Perspective - Breathe in and breathe out, we all weathered the storm this year 

By Jo-Ann Foo | 4 December 2023
Jo-Ann Foo

The AdNews end of year Perspectives, looking back at 2023 and forward to next year.

If we think back to the beginning of this year, it was a very different mindset we were all in. Worries about a recession were plentiful, businesses were on edge, and I would hazard a guess that many of us thought we were in for a rough ride.

While there have certainly been challenges this year, with some of the industry’s biggest businesses going through significant restructures and budgets tightening immensely, by and large most businesses have been able to weather the storm and stay afloat. 

I believe it’s because most of us were so concerned about the upcoming recession and prepared so thoroughly for it that we were able to ward it off. The pandemic taught most businesses crucial skills in adaptability which have probably paid off over the past 12 months.

What is really interesting is we’ve witnessed the way brands act in market change, but not in the way you’d expect in tougher economic times. We’ve actually seen higher investment in brand this year, which is something we’re very excited about, as we’ve believed for a long time that Australian advertisers have been underinvested in brand marketing. And this isn’t just our clients at Analytic Partners - we’re seeing this much more broadly. 

By and large, it has been business as usual for many, despite the focus turning to how money is being spent in the marketing department. Those marketers that can communicate marketing activity and outcomes to the rest of the business are undoubtedly reaping the benefits now.

And while the market has been more buoyant than expected, the tough times aren’t over yet. We are still living in a cost of living crisis that’s not showing any signs of easing yet, particularly with persistent interest rate rises. Where we once held our breath waiting for the recession to come, I think we are now holding our breath waiting for prices in the supermarket to finally stabilise. 

Although economic challenges persist, we've learned to navigate the turbulent waters and find opportunities amidst the chaos - and one of the high points was particularly year-defining and record breaking.

This is of course the Matildas’ triumphant run at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and Australia and New Zealand’s successful hosting of the tournament.

This was more than the most significant cultural landmark of the year. The World Cup dispelled myths - that women’s sports aren’t interesting or therefore, profitable, that Australia isn’t a soccer nation, and from a marketing standpoint, that TV is a dying medium.

The Matildas games smashed pretty much every viewing record out there. The Seven Network’s gamble paid off immensely - the network can now boast of having aired the most watched television program since ratings were established in 2001, and they paid less than $5 million for it.

The tournament proved the ability of women’s sport to engage a broad range in the market, opening up a whole new avenue for brands to target. It proved that when you provide engaging content, the audiences will follow. As someone who used to work at Nielsen Sports (formerly known as Repucom), it’s safe to say these conversations were happening for a while. The potential of women’s sports has always been high - and this year, it’s finally being realised.

As we step into 2024, it’s an interesting time to be in the measurement space, and our objectivity at Analytic Partners gives us valuable insight on what we see happening. 

The Upfronts season saw a few key themes come to the fore - VOZ, as a tool for cross-platform measurement, will be an extremely interesting and important space to watch. We’ll be keeping an eye on how this rolls out across the market and how it opens up opportunities for targeting and personalisation over the next 12 months. 

It will be interesting to see how VOZ delivers against what’s been promised so far, particularly when we’ve seen targeting and personalisation attempts in the market in the past that haven’t necessarily been able to deliver against their promises.

The other part of Upfronts that stood out was all the talk about measurement and analytics. We’re going to see a real tension between fast measurement reporting which does have a place, as long as you’re aware of the limitations of attribution-type analytics, versus the kind of measurement that delivers deeper insights. In 2024 and beyond, I think this tension will shape how analytics is used, not only within advertising, but more broadly.

None of us are naive enough to think we’ve seen the worst of everything yet. But there are still a lot of opportunities in marketing. The new inventory, new tech, just new things in general being made available all the time makes this a really exciting time. I personally love this industry for the fact that it’s always moving and changing.

So yes, times might get tougher, but we always adapt, and the past few months - or even the past few years - have proved there are a lot of different ways we can do that. And at the end of the day, it’s really fun to see how this all comes to life. That’s what I have to look forward to.

Jo-Ann Foo is Senior Director at Analytic Partners

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