It was supposed to be the year of the metaverse, as web3 hype gathered pace through the beginning of the year, but throughout 2022 different tech stories emerged that had much more bearing on the reality of advertising in the here and now.

To begin with the metaverse: the &Partnership’s head of innovation, Oli Feldwick articulated the emerging idea of the metaverse as a promising, if complicated vision in a best practice piece early in the year. The piece lays some important theoretical fundamentals for what the internet could one day become and should be essential reading for understanding the potentials and pitfalls of an embodied internet.

But the complexity came later in the year, as the economic realities facing consumers reached the heights of the major tech companies. Meta, the company FKA Facebook, had been struggling to match its pandemic-era growth for several reasons. While many analysts looked to the company’s huge spending on the development of the metaverse, its Q3 results pointed to broader issues in digital advertising.

Meta wasn’t alone in the struggle, which certain observers – not least Meta’s executives – have tied to Apple’s Tracking Transparency feature, which came onto iPhones in the middle of last year but has wreaked havoc on companies at an awkward mid-point of the purchase funnel.

Not broad reach enough to be TV-style awareness builders, but not far enough down the funnel to rely on conversions, the need to find alternative attribution solutions has piled on costs onto several social media firms, while making their performance appear worse and more costly to their customers. Apple is now moving into advertising, and expanding its inventory across its ecosystem – expect this to remain a major advertising story into 2023.

Arguably, it’s the measurement problem that has sparked so much interest in retail media, with customer bases emerging as an extremely valuable new audience.

Finally, a word on one of the more boisterous tech stories of the year, which came with the takeover of Twitter, which began with gentle suggestions of bringing back once-loved video platforms, but has now run into a broader re-evaluation of big tech by brands. It has been an eventful year.