Disruption has been a constant in the business world over the past few years. Therefore, staying updated on the conditions affecting their market is a top priority for smart business leaders in 2023, and agency leaders are no exception.
To ensure agencies will be agile enough to pivot and evolve as needed, proactively identifying the trends that promise to have a major effect on the industry this year is key. Here, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council explore trends they expect to impact their work and the ways agency leaders can prepare to leverage these insights.
Members pictured left to right.
Photos courtesy of the individual members.
1. A Greater Push Toward Web Accessibility
I think there is going to be a greater push toward Web accessibility, even for smaller businesses. One in four adults in the United States has a disability, and millions use assistive technologies. It’s estimated that 98% of U.S.-based websites are not compliant with accessibility standards. Having a Web presence that isn’t inclusive is bad for users, and, quite frankly, it’s bad business. – Victoria Silecchia, Omnizant
2. A Return To Brand-Building Activities
We are anticipating a move back toward more brand-building activities in terms of marketing and advertising. Over the past several years, there has been a major push toward performance-marketing tactics, which has caused a degradation of many high-end and well-known brands. We are starting to see our clients begin to allocate more budget in 2023 toward rebuilding their brand reputation. – Rich Cannava, Overskies
3. A Rebalancing Of Focus From Consumers To Employees
From a brand standpoint, we’re facing a rebalancing of focus. While organizations have relentlessly pursued consumer-oriented solutions in the creation of brands across industries, we anticipate a “correction” in focus, including a much more purposeful orientation toward employees—both current and prospective. This rebalancing will require broader insight and deeper HR and marketing collaboration. – Justin Wartell, Monigle
4. An Increase In Sponsored YouTube Shorts Content
YouTube Shorts are going to be big. Clients have long wanted to have more of a branded content presence on YouTube, but the length of the content there made it difficult to engage in a way that resonated with consumers. Now that the platform has embraced short-form content (and is promoting it heavily), the floodgates are going to open wide. Expect lots of sponsored content on YouTube in 2023. – Danielle Wiley, Sway Group
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5. Agencies Figuring Out How To Incorporate AI
For creative agencies, it is important to understand how to incorporate artificial intelligence as part of their workflow. AI tools are not going to replace employees anytime soon but can aid in the creative process. For example, we are already using OpenAI to act as a catalyst for brainstorming sessions and tools such as DALL·E and Midjourney for creating visual mood boards. – Firdosh Tangri, Fantasy
6. A Migration Away From Bland, Dull Design
One trend I anticipate in 2023 is a migration away from this bland, dull design movement we’ve seen many brands pursue with their corporate identities—think Pinterest, Facebook and numerous direct-to-consumer brands. I predict a return to rich, full-throated design as brands seek to stand out and relish what branding is all about. – Jason Cieslak, Siegel+Gale
7. Brands Experimenting With New PPC Ad Platforms
I expect to see many brands experimenting with new pay-per-click advertising platforms. Traditional PPC platforms such as Facebook and Google have had a declining ROI for brands over the last two years. Many smart brands and agencies are looking elsewhere to spend their ad dollars to achieve better conversion rates. – T. Maxwell, eMaximize
8. The Mass Adoption Of Design Thinking
Everyone is talking about design thinking and how it’s changing the world of business. Historically, this methodology was mainly used by creatives and occasionally by academia. Currently, we are witnessing its mass adoption in other areas of strategic and operational business processes to boost productivity and innovation. – Goran Paun, ArtVersion
9. A Traditional Media Renaissance
Companies have to rethink the heavily digital, transaction-based media mix. The risk is losing authentic consumer engagement beyond purchase. Traditional media to drive frequency and brand awareness is vital to connect with consumers struggling to make meaningful purchase decisions. To sustain lasting consumer engagement, frequency matters. – Katie Schibler Conn, KSA Marketing
10. The Rise Of The Internal Comms Role
While PR typically focuses on shaping external perception, communication with employees will be treated with the same care. Between reductions in force, a focus on inclusivity and reactions to socially polarizing events, tone-deaf internal messages are making their way into the public eye. As a result, there will be a higher demand for internal comms roles. – Lindsey Groepper, BLASTmedia
11. Affiliate PR Altering The PR Landscape
Affiliate PR is altering the PR landscape. The pay-to-play lines are blurring rapidly. In every instance, we need to consider this component as a media exposure influence. Social media must take on a similar consideration in that it can no longer be simply about awareness—it must drive transactions, and as we demonstrate this, clients will embrace increased budgets. – Dean Trevelino, Trevelino/Keller
12. The Ramping Up Of Automation
Automation is ramping up in a big way, and this is a great thing! It is going to free up our teams to focus on developing and testing more creative concepts, driving better results for our clients. Finding the adequate time to really dig deep into creative concepts has been a challenge over the years, but with new automation tools, we are getting that time back. Bring on the automation! – Bernard May, National Positions
13. More Alt Text And Image Descriptions
As visual searches continue to increase, agencies should shift their focus to their websites’ images. Google allows individuals to search for products using images, so optimize your website’s photos by including alt text and descriptions so that they can be found easily by search engines. – Hannah Trivette, NUVEW Web Solutions
14. A Growing Interest In Virtual Influencers
Virtual influencers will take influencer marketing to the next level. We expect growing interest among clients in incorporating virtual influencers into influencer marketing strategies and launching campaigns with high-performing virtual opinion leaders. Such collaboration will minimize the risk of making mistakes during campaign launches and give our clients exposure to new audiences. – Michael Kuzminov, HypeFactory
15. A Pivot Beyond Awareness Toward Driving Sales
Companies are looking for programs that actually drive sales rather than just brand awareness. As a result, we are pivoting to data-driven sales support techniques that drive leads to companies. While brand awareness continues to be the focus of a broad base of programs, more and more, public relations must drive sales efforts. – Leeza Hoyt, The Hoyt Organization, Inc.