Executive Round-Up: 2023 Digital Marketing & Advertising Predictions

Hear from Seer's leadership team who have purview over Seer’s 100+ clients on what trends / shifts brands can expect and plan for this year. 



If you thought 2022 was jam-packed with major changes in digital marketing, 2023 has crashed onto the scene, loudly proclaiming, “Hold my beer!”

Although ChatGPT and AI seem poised to be a disruptive force this year, it’s just one link in a long chain of change. The end of third-party cookies and Universal Analytics, alongside shrinking budgets and teams, are also factors that will prompt marketers and businesses to get scrappy and do more with less.

Never shy about sharing our thoughts, Seer rounded up our leadership team to offer up perspectives on what they believe lies ahead in the digital marketing and advertising industry as a whole this year.

In the words of Rand Fishkin in a recent fireside chat with Seer founder Wil Reynolds:


“Marketers don’t have to predict the future.”

Staying true to our roots and our ideals, the Seer team isn’t peering into a crystal ball here. Rather, we’re using qualitative and quantitative data to survey the landscape, assess trends, and offer opinions on how clients and practitioners can strategically prepare to meet this year’s challenges head-on.

Pressed for time and wanna jump ahead to your areas of interest? We gotcha covered:

While there are common themes that crop up, you’ll see that some insights from different members of Seer’s leadership team aren’t in complete lockstep. We’re not a hive mind. We’re a diverse group of practitioners working together across a variety of disciplines to help clients build a sound, holistic, and totally prescriptive strategy unique to their needs.

Sound like a team you’d like to have in your corner? Get in touch with us today!

The Past (and the Pandemic) is Prologue

Before we dive into what we’re seeing for 2023, let’s not ignore the elephant that’s been sitting in the room for nearly three years. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way many organizations operate.

The overwhelming consensus among our team is that clients are still feeling the effects, albeit in different ways. Many have not fully rebounded, but also find themselves squeezed even more tightly with current and (potentially) looming economic challenges on the horizon.

Pandemic Recovery

WE ASKED: In your opinion, have clients fully recovered from the tumultuous shifts of the last few years? Are you still seeing strategic shifts and budget pullbacks? 

Overall, the team sees many clients are “bracing for impact.”

Companies are tightening budgets and preparing for a recession. This is less a result of COVID, but more of a piggybacked domino effect of world-shaking events happening around the globe and subsequent inflation. This has resulted in some of what we're seeing shake out now, including:

  • Fluctuating real estate and stock prices
  • Tech stock booms throughout the era of remote work
  • Tumultuous staffing and resourcing needs

“There's some signaling in tech, in particular, that speaks to it being more of a coming back down to earth moment - kind of 'right setting' versus 'the world is crashing'.”

-James corr, Associate director, digital measurement solutions

A Shift to Short-Term Planning & Greater Flexibility

Hot on the heels of the pandemic, many businesses found their long-range plans shredded. Most professionals are weary of the “what’s your five-year plan?” question after seeing how swiftly a carefully-laid plan could collapse due to circumstances beyond their control. As a consequence, our team has witnessed many of our clients adopting a more flexible approach.

“A lot of decisions were made with a short term focus to simply 'survive' the past three years, but the brands that also kept a focus on future-looking audience and digital trends are better primed for what's to come.”

-Marissa Foster, Director of Client Services


“Organizations are living more short term (similar to Seer's shift to quarterly planning) and adapting to the new world,” observed Seer’s Associate Director of Strategy & Analytics, Lisa Devieux.

Budget Reallocation 

Seer’s leadership team has also seen a trend towards reallocation of budget to more execution work.

“We see a shift towards more execution work (think Content creation or Technical SEO auditing), as teams are scaled down due to layoffs / budget cuts. Clients are looking to run as lean as possible while still reaching sales goals.”

-Alex Landro, Associate Director, SEO 

 A more flexible approach means constant evaluation of marketing strategies and tactics. Finding ways to accurately measure ROI is now more important than ever to cautious execs who want the most bang for their buck during tumultuous times. However, changes to the digital landscape – such as ever-shifting privacy protocols and changes to GA and cookies – may make measurement strategies more difficult. (More on that later!)

“Budgets are still being scrutinized and performance measurement will be more important than ever for proving out business cases for investments and resources.”

-John Lovett, Vice President, Analytics & Insightsjohn-lovett-seer-headshot

Echoing that sentiment, Seer’s Chief Operating Officer, Jeff Haas continues to see most of Seer’s clients making significant adjustments to their growth strategies since 2020:

“The scrutiny being placed on each marketing channel continues to rise, with ROI targets at all-time highs. We’ve been involved in a lot of exercises to help clients quantify the impact of each channel for their C-suites over the last three to six months.”

-Jeff Haas, Chief Operating Officerjeff-haas-seer-headshot

Organizations are evaluating their digital investments more than ever before, notes Alisa Scharf, Seer's Director of SEO. "We are seeing clients who want to ensure their tracking is up-to-snuff before pouring more dollars into any specific channel. As such, 2023 will bring challenges for them, given the shift to GA4 and recent industry updates.

Clients who are savvy in their 2023 investments will find they can make up some ground vs competitors in this perfect storm."

Conversion Rate Optimization

As a marketing discipline, Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) has proven its worth in a volatile landscape. We've seen marketing budgets decrease, but not in experimenting and optimization.

"Probably because CRO is a key strategy when you want to do more with less – like the current macro scenario asks for.”

-Rafael Damasceno, Director, CROrafael-damasceno-headshot


Economic Outlook

WE ASKED: In your opinion, what’s the outlook on the economy from a client and Seer perspective?

It’s not just businesses that are trying to make due with less. Consumers are becoming more judicious with their investments, too.

At Seer, we’re not economists. However, marketing is one of the industries that most keenly feels the pinch early on when economic uncertainty looms. At its core, marketing is about analyzing consumer behavior. And when the economy is in turmoil, consumers and businesses shift from a “nice to have” to a “need to have” mindset.

This impacts every industry from healthcare to education. Most specifically, B2C industries may see some decline. With economic uncertainties, there are some standard elements you expect to see from consumers' behavior:

  1. Folks push off preventative health and elective surgeries.
  2. People reconsider going to school or getting another degree.
  3. Folks still look to "treat themselves" with a level of consumerism, but the average order value may decline.

"At the end of the day, folks will still need to buy goods and services. But their expectation for customer experience is shifting and it may feel a bit like the fable of the frog being boiled if brands don't stay alert and attuned to their needs.”

-Alisa Scharf, Director, SEOalisa-scharf-headshot-photo


Major purchases attached to interest rates -- such as purchasing a home or pursuing a Master's degree -- seem to have tapered off and are likely to reduce the amount of active consumers in those markets. Our team has seen an accelerating trend of a decline in homebuying, as well as traditional higher education enrollment. 

"The cost of loans is even less attractive than before and is likely to push even more prospective students into short-term, low-cost certificate and bootcamp-style programs.”

-Lisa Devieux, Associate Director, Strategy & Analytics

It’s not just our clients and our customers. We're seeing this within our own business as a B2B agency, as well.  From an agency vantage point, we're working to move forward strategically with the data we have.

"The upheaval of the past few years and the impending economic predictions are weighing heavily on how I'm thinking about 2023 strategy and leveraging our data. The in-year shifts are disrupting patterns we're used to seeing. This makes predicting, setting goals, and being proactive a bit more challenging.”

-Erin Simmons, Associate Director, Marketingerin-simmons-seer-headshot

Despite fluctuations in YoY data, Erin, like many of our other leaders at Seer, remains vigilant, but reliant on tried-and-true methodology and continuous adjustments to strategy.

"We're leaning into what we always do, creating stuff that helps people do better marketing and testing new methods to reach our audience."

Digital Marketing in 2023: What's Happening Now?

We’ve taken a look back at the recent past, but what about the present? Currently, the digital marketing landscape is experiencing rapid changes that stand to impact how businesses continue to operate in the face of that change.

Marketing Trends

WE ASKED: What’s one thing happening in digital marketing that everyone needs to know right now?

AI & ChatGPT

The trend at the top of nearly all team members’ lists was ChatGPT and AI:

“Seeing how Microsoft incorporates this technology into Bing and how that changes the search landscape viz-a-viz Google Search is going to be one to watch.”

-Larry Waddell, EVP, DigitalLarry-Waddell-Headshot-Photo (1)

The next step for marketers is diving into Google's response - their new technology, Bard.

AI and ChatGPT have dominated the conversation at the start of this year. With ROI becoming even more important to companies, marketers have been plunged headfirst into the fray to figure out how AI-generated content may impact ROI.

While AI-powered content can help level the playing field for resource-strapped creative teams and give them the ability to spit out content at a faster pace, ultimately, AI is a tool with limitations – not a full-scale answer.

With AI and ChatGPT's emergence, we’ll all have to wait and see how things pan out in terms of limitations, legislation – and even litigation as AI-generated art and content have been accompanied by concerns around copyright, fair use, and accuracy.

Pivoting Analytics Strategy Post-UA & Data Privacy Regulations

While AI is definitely a trend to watch, it’s not the only area our team is honing in on. The loss of cookies and the shift from GA/UA to GA4 are intertwined in their impact on what data (and the quality of that data) is open to marketers and businesses alike.

If folks aren't focused on getting prepared for privacy shifts and the reduction of available cookie data, our team suggest they get on it.

“Their marketing investments will only be as good as the information they're using to make those decisions, and bad data 'in' means bad data 'out'.”

-Lisa Devieux, Associate Director, Strategy & Analytics

If organizations want to thrive and not just survive, they need to invest in data.

  • To effectively use and interpret decision-making data, companies will need to be aware of the changes to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Analytics has shifted from session-based tracking to event-based tracking in GA4. 
  • In the US, states are rolling out privacy regulations state-by-state. This differs from General Data Protection Regulation (GPDR), a universal data protection and privacy law used throughout the European Union for greater consistency across countries. In turn, US businesses are wondering how to protect customer data and what/how regulations will impact them. 
  • Regulations within specific industries (especially healthcare) are becoming more stringent and clients will be forced to deal with them and identify Business Associates that have stringent privacy controls in place.

“The big thing we're focused on on the Digital Measurements Solutions team is how these changes in 2023 and measurement collide. ”


Shifting to first party data strategies and adapting to the increasing anonymization of data will create blind spots in marketing decisions. Invest in your data analytics to mitigate the impact on the bottom line. 

Prioritizing Testing and Experimenting 

Every action has a reaction. Adapting to increasing privacy concerns, a cookie-less world, and the new GA4 model will need to be complemented by other strategies – namely, audience research and CRO.

CRO is a must in every engagement. With so many marketers being asked to draw a linear path to ROI instead of upper funnel metrics - CRO is the tactic they should be doubling down on.

“If you can add ONE percentage point to your conversion rate on your top 5 performing pages, the business impact is sizable.”

-Jeff Haas, Chief Operating Officer

It's a way to ensure you are extracting the maximum value out of your digital investment.

Video Continues to Capture Market Share

Jeff also pointed to video content and its' ever-growing market share. Peoples' attention spans seem to be getting shorter and shorter, which is represented in TikTok's dominance, YouTube shorts, etc. Understanding how your audience wants to consume something and following the signals from the SERPs, should be front and center when developing your content strategy. 

Preparing For the Future: Paving the Way for Predictions

Despite so much rapid change, several of our team members feel that it’s nothing new for marketers. Solving problems is hardcoded into their DNA and goes with the territory.

2023 Challenges to Brace For

WE ASKED: What challenges do you think marketing teams will face in 2023?

Our leadership teams seemed to be aligned on marketers emerging with mostly minimal battle damage in 2023, so long as they (and we, as an agency) continue to fine-tune their problem solving skillsets. While digital marketing in 2023 seems fraught with change , it's largely the same challenge we face every year: lofty growth goals without the same level of growth in budgets.

“Showing ROI on research & insights will continue to be another problem we face in 2023.”

-Lisa Devieux, Associate Director, Strategy & Analytics

Building off of Lisa’s sentiment, Seer’s EVP of Digital, Larry Waddell added more on another constant challenge marketers face:

"Focus on how to use better data to make decisions about where to deploy limited marketing budgets.

That said, this challenge is made particularly difficult by looming headwinds: cookies being deprecated one day, the migration to GA4 for brands running Google Analytics, the bewildering array of AdTech and MarTech tools some clients run but don't fully leverage, digital transformation efforts accelerated over the COVID era, as well as consumer behavior shifts.

Alisa Scharf, Seer’s Director of SEO, observed marketers feeling a similar pinch:

“We're seeing some really interesting transformations with major team cuts to FAANG and those that were positioned to be part of the next FAANG. At the same time, marketing has always been about identifying which strategic bets to make.”

While FAANG (five of the best-performing tech-centric stocks of the past decade: Meta, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google / Alphabet) companies have made massive cuts at the start of 2023, they’re no less a perceivable threat to smaller companies.

"We hear a lot of questions around, ‘is Google or Amazon going to eat my brand (and competitors) alive?’ Brands are just trying to keep up with the companies that actually control the system. ”

-Marissa Foster, Director of Client Services

This is also a big topic of focus for brands who sell through third parties who have a lot of control over them.

At a more granular level, emerging technologies like AI will pose challenges to creating quality content at scale, as well as marketers finding innovative ways to leverage this technology for automation purposes or to create greater efficiencies.

Again, the theme of doing more with less remains a constant.

Where Do We Go From Here?: Marketing Recommendations for 2023

Now that we’ve assessed the digital landscape, as well as challenges marketers and businesses face in the wake of upheaval, it’s time to make a plan to push forward. Our team had no shortage of ideas when it came to ways marketers and businesses can better position themselves amidst so much unpredictability.

Areas of Opportunities

WE ASKED: In your opinion, what advice would you offer to clients in 2023? As a consultant, where do you see areas of opportunity?  


Honing in on one of the biggest disruptors on the marketing world’s mind, the team had some definite thoughts on how to harness the power of AI.

"Investigate all the ways GPT-3 can disrupt your business. Go through every step of your business process -- where can this technology be used to make your team's lives easier and your output better?

-Erin Simmons, Associate Director, Marketing

Strategy & Insights

Although AI might be the next big thing, our team also advised that you can’t neglect the core principles of a fully-baked big picture strategy. Focus on how your marketing investments impact the bottom line, balancing the short term and long term. 

"I believe that establishing a balance of quick activation/ROI strategies and long term strategies vs. over-indexing in one or the other will be more sustainable for your brand.

-Marissa Foster, Director, Client Services

Additionally, try to get to the true value of KPIs you set: what does an increase in SOV or organic traffic or rankings for specific keywords actually mean for your business? Companies with a decisive plan of attack will win.

"We are mobilizing to be able to better advise our clients on ‘if the juice is worth the squeeze’ for specific channel level investments. What's the total market opportunity, and how powerful are the incumbents?

-Alisa Scharf, Director, SEO

Gone are the days of blindly throwing cash at channels and crossing your fingers. Emerging brands are challenging incumbents in the market generally and this translates to digital channels, as well.

Brands will need to be more nimble in 2023 and beyond in identifying their most effective channels, how much room they have to grow, and what level of investment will be required to power that growth. 

Plan an AB testing process for your marketing efforts. As there will be no room for mistakes, you need to make sure you are making the right movements. 

How to Spend Your Marketing Budget

WE ASKED: In your opinion, where would you recommend brands put their budgets in 2023?

With marketing budgets slashed and teams forced to do more with less, brands will be more mindful of spending than they were prior to the pandemic. Moreover, our team recognized these feelings of anxiety, further amped up by whisperings of recession and a rocky economic picture.


Seer's SEO Associate Director, Alex Landro's outlook is to continue being conservative, but invest in the areas that will get you the long term impacts, like SEO. 

“Invest now to see the results later when the economy may be in a different (or worse) place."

When economic uncertainties are afoot, SEO continues to be a great channel to invest in.

If you're just starting out, invest in a solid foundation. A site with a proper functioning structure and content setup will yield strong results down the line.

If you have a matured digital program, continue honing in on their audience and invest in content that will appeal to that audience, especially how their products/services will help that audience during an economic downturn.

You need to work with a team who can connect outputs to outcomes and ensure you aren't blinding following checklists. But, if you can find that team or individual, it's hard to imagine a channel with a better ROI than SEO.

Maximize All Channels

Create a marketing strategy and approach to budgeting that allows you to be nimble. 

“No one seems to really know if the government can bring us in for a soft landing, how the labor market will begin to normalize, or if the supply chain is fully repaired."

-Jeff Haas, Chief operating officer

Jeff recommends brands have a blended budget across all stages of the funnel. He stresses that companies should guard against finding themselves in the bottom-of-the-funnel blitz because you need numbers tomorrow. This is not a sustainable business model.

Our EVP of Digital, Larry agrees, suggesting businesses consider maximizing the budget they are already spending across all marketing channels by encouraging teams and agencies to share data and insights, and coordinate activity where they can.

Audience Research & First Party Data 

Brands should also consider revisiting audience research, customer journey mapping, and initiatives that zero in on the voice of the customer. 

“How consumers may navigate the coming economic challenges today might be different than the past given their COVID experience. Some of our clients are working on this now."

-Larry Waddell, EVP, Digital

Do the research - especially if your market is getting tighter. With everyone fighting over a smaller pool of users, it will be critical to make sure you're getting it right. Messaging, offerings, and other ways to entice customers can be best informed by asking your audience what they want, need, and how they make decisions. That information will provide marketers and companies with data to take action. While the pool of cookie data continues to dwindle, first party data will become even more of gold mine than before. 

James Corr, Associate Director of Digital Measurement Solutions, agrees:

“If you can control the measurement of your site and all of your assets under your own roof, it's a lot more powerful than trusting a third party."

Media Buying 

If brands can afford it - now is actually the time to increase investment if they believe their market will be there in 2023. If competitors are pulling back, increasing in brand and paid can really advance them leaps and bounds ahead. Beyond that, it can build lasting brand loyalty if they get it right.  

Consider focusing marketing efforts on the full customer journey -- from generating awareness to building brand loyalty and advocates. Find new ways to reach your audience. 

“Diversify your media spend across channels. Keep your evergreen strategy maximized, but build in a diversification or testing budget to allow your media mix to pivot as consumers do."

-Brittani Hunsaker, Director, Paid Media

Seer's Director of SEO, Alisa Scharf, agrees that now is the time to invest in owned media, but from a different angle:

“What's happening with Twitter is interesting and concerning, but it was eye opening for brands, as well. What happens when you spend years and countless dollars building a following on a platform that no longer aligns with your brand values?"

To mitigate this, brands should invest in their owned media:

  • What are they doing to cultivate their email lists?
  • What content are they creating to live on their own platforms?
  • Where is your audience today, and how are you investing in your brand presence there? 


Once again, CRO was another area where our team felt companies could benefit from an investment, for a variety of reasons:

If you haven't already, invest in CRO. Converting more of the potential customers you already have is far easier than acquiring new ones altogether, plus the affects/learnings are fairly long lasting.

“When you increase your conversion rate, you increase ROI (and reduce CPA) in all your traffic generating efforts, which might be what decides if you'll survive a downturn or not. It's the exact definition of "doing more with less" like everyone wants"

-Rafael Damasceno, Director, CRO

Focus on improving conversion rates on the website (or quality lead rates). Although you won't be able to control consumer demand, you can still influence how many qualified prospects you are converting on your website.

Analytics & Insights

We wouldn't be Seer if we didn't shout it from the rooftops to USE THE DATA

If your marketing budget is tightening, you can't afford to direct dollars to places that won't make an impact. Ensure your data is accurate, integrated, and use it to drive better decision-making that will ultimately increase your ROI.

“Get your data house in order! Everything from Analytics to Data Governance to Customer Consent. This requires knowing where things stand today and finding vulnerabilities and gaps in current policies and practices."

-John Lovett, Vice President, Analytics & Insights

In order to become more nimble, companies will need to get even more organized and build reliable partnerships to help maintain a watchful eye on data and industry updates.

While we’ve taken a look at the past, present, and future, the only certainty in 2023 is uncertainty. Our team is looking to data to uncover truths, build more informed strategies, and help improve upon results for the people we work with. But we want to know what you’re thinking, too. What are your thoughts on what 2023 holds for digital marketing? Let us know and stay tuned for more insights from our team as the year unfolds and we have more data to back them up!


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Lana Cooper
Lana Cooper
Manager, Content