The four biggest mobile marketing trends to look out for in 2023 are driven by an uncertain economy, more consolidation through acquisition, and the continued emphasis on privacy within the mobile ecosystem. Marketers can expect (yet, again) another turbulent year ahead, but it will include significant opportunities.

1. Connected TV has reached a Crucial Tipping Point

2022 was a year to remember for Connected TV. Mergers and consolidation dominated the headlines as the major streaming services poured billions into expanding their content libraries. Perhaps unsurprisingly, subscription-based OTT models began to cede ground to ad-supported models in 2022, as well. Even Netflix and Disney+ announced ad-supported models. Could these new models in combination with larger macroeconomic factors impacting the CTV space mean 2023 will finally be the tipping point year for connected platforms and mobile marketing?

With streaming services getting more ad-friendly, marketers are finally poised to see ad inventory scale to a degree only hinted at previously. The past 5 years have been a kind of steady building period for connected platforms. Increased consolidation, inflationary pressures, and streaming services’ newfound willingness to experiment with alternative revenue models mean there is now legitimate hope for mobile marketers to unlock a massive amount of new inventory in 2023!

Helping matters is the fact that brands are also finally in a place where they can measure their potential ad spend on connected platforms. There has historically been a disconnect between the more analog/linear versions of TV advertising and ad measurement. CTV campaigns are being held to an outcome standard more than ever before.

Most companies now utilizing CTV inventory expect the sort of measurement capabilities usually reserved for the online landscape. These new performance measurement capabilities will only lead to more ad dollars moving into CTV allowing the space to finally achieve its long-promised potential.

2. Mobile Gaming: More growth but also more ‘interesting’

It’s anticipated that In 2023 the global number of players will surpass the three-billion mark for the first time in history. As a result ad dollars will continue to flow into mobile gaming in record numbers to reach these huge potential audiences. Yet, mobile marketers will have to deal with a more complicated landscape in 2023 and, yet, one which could ultimately lift the space even higher.

IAB recently released its Intrinsic In-Game (IIG) Measurement Guidelines to establish updated measurement guidelines for ads that appear within gameplay. Although in-game ad tech has improved at a rapid pace in recent years, measurement practices have not. It’s been over a decade since they last were updated.

These new standards have in-game ad companies looking for ways to comply but also feeling bullish about their products. As with CTV, the expectation is that with better measurement, increased transparency and more accountability will come more brands, marketers, and ad dollars into the space.

There will be challenges, though, such as addressing viewability and other unique challenges specific to gaming environments. What happens when in-game objects obscure ads, or,  how do you measure indirect ad sightlines in 3D/virtual environments? The hope is that the updated measurement standards will go a long way toward providing much-needed guardrails. We’ll also see an influx of new Ad Tech operators into the space to help address these new measurement guidelines.

Either way, these standards will undoubtedly provide their own new set of challenges (and opportunities) for mobile marketers. As buyers become more confident with in-game advertising standards, though, spending will only increase.

3. The secondary effects of more walled gardens 

2022 was a year marked by mergers and consolidation in mobile. This past January we witnessed Sony’s $3.6 billion purchase of Bungie, Take-Two’s $12.7 billion deal for mobile giant Zynga, Microsoft’s massive $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard,  Unity’s acquired Iron Source later in the year. Those four deals alone eclipsed the total M&A activity for 2021 (in what had already been a record year for the industry!) 2023 will likely see more M&A activity but we should also begin to feel the repercussions of all this consolidation, as well.

One of the major secondary effects of all the M&A activity will be the continued increase in walled gardens within the mobile marketing ecosystem. Those left outside in 2022 will look to build strategic alliances and work to acquire mid-level players in 2023 to create their own private data networks so as to compete with the oligopoly that is Apple, Google, and Facebook — which will also likely remain acquisitive during 2023.

Even with the proliferation of all these walled gardens, there’s still going to be a need and opportunity for smaller, independent DSPs. They tend to allow for connection across multiple ecosystems and can offer incentives to clients — such as data ownership and portability — that will make them more appealing to brands.

OpenAP provides a glimpse into what these types of independent Ad Tech companies can do when they strategically link up. OpenAP has already signed on over 800 media agencies including Viacom and Turner.

We should see in 2023 a proliferation of these types of independent networks that offer competitive or superior solutions – particularly if they can focus on areas of opportunity and need, such as cross-device targeting, next-level measurement, and attribution.

4. Don’t forget about the economy

Even with recent data suggesting we may have seen peak inflation and that we may soon return to a normalized economy, inflation will still be with us for most if not all of 2023. The mobile ecosystem will not be immune to inflationary pressures.

2022 saw the average price of an in-app purchase (IAP) jump 40% year-over-year in the U.S. on the iOS App Store and 9% on the Google Play store.

As inflation rises so does the value of retargeting. IAP prices began rising before inflation, indicating publishers could be reacting to the spike in acquisition costs following ATT.

For marketers planning their budgets for 2023, the increase in IAP costs presents a unique opportunity to invest in mobile app retargeting to drive additional sales and cut down on acquisition costs.

2023 certainly has all the makings of being an uneven, bumpy year. There will be crucial changes in the digital and mobile marketing field as brands and vendors adapt and adjust. But there are many positive trends to look forward to in the mobile marketing space. The ever-increasing numbers and demand for mobile consumers mean the prominence of mobile advertising in 2023 will continue with significant growth across the space.