2023 in Digital

As the world’s population crossed the eight billion mark, the digital world grew even more rapidly. As of the end of 2022, more than five billion people are on the internet, and over four and a half billion use some form of social media. 

The global pandemic temporarily put more distance between us, and the digital world helped us bridge this gap – further accelerating its growth. 

Now as we’ve thankfully returned to a new normal, our eyes turn back to longer-term issues and conversations around how we interact digitally and where businesses and data fit.

Plus, with rapidly evolving technologies, it isn’t just the discussions that change but the landscape.

We spoke to our senior leadership team about what they see ahead in 2023, and we ask them to reflect a bit on 2022’s major moments.

In 2023 in Digital we’ll look at:

Let’s begin…

with Ben Foster, CEO

2022 has been another record year for us, as we have continued to win new high-profile clients as well as supporting our existing client base. We’ve won several awards and built on our friendly and supportive culture, cementing our reputation as an industry leader.

With lots of macroeconomic factors driving some pretty bleak forecasts, 2023 seems like it could be a challenging year for many marketers. When a recession is looming and times are tough, marketing budgets are often first on the list for the chop. However, this relatively short-term approach could harm things in the longer term.

Though performance expectations should be adjusted, the return your marketing provides could be a make or break difference to your business. If cuts do need to be made, make sure they are in the channels with no measurable return on investment. Messaging and approaches should be adjusted to adapt to changing behaviours and sentiment, but hiding your brand away to save money could limit your own recovery.

Aside from economic uncertainty, in 2023 more browsers will block more ads and third-party cookies will edge closer to becoming obsolete. Marketers should focus on gathering and sorting the first-party data they have to help supplement this changing world.

The metaverse saw big headlines in 2022 with Zuckerberg’s vision and subsequent struggles. However, there is plenty of evidence to demonstrate the appeal of virtual worlds – especially in gaming. Many people are drawn to virtual worlds in order to escape reality, so expect more developments in this area.

Finally, AI has come on in leaps and bounds with the release of GPT-3, and more recently, ChatGPT. This video shows some of the applications and potential it has in the world of marketing. It will be interesting to see how this technology further supports or changes established ways of working in 2023.

with Paul Friend, Head of SEO

2022 has been a big year for SEO, with several key trends moving from ‘being something to think about’ to ‘being a core part of your strategy’. 

The timetable for GA4’s rollout was confirmed by Google – standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing data on 1st July 2023 – meaning SEOs will have to act now to ensure they are capturing data alongside their existing analytics implementations for the purposes of traffic/historical comparisons.

Google hopes the biggest shakeup to its interface in over a decade will enable more valuable insights into pathways for conversion. They also stress that GA4 is built with machine learning in mind, allowing marketers to tap into a broader range of useful information regarding customer journeys across different platforms and devices.  

The rise of Artificial Intelligence in SEO seems set to continue apace. It felt like barely a week went by in 2022 before another AI-focused tool was released or a potential use-case scenario was presented to the industry. Heated debate regarding the ethical use of such tools and strategies continues to rage, but AI’s role in SEO, from content creation to data analysis, will surely continue to expand next year. 

To ensure we’re continually putting our best content foot forward, Google’s ‘Useful Content’ update sought to increase the gap between insightful, focused and valuable content, and low-quality ‘SEO-first content’. Expect more of these updates, either overtly announced as this one, or covertly added to other algorithm tweaks, to come in the near-to-mid future. 

Finally, with a cookieless future on the (albeit slightly delayed) horizon, SEOs will have to adapt their strategies to rely on first-party data (i.e. what you collect through your own site, apps or services). Campaign strategies that already focus heavily on intent, take into account historical performance and trends, and place clients goals and aspirations in the context of their wider industry, are likely to be at an advantage as we move into 2023. 

with Kathryn Pearson, Head of PPC

This year Google continued to delay their plans for third-party cookie removal in chrome, instead returning to the Google privacy sand-box. However they have reported cookies will be removed during quarter 4 of 2024, meaning they will be going away and advertisers will need to adapt. This will require advertisers in 2023 to focus and invest more in their first-party data. First-party data will be at the forefront of advertisers’ minds during 2023, ensuring data is collected accurately and thoroughly, ready for the ever-looming deadline. 

Along with a focus on first-party data, Automation and AI, like in 2022 will continue into 2023 – giving advertisers a lot less control over their campaigns. However, this does allow PPC’ers to create more innovative ways of working, pushing market, competitor and industry research to advise their campaigns moving forward.  

With the increased competition across paid media and the current economic climate, 2023 will see increases in CPCs and CPLs across the majority of industries in the paid media space. Brands should bear this in mind when setting targets and goals for digital advertising.

Amazon Advertising and newer platforms such as Tik-Tok will start to take up more space in the paid media world during 2023, with Amazon emerging as the go-to platform for eCommerce companies. Amazon has been growing in popularity for both retailers and consumers in the last few years, thanks to the ease and choice the platform provides.

Video Ads will be a huge trend in 2023 with Google continually updating their features for Video Ads, making it easier for Advertisers to create, develop and share their videos online. Google has recently developed seasonal video templates, voice-over and editing options for advertisers. 2023 will see this trend continue with many new Video Ad features created by Google over the coming year. 

with Graham Jones, Head of Web

WordPress continues to prove why it’s the CMS of choice for many with 43.2% of all websites on the net currently based on this platform (up by 3.5% the year before). Those hard-working WordPress community devs are throwing everything and the kitchen sink to provide everything you could ever need from a flexible, extensible CMS.

Version 6.1, released in November, saw a whole host of new features to ramp up the capabilities of the Gutenberg block editor. This makes the off-the-shelf version of WP as powerful as any other web-builder platform, but with the added benefit of it being open-source and without the baggage.

Web applications are the cornerstone of many a business’s data ecosystem and a fully integrated approach is now an expectation rather than a luxury for many web projects. Cumbersome data-management with data across multiple systems has long been a bug-bear for businesses, so as systems are updated and technology improves, we can take the opportunity to address many of the old inefficiencies.

As such, we’re now seeing a prevalence of an ‘API-first’ approach to web development which puts the connections to other applications front and centre of projects. Many of the old data/functionality analysis principles are being dusted off to help ensure the scope of functionality for all systems is fully understood and APIs implemented to ‘connect the dots’. 

Users are also now spoiled, as they expect consistency in UX between applications as they interact with and flit between web applications and native apps. This can and will be easier as more developers lean towards developing PWAs (Progressive Web Applications) to free themselves from the shackles of device-specific development and gain more control and flexibility for both themselves and end users.

It goes without saying that Mobile First development will continue to increase in popularity, but we’re also really excited about the potential advance in the use of AI on the web; for things like chatbots where natural language processing means that chatbots can engage in more complex conversations.

We’re also predicting a wider use of voice search; a tech-trend that isn’t prevalent for businesses as of yet, but where utilisation of voice search functionality can add to UX, or better still make their sites more accessible for hearing and sight-impaired people. 

As ever, the web landscape in 2023 is set to be both complex and exciting as we continue to help businesses grow and realise the potential of web development and what it means for their business.

with Alex Hill, Sales Director

Thankfully 2022 has allowed a full 12 months with no further COVID restrictions or lockdowns, and this has allowed our teams to all establish some normality again regarding in-person collaboration, and our new business and solutions team is no different. We’d definitely consider ourselves ‘people people’ and being together in our lovely office to work on new business and campaign solutions has been incredibly welcome, and has undoubtedly benefitted the work carried out and campaign solutions devised. 

From a new business perspective, we’ve secured a number of incredibly prestigious and interesting large campaigns and our business development team has worked tirelessly to continually improve our solution and pitch process, all supported by our amazing in-house marketing team who continue to fly the flag for the agency.

But the ways of winning new business continue to evolve, and with the more recent few months of political and economic turbulence, this new uncertainty has without question resulted in businesses and brands encountering market confidence doubts and are understandably looking to get every ounce of value out of their marketing spend, and rightly so. Not only that but budgets have been reduced in many cases as firms look to pull back on expenditure to ease the impact of the cost of living rises, especially where demand may have suddenly dropped. 

But as an agency who have experienced consistent forecasted growth over the past few years, we really mustn’t grumble. 2022 has still been a very positive year overall and we’ve achieved progression in all areas of our business. We continue to build best-in-class solutions for brands and onboard new clients from a multitude of different sectors. The number of pitches and chemistry meetings we’re doing in person with prospective new clients is growing; something I’ve always personally loved doing, and we hope this trend will continue in 2023 to allow us to add the extra edge to pitches and onboarding. 

So what will 2023 have in store for us regarding new business? We’re certainly anticipating prospective new clients to be wanting to maximise the value and ROI they receive for their media spend. Whether that’s from what they already spend with their incumbent agency to shifting to a new provider, we’re looking to treat every new opportunity with the utmost respect and offer the prospect as much value as possible. This will really drive a commercial return to their hard-earned and valuable digital spend. We’re all hugely looking forward to seeing what 2023 will bring and we’re incredibly excited at the prospect and challenge. 

Year in Search 2022

And finally, here’s Google’s roundup of 2022…

Trust the experts

As the digital world changes and expands more rapidly than ever, you need a team you can trust.

A digital agency isn’t just there to help you grow – it’s there to keep ahead of these changes and make sure your business is prepared and safeguarded.

Not only that, but they’ll understand how you may even be able to benefit.

With nearly 15 years of digital experience, countless awards, and a team of incredibly talented digital specialists, we can be that digital agency.

Get in touch with us today, and we’ll help your business grow in 2023.