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Agency Anxiety: Navigating 2023

November 4, 2022

During this year’s Web Summit in Portugal, advertising icon Martin Sorrell predicted that 2023 will prove a difficult year for advertisers and marketers. With many global events affecting international economic relations and tech giants like Meta experiencing financial downturns in late 2022, the evidence can create some white-knuckle stress for agencies. 

While we are not in the business of financial or political sector commentary, it can’t be ignored that happenings in these spaces can affect clients’ businesses which, in turn, affects your agency. In a period that could create a recession or have consumers holding onto more of their money instead of spending it, agency leaders need to discover new strategies to communicate their immense value to their local markets. 

Thankfully, Sorrell didn’t just finish his talk by saying that 2023 appears challenging for advertisers and marketers. He also followed up with some suggestions for navigating what might become a trying twelve months ahead. 

Advertising Strategies for 2023 

Speaking to AdWeek at Web Summit, Sorrell said that the path forward in times of recession is focusing on performance, activation, measurement, media mix, and return on investment. How can we translate these pillars to an agency’s day-to-day operations, though? 

Let’s break them down one by one. 

Performance 

Transparent proof of performance is essential for agencies to build their reputation, continue landing new accounts, expand existing ones, and ultimately scale. When you can provide your client with tangible evidence of results from their investment in your services, that increases their confidence in their decision to partner with you in growing their own business. 

If a client is feeling the financial strain of a recession, they will likely not be willing to spend on digital campaigns that are not producing results that help them generate more revenue. Keeping this in mind, agencies must provide hard data that explains how their campaigns are benefitting the client’s business as well as contextual insights to explain the why behind it. 

Measurement 

Measurement involves tracking the right metrics to gauge a campaign’s performance by assigning the appropriate value to them. Once your team has outlined the goals for the campaign, are you gathering all of the proper data? 

Beyond your client’s stated advertising goals, think of any that might also add value to their campaign. Present them to the client, communicate any potential budget adjustments they might require, and determine if they are doable or if they should be the focus of a separate campaign in the future. 

Performance and measurement represent two different sides of one coin. For a campaign to best perform, the right metrics need to be collected and carefully analyzed. With this information in hand, you can make more informed decisions on future optimizations, adjustments, and strategic pivots to work toward your client’s goals. 

Activation 

Activation refers to marketing a business’s product, service, or brand to a target audience. In the traditional sense, this could take the form of an in-store event or an appearance at an industry trade show. 

Since digital does not involve an in-person element other than the audience member physically using the device the ad was served on, how can you incorporate activation into a digital campaign? 

With a digital campaign, you can track a wide range of offline behaviors that can be measured to gauge campaign performance. For example, with Google Ads and Analytics, offline conversions can be tracked if someone had visited your client’s store within a certain period of time after viewing an ad. The digital promotion they received inspired that individual to visit the store in person. 

For digital activation to succeed, the audience member must interact with your client’s business as a result of experiencing the ad. Beyond in-store visits, other ways to reach them can also include conversion-optimized landing pages, surveys, contact form fills, and other similar actions that require manual input. 

Media Mix 

A media mix strategy combines all of the possible digital and traditional channels that someone could reach your client’s business and engage with them further. Offering a single service or a narrow range of solutions will limit their reach to desirable audiences and also create a gap in offerings between your agency and local competitors. 

Campaigns that adopt a holistic approach to digital advertising and marketing can capture a greater share of qualified audiences. For example, if your client is an online outdoor sporting goods retailer that wants to promote a special on fishing rods, you could reach a wide range of potential shoppers with a media mix strategy that includes: 

  • Paid search – to insert shopping ads directly Google search results for users that have indicated an interest in fishing by their online behavior.
  • SEO – to drive qualified organic traffic to content on the client’s websites consisting of users that want to know more about fishing and fishing gear. 
  • Paid social – to inject an in-app shoppable ad into a qualified user’s feed that showcases the fishing gear that your client is offering a promotion for. 
  • Programmatic advertising – to insert dynamic image and video ads directly in front of viewers while they’re consuming their favorite content related to fishing or outdoor recreation. 
  • Organic social content – to engage with the store’s followers that want to stay up to date on the latest releases and learn more about fishing gear. 

All of these channels can then direct users to your client’s website where they can quickly browse and purchase products that interest them. If one of these were omitted, an entire customer base could remain unaware of the incredible discount your client is offering. 

Return On Investment 

Lastly, but far from least important, ROI matters for clients who are investing hard-earned revenue back into their digital campaigns. Are they earning more than they’ve spent on your services? 

Reporting provides the transparent performance data needed to gauge whether a campaign is performing exceedingly well, as expected, or underperforming. If the results are underdelivering from an ROI perspective, this can create a productive discussion with the client where you could introduce a new strategy, revisit one that may have been previously rejected, or optimize the current campaign further to move users further along the conversion path. 

Putting it All Together 

Now that you know Martin Sorrell’s pillars for marketing in 2023, how can you achieve them at your own agency? 

Many agencies today are still experiencing many of the same struggles that they did in 2019 when the world hit pause. From hiring and retaining qualified talent to expanding services and developing new business, it can seem difficult to hit all of these five pillars simultaneously without at least one of them on the back burner more than the others. 

To distill everything above into a few simple takeaways, here are some principles to keep in mind when strategizing for the year ahead: 

  • Double down on performance for your clients and prove it with reporting
  • Make sure you are tracking the right metrics that are necessary to support performance 
  • Prioritize the ad experience for your campaigns and optimize them to encourage conversions from audiences
  • Offer the most complete suite of services possible to attract new clients and retain and expand existing ones 
  • Prioritize ROI and/or Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) as the chief goal for your client’s campaigns 

If you are concerned about how your agency can hit these objectives in 2023, it may be time to consider joining forces with a performance partner. 

At Conduit Digital, we partner exclusively with successful and established agencies throughout North America to equip them with a full suite of digital marketing services managed 100% in the U.S. by a team of certified expert analysts. We bring the performance, hands-on implementation, industry best practices, and 24/7 live reports that you need to stabilize your internal operations and say “yes” to better opportunities with confidence. 

To learn more about what a Conduit Partnership looks like, schedule a 20-minute call today. 

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