At the start of 2022, I was asked by our partners at ISBA to reveal what I thought the key trends would be in marketing across the year. At the time, I was focused on the general complexity of the landscape, the need to cultivate people and, yes, budget accountability.
Clearly, that landscape has shifted in ways I doubt many of us could have predicted at the time.
No one would wish a crisis upon our already stretched industry, but there is no denying that it responds well to challenges. During COVID, many brands demonstrated resilience and unleashed their creativity, leading to an unparalleled period of technological and service-led innovation. Being the vital link between customers and organisations, their marketing departments have been at the heart of this change.
Connecting agency ecosystems
Our current (and unfortunately still unfolding) economic difficulties show that it will be more important than ever to ensure marketers can drive better creative and commercial outcomes and that relationships between clients and their agencies are strong and fit for purpose.
The core trend I identified at the start of the year was the idea of connecting agency ecosystems, if not aiming for a more robust integration. As the marketing landscape becomes more complex with multiplying platforms and customer journeys that crisscross the physical and virtual worlds, the supplier network cannot afford to add to the confusion.
In a bid to cut down on supplier noise, organisations are increasingly exploring more connected or even integrated models as well as in-housing. At Alchemists, we will discover to what degree in-housing will take off later in winter 2022 as we release the results of our state of the nation survey in collaboration with ISBA and CvE. Looking at the perceptions of in-housing as a viable alternative to agency expertise, we’ll also explore the various formats a modern, in-house solution might take to connect and simplify this ecosystem (rather than further hinder it).
Driving results through data
Indeed, there are still challenges on the horizon. Customer data and the ability to understand and drive key (actionable) insights will be critical going forward for many organisations. Quality, actionable insights gather from massive quantitative datasets are the holy grail of modern marketers. But it will be even more challenging very soon.
We’ll see many changes driving more draconian measures to ensure consumer privacy, and the age of “easy” performance marketing will come to a close. We have already seen Apple further restricting the amount of customer information they share with advertisers. We also don’t quite yet know the impact (and specific timings) of the eventual decline in the effectiveness of Chrome third-party cookies within the Google ecosystem. Given the shifting deadline, many brands are already on their journey towards a better understanding and management of first-party data. The impact on agency ecosystems will be massive, and the need to connect and integrate critical partners (and platforms) will significantly increase.
Change of status quo
Over the last year, we’ve undoubtedly seen a change in our industry, where businesses have been laser-focused on solving problems and creating resilience. However, we must not forget that marketing functions should be crucial to changing the status quo.
It’s time for agencies and clients to work together and further strengthen their relationships. Agencies should rethink how they deliver client value and create efficiencies for both parties. Many clients are already thinking about how they will need to strengthen further or improve their agency and technology ecosystems. We’re not talking just emergency measures to deal with the current chilly economic climate. It’s a plan for life and one that everyone involved in the brand marketing ecosystem should live by.
2023 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for agencies and clients alike.
Featured image: Michelangelo Buonarroti / Pexels