Digital Marketing Trends 2023: What to expect from the digital world

What does the digital world have in store for us in 2023? Have we really left the period of great change behind us? In this article we analyse the most important digital marketing trends to guide our strategy in 2023.

Once again, the time has come to talk about what awaits us in 2023 when it comes to digital marketing. And this year as well we rely on the Digital 2023 Global Overview Report, created by Meltwater and We Are Social, based on data collected by the world’s leading research companies, such as GWI, Statista and Similarweb.

There are 5.16 billion Internet users in the world today, which means that 64.4% of the total world population is now online. An increase of 1.9% compared to last year (and it is a low estimate). Social users are 4.76 billion, equal to just under 60% of the total global population.

Considering these data, being able to closely observe the habits of online users is an unmissable opportunity.

But it’s not just the data that makes this report so interesting. In fact, if we thought we had left behind the period of great changes, mainly caused by the pandemic, we were wrong: the past 12 months have been affected by profound changes, which have ended up affecting digital habits, as it happens more and more often.

Hence, staying up to date on the state of digital is essential to guide our marketing choices.

So, without further ado, let’s delve into what are the most interesting digital marketing trends of 2023.

American customs are not representative of the whole world

Internet adoption rates equal or exceed 99% in a total of 8 countries, while 55 countries have Internet adoption rates above 90%. What might come as a surprise is that Internet adoption in North America actually lags behind Internet adoption in the European Union and UK: 91.8% of the US population is online, placing the country only at 45th place in the global ranking. That’s not all: North America accounts for just 6.7% of the world’s Internet population.

Although it is undeniable that the digital trends that are born and exported from the USA are significant, thinking that they are representative of the entire user base is wrong, especially if our target extends (or is limited) to countries beyond the USA.

So, let’s try to go beyond the US-centric narrative, to dig a little deeper to understand what our target audience’s digital habits really are.

Time spent online decreases

Although – as we have just seen – Internet adoption data report impressive results, if you look at the actual time spent online by users, you will notice a decline of almost 5% compared to last year. In fact, GWI reports that the average user has reduced the amount of time they spend using the Internet by 20 minutes a day.

An interesting thing to note in this graph is that the current data of 6 hours and 37 minutes is very similar to the data of 2019, before Covid came into our lives, turning our habits upside down.

What could all this mean? Perhaps that, thanks to the relaxation of the anti-Covid restrictions and a return to normality for a large part of the population, users are more aware of the time spent online and prioritize quality over quantity.

So, what drives people to spend time online?

Finding information, staying in touch with friends and family, and keeping up to date with the latest news and events are the main reasons people spend time online.

And although people tend to spend less time online than in the years of the pandemic, the latter has definitely changed some habits forever, first and foremost the tendency to shop online. The fact that, to date, the number of people who buy consumer goods online has grown by 8.3% suggests that the habit initially born out of compulsion, has remained out of convenience.

So, let’s try to make the most of the time spent online by users. A time that we also have to share with a series of other digital actors. Targeted communications that do not die out in digital alone will be the right levers to reach our target.

Digital advertising is growing

Another trend that began during Covid but remained afterwards is the growth of digital advertising, one of the sectors that has benefited the most from this situation.

Data from Statista reveals that the digital’s share of the total ad spend has increased by 27.7% since 2019, rising from 57.4% in 2019 to 73.3% in 2022.

In the world of digital advertising, social media platforms appear to have been the biggest beneficiaries of the digital shift.

Considering the growth trend, it would not be too far-fetched to think that it will not stop this year either. And, perhaps, the fact that growth has not stopped even when we returned to “normal” should lead us to think that the return on investment is more than positive. We will soon find out why.

Behaviours on social media are evolving

A trend that did not seem to experience any downturns but which instead suffered an unprecedented setback is the one relating to the number of social users in the world.

Thanks to Covid-19, the number of social users increased by almost 30% since the beginning of the pandemic. However, the growth rates have suffered a setback.

Having said that, people are spending more and more time on social media: the average working-age user spends more than 2.5 hours a day using social media platforms, the highest figure ever recorded, especially when you consider the decline in overall time spent using Internet.

This data also gives us another perspective on the increase of advertising spend on social media.

But on which platforms do users spend most of their time?

If we look at the number of active users on a monthly basis, Facebook is still on the podium, while Instagram and TikTok are respectively in fourth and sixth place.

If we look instead at the time spent on the platform, things change slightly: although apps such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram always appear above TikTok, the latter has recorded an annual growth of 19.7%, a figure that other platforms can only dream of. 

But even looking at this figure, it’s not so much TikTok that surprises us but Facebook, which still records an average of 19 hours and 43 minutes of monthly use. Not bad for an app that many consider “dead”.

Having said that, it’s clear that social engagement rates on the “old” social networks are still in decline and vanity metrics are no longer an absolute sign of success.

Favourite social media platforms

All the data reported so far take into account active use of each platform but don’t actually tell us which platform users prefer or how they use each on a daily basis.

Although the term “favourite” has a rather subjective connotation, which is inevitably reflected in these data, there are some surprises here, too.

If WhatsApp – probably for its intrinsic utility – is placed in the first place, in second and third place we find respectively Instagram and Facebook, separated by very few percentage points. Again, TikTok only appears in fifth place. However, it’s worth pointing out that TikTok’s vote share is up 42% (+1.8 percentage points) compared to the same period last year, so the platform’s popularity is clearly on the rise.

Users are not abandoning the old social networks

We’ve talked in the past about the user overlap rate across apps because of which just 1% of users of a given social platform are actually unique to that platform.

These audience overlaps also dispel the widely held myth that people are ditching old social networks in favour of younger platforms.

For example, among global users aged 16-64, 82.5% of TikTok users still use Facebook every month; and 84.3% of Telegram users also use WhatsApp every month;

Hence, people still use a large portfolio of social platforms.

H2 The use of artificial intelligence applied to content is growing

It is impossible not to mention the spread of artificial intelligence apps for content creation among the digital trends of 2023.

Chat GPT is, in fact, just one of the many artificial intelligence tools on the market carving out a significant role for themselves. Although there are still many issues to clarify about their use – first off, the copyright protection, considering that these apps currently draw from sources and articles like this one to formulate answers –, it is likely that this topic will have a place within the digital landscape of 2023.

Suffice it to say that Microsoft has made an agreement with ChatGPT to include it in Bing, its search engine, and that Google has responded to this by presenting Bard.

So, let’s expect performance improvements and more and more applications but also an escalation in the debates on the legality, ethics and potential misuse of these tools.

The trends that are no longer such

To wrap up this article, it seemed only right to talk about those trends that had great hype but have not confirmed expectations.

Among these we can find cryptocurrencies and NFTs. Although far from having completely disappeared, scepticism has certainly prevailed over these digital assets, especially when it comes to cryptocurrencies, perceived more as instruments of financial speculation rather than actual currencies.

The metaverse, as well, after the hype of 2022, is struggling to take off, despite Zuckerberg’s efforts.

Is all lost then? It’s hard to tell. If there is one thing that the digital world has thought us, it is precisely that anything can happen. Whether positive or negative.

Summing up

Observing the behaviour of online users and digital trends is a necessary exercise to know how to seize the moment when it comes to digital marketing. However, we must not make the mistake of taking these trends as absolute certainties: the digital world changes so quickly that we would risk remaining tied to old conceptions, without even realizing it.

Having said that, the trends we have listed can help us get a more comprehensive picture of what is happening in the short and medium term.

Surely, social platforms will continue to influence our lives, changing the way we get informed, entertained, our opinions and influences.

The downside of all this, including the rise of tools like ChatGPT, is less control and fact-checking of what gets online, caused by the haste and timeliness with which everything happens in the digital world.

As a result, it has never been more important to find accurate and representative data to make truly informed marketing decisions. EOS Mktg&Communication can help you with this. Contact us to learn more about our services.

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After graduating in Languages at the Università degli Studi di Milano, my interest and curiosity towards the digital world led me to pursue a career in this field and to get a Specializing Master in Digital Marketing. Today, I am responsible for the definition and application of marketing and communication strategies for both EOS and the ipcm® magazines. In my free time I travel, I read a lot and I binge-watch TV series. A place to visit at least once in your life: Oman. Must read: Lehman Trilogy by Stefano Massini. What you should binge-watch next: Mr. Robot.

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