We say this every year but this year really has seen a lot of exciting changes (and a few challenges too) in the world of digital marketing and analytics. So this year we asked the GlowMetrics team to summarise what they think have been the biggest changes this year and what they predict is coming down the road in 2023! Read on to find out the 2023 trends for:
- Social Media with the rise of TikTok, new ad formats across nearly all platforms and the unpredictable state of Twitter
- In Google Ads, we saw even more steps towards automation and machine learning taking away control from advertisers with the promise of strong results
- The many changes across the Google ecosystem include the sunsetting of Universal Analytics, GA4, the rebranding of Google Data Studio and more!
Linkedin has added two new ad formats that we’re particularly excited about. Firstly, Click to Message Ads, which allow users to simply click on the ad they see to begin a conversation with the advertiser, and secondly, Document Ads, which enable the promotion of documents directly in the LinkedIn feed (essentially it’s gated content). Linkedin has also introduced lead gen forms pre-filling with a member’s work email address rather than their personal email. We trialled these new ad formats pretty quickly for our clients and the early results have been promising enough to make us very excited about what to expect from LinkedIn in 2023.
Facebook & Instagram (Meta)
In recent years, Meta updates have proved to be some of the most challenging updates Digital marketers have had to deal with (iOS 14 update we’re talking about you!) Due to this update, all apps in the App Store must now show a prompt to its users on iOS devices asking for permission to track them outside of the platform. This has impacted the way in which Facebook is able to receive and process conversion events from the Facebook Pixel as the update limits the pixel’s ability to track user behaviour which results in fewer targeting options, less detailed conversion tracking and a reduction in the impact of remarketing campaigns.
Where to start? In our experience the impact of Twitter ads has been limited to brand awareness and running alongside events – we’ve never seen excellent conversion ROAS from this channel for our clients. Although the promise of the platform and its advertising options being reworked after the Elon Musk takeover was exciting, the controversies were only just beginning and advertisers began to pull out. Therefore, it’s difficult to predict what will be coming in 2023 and if any changes will make ads most efficient for clients and even if Twitter will remain one of the most dominant social platforms going forward.
2023 Paid Social Predictions
You’ve probably noticed the push for video content across the internet. Video is not just a trend; it is here to stay. Video content, especially in short form (a few seconds or minutes), seems to keep users the most engaged, so platforms will keep pushing it onto your feed in 2023. We’ve seen this not only in the rise of TikTok but both Facebook/Instagram and YouTube’s introduction of short-form video content such as Reels and Shorts as they try to give users what (they think) we want. If you’ve avoided making video content for your brand up to this point – you might not be able to put it off much longer. So we suggest your 2023 Paid Social resolution is to jump in and try your hand at (short form) video content – it’s great for both organic social content and paid campaigns too.
Throughout 2022 we have seen Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning emerge as key themes in the development of Google Ads. While this can be seen across the Google Ads documentation (where Google incessantly mentions their AI & ML capabilities), it can also can be seen through several new features including the introduction of Broad Match & Smart Bidding Strategies & Responsive Search Ads as Google’s preferred ‘high performance’ search campaign set up. This “best practice” set-up claims to give advertisers high-performing campaigns but it does reduce the control advertisers have over their data. The question is whether these campaigns produce enough return on investment to warrant handing over more control to Google.
2022 also saw the introduction of new Discovery & Performance Max campaigns. These new goal-based campaigns use the aforementioned Machine Learning to target new users, with Performance Max specifically allowing advertisers to run adverts across Google’s suite of advertising channels from a single campaign (search, display, discovery feed, Gmail, YouTube) Is it a quick and handy set-up? Definitely, but the lack of data we mentioned above should also be a consideration when running PMAX and Discovery campaigns.
Due to factors like the IOS update and demise of 3rd-party cookies, success in Google Ads is now heavily dependent on how much data you can feed to their system, for example, 1st-party data like customer email addresses. The more relevant data you can feed Google’s Machine Learning and AI systems the more return you’ll get (in theory, at least).
2023 Google Ads Predictions
One of the more recent announcements for the coming year is the transition away from Similar Audiences for a more powerful, durable audience solution in 2023. As a result, we expect to see even more reliance on 1st-party data and Customer Match audiences to help with targeting. You’ve only got until next summer to make full use of the Similar Audience feature before it is sunset by Google Ads permanently.
Automated attribution-based changes are also expected to come into effect in the form of Conversion Value Rules, where each conversion action in your account will be assigned an individual value. This is designed to help Google work towards automating your campaigns based on higher value conversion goals for your budget. This is what we’ve traditionally used for e-commerce businesses but it seems the new best practice is to try this model for B2B and lead gen-focused businesses. Further attribution-based changes are also expected with data-driven attribution being the recommended “best practice” by Google Ads for 2023.
As previously mentioned in the social media section above, video continues to dominate and video ads are on the rise with 90% of people saying that videos help them to make a purchase decision. So again, if you’re not already making videos for your brand, 2023 is the time to start.
Over the last 10 years, Google has been the dominating force in digital advertising but moving into 2023 we expect to see some other platforms become important like Amazon Advertising and Apple, and music, podcast and TV services become more dominant in the coming years.
SEO In 2022
This year saw several impactful algorithm updates including the Page Experience Update which rewards fast, secure sites with a good UX through higher rankings, and the Helpful Content Update, which promotes sites with content written for users rather than search engines. There were also 4 Product Reviews Updates rolled out in 2022 as product reviews became a more important ranking factor. So rather than 1 big update dominating SEO we saw lots of smaller updates rolling out throughout the year, each of these updates demonstrated how Google is taking steps towards making the search results pages more reliable, engaging and user-friendly.
2023 SEO Predictions
If 2023 is anything like 2022 then we can expect quite a few SEO changes. We think that Google will continue to refine their content ranking algorithms to combat the rise of AI-generated content after the massive launch of ChatGPT in November 2022. It’s already landed in the US, but the rest of the world can expect to see the launch of desktop continuous scrolling in 2023 – this means there will no longer be a page 1 or page 2, just one continuous page of results. As a result, rich results will become more important as these will make you stand out in an even-more competitive SERPs. Google will also no doubt redouble their efforts to bring Gen Z back to Google Search as they move to other search engines like TikTok. We’ll likely see lots of changes to algorithms/SERPs to help them achieve this and we wouldn’t be surprised if we see short-form video content prioritised in search results.
Google Tag Manager
GTM hasn’t had as transformative a year as other tools but we’ve still seen some useful updates throughout the year. The introduction of server-side Tag Manager can now load all client-side scripts via their 1st party domain, making client-side measurement fully 1st-party, and the launch of Tag Coverage Summary helps you quickly see which pages of your website have the Google tag installed. There have also been improvements to server-side tagging as new server-side Tag Manager containers now compress network traffic by default to improve latency.
2023 GTM Predictions
We can see from the changes in 2022 that the GTM are focusing on the server side and we expect 2023 to follow this trend to combat data collection issues raised by GDPR and ongoing browser mechanisms. Follow us on social or sign up for our newsletter to be updated when the new GTM updates inevitably come.
No doubt you’ve seen it everywhere (and also seen some complaints) but this year has seen a move away from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4, the next generation of Google Analytics. GA4 has been built to provide a more holistic and insight-driven analytics platform, one that is more suited to evolving privacy regulations and considerations. This move to GA4 is a requirement as Universal Analytics will be sunset in July 2023 (July 2024 for 360 customers). After that, you’ll be able to access your previously processed data in Universal Analytics for at least 6 months.
2023 Google Analytics Predictions
GA4 differs from Universal Analytics in 3 main ways: it brings 1st-party data together with cross-platform tools, fills measurement gaps with modelled data, and predicts customer behaviour with a secure cloud-based solution. Furthermore, you can now export all of your raw events from Google Analytics 4 properties to BigQuery, and then use SQL-like syntax to query that data. In BigQuery, you can choose to export your data to external storage or import external data for the purposes of combining it with your Analytics data. In Universal Analytics, only customers with the paid version, Universal Analytics 360, could export data to BigQuery.
Some have argued that GA4 has been launched prematurely and certainly as a product, it is not as far along as we would like it to be at this stage. However, we’ve only got a few more months of using UA so it’s something we all better get used to (and quickly!). The move to GA4 is likely to be the defining aspect of Digital Analytics for many in 2023.
From Google Data Studio to Looker Studio
Google acquired Looker, a competitor to Google Data Studio, in February 2020 for $2.6 billion. Understandably everything went quiet for a while until October of this year when Looker Studio was introduced as a rebranding and relaunch of Data Studio, Google’s reporting and visualization tool. Looker Studio remains free with the same features as Data Studio although a paid version of the service, Looker Studio Pro, was also announced. Apart from that, there have been lots of new features added to Data Studio (sorry, Looker Studio) throughout 2022 that have allowed us to design more interesting and accurate reports for our clients – check out our Digital Analytics Blog for more on this.
2023 Looker Studio Predictions
As with other products, Google Cloud and BigQuery are heavily touted as the future of Looker Studio, as well as a push towards predictive modelling and other data models. BigQuery can already be connected to Looker Studio for data visualization and dashboard building, meaning you can combine multiple data sources into a single connector for reporting. Recent changes to the GA4 API have caused issues for the main GA4 connector to Looker Studio, limiting the number of concurrent requests to just 10. There are no such concerns for the BiqQuery connector because BiqQuery stores the data, so it’s not pulled directly from GA4.
Goodbye to Google Surveys
Finally, after 10 years, 2022 saw the sunset of Google’s market research tool, Google Surveys, on the 1st of November. Google has said that they are still searching for ways to provide businesses with market insights but Google Surveys was no longer the best approach. We’re expecting that Google will release a replacement for Surveys in some form or another although it is more likely to be integrated into an existing service such as Google Ads, GA4 or Google Optimize, rather than a standalone product. Therefore we can only say, watch this space.
Bring on 2023 There you have it. A very brief summary of the major changes across Digital Marketing and Analytics we some predictions for 2023. Make sure you keep up to date with the latest trends and product updates by following us on Twitter or signing up for our newsletter.