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Short term uncertainty masks long term optimism at Look Forward event. February Los Angeles event announced.

Dec 14, 2023 by Michael McNerney

At Martech Record’s Look Forward 2024 event last Wednesday publishers, agencies and dealmakers outlined short term challenges to their businesses while acknowledging positive long term industry trends.


Last week, Martech Record hosted three webinars as part of our Look Forward 2024 event: 


Our agency webinar featured Mike McFadden, President of eAccountable; and Josh Kopac, Founder of Be Kept Up, an agency that helps publishers go to market.


Our investor perspective webinar featured Blake Saunders, Managing Director at Methuselah Advisors; Gabby Munoz, SVP of eCommerce Strategy at Hearst; and Bob Berstein, Managing Director at JEGI-Clarity.


Our day-of content was rounded out with our publisher webinar featuring Emily Welsh, VP and General Manager at BuySide from WSJ, Emily Jackson, SVP of eCommerce at Forbes; and Adam Weiss, founder at Weiss Digital Consulting, a consulting firm focused on helping affiliate and commerce media organizations. 


The day concluded with a cocktail and networking reception for 120 commerce media and affiliate marketers in midtown, where we shared a preview of our 2023 compensation report.


Thank you to our sponsors: CapitalOne Shopping, Rakuten Advertising, Everflow, eAccountable, LaRue PR, PartnerCentric and Be Kept Up. 


Three special announcements: 

  • Our compensation survey will be free to member subscribers to Martech Record and $100 to all others starting on December 23rd. You can subscribe for free here
  • Our next live event will take place on February 29th in Los Angeles. You can pre-register here. MARCC LA will be from 3 p.m.-8 p.m. and feature live panel discussions with leading brands and publishers. This event and the summary of our past event are made possible by Button. 
  • Publishers, retailers, and creators are missing out on revenue due to broken mobile tracking, unreliable deep linking, and poor user experiences. Button fixes these challenges with AI to enable commerce based models to thrive. Sign up for a demo today.


Look Forward 2023 Themes 

Our three webinars uncovered the following important themes: 


  • Uncertainty in planning: Brands are not planning media spending as far out, so it is difficult for publishers and agencies to plan. This impacts everything from technology investment to hiring, causing a general slowdown. A lot of the challenges at the end of the year came from poor predictions and planning after Covid jolted the ecommerce market. The good news, however, is most projections show that ecommerce revenue has settled from its post-Covid decline and is now growing at a more predictable rate (see page 77 here). This should allow publications and marketing managers to plan their investments more accurately and father out in 2024. 
  • Google is adding to the uncertainty by making quicker, more impactful changes to their algo. Publishers are having a more difficult time predicting traffic and have to put more resources into managing search. The winners are the publishers with the scale to absorb these changes. 
  • Data privacy uncertainty: regulation extremely regional and unsettled, making it difficult to advertisers and publishers to resource plan against. 
  • Consumers are getting smarter and better at evaluating reviews and influencer content. It is no longer as simple as writing a review that Google likes — the consumer is now reading many more reviews, learning which ones to trust and adjusting accordingly. 
  • Amazon & retail media are becoming a truly standalone channel. Flywheel’s purchase by Omnicom is a clear indicator that it’s now table stakes for full service agencies to have an Amazon/RMN team. eAccountable’s announcement in November and on our webinar demonstrate that it's a market for affiliate and performance agencies as well. We’re at the beginning of a big change in retail media, agencies have an opportunity to managing 
  • AI: In many ways, AI is having less of an impact that people would have predicted at the beginning of the year. The most immediate impact –on search results – has not played out. However, the consensus was that in the longer term the application will be as big or bigger than predicted at the beginning of the year. 
  • Deal making: M&A activity is happening and will continue to happen this year. However, the deals are more tactical in nature with few bidding wars.