The best of MDM in 2022

The ZIRP-empowered bull market in the broader technology space expressed its zenith and inevitable diminution, temporary or otherwise, in 2022. For this reason, last year was truly remarkable. Many people (most?) working in big-T Tech have not experienced a market slowdown or contraction — ever. For this reason, the operating environment of 2023 will be alien and require flexibility and dynamism. I’m not publishing written predictions this year (expect a 2023 predictions podcast in early January!), but broadly, I think the most important themes of 2023 within the realm of digital advertising will be:

  1. Everything is an Ad Network: the sustained growth of retail media advertising channels as social media platforms continue to endure the pains inflicted by Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) privacy policy;
  2. Probabilistic / Econometric Methods for Advertising Measurement: interest in this practice is pronounced across the advertising spectrum as teams realize that their only viable path to long-term sustainable growth involves transitioning away from deterministic or pseudo-deterministic measurement solutions. And this will only become more acute over time with Google phasing out the GAID (and the cookie) in favor of its Privacy Sandbox tools, as well as with the DMA’s restrictions around third-party data sharing coming into effect in 2024;
  3. All eyes on the consumer: I’ve argued consistently (see here, here, here, here, and here) that the pain being experienced in certain segments of the advertising economy — but namely, social media — is attributable primarily to ATT (as well as consumer preference reversions to pre-ATT norms), and that claims of adverse macroeconomic impact from inflation are misguided. I will publish a (long) piece in January that reiterates this argument with quantitative support. The US consumer is currently situated comfortably, sitting on roughly $1.7TN in excess savings and experiencing debt delinquency rates far below those seen during the GFC. Inflation also seemingly peaked in the US in June and is in decline, with the consumer-price index decreasing to 7.1% in November from 7.7% in October. While this doesn’t apply to other important geographic regions, especially Europe, it’s important context for considering the health of the major advertising platforms and networks that reap a majority of revenue from the US. The dominant question to consider at the outset of the new year: if the pain felt in advertising markets in 2022 was primarily the result of ATT and not macroeconomic factors, then what happens if the US does enter a recession in 2023?

Below I present the Top 10 articles published by Mobile Dev Memo in 2022, in descending order of pageview count.

  1. Is SKAdNetwork 4.0 a turning point for mobile advertising: Privacy with Purpose? (published June 8, 2022)
  2. RIP GAID: Privacy Sandbox is coming to Android. What advertisers need to know. (published February 16, 2022)
  3. 2022 predictions for mobile marketing (published January 3, 2022)
  4. Apple robbed the mob’s bank, part 3 (published August 1, 2022)
  5. Why are Unity and ironSource merging? (published July 13, 2022)
  6. Why did CPMs increase following App Tracking Transparency? (published March 7, 2022)
  7. Apple just clarified alternative payments on iOS. Spoiler: Apple still takes a commission. (published January 17, 2022)
  8. Surviving the mobile marketing winter (published June 22, 2022)
  9. SKAdNetwork 4.0: what problems does it solve? (published September 28, 2022)
  10. 2022 predictions for mobile gaming (published January 10, 2022)

Honorable mentions and non-MDM content:

  1. Google’s PMax, Meta’s Advantage+, and the logic of total advertising automation (published August 31, 2022)
  2. Lose-Lose (published November 30, 2022)
  3. Podcast: A brief history of privacy legislation (published December 14, 2022)
  4. My appearance on CNBC’s “Tech Check” program in October, in which I discussed Netflix’s forthcoming ad-supported “Basic with Ads” tier as well as Uber’s recently-announced in-app advertising product;
  5. My latest appearance on the Stratechery Podcast in August, where I discuss the post-ATT future of digital advertising with the incomparable Ben Thompson.

I thank the readers of MDM and especially the members of the MDM Slack Community for being such reliably insightful and adroit intellectual sparring partners in 2022. And I wish all readers a happy holiday season and a productive and fulfilling 2023.

Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash