As the year nears its end, key industry voices revisit their top learnings and chart a forecast for 2024.
For India’s advertising and marketing technology (AdTech and MarTech), the closing curtains of 2023 mark the end of a year filled with technological leaps and strategic recalibrations. From the emergence of groundbreaking large language models to the nuanced shifts in advertiser strategies and the ever-expanding digital frontiers, the year 2023 saw it all.
As the industry prepares to turn the page, key voices within the space share insights gained and anticipate what lies ahead in 2024.
Optimising personalised advertising
A technological undercurrent that surged to prominence in 2023 was the advent of large language model (LLM) tools in the marketing landscape. Advertisers found creative avenues for personalised campaigns, creativity optimisation, and intuitive ad targeting. As per Vipul Kedia, chief data and platforms officer at Affle, an adtech platform that helps brands with mobile advertising, the tools are crucial in a privacy-first ad world.
He says, “These next-gen tools are pivotal for unlocking personalised advertising experiences, aligning with the industry's hyper-personalisation focus and ensuring ethical use of privacy-first advertising offerings.”
Affle's R&D is centred around AI-driven innovation. For instance, it uses GenAI-powered keyword search on iOS to help advertisers reach and engage vernacular audiences. “We've also recently filed fifteen patents to advance AI innovation in various subject areas.”
In addition to this, a notable shift in 2023 is advertisers recognising the importance of a nuanced approach to reach unique users, moving away from scattering efforts across multiple partners and publishers.
Kedia explains, “Advertisers are adapting budgets to focus on the true value of ad spends amidst global economic challenges. As the industry matures, there's a growing emphasis on responsiveness and agility to deliver meaningful conversions in a dynamic global landscape. Looking ahead to 2024, this trend is expected to continue.”
Embracing new avenues
The growth trajectory for 2023 has extended into new frontiers, embracing the emergence of connected TV, OTT, Digital out of home, connected audio,Maanesh Vasudeo, senior vice president of media operations at LS Digital
This year, MarTech also exhibited concentrated attention directed towards the holistic development of the digital ecosystem. The focus extends from full-funnel marketing strategies to conversion optimisation, culminating in the deft deployment of AdTech and MarTech stacks, as per Maanesh Vasudeo, senior vice president of media operations at LS Digital.
He points out, “The growth trajectory for 2023 has extended into new frontiers, embracing the emergence of connected TV, OTT, Digital out of home, connected audio, and a myriad of other avenues that collectively redefine the contours of the digital landscape.”
The year also saw LS Digital embark on a voyage into what Vasudeo terms the LS Digital Marketing Transformation framework. This framework spans Media, creative and communication, CX (customer experience), data and insights, tools, and tech innovations, underscoring a holistic approach that extends beyond conventional paradigms.
The metamorphosis extends to performance channels, where algorithms and automated products have assumed a transformative role, charting a path towards success.
However, as LS Digital positions itself for the challenges that 2024 may bring, Vasudeo acknowledges the formidable hurdle presented by the impending cookie deprecation. This challenge, as Vasudeo notes, acts as a catalyst, necessitating a reconsideration of marketing strategies.
Arjit Sachdeva, chief technology officer at VDO.AI, paints a portrait of unequivocal maturation throughout the year 2023. He points out the surge in business enthusiasm towards delving into programmatic advertising, signalling a promising paradigm shift within the industry.
He says, “ The strategic evolution we’ve undergone in shaping campaign strategies is noteworthy, with a keen focus on advanced data analytics, AI-driven insights, and a nuanced understanding of consumer behaviours. One standout achievement was India leading the global ad revenue growth charts for the first half of the year.”
This ascendancy is further accentuated by the increasing adoption of omnichannel strategies by brands, responding adeptly to the escalating consumer demand for personalised experiences. This strategic pivot empowers brands to optimise ad budgets judiciously while tapping into previously unexplored markets, Sachdeva reveals.
The impending phasing out of third-party cookies adds an intriguing dimension. Shifting the spotlight from third-party to first-party data is anticipated to bring about more refined targeting solutions.Arjit Sachdeva, chief technology officer at VDO.AI
In the context of the innovation witnessed in the ad tech industry this year, gamification surfaced as a dynamic strategy. Sachdeva suggests that the format was frequently employed by brands to break through the clutter and create interactive experiences for users.
While celebrating the substantial improvements brought about by supply path optimisation, Sachdeva underscores the pressing need for a more earnest approach to addressing transparency issues. As 2024 beckons, promising prospects await, with CTV advertising poised to maintain its central role, having garnered impressive results throughout the year. However, Sachdeva issues a clarion call for advertisers and publishers to prioritise delivering optimal value within the supply chain to scale and enhance the success of CTV advertising.
Simultaneously, heightened measures by brands in responsibly handling user information reflect a pivotal shift in prioritising consumer trust. Sachdeva anticipates that this emphasis on data security will persist in 2024, moulding a more secure landscape for both brands and consumers.
“The impending phasing out of third-party cookies adds an intriguing dimension. Shifting the spotlight from third-party to first-party data is anticipated to bring about more refined targeting solutions. It will certainly be interesting to witness how businesses adapt and adjust to this evolving scenario.”
Embracing the new tech
The imprint of 2023 was one of resilience and adaptability, as highlighted by Amit Relan, co-founder and CEO of mFilterIt.
From marketing and sales to product development, client servicing, supply chain, and back-office support, AI has emerged as a driving force, augmenting efficiency throughout the processes.Amit Relan, co-founder and CEO of mFilterIt
Amidst the initial challenges presented by the funding winter and the global economic slowdown during the Ukraine crisis, the sector demonstrated remarkable resilience, surging forward with a notable emphasis on ‘Efficiency’ that claimed the spotlight in the latter half of the year.
The turbulence resonated globally, as reflected in a 20% dip in the value of the top 100 valuable brands, according to the Kantar BrandZ report, serving as a catalyst for the ad tech industry to recalibrate its strategies. Relan says, “Inflation and subsequent layoffs added pressure to the global ecosystem, impacting not just AdTech but various domains. However, stepping into 2024, a tangible sense of optimism permeates the industry.”
Companies, recognising the imperative of digital transformation, have seamlessly integrated technologies such as artificial intelligence across various facets of operations, reveals Relan.
“From marketing and sales to product development, client servicing, supply chain, and back-office support, AI has emerged as a driving force, augmenting efficiency throughout the processes.”
In anticipation of the opportunities awaiting in 2024, the company pledges to intensify investments in R&D, aiming to elevate its technology. “The overarching goal is to ensure that clients experience substantial efficiency gains in their marketing campaigns.”