Creativity Drives Growth

The 2008 downturn brought the birth of the tech giants and the pandemic acceleration of digital platforms.  There are countless examples in history of how creativity leads to breakthrough post crisis. The last few years of advertising and media have all been algorithm led. From programmatic, to changing algorithms impact on social influencers to discovery algorithms like Tik Tok. A focus on algorithms and data risks moving us down rabbit holes, incrementalism. The complexity of the technology landscape is daunting and the reality is that there is a big role for algorithms and tech but as we look to the challenges brands will face in 2023 there is a realisation that algorithms can’t solve problems but creativity can. We need humans to take the time to understand the mechanism that drives the tech, understand the human behaviours that it impacts and make clear decisions that respect the long term integrity of the brand.

The 2023 economic and societal challenges can provide a catalyst to bring a resurgence in creativity that will drive growth and there are 3 key developments to watch which will accelerate that. The adoption of Web 3 principles, the delivery of compound experiences and a commitment to increasing transparency in the digital ecosystem.

A Web 3 Enabled Landscape

2022 was all about the metaverse; 2023 will be about Web 3. Web 3 will pave the way for the Metaverse. Web 3 (while not completely yet defined) is some future state of the internet. A combination of philosophies and database technologies. A decentralised future. 

It may be enabled by blockchains. Ultimately its strength is an opportunity to redress the balance of power to individuals and communities of their choosing and making. Around the world we are seeing increasing dissatisfaction and distrust with governments and media and there is increasing concern about privacy, data, identity and ownership. 

As the decline in trust of centralised structures accelerates and bottom up communities rise to fill that gap, media that connects communities will come to the fore. BeReal Patreon allows connected tribes to drive influence at scale; surfacing previously unseen content and allowing brands to create value by connecting with what matters to these groups, the creators that drive them and to solving real world problems at scale.

One of the more interesting points being made about NFTs, is not the high profile auctions or artistry but the value of the technology behind it. The ability to own your own data added to the capability brought about with Web 3 allows brands to disrupt and create new ways of working. For individuals it brings greater privacy control and for brands it’s an opportunity to build trust.

This desire for authenticity, anti establishment or just one way of doing things is what arguably brings about brands like Shopify cited by Ben Thompson of Strachery as being part of the anti-Amazon alliance. 

The principles of Web 3 allow for user rites on digital progress, more user centricity, fairness and responsibility. It also gives agency to real communities, peer to peer interaction and value. 

Tech is evolving to meet this need and even Meta is adding community functionality to Whatsapp and Instagram is facilitating the creation and selling of NFTs.

Co-creation with fairer value for that creation and is something  brands like Nike with the launch of Swoosh are already embracing. It is very clever creating something of value and allowing others to do so too. It’s also good in that it moves away from a situation of just pumping out content or being totally reactive. We want to redefine what it means to be a creator, and we believe the future of sport is creative and inclusive.” Broadening access beyond the Web 3 community but in a considerate and thoughtful fashion is the way forward. 

Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) enabled by blockchain may still be a way off from being mainstream but they are a game changer in their ability to give online communities practical ways to achieve their goals with data integrity and trust at the heart. 

Acceleration of adoption of the principles of Web 3 and the technology that underpins it will enable brands to step up and take responsibility for building trust; create better ways to manage consumers’ data respectful of their rights,  their attention  and privacy. Creating better working partnerships based on mutually beneficial and aligned goals, more valued and valuable experiences.

Consolidated Experiences

As we look to 2023 and the trajectory of the Metaverse, Web 3, BeReal, Discord +++++, we can learn from the early days of the internet or mobile phones. We knew new and faster means of connection were coming and that they would disrupt our lives but we did not foresee YouTube, Amazon or Facebook. There is a saying that back in the 1800’s “it was possible to predict the car but not the traffic jams”. It’s the convergence of multiple technologies that facilitate the breakthroughs and the behaviours they create.

Change happens slowly and then all at once. The adoption of technology is littered with quotes from those who dismiss its impact.



“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers,”

said Thomas Watson, president of IBM, in 1943.

“Screw the Nano. What the hell does the Nano do? Who listens to 1,000 songs?” said Motorola CEO Ed Zander at a conference in 2006 in response to a question about Apple’s iPod Nano.

“Google’s not a real company. It’s a house of cards,” said former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

2023 will be about converging tech and consolidating experiences. Where suddenly developments in one area impinge on  and add value to another. Media, content, social and entertainment platforms coalesce and blur enabling us to greater richer compound experiences. Channels/ discipline/ tech constantly overlap and intermingle. Tik Tok steals advertising budget from social connectivity channels as  well as from entertainment channels like Netflix. 


Gaming can mean shopping, educating, and entertaining. Is Snap about enhanced experiences in the virtual world or added value through its feature finder in the real world as its work with Live Nation so beautifully shows- simple ways to meet up and get a much more enjoyable festival experience? 

To understand and plan for these compound experiences we need to start to think of media in terms of behaviour to see the implications for problem solving. Mobile is not just a media channel, it reflects a consumer behaviour to enable consumer connections. Search is about understanding intent. To design for programmatic we need to understand the context and impact of dynamic data signals. 

Understanding specific behaviors and motivations leads us to new possibilities seeing not just what consumers want but how they feel. AI and tech automation will help us discern which of these data signals are important but we will need to go further and understand why by applying empathy we can build future experiences that reflect not just what we could do but what we should do. We as humans don’t tend to really like too pushy people, people who come up to us and demand our attention, or want to be immediate friends thinking they know everything about us and so it is with brand experiences- they need to be crafted, curated and gently nurtured to ultimately provide reward.

Increased Transparency in the Digital Ecosystem

Sustainability is not a choice. In a digital media environment with a carbon footprint equivalent to that of the airline industry, brands will need to increase transparency. Greenwashing will not be an option. Digital marketing is often touted as a possible solution to mitigate climate impact but to do this we need gaming, creating of NFTs or indeed any other tech to commit to understanding their footprint and being transparent about it. Optimum experiences that respect consumer’s attention are key to this, creating digital assets that are used and useful. 

Brands like Levis create value by focusing on “buy better, use longer” so too can marketers be mindful of the media experiences they create. Quality experiences that add value. New business models such as “weare8” will become integral to communication propositions and not an afterthought to ESG. WeAre8 is a mobile social content app created with a stated purpose to make its users’ lives better by giving them a feed of interesting, positive and uplifting stories, and even rewarding them for watching the adverts from its partners. With the increasing shift of audiences to digital advertising and the work being shown to prove that this has long term brand building capability, marketers need to take a holistic view. They need to look at the ability of owned, earned and paid media to deliver a sustainable ecosystem and understand the impact of those decisions to build value.

Create Impact Now

The promise of a democratized digital society facilitated by advances in tech hasn’t quite yet materialised in the way that some had envisaged with transparency, fairness and trust. This may now indeed be possible. The conditions are ripe for a creative break though bringing fresh ideas and growth. Communications have a role to facilitate that by providing connections and enhancing experiences. Embracing and understanding  the principles of web 3, the media behaviours and experiences it brings about are delivered with an understanding of what it takes to build a sustainable ecosystem to drive growth.