In between creating and optimizing ads these past few weeks, our team of growth marketing experts came together to talk about what we expect to see in digital advertising in 2023. The conversation quickly got exciting. 

It’s no secret that the past couple of years in the digital ad space have been challenging — privacy changes, COVID, supply chain issues, inflation — but we believe the future is pretty bright. 

We predict 2023 is going to be a big, disruptive year for digital ads. Here’s how:

UGC Will Dominate Ad Creative 

Video ad creative outperformed static ads in almost all cases in 2022. In 2023, ads will be dominated by UGC. 

User-generated or influencer-created video ads are an incredibly powerful form of advertising that leverage the influence of one person’s opinion about a product or service. We’ve seen UGC video ads take off in the past year, evolving from unscripted, complicated videos to more strategic, organized, native-style testimonials. 

 

At Primer, we expect that the production quality of UGC will continue to rise as more content creators participate. Video and recording technology will continue to accelerate, bringing with it features that were previously only accessible to studios. The gap between professionally produced content and that made from individuals will continue to shrink. 

With higher quality creator content, we believe the lines between traditional PR and paid advertising will become more blurred. Content creators will see the value in participating in ads, and brands will gain trust in the creator. Brands will start to shift dollars from these traditional forms of PR into more measurable media like paid social. 

As a result, whitelisting will be critical next year. Users will crave more genuine content from their favorite creators, with fewer ads. Marketplaces like the TikTok Creative Exchange and the forthcoming Instagram Creator Marketplace will make it easier than ever for brands to find creators to whitelist. 

Ultimately, we believe that brands that have historically shied away from UGC ad creative will start to test the waters, further validating this powerful form of advertising. 

This Will Be the Year of TikTok 

At Primer, we’ve been bullish on TikTok for a while now — having seen the impact of the platform first-hand for our partners — but we believe that 2023 will be the year that TikTok starts to see a massive increase in ad spend. 

The perception of TikTok will continue to improve as major brands and less-obvious verticals (e.g. B2B) will understand the opportunity beyond just teenagers. 

Share will shift away from challenged ad platforms (Twitter, Snapchat) and into TikTok. 

TikTok will also have a continued impact on other ad channels. TikTok-first ad creative will become more prevalent on Instagram and YouTube Shorts and could even bleed into OTT. We have already seen TikTok-first ad creative work on other platforms in 2022, and we expect that as it becomes more mainstream, the style will become even more effective on other channels.

We don’t see TikTok’s top-notch business team slowing down any time soon either. TikTok is innovating at rapid speed and supporting their advertisers unlike any other platform today with a strong ads manager, incredibly helpful reps, and resources like the TikTok Creative Exchange. As TikTok continues to grow, we expect this level of service to grow as well, introducing new ad formats that will serve a wider variety of advertisers. 

All in all, the combination of TikTok’s friendly ad environment, the improving perception of the platform and the power of UGC (native to TikTok) set the stage for a pretty big year for TikTok. 

AI Is Going to Become Part of the Creative Process 

This year, AI in marketing creative went from a Twitter meme to a killer app. In 2023, it’s going to become part of the creative process. 

Generative AI — when the machine creates something new, rather than analyzing something that exists — has begun to take hold in the marketing creative landscape. AI text tools like Jasper.ai and Copy.ai have matured to become a solid resource for first drafts or thought starters for things like ad copy headlines, blog posts, and landing page copy. 

AI imagery, while still awkward, can be leveraged as a way to storyboard or concept a future photo, video or design. Agencies like BBDO are already testing image generation for brainstorming with the AI tool, Stable Diffusion.

In 2023, we will see some savvy, scrappy startups begin to use AI for the majority of their creative needs, shifting what was an hour-plus in Canva to 5 minutes using AI to create a graphic or blog post. 

Larger companies and agencies will start leveraging AI to assist with copywriting. While it may not result in the final product, it can quickly and efficiently jumpstart the creative process by getting ideas flowing. They may also use AI to draft concepts and streamline communication between marketers and designers. Mockups will lose relevance as marketers can generate 20 AI drafts and send 2-3 of those to a designer that are close to what they need. 

AI and machine learning will be at the forefront of iterative testing and ad creation, especially for static images. We will begin to see this natively integrated into martech tools to help generate fast iterations on an image and speed up the workflow.

This also expands the pool of creative talent. People without copywriting or creative skills will be able to quickly generate draft concepts that would have taken time, coordination and resources. The skill to successfully prompt AI to generate high-quality output will give you and your business a leading edge over the competition.

More Trends to Watch 

In addition to the three big, disruptive trends mentioned above, we also believe that these shifts below will have a meaningful impact on the advertising landscape in 2023. 

  • CTV and OTT grow fast. Cross-platform attribution tools have gotten more sophisticated and gained wider adoption in the past year, opening up the possibility to measure expanded channels. At the same time, CTV and OTT targeting has advanced to be competitive with the targeting capabilities in paid social. This combination points to big growth in 2023. 
  • Product photography is powerful. Shoppable DPA ads have proven to be very effective, and with more shoppable capabilities being built into social platforms, we expect this ad format to gain in popularity in 2023. Strong product photography will become more important to leverage these shoppable ads.
  • Meta invests in advertisers. We saw this start to happen with Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns (ASC) in 2022, and we expect to see more improvements to the platform and support in the coming year. 

What Won’t Change in 2023

We predict that 2023 will be a disruptive and exciting year, but there are a few things that we feel confident won’t change.  

  • Creative is king. At Primer, we’ve long believed that creative is the biggest lever for growth, and we don’t see that changing any time soon. Ad platforms continue to get more automated, removing the ability to optimize for growth. The real gains are made when you have a continuous pipeline of ad creative, consistently testing new ideas and iterations to find winning ads. 
  • Continued focus on profitability. LTV was the metric to watch in 2022, and we believe that’s here to stay for 2023. Brands are more focused on profitability and we expect that again next year, as brands continue to navigate through an ever-changing economy.
  • Paid social holds strong. Sure, you can say we’re biased on this one, but we also have an inside track. The trends in UGC, TikTok, and AI all help improve efficiency and effectiveness within paid social advertising, and with the continued focus on profitability, budgets will remain allocated to measurable channels like paid social. 

At Primer, we use these trends and our insights from working with disruptive brands to plan our roadmap in 2023. It’s exciting, for sure. If you’re looking to dive into any of these trends or simply fuel your growth with better ads, we’d love to help. Schedule a call by clicking below.

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