The Top Marketing Predictions for 2024 | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

The Top Marketing Predictions for 2024


2024 will be a year of disruption, transformation, and change. From the continued rise of AI to the growing importance of first-party data, it's safe to say nothing will stay as it is now. Marketers will continue to prioritize finding ways to enhance segmentation and personalization — how they will do that, however, will change as regulations, tech advancements, as well as labor and partnerships adjust to evolving needs.

Below are the top predictions from some of the industry's leading experts.

Mike Hauptman, CEO and founder of AdLib, discussed labor costs, CTV, and cannabis marketing. Hauptman stated that as "cannabis becomes more mainstream, the cannabis marketing landscape will become more sophisticated and competitive in 2024. We'll see an increase in educational and informative content to demystify cannabis as well as more personalized and targeted campaigns and a greater focus on customer experiences."

When it comes to labor costs, Hauptman noted that "rising labor costs of ad ops and trafficking will drive a surge in automation as agencies look to punch above their weight and scale and manage complexities. Industry consolidation, RTO pressures and workflow burdens will help level the playing field for small and midsize agencies and global holding company," and thus, as a result of these changes, "CTV [will] become the most important component of an omnichannel strategy."

Michael McLaren, Bounteous' president of North America, shared insight into generative AI, cloud computing, and the growth of the CDP. McLaren stated that marketers will see "more focus on extracting tremendous value from CDP investments. Factors like the increasing adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to help interpret data in CDPs, the growing demand for real-time data integration, and the increasing need for customer management and data security will lead to the development of more sophisticated and powerful capabilities with the CDPs that will help businesses to deliver personalized and omnichannel customer experiences."

When it comes to generative AI, big changes will be felt, especially in health care as the "customer experience can be a big issue [as] we will see the development of compelling use cases in areas like claims processing, member support, member experience, and communications, which are all areas ripe for improvement and are areas where the experience can be enhanced with AI."

McLaren also noted that "marketers will increasingly develop and implement intelligent software tools and add-ons like voice-activated search and chatbots as a means to help customers navigate content and make getting to what they are looking for faster and easier."

Cloud computing will grow and become more accessible through "increased adoption by businesses of all sizes as cloud providers build more turnkey SaaS solutions and pricing models, lowering barriers to entry and making it easier for businesses to manage their cloud resources. With this will come a greater focus on cloud security and compliance as well as new compliance standards."

The merging of physical and digital experiences continues to increase, often referred to as the "phygital" world which McLaren stated is "built around customer preferences and desires. Take the ordering experience at Shake Shack — you can engage with the brand through a plethora of physical and digital channels: kiosk, mobile, online, store, drive-thru, allowing customers to engage in those channels that are right for them." Understanding the importance of trends, whether becoming more digital or having a hybrid approach, is crucial to understanding how to meet the needs of your consumers.

To do this, building loyalty is a must, especially as the marketplace becomes more and more crowded. Of loyalty, McLaren noted that it will be more important than ever, and marketers should focus on "nurturing and rewarding customers and building an increasingly loyal user base will become more valuable than ever and will be an increasingly important component of the marketers' toolkit."

Jenn Chen, CRO and president of Connatix, shared predictions for AI regulations, cookie deprecation, and CTV privacy. Chen noted that "Biden's executive order to guide responsible AI development comes as no surprise; in fact, last year, we predicted that the rise of generative AI would create a need for clearer regulations (and risk management tools) around content ownership and privacy. In 2024, this conversation will continue to dominate, and we will see new privacy regulations, initiatives, and consortiums emerge as companies seek practical ways to standardize and enforce Biden's EO. Increased adoption of AI tools by companies will see on-premise/private models allowing companies to leverage their own data, without data leakage or privacy concerns."

Chen went on to state that "publishers will need to embrace and ramp up the adoption of AI tools for content generation and enhancement. As advertisers and publishers future-proof their targeting solutions for whatever privacy changes come next, there will be new advances, and increased investment, in sophisticated AI and ML technologies. Co-existing and adopted technology that understands the content and context of a page or video and then serves relevant ads to consumers without relying on personal data is where both consumers and publishers are heading."

The cookie timeline, Chen believes, will be delayed again, allowing 2024 to "bring a greater focus for both publishers and advertisers on combining privacy-first solutions to future-proof strategies. We'll see a greater focus on contextual, and increased efforts on leveraging universal identifiers, both probabilistic and deterministic, which will be helpful for effective monetization after a tough year economically in 2023. There will be a race to interoperability, and we hope this brings the industry together versus further fragmenting it."

CTV has become a major player for segmentation and personalization, which means privacy concerns are heightening. Chen stated that Connatix has "seen advertisers increase their requests for contextual data on a show level programmatically and in 2024 we believe more content providers will do so, even if it's with strict spend commitments. Publishers and content creators will set more precedence here based on how they leverage contextual and tech to help classify, qualify, and merchandise."

Ravi Mittal, CEO and founder of Vuukle, shared several predictions on data. For instance, when it comes to first-party data, Mittal stated that the "degradation of the cookie" will illustrate its important and "will push this to an inflection point for companies of all sizes."

Mittal also stated that a "surge in data-verification companies is anticipated to address the trust gap between publisher-gathered data and that obtained by third-party DMPs. These entities will ensure data is properly sanitized for DSP use."

Audience data will provide a new way to increase revenue as the "number of valuable data points will drive publishers to explore monetization avenues in various data exchanges such as LiveRamp and ID5." Similarly, more informed choices will be made by leveraging consumer purchase intent.

Shiv Gupta, CEO of U of Digital, believes 2024 will be a year of disruption. Gupta predicts that mergers and acquisitions (M&A) will increase as the "markets have stabilized somewhat, and the industry is back on a path of growth. Also, strategics sense an opportunity with big tech being distracted by privacy/antitrust, [especially] with there being a wave of new trends to jump on top of, namely AI, commerce media, [and] emerging channels."

Gupta also stated that consolidations will take place, as "some trendy areas have become too fragmented and cannot be sustained. The market will push these categories to at least begin to consolidate. These categories include streaming apps, ID solutions, data collaboration tools, [and] retail media."

Moreover, Gupta shared a "hot take" that may be a "long shot." Gupta's idea? Google will spin off DV360; Gupta elaborated, stating, "The antitrust lawsuit against Google's ad tech business calls for the company to divest its ad server/ad exchange (essentially GAM, formerly DoubleClick). If Google agrees to divest, we think they'd prefer to divest demand-side tech first, because the DSP space is way more competitive (see: TTD, Yahoo, Amazon, Roku, Samsung, etc.) and they will still have their owned and operated demand-side product. If this happens, it will be a monumentally impactful event for the digital advertising industry."

Myles Younger, head of innovations and insights at U of Digital, anticipates tremendous change around AI and cookies. When it comes to AI, Younger believes 2024 will unleash a "wave of significant AI unveilings from adtech and martech platforms, driven by the pressing need to keep pace with innovations from major players in the industry. In 2023, we witnessed a rapid influx of AI-based tools and features from industry giants such as Big Tech and OpenAI. This trend extended into prominent ad and marketing platforms like Google Pmax, Meta Advantage+, TikTok, Microsoft, Salesforce Einstein, among others."

Younger went on to say that smaller companies are still catching up, stating that this "lag is understandable, given that their research and development budgets are only a fraction of what Big Tech commands. The challenge lies in bridging this gap and fostering innovation within smaller entities despite resource constraints."

There are many concerns regarding AI, including the fact that "malicious entities leveraging AI are poised to degrade the quality of ad inventory significantly. This extends beyond mere content manipulation, as entire publisher sites, influencer personas, and miniature media ecosystems can now be generated almost instantly, permeating the open web, apps, and social media platforms alike. The emergence of machine-generated synthetic content poses a multifaceted challenge, encompassing issues like the proliferation of fake news, fraudulent products, and the exacerbation of non-viewable and 'made for advertising' inventory."

Younger warns, however, that "the existing adtech and publishing infrastructure finds itself ill-equipped to effectively combat and counteract this escalating threat."

As with many experts, Younger believes the third-party cookies deprecation will cause confusion and uncertainty in 2024, adding that "the optimism surrounding the removal of 3P cookies from every web browser worldwide within just a year appears ambitious, considering the gradual pace of Privacy Sandbox alternatives. These alternatives, far from attaining the long-standing 'industry standard' status of third-party cookies spanning over two decades, pose a significant challenge."

Because of all the uncertainty and inability to truly forecast what will happen (especially with a short timeline), Younger posed the question: "How will agency buyers allocate client budgets when confronted with the abrupt absence of 3P audiences? The intricacies of this transformative shift in a condensed 90-day window warrant meticulous consideration and strategic recalibration across the industry."

Brian Dolan, CEO and founder of WorkReduce, expects 2024 to transform agency life and ad inventory. Dolan believes all advertisers "should be watching the Google antitrust trial as its outcome has the potential to cause significant ripple effects in advertising. If Google is found guilty (as I believe they will be) and is forced to divest itself of some of its advertising businesses or change its ad auction practices, this could lead to more competition and lower ad prices for advertisers. We could expect this to impact channel access and management, allowing advertisers to access Google's ad inventory through different providers as well as allowing for greater data portability, interoperability, and greater transparency."

Furthermore, going global will be a trend for agencies. Dolan stated that "2024 is the year the mid-tier agency will go global and win the big accounts. As the holding company continue to take a hard stance on RTO, independent and midsize agencies that are embracing remote and hybrid will gain a competitive advantage when it comes to hiring and talent, overhead, and global business. Mid-tier agencies are going virtual and doing it in a way that lets them expand into more markets and have more robust presences in those markets, enabling global pitches."

Keith Bedford, GM of EMEA at Wurl, stressed the important of CTV and EPGS (electronic program guides), stating that the "integration of EPGs directly into smart TVs will grow the streaming market, giving manufacturers more control and consumers easier access to discover content. This will, in turn, create a more personalized viewing experience, and, ultimately, significant potential for ad revenue generation."

Bedford also noted that geographical differences should inform how marketers reach different people in different places; for instance, while the U.S. is "witnessing the transition from traditional TV to FAST (free ad-supported streaming TV), cord cutting is less prevalent in EMEA due to the abundance of free TV content, which may lead to a different approach to ad-supported streaming in this market in 2024," Bedford stated. He went on to add that marketers are "likely to see the adoption of FAST and CTV more broadly speed up this year."

Whether or not all these predictions come true will be subject to time. However, keeping these predictions in mind when devising strategies for various campaigns, email segmentation, omnichannel personalization, social media use, and/or AI implementation, may be helpful in staying ahead of the curve.

The views and opinions expressed in Industry Insights are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Joanna Fragopoulos is a director of editorial and content development at ANA.