2024 marketing predictions – and how AI will impact our industry
Isabella DodkinsGroup Marketing Manager
2023 was the year to forget for marketers. With the looming recession, cost of living crisis and inflation chasing at our heels, I think we’re all happy to see the end of it and begin 2024 afresh.
With that being said, these challenges unfortunately did not disappear at the stroke of midnight on December 31st. When we look at the key trends for 2024, the heightened economic pressures remain – at least for the foreseeable future.
This means that our two core recommendations for 2023 still hold true:
- Create value for your consumers through the effective use of first-party data and a full-funnel marketing strategy tailored to their user journey.
- Marketing effectiveness is key: understanding the value of your investments and driving profit for your business (not just revenue) is where the winning marketers will take the lead.
However, one trend that we didn’t mention that year, and most definitely features heavily in this year’s trends (and every other trend piece under the sun) is, of course, Generative AI. We apologise to our readers in advance for the prolific use of AI in each of our area recommendations. But the truth is unavoidable: Generative AI will completely transform marketing as we know it.
Outside of that, the biggest impact we will see is within privacy – where updates continue to happen at a rapid pace. 2024 will see the enforcement of two new pieces of EU legislation affecting digital: the DMA and the DSA and the implications for how marketing platforms operate (more on that later).
But more than that, due to privacy and technological changes like Apple’s privacy restrictions, cookie-based measurement has become dysfunctional. As a consequence, more and more of our marketing data is modelled – a trend that will continue well into 2024. While models are helpful to understand what might be happening in a world where we can collect less data, it’s also not obvious how much of your performance data is modelled, nor exactly how those models work…
So if you have one takeaway from this introduction – think first-party data. As Generative AI gains prominence, the privacy landscape shifts and economic landscapes fluctuate, the stakes are higher than ever. A robust first-party data approach now offers a dual advantage: not only in effectively working with Generative AI solutions but also in solidifying marketing tactics, particularly in a cookie-less environment.
So that just about covers it for our global trends, but what of our specific service trends?
1. Paid social predictions
1.1. Creative diversity will be key to paid social
Up until a couple of years ago, advertisers were largely able to get away with creative playing second fiddle to things like audience targeting or ad account structure, and while those things are still important, Creative is the Number 1 key to scalability on paid social.
In 2024, successful brands will prioritise a mix of content formats, from User-Generated Content (UGC) to influencer collaborations to static formats such as “Us vs. Competitor” creatives and product annotations – diversity is key. Iterating on individual content pieces will be crucial too, such as testing different hooks and scripts to find what resonates best.
Having a good creative mix means brands cater to their varying audience’s preferences – some users will respond better to UGC, while others are more likely to click on a branded ad – but having both means you don’t let potential customers fall through the cracks. Now, brands have the opportunity to automate and personalise their audience experience and cut through the clutter with a cost-effective and efficient solution: Dynamic Creative Optimisation (DCO). DCO empowers brands to create tailored and innovative creative content that meets their audience’s preferences across platforms. Sounds great, huh? Read more about DCO here.
Nowadays, your creative is your targeting on social, and at Precis we’ve seen a huge increase in demand for our creative production services in 2023, which we think is reflective of an industry which is realising the importance of diverse creative in its overall scalability.
1.2. On-platform conversions will be part of businesses’ roadmap
In 2023 we saw Meta push in-app interactions, particularly with the rise of Meta shops for E-comm advertisers.
With the challenges around marketing evaluation not looking to become much clearer anytime soon, something else we could see in 2024 is businesses looking to push users to complete more in-app actions, particularly for lead-gen purposes.
Typically, B2B businesses have looked to drive users from Meta platforms to their websites for lead submissions. The problem with this though is that even with attribution issues put to one side, the upcoming privacy/cookie considerations will make it hard for advertisers to group these leads into different audience segments to work with strategically.
On-platform solutions, such as Messenger leads, allow businesses to build bespoke lead forms for prospects inside Meta, giving advertisers greater control over the questions they ask different cohorts of users, as well as greater confidence in their ROI, given there is no signal loss due to the conversion happening in-platform.
I can see small to medium-sized businesses particularly adding this to their testing roadmaps in 2024.
1.3. AI will push for platform diversification
It wouldn’t be a 2024 predictions article without a mention of AI right?!
There often comes a point where advertisers reach a level of diminishing returns on primary channels, such as Meta, where the budget they were once investing doesn’t have the same ROI for lower funnel activity.
In response, brands tend to shift gears, diversifying their channel mix and leaning toward upper funnel strategies to bolster brand awareness. The challenge here lies in tailoring creative themes for different channels: think inspirational/educational for Pinterest versus UGC-centric content for TikTok/Shorts. Yet, the time-consuming nature of producing varied content poses a hurdle, one that advertisers typically struggle to overcome.
However, enter AI: the enduring buzzword from 2023, poised to continue into 2024. Its allure? Significant time-saving potential. From copywriting to forecasting to even basic creative production, AI promises efficiency gains – heck, even this paragraph was shortened with the use of AI!
I expect advertisers embracing AI to delegate routine tasks will emerge as the frontrunners next year. This shift will grant them the freedom to focus on what truly matters: diversifying their creative efforts and expanding their channel mix which is ultimately what will lead to overall growth.
Psst! Read about 3 AI advancements in paid social platforms you should know about here.
2. SEO Predictions
2.1. SEO Specialists will become AI power users
AI has significantly impacted search engine optimisation in 2023, allowing website owners to reduce manual efforts in content creation, web development, and even assessments. This not only translates to quicker results but also a substantial decrease in resource costs.
As we’ve already mentioned in this piece, AI will continue to advance in 2024. Spending hours crafting articles or writing lines after lines of code is no longer as relevant as understanding how to prompt AI tools so that they can generate the right input.
At Precis, we have dedicated thousands of hours to developing AI-driven efficiency tools and providing proper guidance for prompting, and the results speak for themselves. So, to be efficient with your SEO tasks in 2024, you need to learn how to prompt AI tools.
2.2. Trust and ethics will become even more important
Google has generally been keen on rewarding those who provide unique and relevant information. However, clear descriptions of what Google examines when assessing domain authority and trustworthiness have been somewhat lacking.
Yet, with AI-generated results lacking links to authors or references to reliable sources, and considering the GDPR and similar data protection laws, Google is compelled to make advancements in this area.
Considering how Google has increased its emphasis on demanding trust from website owners in recent years, especially with the introduction of quality content guidelines focusing on E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness), it’s reasonable to assert that, as you approach 2024, your SEO strategy should encompass a marketing ethics strategy as well.
2.3. Creative SEO will grow across search engines
Google keeps improving its search engine result pages with rich results, giving users the option to choose results that best match their interests. As this field has evolved, we’ve witnessed impressive outcomes by emphasising creativity on your site, rather than solely concentrating on text-optimised content.
With the surge in users on various rich media search engines like Apps, YouTube, or TikTok, it’s crucial to broaden your SEO roadmap for 2024 with a comprehensive creative strategy. This creative SEO approach shouldn’t just target your website and its organic potential but should also encompass your app, YouTube, TikTok, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn accounts. This ensures you capture the attention of your users, no matter where they are.
Creative SEO across search engines will become even more important in a world where Generative AI changes the very foundation of search. For instance, what could happen if the normal “10 blue links” on Google search are replaced with a conversational Generative AI experience? SEO should be about becoming relevant to the LLMs, and we need to start thinking about potential different strategies.
3. Paid Search predictions
3.1. The use of AI and machine learning for paid search will increase
The integration of AI and Machine Learning in paid search is revolutionising how we approach digital advertising. As we enter 2024, it is highly plausible that Google, Bing, and other paid search channels will enhance the personalisation of the shopping experience in unprecedented ways, with feed-based advertising most likely leading this transformation.
While Google is advancing with ‘Project Magi’, an AI-driven initiative to revolutionise its search engine, Bing is already one step ahead with its AI integration. Bing has been proactively incorporating AI to refine its search algorithms, offering enhanced relevance, personalised content, and intuitive natural language processing capabilities. In fact, Bing has now released the Copilot app on iOS too, making it a potential threat to search.
Both platforms are emblematic of a larger trend in the industry towards more sophisticated, AI-powered search engines, poised to redefine the user experience in digital search.
3.2. Personalised ad experiences will reach new heights
With AI-driven search engines capable of learning from user interactions, personalised advertising could reach new heights. Ads could be tailored not just based on search history or demographic data, but also the tone, style, and specific interests expressed in real-time conversations.
Picture yourself navigating to a shopping section, ingeniously tailored to your unique preferences – beyond recognising your current and future favourite brands, this advanced algorithm could go way deeper, from highlighting your exact fit for apparel and footwear to discerning your taste and budgetary preferences with remarkable precision.
The result? A display of products that harmoniously align with both your personal style and financial comfort. This enhanced integration would leverage AI conversations to progressively refine and personalise the shopping experience, becoming more intuitive and tailored with each interaction.
3.3. Enhanced user experience will maximise ROI
In light of these anticipated advancements, it’s reasonable to expect that Google and Microsoft Ads will enhance advertiser efficiency by expanding feed-based solutions and ad types. These improvements are likely to include AI-driven feed creation, auto-translations, and automated optimisation of product titles, descriptions, and attributes, all aimed at streamlining the advertising process and maximising the effectiveness of each ad.
A particularly exciting development in this realm is the potential rise of Augmented Reality (AR) in ads. AR technology offers a transformative way for consumers to interact with products. Imagine users being able to virtually try on clothes or see how furniture looks in their home directly from a search ad. This technology not only enriches the user experience but also provides advertisers with innovative ways to showcase their products, potentially leading to higher engagement rates and improved conversion metrics.
3.4. Visual and voice search will be the new frontiers in paid advertising
Visual and voice search are two emerging trends that you shouldn’t overlook since they are set to dramatically transform the landscape of paid advertising as we know it today.
- Visual search: Advertisers will need to optimise their ads with high-quality, SEO-friendly images to be able to leverage visual search technology for enhanced product discovery and placement.
- Voice search: With an increase in voice-activated queries, there will be a need to focus on conversational keywords, necessitating content that directly answers voice-based questions.
3.5. We’ll have to navigate AI’s evolution in search
The integration of AI and multi-modal (MM) machine learning in search engines like Google represents a significant shift in digital marketing. While multi-modal advertising isn’t new, this advancement brings unique challenges and opportunities for advertisers in terms of media spend distribution, insights gathering, and funnel management across various channels.
Advertisers must adapt to these changes, ensuring a balanced media spend across platforms and leveraging the enhanced data from AI-driven search engines for deeper consumer insights. This approach is crucial for effective funnel management and engaging with consumers in a more sophisticated, data-driven manner.
In essence, the key to success in this evolving landscape is not just diversifying media spending but strategically harnessing the capabilities of AI to refine and elevate digital marketing strategies.
4. Programmatic predictions
4.1. Ad-supported streaming services will bloom
In 2022, the global cost of living crisis led many consumers to re-prioritise their spending. As a result, streaming giants faced a tough time, with Netflix’s stock dropping by 51%, Disney by 44%, and Warner Bros. Discovery by 48%.
By the end of 2022, there was a positive turn of events when Netflix introduced its ad subscription, providing a cost-conscious alternative to traditional subscriptions. A year later, Netflix has attracted 15 million users to its ad-supported tier, boasting a remarkable 70% quarter-over-quarter growth. Investors are pleased, and the stock has experienced a resurgence, seeing a 53% year-to-date increase, with the ad-supported subscription being a key driver of this rally. In comparison, Disney has seen a modest 4% increase, and Warner Bros. Discovery has experienced a 20% increase year-to-date.
What does this have to do with Programmatic, you may ask? Great question.
As linear TV declines and Connected TV (CTV) consumption rises, the CTV market is maturing, with streaming giants starting to play a significant role in media plans. They are adopting a Programmatic-first approach to selling inventory, a business model that has been well-received by investors. Looking ahead, we anticipate a growing supply among streaming giants. With innovative formats like Netflix’s binge format (where users enjoy an ad-free episode thanks to a specific advertiser), we’re entering an exciting future in the streaming world.
4.2. Specialised Demand-side Platforms (DSPs) will grow
The topic of ad-supported streaming services is something that taps into another trend that we will see more of in 2024, and that is specialised DSPs. There are three main reasons behind this movement.
- Supply partnership: Netflix has a partnership with the DSP Xandr, YouTube with DV360 and Google Ads, Disney+ with The Trade Desk and Twitch with Amazon. Whilst these DSPs would be considered Omnichannel in their approach to Programmatic, it does paint a picture of being solely reliant on one DSP to get the job done is not a feasible option.
- Niche features of a specialised DSP: Whilst DSPs such as DV360, Xandr and TTD can offer a wide range of formats, the specialised DSP has the advantage of intrinsic features that wouldn’t make sense for an Omnichannel DSP to incorporate. This could for example be a DSP like Sage&Archer who are focused on DOOH and have specific planning tools to see where your exact screens will be located.
- Deprecation of third-party cookies is a two-edged sword when it comes to how they affect the omnichannel DSPs. On the one hand, DSPs have more power and muscle to dictate new solutions, but, on the other hand, publishers and their first-party data gain increased value, and as such having access to that via specialised DSPs can be a benefit that weighs up the advantage of consolidating media into your omnichannel DSP.
4.3. Chrome will phase out the cookie in 2024 (or?)
As preparation for third-party cookies deprecation, Google has announced that starting in Q1, approximately 1% of third-party cookies will be disabled – and then ramp up to 100% before the end of 2024. In other words, the end of the cookie era is NOW.
This presents advertisers, publishers, and agencies with an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of the tools they have implemented for attributing value to media investments. Contextual advertising, ID solutions, attention econometrics and AI will all be there to pick up the narrative of finding alternative answers in a cookieless environment.
It is like the good old fable by Aesop of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”, where the shepherd boy repeatedly fools villagers into thinking a wolf is attacking his town’s flock, leading to them ignoring the alarm when the wolf actually does attack. In this analogy, the wolf is the third-party cookie, and the shepherd boy is Google who has called for the phase-out of the cookie back in 2022 and 2023. Despite having been fooled before, it is important to take the 2024 deadline seriously, as it is looking like the wolf is in fact coming now.
5. Data & Analytics predictions
5.1. The DMA will affect data collection
The Digital Markets Act (DMA) has emerged as a game-changer in digital analytics, bringing with it a renewed focus on user privacy and data protection. With the DMA in place, businesses are compelled to reassess their data collection practices to comply with the stringent regulations. The act emphasises user consent, transparency, and fair competition, prompting organisations to adopt more ethical and user-centric approaches to data collection
5.2. Alternative analytics solutions will become more popular
Traditional analytics tools such as Google Analytics have long been the go-to for businesses seeking insights into user behaviour. However, the landscape is evolving, and alternative analytics solutions are gaining traction. These alternatives often offer more flexibility, customization, and advanced features that cater to specific business needs.
Whether it’s customer journey mapping, sentiment analysis, or real-time analytics, alternative solutions are challenging the status quo. Businesses are exploring these options to gain a competitive edge and extract deeper, more nuanced insights from their data. As the demand for specialised analytics tools grows, expect a continued rise in the popularity of these alternatives.
5.3. The rise in modelling will impact its role in data analytics even more
As the volume and complexity of data increase, the role of modelling in data analytics becomes more pronounced. Machine learning models, predictive analytics, and artificial intelligence are becoming integral components of the analytics toolkit. However, with great power comes the need for transparency and responsible use.
Transparency in modelling involves understanding how models make decisions and ensuring that these decisions align with business objectives and ethical standards. Educating stakeholders on the limitations and biases of models is crucial for fostering trust in the analytics process.
Working with models requires a multidisciplinary approach, involving data and cloud specialists. Collaboration ensures that models are aligned with business goals and are interpretable for decision-makers. Regular model evaluation and updates are essential to keep up with evolving data patterns and changes in business dynamics.
In short: the digital analytics landscape is undergoing significant transformations with:
- The adoption of DMA privacy principles,
- The rise of alternative solutions, and
- The growing importance of modelling.
Businesses that adapt to these trends will not only stay compliant with privacy regulations but also unlock deeper insights, enabling more informed and strategic decision-making.
That just about sums it up for our Precis 2024 trends. As predicted, AI and privacy play a heavy role in whichever path we take as marketers this year. It’ll certainly be a tough task keeping up – but one with considerable rewards for those who stay ahead of the curve!