Digiday+ Research roundup: Cookies, platforms and the economy ruled 2022

This research is based on unique data collected from our proprietary audience of publisher, agency, brand and tech insiders. It’s available to Digiday+ members. More from the series →

It’s been a year of ups and downs. What started out as a time of optimism and hope following two years darkened by a global pandemic ended in an economic downturn that many expect to turn into a recession.

Throughout 2022, Digiday+ Research has tracked the trends in the media and marketing industries that followed the roller coaster of news coverage heading into 2023. Below, we round up the biggest trends of the year, revealed through regular surveys of marketing, brand and publisher professionals. The standouts, we found, are cookies, platforms and, unsurprisingly, the economy.

Cookies on the brain

The (supposed) death of the third-party cookie was top of mind for Digiday readers this year, with the topic accounting for 2022’s most-read Digiday+ Research story and several other top stories. The topic’s prevalence among the marketing and media industries makes sense — with so much uncertainty from whether third-party cookies will actually go away to what will be its best replacement, both the buy side and the sell side are putting significant money and time into navigating the impending post-cookie world.

Here are the key stats on third-party cookies from Digiday+ Research this year:

  • 71% of brands and agencies agree somewhat or strongly that their ad measurement ability in a post-cookie world is a concern.
  • 56% of brand and agency pros said their businesses are actively preparing for the end of third-party cookies by revising their measurement and attribution frameworks.
  • 54% of agency and brand pros said Apple stands to gain a little or a lot with the death of the third-party cookie.
  • 50% said Google will gain, but 23% said Google will lose a little.
  • 55% of respondents to Digiday’s surveys said Facebook will lose a little or a lot after the third-party cookie is gone.
  • 76% of agency and brand pros said advertisers will lose a lot.
  • 54% of publisher respondents said Google would gain from the end of the third-party cookie in the spring, which fell to 33% in the summer.
  • The percentage of publishers who think Google will lose was up to 46% in the summer, compared with 29% in the spring.
  • Only one-third of agency and brand respondents said in the summer that Google will gain after the cookie is gone, compared with half of the respondents in the spring.

And here are the charts that tell the story:

Read the stories:

Platforms play a complex role for publishers and marketers

Digiday readers were also invested in how agencies, brands and publishers used platforms this year, which shouldn’t be surprising considering the dynamic qualities of platforms and their roles in media and marketing. From deep dives into how publishers used social media this year to trending data tracking the success of platforms for brands and agencies’ marketing strategies, Digiday+ Research’s findings regarding platforms proved to be as varied as the platforms themselves.

Here is a look at the year’s key stats on platforms:

  • Just over half of brand and agency pros said they are confident that Facebook drives marketing success.
  • 99% of publishers said their titles posted content on Facebook in the past month.
  • 74% of publisher pros said their titles post content to Facebook every day.
  • 75% of publishers said their titles purchased advertising on Facebook in the past month.
  • 25% of publisher execs said Facebook is “extremely valuable” to building their titles’ brands, up from 19% last year.
  • In 2022, 83% of publishers said their titles posted content on YouTube in the last month, compared with just 67% in 2021.
  • 29% of publishers said they make a significant investment in creating original content for YouTube, compared with 26% each on Facebook and Instagram, 19% on TikTok and 13% on Twitter.
  • 15% of publisher pros said YouTube is extremely valuable to driving their titles’ revenues, compared with only 7% last year.
  • 79% of agency pros said Instagram is appropriate for their clients’ brands, down from 88% last year.
  • Agencies who said Twitter is appropriate for their clients’ brands fell from 62% last year to 54% this year.

Here are the charts that tell the story:

Read the stories:

The economy ended up shaping the year

It wouldn’t be a true end-of-year wrap-up without mention of the economy and a potential impending recession. While not a major topic until the back half of the year, by Q3 Digiday+ Research surveyed both sell and buy side professionals about the topic. The survey findings weren’t entirely surprising: The economic environment heading into 2023 is a pessimistic but uncertain one. Media companies and marketers alike will likely be treading the uneven ground well into next year.

Here are the key stats from Digiday on how marketers and publishers feel about the economy:

  • 67% of publishers said they agree that a recession will occur within the next six months and 65% said they agree a recession will occur within the next 12 months.
  • 35% of publishers said that, as of Q3, their companies hadn’t made any preparations in advance of a recession.
  • 45% of publishers said this summer that a large portion of their revenue comes from direct-sold ads — a drop from 59% last winter.
  • 56% of publisher pros said they will put a large focus on building direct-sold ads in the next six months, making it the No. 1 focus for publishers heading into a downturn.
  • 85% of publisher pros said they agree that the economy will hurt ad sales into next year.
  • 44% of publishers said they disagree that they will discount ad prices more aggressively in the face of the economic downturn.

And here are the charts that tell the story:

Read the stories:

Honorable mention: Amazon and Netflix

Two big names that are worth mentioning in this roundup are Amazon and Netflix — both of keen interest to Digiday readers this year. Ahead of Netflix’s debut of its ad offerings in the fall, Digiday+ Research found that, as of April, two-thirds of brand and agency pros said they would buy ads on Netflix if they were offered. To be more precise, 37% said they definitely would buy Netflix ads and 29% said they probably would — numbers that likely rose as the actual debut of ad-supported Netflix drew near.

Meanwhile, Digiday+ Research found this year that there is a big difference between the confidence brands and agencies have in Amazon to drive marketing success and how much those groups are actually spending on advertising there — meaning Amazon offers marketing potential that isn’t being harnessed quite yet. When it comes to brands, 24% said they are confident that Amazon drives marketing success — but only 7% said they spend a large portion of their marketing budgets there. And it’s a similar story for agencies: 5% said clients spend a large portion of their ad budgets on Amazon, but almost half of agency pros said they are confident that Amazon drives marketing success for their clients.

These charts tell the story:

Read the stories:

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