodegradable') without recognition by an EU or other publicly-recognised eco-labelling scheme. Could tighter regulation help end the industry’s caution and help marketing be bolder in driving change on the scale required?

Capability for sustainable growth

Despite the current economic uncertainty, 2023 is – bizarrely – the perfect time for capability building. If consumers are likely to have less disposable income, they’ll need even more convincing reasons to choose brands – which is where enhanced capability within marketing teams can help.

Getting serious about investing in upskilling marketing teams is also a key element in a successful and sustainable employee retention and attraction strategy. In times of unprecedented churn in labour markets, this is something clients won’t want to ignore.

Expect to see more marketing capability academies pop up within client organisations in 2023.

Compliance deadlines for tech behemoths

After years of largely unregulated growth, big tech platforms will have to meet deadlines to comply with new EU regulations in 2023. The Digital Services and Digital Markets Acts will prohibit platforms such as Google and Meta from targeting ads to minors or targeting based on data revealing religious beliefs, sexual orientation and health.

They will also require them to be more transparent about their content moderation and open up their walled gardens so that advertisers can independently measure the performance of their ad campaigns. Much like GDPR, these new rules are likely to set new precedents for tech regulations around the world.

Is TikTok facing a squeeze?

TikTok’s exponential growth during and post pandemic has been a double-edged sword given its appeal to younger audiences. Because if there are two things Democrats and Republicans can agree on it is being tough on Big Tech and China.

Put that together with the ever-popular refrain for child protection and that puts TikTok squarely in the regulatory crosshairs. Data protection authorities are already reviewing its practices and with the EU DSA being implemented and the UK Online Safety Bill also due out next year, we can expect more scrutiny of TikTok’s data practices and probably more challenging headlines.

A new dawn for data ethics?

As data protection and privacy regulation continue to put pressure on ad targeting and the market continues to ready itself for the death of the third-party cookies, there could be a new dawn for data ethics in 2023. With 90% of CMOs now saying that data ethics is a key priority for their organisation, 2023 will see marketers rethink their ways of working and lead the shift towards more ethical models of digital advertising.

Expect CMOs to focus particular attention on implementing data ethics principles, sharing these with their external partners and providers, moving away from hyper-targeted solutions and exploring the myriad of privacy-preserving technologies that are currently being developed on the market.

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