With less than two months before Times Square’s New Year’s Eve celebration, advertisers across industry lines are making their lists—and planning their campaigns—for 2023.
After a year that saw the end(ish) of the pandemic and a looming recession continue to shift consumer buying habits, advertisers will undoubtedly switch up their strategies.
Digital ad formats will eat into a bigger portion of advertisers’ budgets.
Through Q3 2022, advertisers spent nearly $50b on digital ad formats, up from around $35b through Q3 2021.
While digital ads have long since established themselves as strategic pillars, traditional ad formats aren’t going away.
Through Q3 2022, advertisers spent $11b and $41b on print and TV ads, respectively.
So, while advertisers may be getting ready to turn the calendar and adopt digital-heavy strategies, omnichannel advertising remains top of mind.
That said, the definition of omnichannel may be changing for some.
Only the Top 1% Go All-in on Omnichannel
Omnichannel advertising has long been the gold standard—and based on recent strategies, it still is for many.
Despite the inherent measurement and attribution challenges tied to traditional ads and the clear superiority of digital, print and TV are still attracting attention.
That attention, however, is primarily coming from advertisers who have deep pockets and can stomach some risk.
Through Q3, only 1% of advertisers invested in digital, print and TV, including those from Amazon, Apple, General Motors and Samsung. But this small group of advertisers accounted for $69b or 68% of the total spending.
Digital ads aren’t popular solely because they’re more engaging; they’re all the rage because advertisers can measure them.
Traditional ad formats don’t come with this benefit. Instead, they run with little visibility into performance and ROI.
Given the economy, shrinking ad budgets, and pressure on advertisers to generate a return, this is a level of uncertainty they can’t afford.
As a result, just 5.3k and 76k advertisers invested in TV and print, respectively. (Meanwhile, 210k advertisers invested in digital).
OTT Enters the Chat
The rise of over-the-top technology (OTT) has brought the likes of Hulu and HBO Max into the conversation, giving advertisers even more dots to connect.
Advertisers are responding to OTT’s increasing role in consumers’ lives by adding these platforms to their media mixes.
Between January and September 2022, 1.4k companies spent more than $2b on OTT ads across Discovery+, HBO Max, Hulu, Paramount+, Peacock and Pluto TV.
Nearly half of these advertisers spread their ad dollars across the platforms.
Some top spenders in this category included advertisers from Berkshire Hathaway, Comcast, P&G and State Farm, who each spent more than $48mm.
The remaining advertisers spent exclusively with one platform.
For example, 24% of the advertisers only invested in Hulu, including those from Alphabet, Denali and The Simply Good Foods Company. At the same time, 13% of advertisers were exclusive to Pluto TV, including those from companies like Adaptive Health, Boston Common Press and Bounce Media.
While omnichannel strategies have historically been associated with digital, print and TV, advertisers can no longer deny OTT a seat at the table.
This is the perfect example of how omnichannel strategies are evolving and why they’ll always be in play; advertisers big and small alike will always have new dots to connect.
For advertisers, these platforms offer an opportunity to reach a growing addressable audience with immersive experiences.
That said, challenges persist, especially involving ad fraud, measurement and attribution that are certainly keeping some advertisers at bay.
Still, the fact that spending surpassed $2b—all without the help of Netflix ads—points to a future ripe with OTT advertising.
For advertisers who’ve yet to dip their toes into OTT, it’s time to do so.
For those who have, it could be time to evolve. For example, those using a single platform, like the 3% who only invested in Discovery+, could be convinced to start mixing and matching, especially as platforms carve out their niches and differentiators.
Social Media Ads Aren’t as Important
In 2021, 82% of the US used social media.
For comparison, OTT will only reach about 43% of the population this year.
But despite their reach, social media channels could be losing some of their shine.
Although social media channels attracted more than $17b in buys from more than 75k advertisers through Q3, around 94% of these advertisers spent less than $100k. Just 3% of advertisers spent more than $500k.
More telling of social’s fading status is this: Of the 71k advertisers who spent more than $100k, only 920 were exclusively sending their digital ad dollars to social media.
The reduced weight advertisers are putting on social media could point to the fact that they no longer see it as a critical cog.
That could change quickly, however.
While some social platforms are pivoting away from social commerce, younger generations are clearly open to buying via social media. In fact, 97% of Gen Z consumers said they use social media as their top source of shopping inspiration.
The reduced investment from Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and other social media players isn’t a sign that they don’t believe in social commerce.
Instead, it indicates that they know their strategies must change.
For example, Apple’s introduction of iOS 14 caused significant attribution challenges for Meta (Facebook’s parent company), given that it could no longer track iOS users outside of Facebook.
That said, as the social world reaffirms its commitment to commerce—TikTok recently released a commerce solution called Shopping Ads—ad dollars will follow.
Forward-thinking advertisers could see this as an opportunity to get ahead of a curve that may already be flattening.
Through Q3, 55k advertisers went exclusively with a social media strategy, collectively spending $1.7b.
New Year, New Definition of Omnichannel
As 2023 nears, ad strategies will start to take shape—and advertisers will build them based on what they learned from the year prior.
That means a hefty dose of digital and fewer traditional formats, although the latter remains in the picture.
Like in years past, the shift comes down to efficiency.
Moving forward, advertisers with smaller budgets won’t be able to afford—literally—the inefficiencies and performance mysteries that come with print and TV ads.
This is why 70% of the 263k advertisers invested exclusively in digital channels through Q3.
It’s also why just 19% of advertisers, including Paramount Builders, Tipsntrends, and Virginia Shower and Bath, were print exclusive.
The allocation was minimal, even for advertisers who did add traditional formats to their media mix.
For example, 1% of the advertisers had a digital and TV ad strategy, while 9% went with a digital-print mix.
It seems like the definition of omnichannel advertising as we know it—one that includes a mix of digital, print and TV—will be reserved for brands with deep pockets.
But that doesn’t mean omnichannel is dead. Far from it. The new definition—one that primarily connects the dots across digital—will be available to all. When selling to ad buyers, this will be crucial to keep in mind.
In 2023 and beyond, omnichannel advertising strategies will be more alive than ever.
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