Nadia Morozova, Global Chief Analytics & Insights Officer – Brand, Marketing and Communications at EY and formerly Head of EU Research & Insights, Marketing Science at TikTok, shares her predictions for the coming 12 months.

What media trends do you think will be most important in 2023?

In my opinion, it’ll be all about retail media and blending it with digital media. If we look back 15 or 20 years, communication in physical stores was a critical factor for successful brands, and marketers paid a lot of attention to winning the ‘First Moment of Truth’. Then, in 2011, Google introduced the ‘Zero Moment of Truth’, which outlined the shift towards digital and how consumers actually learn and discover brands and products in a digital environment before they go into physical stores. This change in consumer behaviour drove advertisers to shift their focus towards digital.

Nowadays, as e-commerce plays an even more important role in consumers’ life and social commerce is booming, we see a blend between ‘Zero’ and ‘First’ moments of truth, which is taking place in the way that consumers make their purchase decisions. Maybe in the next couple of years we’ll see an introduction of a whole new moment of truth, which will highlight the importance of retail media in the digital environment.

What challenges do you think brands should be most aware of next year?

If we look at the post-pandemic world and the current financial challenges, we can observe that consumers’ basic psychological needs to feel safe and secure have become highly prominent. This trend forces advertisers to reconsider how they are going to communicate and appeal to these basic need states.

At the same time, we see that communities are starting to play a more critical role because consumers are looking for understanding and support. Communities represent people who share the same type of challenges and overcome them together. It means that, in order to stay relevant, brands need to identify these communities and create messages, which will appeal the most to the needs and challenges of these communities.

From a research perspective, companies should look for ways to move from a traditional type of segmentation (age, gender, education, place of living) to segmentation based on identifying and understanding different consumer mindsets and psychological need states.

The term ‘communities’ seems to be coming up a lot at the moment. How will this impact media planning?

This community-first approach is something that will make brands think differently. Brands will need to look for relevant communities and the places they converge, rather than identifying some specific digital channels. It’s about focusing on the right people, and providing the right type of message, which is relevant for this specific community. Brands have been talking a lot about personalisation.

I think community-based marketing is something in-between – when you talk to a group, not an individual per se, but you really understand the dynamic and the conversations, which are taking place in the group. Importantly, brands will also need to discuss not only what they do to make the world better (e.g. sustainability), but also what they do to make the life of the specific community better.

I also believe that relevance will become an even more critical metric for marketers, because it’s important to know whether you are conveying the right messages to each specific community. Do I communicate to the right community of consumers? Does my message address the current consumer mindset?

Media consumption appears to be fragmenting. How can brands continue to reach their audiences in the current media marketplace?

Nowadays it becomes a question of building a bigger picture, and understanding how different channels support each other and work in combination with each other. This is something we saw [in my time as TikTok’s Head of EU Research and Insights, Marketing Science], when it was introduced as a totally new platform. It was important to understand what the key strengths of the platform were, but even more importantly how these strengths performed the best in conjunction with other platforms.

This is where marketers will require a lot of guidance from media owners – how will their media work in combination with other channels? How can I make sure that I use the right media mix? What are the key touchpoints for my community? Where are my communities built?

From your experience with TikTok, you’ve seen how fast audience behaviour is shifting. What can brands do to be ready for these changes?

Flexibility in the marketing mix is the key here, so you have the right set of channels, the right set of messages, and you're really flexible in addressing opportunities. With a traditional approach to marketing mix modelling, you take last year’s data, you put a lot of effort into analysing this data and you make your decision on how you want to proceed next year. We can see that this approach doesn’t leave much room for flexibility, especially when it’s so hard to predict what to expect in the next 12 months. Your communities will be changing, their needs will be shifting, their mindset will be evolving, and you need to make sure that you stay relevant right there, right now.

Measurement seems to be a key theme. How is the approach to measuring marketing effectiveness evolving?

I expect relevance to become key, with a lot of focus on how to reach your audience in the right place at the right time. If we look at modelling, for instance, so far researchers haven’t fully leveraged in-depth time series analysis and are instead largely just taking into consideration high-level seasonality curves. Now advertisers should pay very close attention to specific and meaningful moments for their communities. For example, in TikTok, we spent a lot of time understanding different moments on the platform. It's about being always on, because there's constantly something happening, and it's important to be relevant for your community and your audience at this specific moment in time.  

Coming back to MMM, we’re seeing it rise back up the agenda. Do you think modelling will continue to play a role in measurement?

I believe that right now modelling is more critical than ever – it’s just the quality of modelling that needs to be done on a much more granular level. At EY, a lot of the conversations I’m having with stakeholders are about getting access to real-time data and understanding what's going on in the industry right now. As we see, even in the B2B sector, conversations are focused on what is happening today and how we can make quick, data-driven decisions. So, the modelling will definitely be important, but the approach to modelling will be much more real-time and granular in the type of data being used.

Looking beyond 2023, what are your media predictions for further into the future?

These days consumers are spending substantially more time in digital environments than they used to before the pandemic. In this context, over time, offline will become more a kind of ‘luxurious world’ where consumers can disconnect and recharge. This will become even more prominent, as digital will be even more overcrowded with noise, and brands will face an even tougher challenge of getting consumers’ attention. In this scenario, offline will be a place where consumers are more open to brand messages. But to win offline, brands should be extremely relevant, and you really need to know how to appeal to immediate consumer needs and desires.