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Ad Platform Winners and Losers in 2023

The past year was truly dynamic for multiple platforms! Meta and Google are flying high in the clouds while Snapchat and the renamed Twitter, now X, are struggling against the wind. Want a deep dive into the winners and losers? Here you get Adfreak's perspective supplemented with a little insider knowledge for that extra spice.

TikTok has definitely ridden a storm wave. Despite concerns from their DOJ investigation, which is not yet over, nervousness among marketers about a possible ban or its Chinese ties has subsided. In the middle of the year, V Pappas, their COO, stepped down. All this happened in parallel with internal restructuring, including staff cuts and retreat from gaming. Yet, through all the turmoil, advertising soars. Even a 25% increase in ad spending on TikTok is predicted for 2024 according to ad executives.

“TikTok is like a factory of innovation,” said Kevin Goodwin, a digital marketing leader we know. “They're rolling out new features continuously that we can experiment with and that's really driving both adoption and interest.” Kevin continues, “It's the platform that all customers ask for, even when it doesn't fit their business goals. That tells me TikTok must be doing something right.”

Small-scale platforms
Some of the smaller players have taken big steps forward this year. LinkedIn, Pinterest and Reddit have all adapted to the new landscape, experimenting with short video and social e-commerce.

LinkedIn has impressed marketers with its support and beta testing capabilities and is now a first choice for some brands. Pinterest, for its part, has invested heavily in short videos through its publisher partnerships. Reddit has invested in a strong social e-commerce foundation and updated its ad formats.

Google and Meta's automated advertising tools
Google Ads and Meta Ads, despite some shortcomings, such as lack of transparency, has streamlined the process of advertising with its Performance Max and Advantage+ tools. These give the platforms unprecedented control over campaigns, but leave advertisers with limited visibility. Yet it is precisely this "install-and-forget" strategy that attracts advertisers to the platforms.

According to Amy Rumpler, search and social media specialist, is Google's services a major component of their media plans, and she doesn't see that changing. Andy Taylor, a survey leader, notes that Meta's platform bounced back from a tough 2022 thanks to AI-powered campaigns and creative approaches to monitoring Reels-content.

Content creator
Creators have undoubtedly had a brilliant year. Sure, there have been problems, such as ambiguities around ads, as well as insufficient payouts from creator funds. But it's definitely been the year of creators on many social platforms. YouTube and TikTok have been competing intensely to establish features that retain creators and attract their following. Competition drove ventures that create marketplaces to facilitate business deals with creators.

In short, creators are now a cornerstone of the platforms' strategy, much like publishers were during the text-based golden age of social media.

The losers

Twitter / X
2023 was the year we saw the once-revered blue bird app degenerate, only to re-emerge as X. From mass layoffs and an increase in malicious content to a dramatic drop in ad revenue, it's been a bleak year.

"The platform is unwieldy and innovation has stalled. As for the outcome, I'm not sure if it exists anymore,” says Amy Rumpler with a resigned tone. “In light of the general perception of the platform, we are extremely cautious about recommending it at this time.”

Another tough year for Snapchat. There is a consensus that the platform is exciting and innovative, but there hasn't been much of this seen in the past year. This may be due to the fact that it was a restart year for the company. Rumpler points out that while Snapchat's AR, VR and AI capabilities are fascinating, advertisers are having a hard time judging how much to invest in these tools and whether they should be a priority right now.

Even Snapchat's drive to streamline and save costs has hit advertisers. Closing its AR Enterprise division has, contrary to the platform's claims, affected the work and results of advertisers.

The publisher
Social networks have previously valued publishers when they provided the platforms with content. But the enormous amount of responsibility that came with being a major news distributor eventually became a burden. Over the course of the year, for example, Facebook has distanced itself from the news industry and has received bad criticism for this. Notably, Campbell Brown's departure from Meta as head of global media partnerships – the real evidence of a deteriorating relationship with the news industry.

And at X, publishers had it just as tough, struggling with declining traffic and confusing content posting decisions, causing many to give up and look for a new home.

TikTok Shop
TikTok Shop could be considered a success given how quickly it launched and how generous the platform was with discounts to drum up interest. But, as social media specialist Amy Gilbert points out, the same algorithm that makes the content successful is also a source of irritation when it comes to the Shop feature, which has led to a degraded user experience.

The dynamic future of digital marketing

Can you feel it? That flutter in the stomach as we face the prospect of another exciting year in digital marketing? It's like a smorgasbord of possibilities - and here on Ad freak are ready to dip our cutlery into the latest technology and strategies to give our clients an invaluable advantage.

Artificial intelligence is becoming more sophisticated and customization is the watchword of the day. Data is the new gold and privacy protection is like the knight in shining armor, ready to protect the kingdom of user data. And for us, this means a constant balancing act between personalizing for performance while respecting and protecting the privacy of our clients' customers.

Our holy grail? Sustainability and ethics in marketing. As an agency, we are convinced that the brands that act responsibly and transparently will be the ones that win hearts and wallets. We see it not just as a trend but as a movement, and we are proud to be on board.

Antonio, never stop exploring, experimenting and questioning. It is through these actions that we continue to evolve and pave the way for the next generation of marketing excellence. Together with our customers and partners, we create stories that are worth telling - and remembering.

The impact of data-driven advertising on consumer behaviour

How often have you imagined the perfect campaign in your head, only to find that the outcome was not at all what you expected? In those moments, you clearly realize the power of data-driven advertising. It's like having a crystal ball that shows what customers will actually respond to.

But here at Adfreak, we don't just keep our eye on the ball – we use data as a tool to shape and fine-tune all of our campaigns. The right use of data can transform an assumption into an evidence-based strategic move. It's about combining creativity with concrete insights to hit the heart of the target group.

Is it about hyper-painted Facebook ads or SEO strategies for Google, the power of data allows us to predict and understand our clients' consumers with unprecedented precision. But not to forget – the ethical dimension. I know you guys out there value customer integrity as much as we do, and we look forward to continuing this journey together with respect and accountability as our benchmarks.

Navigating the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing is like being a pioneer – and we at Adfreak really enjoy leading the way. So let's take a look at how we can use this power in the most innovative ways to not only reach, but also engage and create long-term relationships with our customers.

Omnichannel Marketing: More Than Just Buzzwords

Is it ever fair to say that we have too many channels to communicate through? Here at Adfreak, we don't believe in an abundance of channels, but in the potential of being able to offer a seamless and integrated customer experience. Omnichannel marketing is the captain of that ship.

The days when a customer stepped into a physical store and that was the only point of contact are long gone. Now, customers wander between social media, email, mobile apps and more, almost expecting a customized experience based on their interests. We guide brands through these complex waters, ensuring they don't just sail – they surf the waves in style.


Personalization is king in AI-dominated marketing

We live in an age where AI is not just a fleet of science fiction dreams, but a core component of our daily marketing strategy. It changes the rules of the game faster than an algorithm can process the data. So the question is, how do we keep up on Adfreak?

Adaptive marketing has become a must. The curve is learned and revised not only monthly, but daily. We're talking real-time adjustments and the ability to quickly embrace change, both technically and creatively. It's like navigating a spaceship in the middle of an asteroid belt – exciting, ever-changing and supremely rewarding when we get it right.

Here at Adfreak, we believe that human touch combined with AI's precision is a match made in heaven. We use AI for data-driven insight and then add our human creativity to bring stories to life. It's about enriching technology with emotional intelligence.