Halfway Home: The Biggest Advertising Stories from the First Half of 2023

Well, that flew by—can you believe that the first half of 2023 is already in the rearview mirror? There’s never a dull moment in the digital advertising world, but these past six months have seemed particularly eventful. From the explosive emergence of generative AI, to social media turbulence, to convergent TV and the writer’s strike, advertisers have had more than enough to keep track of.

To help you make sense of Q1/Q2 and prepare for Q3/Q4, we called on three Basis Technologies experts to share their biggest takeaways from the start of 2023, and to share their predictions for the next six months.

AI and Advertising Ad Spend on the Up-and-Up

Basis Technologies: What trend do you expect to dominate the conversation in the advertising world in the second half of the year?

Kelly Boyle (Group VP, Client Strategy & Insights): Artificial intelligence will continue to be a hot topic. Marketers, agencies, and ad platforms will continue to experiment with the fast-growing technology, testing out its use in everything from creative development to product features.

BT: How do you expect ad spend to shift in the next six months?

KB: We’ve seen an increase in ad spend thus far this year, and that’s expected to continue. Connected TV and streaming will continue to grow as a focus for advertisers, as video continues to capture more of consumers’ attention and as a result of the turbulence we’re seeing in linear TV.

How Advertisers Are Preparing for a Cookieless Future

Basis Technologies: Google recently announced that it will disable third-party cookies for 1% of all Chrome users in Q1 2024. With only six months to go until then, what’s your sense of how prepared advertisers are for the impending loss of cookies in the world’s most popular browser, and what are the most important things they need to do to prepare?

Zach Moore (SVP, Digital Media Operations): Generally, I’d say there’s more acceptance of Google’s timeline at this point, given that they are slow rolling the migration of users over to the Privacy Sandbox and seem to be taking a more cautious, realistic approach (versus the previously-rumored hard shutdown for all Chrome users). Marketers now have some idea of how they’ll be impacted—namely, when it comes to targeting, attribution, frequency management. On the measurement end, many have really started to dig into modeling-based approaches, along with panel/survey-based measurement, understanding how cohorts may be useful, and getting more comfortable with tools like privacy compliant data sandboxes.

Digital Advertising Regulation in 2023

Basis Technologies: What were the biggest advertising-related regulatory updates in the first half of the year, and how are advertisers adjusting in response?

Derek Zolner (General Counsel): Privacy continues to be front and center. In the first half of 2023, companies had to prepare for four different state privacy acts (California, Colorado, Connecticut, and Virginia) that became effective on either January 1 or July 1, 2023. Companies that had already done the work to comply with the first California law (the California Consumer Privacy Act, aka CCPA) could largely adapt that foundational work to the new statutory requirements.

BT: What will be the biggest regulatory challenges facing advertisers in the second half of the 2023? 

DZ: More privacy. Five states (Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Tennessee, and Texas) have passed consumer privacy laws in 2023, and a handful of others are poised to do so as well. The continued proliferation of these differing state privacy laws underscores the need for a federal privacy law with one unified set of compliance obligations.

Additionally, AI is taking over the world, and this includes the regulatory space. As lawmakers continue to come to grips with the strength and scope of AI, I expect that they’ll make some attempt at regulation, but struggle to find a meaningful way to address these increasingly powerful tools.

The Biggest Advertising Stories from the First Half of 2023: Wrapping Up

Farewell, Q1/Q2! If you’ve taught us anything, it’s the importance of embracing agility in order to weather all the paradigm shifts characterizing the digital advertising space this year. Here’s to a successful, and hopefully somewhat less turbulent (hey, we can dream!), Q3/Q4.

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