Digiday+ Research: The economy will hit the media and marketing industries this year, but differently

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 →

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The economy will plague both the media and marketing industries in 2023 — this is something that is already starting to play out. But the hit will be uneven between publishers and agencies.

This is according to a Digiday+ Research survey of 139 publisher and agency professionals.

Digiday’s survey found that publishers and agencies agree that the economy will be a major hurdle this year. Both groups identified economic trends as the No. 1 challenge their industries will face in 2023. This isn’t necessarily surprising, but it is a big change from last year, when the economy wasn’t even included on Digiday’s list of challenges for either industry (cookie deprecation was the top challenge for the media industry last year, while agencies were most concerned about the Great Resignation).

For publishers, the foreboding feeling regarding the economy was clear in the survey results. More than three-quarters of publisher pros (77%) told Digiday that economic trends will be the biggest challenge the media industry faces this year.

Agencies also made it clear that economic challenges are on their mind in 2023, although to a lesser degree. Fifty-nine percent of agency pros told Digiday that economic trends will be the agency industry’s biggest challenge this year.

This isn’t the first time concern about the economy has surfaced in our research reporting: Last month we reported that 59% of publishers agree the economy will hurt their companies’ performance this year, and that only 35% of publisher pros are optimistic about the media industry overall. Meanwhile, 56% of agencies agree the economy will hurt their 2023 performance.

Looking at each industry’s concerns, the picture of how big a challenge the economy will be this year becomes clearer — mostly because it turns out that economic trends beat out other potential challenges in both the media and agency industries by quite a wide margin.

Publishers are concerned about the economy far more than other obstacles they might encounter this year. After the 77% of publisher pros who told Digiday economic trends will be the industry’s biggest challenge this year, the next largest group was a mere 11% who said the supply chain’s impact on ad spend will be the biggest challenge to the media industry in 2023.

No other potential challenge even hit double-digit percentages: Cookie deprecation came in at 6%, followed by staffing turnover at 3%, and walled gardens and video ad measurement and attribution, which each came in at 2%.

The economy will also be the biggest challenge for agencies this year, but it didn’t come out as far ahead of other potential challenges as it did for publishers, according to Digiday’s survey.

Following economic trends, which 59% of agency pros said would be their industry’s biggest challenge in 2023, 16% of respondents to Digiday’s survey said staffing turnover will be agencies’ biggest challenge this year. Eleven percent of agency pros said video ad measurement and attribution will be the biggest challenge, 5% chose both cookie deprication and walled gardens, and the supply chain’s impact on ad spend brought up the rear at 3%.


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