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Kevin Krim January 3, 2023 7 min read

Cracking the crystal ball: EDO’s 2023 predictions

There’s a new normal in TV advertising. 

In 2023, our global economy will continue its wobble from 2022. With inflation and interest rates up, the markets are uncertain which way is up.  

But this much is clear: TV advertisers can’t take 2023 off, despite what our finance teams may tell us. There’s just too much at stake. As companies retrench and batten down the hatches, there’s bound to be signal loss, but we shouldn’t be discouraged. There’s work to be done. So, where are things going? 

A wise and avid prediction-maker once said, “The value of a prediction is in the act of making it, not the prediction itself. Contemplating what may happen encourages us to take responsibility for decisions we make in the present.”

We brought EDO’s experienced experts together to make a few predictions about what we expect in 2023 for the TV industry — and what modern marketers can do to get ahead of it. After all, planning is everything.

PREDICTION #1. Prove it beats lose it. 

Smart agencies have already figured out that there’s more to advertising than just ratings. Every channel needs to be a performance channel. But like the heyday of programmatic digital, 2023 will be the year where everyone has to get great(er) at demanding more from their TV measurement.

Meaning for marketers: Many agencies were already good at innovative data measurement, but 2023 will sort the wheat from the chaff. There’s less margin for error in 2023, and marketers need to prove that what they’re doing is working. They’ll need to be more nimble and follow real-time results rather than investing up front and hoping for the best. And let’s throw this one in: Because we expect a TV and/or music streaming service to be snapped up in an acquisition, there’s going to be even more signal loss for marketers to adjust to.

PREDICTION #2: The Upfront shrinks. TV grows.

Sure it’s been said before, but THIS is going to be the year things change in how TV advertising is bought and sold. With the combination of dramatically shifting consumer viewing habits AND the pressures of an uncertain economy on fixed marketing budgets — we predict one or more big spenders will make an earth-shaking decision to sit out this year’s Upfront. But the simple terms “Networks” and “Upfront” mean less today than ever before. Creative leaders like Disney won’t be put into a simple box defined by a few weeks in May. And we know other big media players like Paramount and Warner aren’t sitting idly by. 

There’s an evolution happening with innovations in how TV is consumed, bought, and sold. Just look at the evolution of streaming - content juggernauts with subscription revenues will only continue to grow, even as more flexible, accountable ad models continue scaling throughout their ecosystem.

Meaning for marketers: Nimble is the new normal — for media buyers AND sellers. Smart money will see opportunity, as modern marketers will want more flexibility to find once hidden value. Brands have already had more than a taste of this in digital advertising. While the Upfront may shrink due recession fears, TV spending will go up as it remains one of the best values in marketing. Brands will lean into more premiums to have more control over their message — and they’ll use data to negotiate better deals with networks. Whether or not your agency team makes it to NYC this May (#CallMeMaybe?), everybody will be forced to be more fleet-footed with their TV decision-making. And they’ll need the data to know what works.

PREDICTION #3. More Privacy? More Signal Loss

Everyone says they have a “data safe haven” - but no one is willing to admit they know if it really works? And while we may face a divided Congress, Republicans and Democrats WILL agree to big tech regulations in a rare act of bipartisanship. For a government that needs to look like it’s working together to solve problems, tech may have run out of room to dodge the inevitable. 

Meaning for marketers: While big tech has been “proactive” on privacy changes, Washington is going to want to take the initiative. We could see bipartisan progress on stricter privacy rules with tech stocks already being taken to the cleaners, weakening their political strength. As more data goes private, marketers would be wise to look for solutions (beyond social) that are privacy-safe and deliver proven ROI.

PREDICTION #4. Streaming is the new Local. 

At least one major brand is going to shift the majority of their local and/or scatter TV ad buy to targeted streaming. Pressured by a shaky economy, somebody’s going to make the leap and try something dramatic so that will inevitably catch headlines, drive ROI, and maybe even win some awards. So while dollars may shift, this will be a win for the already innovative media players who can see where the puck is going, and are making the investments to enhance the streaming platforms we all know and love.

Meaning for marketers: Next-gen marketing comes of age in 2023. Marketers are gauging in real time what’s working. Marketers are watching performance vs. attention vs. audience size to find a combination that maximizes spending on advertising dollars. And we’re going to see some killer ad innovation and/or integrations. 

PREDICTION #5. Repeating ads go away. Repeating ads go away. 

We’ve all been there. You’re streaming your favorite sportsball and/or Korean-law drama, and the same ad comes on during every commercial break. Every. Commercial. Break. Maybe you mute the TV, maybe you grip your remote tightly, maybe you sing along to break the tension in your mind (#SerenityNow). None of these reactions is good for getting a message across. An agitated viewer isn’t buying what you’re selling. Someone’s going to finally figure this out. Our money’s on some of the best technologists or top creatives in the (streaming) content business. 

Meaning for marketers: It’s kind of amazing this is still a problem. We know smart people (perhaps Innovid and Trade Desk?) are going to help figure this problem out — especially as more mainstream TV ad dollars flow to streaming. The implication for marketers is better value. Every one of those repeated ads was (unknowingly) paid for by a brand. In most cases, it was money that could have been better spent elsewhere — especially in a climate of increased financial pressure to everyone’s bottom line. An improvement in ad delivery will only make streaming ads more effective and increase marketing ROI. We’d repeat that line for emphasis, but you get the point.

PREDICTION #6. Nielsen’s not going anywhere. For now. 

Media owners and an increasingly competitive field may be spending millions of dollars coming after the king, but Nielsen’s pole position is more resilient than many think. Let’s face it — nobody needs another Nielsen in their lives. The noise about alternative currencies has been just that: noise. But real innovation IS happening — as an enhancement to ratings, which will remain an integral part of marketers’ measurement suite. The question is not if, it’s how — and which brands will reap the rewards of knowing what works. 

Meaning for marketers: TV analytics are complicated. In a TV marketing world where everybody is questioning everything, Nielsen will show that its substance still matters... Marketers should be skeptical of anyone hogging the attention, and claiming to have one metric to rule them all. Marketers need to be savvier. How many eyeballs are they reaching, and what measurable effect will that reach have on the bottom line? Efficiency or efficacy? It’s an ‘AND’, not an ‘OR’. Reach matters. But so does impact and outcomes.

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Despite a challenging 2023 ahead, this will be a year where the industry has to dive deeper into the numbers. Modern marketers will have to make every dollar count in a year of rising costs beyond our respective budgets. 

Whether you’re a buyer or seller of TV advertising, all the new solutions may seem daunting. But we know this: brands can no longer just buy hit shows with big ratings. They’ll need better, faster, and more predictive solutions to know what works. 

And maybe, just maybe, if we can finally end the repeating streaming ads and the repeating streaming ads, 2023 can be a win for everybody.