Marketing Briefing: Despite more pressure on Q4 this year and the start of ’23, marketers are taking it ‘one month at a time’

This Marketing Briefing covers the latest in marketing for Digiday+ members and is distributed over email every Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET. More from the series →

Given the ongoing economic uncertainty and looming recession predictions, marketers have their sights set on the fourth quarter hoping for high sales, a revenue boost that could help them stave off issues next year. 

Despite that added pressure to Q4, some marketers still don’t have a clear picture on their plans for the quarter as planning windows have shortened for some. One CMO noted that typically this time of year he’d have a better idea of what to do for the fourth quarter, but that the economic uncertainty has him waiting to cement plans until later this fall. Others say the focus on performance marketing over brand building campaigns will continue as marketers put more pressure on agencies to deliver favorable results at the end of this year and into the start of 2023. 

“Usually we’re further along in planning on most of our campaigns,” said one agency exec who requested anonymity. “Not to say stuff isn’t well underway, but more brands than usual are still in an initial planning/briefing stage. It feels like there’s a lot of wait and see and/or let’s just focus on driving sales and be conservative with where dollars are spent.” 

That “wait and see” mentality has been on-going throughout the summer. When asked about the economic impact on ad dollars, marketers and agency execs have often used that phrase and they expect that to continue this fall with midterms, inflation and other major news events, noted one creative agency exec who added that it’s “quiet” and that there haven’t been many Super Bowl briefs yet this year. 

Taking the temperature of the market before launching major marketing investments and bets makes sense to one performance marketing agency exec who noted that a client is planning to launch a campaign but waiting to see how strong sales are this month. “I think everyone is taking it one month at a time and not trying to go ham on the planning yet,” he said. “So much we don’t know.” 

That’s not to say everyone is in wait and see mode. Some marketers are “actively releasing the budgets they were holding in Q2 and early Q3,” noted Mack McKelvey, CEO, SalientMG, a strategic B2B marketing firm. “Demand generation, content and events are the largest areas of increase. Marketers are being asked to drive an even higher impact on revenue in Q4; therefore, they are increasing their business-as-usual spend in the digital channels they’ve been actively testing.” 

Marisa Ricciardi, CEO, The Ricciardi Group, a strategic B2B marketing firm, echoed that sentiment: “Our B2B and enterprise tech clients remain active, still investing smartly and remain cautiously optimistic. We’re noticing more interest to trial new channels, such as Google’s display and video [as well as] digital out-of-home.” 

Even so, marketers and agency execs say there’s overall more pressure on Q4 this year. 

It’s looking to be a softer Q4,” said the first agency exec. “There’s greater and greater emphasis on mid and lower funnel campaigns. The economic uncertainty is a forcing function accelerating a shift/emphasis on performance media.” 

The exec continued: “Clients are demanding more of agencies. If agencies can’t deliver on true, full funnel digital campaigns then you’re not going to fare well this year. I think this is going to be a make or break year for a lot of agencies. If you can’t walk the walk with digital you’re business is going to wither and die.”

3 Questions with Kate Terhune, director of brand marketing at Rent, formerly RentPath

Rent, formerly RentPath, recently went through a rebrand. How did that impact marketing?

With the rebrand, we had to figure out a way to address both audiences — both the client side and the renter side. Now we’re trying to build a consumer-facing strategy that gets the rent name out there to as many consumers as possible. From a marketing channel standpoint, we’re looking at all the channels — out-of-home, OTT, you name it, we’re exploring it. We’re building a strategy that’s going to have a high impact and testing into market-level buys in the next few months that we’re going to roll out nationally once we see what the effectiveness of those look like.

How has the beefed up marketing strategy, with more channels and brand marketing capabilities, impacted spend?

We’re not going to be frivolous with how we spend money. We’re going to be very smart about it and make sure that it’s optimized to drive effectiveness. So the budget is not huge, but it’s definitely big enough to test a variety of platforms and channels.

With such a tumultuous housing market, how does that impact marketing strategy?

Now, there’s an entirely new demographic that’s very interesting. It’s people who are in the housing market and can’t afford a home because prices are through the roof. The interest rates are through the roof. So we have an entirely new subset of customers who are looking at the rental industry and deciding, “Okay, maybe now’s the time to go back to renting or maybe even renters for the first time.” Rent’s mission is to just make it easier. We’re trying to optimize the websites and make sure that when you go, our advanced filtering options help you find exactly what you’re looking for. — Kimeko McCoy

By the numbers

Diversity, equity and inclusion may have gone from a fever pitch to a dull roar over the last two years across the advertising agency landscape, but it’s still top of mind for shoppers. For example, many shoppers looked for brands to take a stance regarding the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade. A new global survey from Wunderman Thompson reveals that shoppers feel equality is now everyone’s business. Find key details from the report below: 

  • 82% of the study’s respondents feel that actions on inclusion and equality should be integrated throughout a company’s entire business.
  • 63% of those who responded to the survey say they’re more likely to buy from brands that made more effort to represent people like them.
  • 60% of people agree brands who do not deliver on inclusion will become irrelevant. — Kimeko McCoy

Quote of the week

“For direct-to-consumer brands in today’s market with really expensive digital marketing costs you need to be tailored and targeted. Rather than trying to boil the ocean, having a more refined marketing approach is better to go after them.” 

— Eunice Shin, head of DTC for brand consultancy Prophet, discussing why DTC brands need to take a more tailored approach than the spray and pray marketing efforts of the past.

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