Media Agencies Call on Marketers to Change Their Digital Strategies

Criteo surveyed 800 senior media professionals to gain their views on how brands can achieve growth in 2023

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Most senior media agency professionals want their clients to invest in emerging media and explore new digital channels this year.

With global advertising spend forecast to slow this year from record levels of spend and the rising cost of digital media spend, marketers will be scrutinizing where their budgets are going all the more.

According to “The Advertiser’s Guide to New and Emerging Channels in 2023” study of 800 media professionals from across Europe and the U.S. compiled by commerce media platform Criteo, 92% said that their client should be exploring new digital channels, while 60% said they were confident brands can drive growth despite economic tailwinds.

According to the findings of the study, there is a consensus among media agencies that there should be more focus given to channels such as retail media, connected TV (CTV) audio and Web3 virtual experiences described as the “metaverse.”

Almost two-thirds (64%) said that they believed digital channels such as retail media would deliver greater return on investment in comparison to either social media or search and would be easier to prove return.

Broken down by country, growth was said to be the priority of 50% of respondents from the U.S. and 39% in the U.K. In Germany, 42% cited growth as a priority, while 55% said the same in France. Innovation was the priority for 45% of U.S. respondents and for 52% in France as well as 42% in Germany. Thirty-four percent of U.K. respondents cited business continuity too.

Brian Gleason, chief revenue officer at Criteo, said that media channels were “leaning into first-party data” and developing “relevant advertising” proposals, which are proving a lure ahead of Google being set to end the use of third-party cookies in 2024.

“Taking the kind of purchase and shopper behavior insights supermarkets and other retailers can provide and harness it across the open internet sits at the core of commerce media. This approach combines the power of retail media and search to allow advertisers to create well-rounded plans that truly deliver against desired commerce outcomes,” added Gleason.

Dentsu’s most recent Global Ad Spend Forecast predicted that advertising would slow by 3.8% this year, reaching $740.9 billion. It also predicted that digital spend will continue to lead with 57.1% of spend, reaching $422.8 billion by the end of the year. 

According to another piece of research released in December by IAB Europe and Microsoft, retail media has become a firm focus among marketers for 2023, with 90% of more than 800 buy-side stakeholders planning to work with a retailer this year.

The lure of streaming

Meanwhile, with Disney+ and Netflix introducing their own advertising offers late in 2022, CTV was the top channel choice for 82% of respondents as further broadcasters such as Paramount and Britain’s ITVX enter into on-demand streaming.

Audio on channels such as Spotify was another choice based on return on spend for 74% of respondents and based on customer experience for 80%.

It was estimated that the cost of running campaigns across digital media channels will rise in the U.K. by almost a third on CTV (31%) on average this year, causing concern around smaller brands being priced out of using the medium.

Rob Smolarski, global commerce lead at Omnicom Media Group, added: “We have to start thinking about where we make strategic pivots to achieve that. We’re entering a time of the most rational media investing in 15 years. Agencies and clients will have to make some tough choices on the precise audiences, media channels, regional markets, and retail partners to invest in to support commerce.” 

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