Here's a fun fact: In October 2022, usage of the word ‘metaverse’ quadrupled, compared to the same month last year, making it a contender for Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year 2022. With the metaverse officially tipping into the mainstream, the next evolution of the internet will be compelling for marketers.
If 2022 was a year for testing the new normal, 2023 will be a year of innovation, matched by impact and performance. Scrutiny on measurement and return on investment is going to increase as marketers make their budgets stretch in a tough economic climate. With the volatility making it difficult to anticipate how consumers will respond, brands will have to continually adapt, staying agile.
Here are three ways advertisers can move nimbly and do more with ad tech, to navigate an uncertain 2023.
Acting on identity: Finding faces in spaces
The decline in addressable inventory will become an escalating challenge for brands in the future. Around 30% of digital advertisements across APAC are already being served in environments where identity markers are no longer present — a number pegged to go up to 75% by late 2024. That adds up to billions of impressions being served blind daily. Less targeting equals less effective advertising, which doesn’t benefit either consumers or brands. The problem will worsen with the broader transformation underway — the elimination of digital IDs, not just cookies. In APAC, in markets like Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, a sizable number of users are already within non-addressable environments. Changing privacy laws across the region are compounding the challenge, rendering even more supply non-addressable.
The next generation of identity solutions can’t wait, or be dictated by the phasing out of third-party cookies — the problem has moved ahead of that. Addressing the non-addressable won’t be a challenge only limited to web. Advertisers and publishers will need to explore omnichannel solutions that don’t rely on IDs or solve solely for registered users, while still creating a way for consumers to enjoy tailored ad experiences within their privacy choices. 2023 will be the year identity takes a leap forward with solutions that are no longer one-size-fits-all. Trusted first-party data will matter for identity solutions where marketers know their audience through a direct consumer relationship — a 2022 report showed that while 83% of APAC consumers believe companies should only use first-party data, a whopping 78% of companies in the region continue to depend on third-party data.
Brands will also need to build an early edge by exploring advanced contextual targeting solutions that rely on real-time data signals, with machine learning doing the heavy lifting to find customers in non-addressable environments. There are added benefits to doing so in the current economic environment — non-addressable supply is less expensive than addressable, which can lead to cost efficiencies for advertisers.
Web3: A win-win for consumers and marketers
Intersecting trends will open up incredible possibilities for innovation in 2023. As 5G adoption rips through the region, immersive experiences using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will get a leg up from faster, no-lag networks. The metaverse, enhanced by Web 3.0 technologies, will take experiences to the absolute next level. Web 3.0, the next iteration of the internet that’s shifting away from centralised platforms, is everything a consumer could have asked for — user-friendly, decentralised, with greater data security and privacy enabled by technologies like blockchain, for secure transactions. It’s also everything a marketer would want, with relevant, privacy-compliant customer data, so essential to create personalised, interactive, experiences. The metaverse is primed to become a functioning economy with the convergence of web, gaming, extended reality, ecommerce, blockchain and more.
From first-time multi-sensory experiences to encouraging creator communities and using NFTs for collectibles, gaming and monetising virtual worlds, there are infinite possibilities in this frontier. Think blurring of the digital and physical. What if there was a way to localise users, their devices, and drop multiplayer, always-on Pokemon go-style AR content right where a user is standing? The fun and engagement can be even more impactful, because it’s now integrated into an omnichannel strategy.
APAC is ripe for this change. Research finds the region will be a hotbed for the development of web3, given its young population of digital natives and their love for all things interactive and immersive.
A fix for fragmentation: Connecting with audiences wherever they are
Digital-first consumers — and APAC is teeming with digital natives — routinely alternate between a phone, laptop, tablet and connected TV. With the digitalisation of traditional media channels like out-of-home (OOH) and TV, online media consumption has become even more fragmented. In 2023, marketers will have to rethink how to modernise their media plans to connect the dots for users across all these touchpoints efficiently, for impact and engagement.
Fortunately, ad tech is evolving in step, bringing together fragmented supply sources programmatically so it’s possible to run holistic marketing campaigns without channel silos, and quickly shift budgets to the best-performing mediums. Measurement will be a big piece of this puzzle to make ad dollars work harder. The good news is, there’s been a revolution in how we can understand and consistently measure different channels together, to track the combined impact of campaigns.
Measuring the impact of OOH, for instance, has traditionally been a challenge. But with streamlined reporting and measurement programmatically, digital OOH is showing results, with 91% of advertisers finding that DOOH can deliver both upper and lower funnel metrics. As part of an omnichannel media strategy, DOOH amplifies the effectiveness of other channels. You can retarget users on their mobile phone based on screen exposure, or creatively use QR codes and social hashtags to drive engagement. There’s also the ability to measure the influence of screen exposure to store visitation with DOOH, so brands have on-the-go audiences covered.
Marketers are weighing how to future-proof their strategies. Innovation — necessary to stand out — will need to be supported by ad buying efficiency, flexibility and insights to measure and track performance. All of which will be critical to thrive, and survive the curveballs that may hit in 2023.
Paul Sigaloff is Yahoo's VP and head of APAC