To wrap up 2023, Mediaweek is looking at the biggest trends, events, platforms, and brands of the year.
Welcome to Mediaweek’s A to Z of 2023 … and beyond.
By Josh Faulks, CEO of AANA
It has been a challenging year for our industry across a number of fronts.
The biggest run of interest rate hikes in the shortest period in over 40 years has squeezed disposal income and consumer spending is volatile. The ongoing cost of living crisis and stubbornly high inflation has shattered consumer confidence. This means that business revenues are under immense strain.
At the same time, the cost of doing business has increased dramatically leading to cost cutting across the board as businesses strive to not pass on those costs which would put further pressure on inflation and perpetuate the cycle.
In this cost cutting environment, 2023 was as year of pressure on marketing budgets and pressure to demonstrate the return on investment (ROI) in marketing.
In that context, it’s no surprise that I am consistently told that marketing effectiveness and ROI have dominated the thinking of advertisers and marketers this year.
At the same time, we saw increased criticism and regulatory pressure from governments across the country, in particular, around advertising bans, environment claims and privacy.
The year that has been demonstrates that now, more the ever, the industry needs a strong united voice defending and promoting the value of the industry to the media, governments and business leaders.
I think we will see the economic and regulatory pressure on our industry intensify in 2024. The focus of governments and business will rightly be on growth and the cost of living. We know that advertising and marketing drives growth and brings prices down through competition and innovation. The opportunity for our industry is to prove our value to the Australian economy and broader community by better marketing ourselves (ironically!).
I suspect there will continue to be a big focus on marketing effectiveness and ROI in 2024. As part of that, cross media measurement will play an increasingly important role.
On regulatory issues, we will need to come together to defend our industry, and protect and promote our world class regulatory system. Gambling reforms will come through from the Federal Government and pressure will build on the banning of advertising of unhealthy food and drinks – a disaster for our industry and the broader economy. We will need to build consumer confidence in environmental claims, and the proposed privacy reforms will start to slowly weave their way through the Australian Parliament.
Despite the economic headwinds and regulatory challenges, I am optimistic about what 2024 will bring for our industry. I am constantly impressed by the industry’s ability to thrive and innovate in tough economic times. This is what we are all about – helping businesses and the economy grow.
By Tony Hale, CEO of ACA
Reflecting on the advertising and media landscape as we come to the end of the year, the journey towards a sustainable and socially conscious advertising industry continues, with the industry poised to lead by example in the years ahead.
Just over three years ago, the UK’s Advertising Association launched Ad Net Zero, a commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2030. As soon as they decided to roll the program out globally, Advertising Council Australia swiftly threw its support behind the initiative.
Ad Net Zero’s five-step framework involving auditing operations, production, media plan footprint, awards and events, and influence of public behaviour will provide a roadmap for industry-wide sustainability.
Governance and self-regulation have become focal points in elevating industry standards. While we believe the media and advertising industry is largely responsible, it doesn’t necessarily look so from an external perspective, especially when compared to other professional service industries.
So when we launched accreditation, it was essential to tighten our own governance through member rules, a code of conduct, and a code of ethics. This provides a framework to set the standards we expect from members and foster continuous improvement. Looking forward, we anticipate tiered accreditation levels as well as additional certification for excellence in specific markets, fostering healthy competition and encouraging agencies to surpass minimum standards.
Formal training and education within the advertising industry is undergoing scrutiny. Despite some commendable efforts, there’s still room for improvement in formalised certification and standardised career progression pathways. Encouraging businesses to invest in education enhances skills and contributes to long-term industry sustainability.
As we navigate these complexities into the next year and beyond, representative bodies like Advertising Council Australia remain committed to global initiatives, advocating for responsible practices and providing frameworks for our industry to thrive.
By Gai Le Roy, CEO of IAB Australia
2024 summed up: innovation seeking and efficiency.
2024 is set to be a significant year for the digital advertising industry. Once again it will be underpinned by changes. The changes in data availability and usage will result in marketers and brand seeking new ways to protect consumer data signals, tailor campaign targeting and development advertising measurement. Apple’s previous changes to tracking and Chrome’s retirement of 3rd party cookies is scheduled for late 2024, and importantly we will have details from the Australian Government in relation to the next steps for local privacy reform. Although new information will be received for the details of the new privacy legislation, none of these topics should come as a surprise for marketers, agencies or publishers who have, hopefully, been preparing for changes for a number of years. But 2024 will be a year of reviewing, testing, and reconfiguring in earnest.
Measuring and reducing carbon emissions generated by our industry will increasingly become a priority and 2024 will see the industry working on ways to help the whole advertising ecosystem align on initiatives, standards, and education. Fortunately, many of the ways we can reduce emissions in relation to media activity are aligned with changes that will improve the overall efficiency of activity in our industry.
Perhaps the best way to sum up what lies ahead in 2024 are the words innovation seeking and efficiency. Given the economic outlook for late 2023 and early 2024 is quite subdued, it’s not surprising that organisations are either looking for ways to save or they are being conservative around long-term investments. However, developments in AI, alongside new efficient ways of working and a range of industry innovations will offer our people the opportunity to learn new skills and find new ways of working. Meanwhile brands will be challenging their marketing teams to find new methods of growth which will mean marketers will be looking for media opportunities and marketing technology that can clearly demonstrate effectiveness.
It’s going to be a very busy year for us all.
By Sam Buchanan, CEO of IMAA
Despite the overuse of the whole concept of AI and how our industry will use it to its best effect, it is still the most exciting disruption to come in 2024. I believe that AI has the ability to continue to level the playing field if it is harnessed properly rather than just being a play thing.
Speaking of AI, 2024 will see the Federal Government’s new data and consumer privacy laws have a significant impact on how brands are marketed to consumers. With the ability to sue for serious breaches of privacy, opting out of targeted advertising and, most importantly, the right to be forgotten, consumers have the upper hand.
The demand for a more sustainable advertising supply chain will grow and impact commercial decisions as clients will demand it to achieve their overarching ESG goals and media owners and agencies will need to step up. More than half (55%) of the IMAA’s members said it will soon influence their buying decisions.
While 2023 has been an interesting ride, the indie media agency sector is still in robust health. Our latest IMAA Indie Census found that 60% of indies expect to grow but that growth will be determined by consumer and client confidence. Despite this, indies have had a cracking year of growth and 2024 is set to be another big one in the era of the indies!
By Sophie Madden, CEO of MFA
We often talk about collaboration as an important goal to strive towards, and for good reason. Collaboration is how we make things happen – impactful work for clients, industry-advancing projects and change-making initiatives.
And in 2023, collaboration was front and centre in the media and advertising industry. Among many examples was the update Advertising Pays report, which quantified advertising’s economic impact as $53 billion, or 2.1% of the GDP, an important proof point of the value of our industry. Commissioned by the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA), Advertising Council of Australia (ACA) and Media Federation of Australia (MFA), the report also had the backing of the CRA, IAB, Free TV, OMA and ThinkTV.
We also worked together with our industry partners to align on major initiatives on privacy, sustainability and contractual equity, and to enhance trust and transparency in out-of-home through the development of improved metrics.
In 2024, as I’m sure all outlook commentary is mentioning, we expect challenging economic conditions, with high inflation and waning consumer confidence impacting the first half of the year. Consequently, the role of agencies will be increasingly relevant in helping marketers navigate these treacherous waters.
Work in the diversity, equity and inclusion space will continue to be a priority, not just in our industry but across all sectors, as ongoing conflict and instability around the world further fracture society and our communities. Our goal should always be to ensure everyone feels included, supported and safe in the workplace, and we aim to achieve just that through the creation of an Industry Psychosocial Safety action plan in the new year.
In addition, with the much-needed refresh of Australia’s Privacy Act coming into effect next year, the impact of tech and increased regulation will occupy the thoughts and actions of marketers, agencies and media owners alike.
Finally, sustainability is another focus area for 2024. At the MFA, we’ll bring this to the fore through our collaboration with the AANA, IAB and other industry partners to help transition the industry into a more sustainable economy. This is an important aspect of the MFA’s ambition to lead a sustainable, respected, inclusive and future-proofed industry.
As always, we will continue to empower and inspire our members to create positive change in our industry and the broader community, because We Are The Changers.
Top image, left to right: Josh Faulks, Tony Hale, Gai Le Roy, Sam Buchanan and Sophie Madden