Marketing departments are going through a shift back towards pre-pandemic operational norms, with a clear inclination towards digital channels. Digital ad spending continues to grow, driven by the need to reach consumers more effectively online. Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are finding this shift reassuring and are responding by increasing their budgets, encouraged by the easing of inflationary pressures which is freeing up more capital for investment in marketing strategies.

Notable upcoming events

Marketers are preparing to capitalize on major events such as the Super Bowl and the Summer Olympics. These events offer massive platforms for brand visibility and customer engagement. Additionally, the growing global interest in sports like football and Formula 1 presents new avenues for international marketing campaigns.

Alongside these traditional opportunities, the marketing world is seeing rampant experiments with emerging technologies. Generative AI, retail media networks, and the transition to cookieless identifiers are areas where marketers are testing new strategies to understand and leverage these technologies’ full potential.

Jay Pattisall, a vice president at Forrester Research, anticipates a busy year for public relations, particularly in crisis and issue management services. Brands, more often finding themselves in controversial situations, are increasingly reliant on PR experts to navigate these challenges effectively.

Several major concerns still loom over the marketing industry. Questions around the tech antitrust crackdown, ethical and legal debates surrounding AI, and the industry’s preparedness for the phasing out of third-party cookies are creating uncertainty. Marketers are keenly watching these developments, knowing they could have significant impacts on strategy and operations.

Specific marketing strategies

In an increasingly divided society, marketers are finding that general emotional appeals and themes of shared humanity resonate well with audiences. After a period where performance marketing dominated, there is a noticeable shift towards a more balanced approach that combines emotional and functional messaging. This strategy aims to connect with consumers on a deeper level while still driving measurable outcomes.

The success of Mattel’s “Barbie” movie illustrates the power of entertainment marketing. The film combined a progressive, feminist message with broad comedic appeal, supported by a wide array of marketing tie-ins ranging from home decor to watches. Rona Mercado, CMO at Cashmere, notes that “Specific is the new broad” is a key takeaway from this campaign. Targeting specific, nuanced groups can lead to broader market appeal and expansion, demonstrating a successful strategy for modern marketing.

Retail media

Retail media networks are entering a phase of consolidation as marketers refine their strategies to focus on networks that demonstrate clear, incremental value for brands. This trend emphasizes the need for retail media networks to provide evidence of their impact on brand performance to secure ongoing investment from marketers.

Consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands are demanding more sophisticated programmatic marketplaces and greater scalability into channels like offsite and in-store media. These demands are driving growth for intermediaries such as The Trade Desk, Criteo, and Pubmatic, which facilitate complex programmatic transactions and support a more efficient and effective market operation.

Impact of the death of the cookie

As the industry prepares for the end of third-party cookies, retail media networks face increasing costs. The saturation of on-site inventory is pushing publishers to focus more on offsite formats, which may lead to higher prices for ID-based ad targeting. Patrick Gut from Adlook notes that the supply has not yet caught up to enable continued scaling in the open web, predicting slower growth as a result.

This expanded analysis provides deeper insights into the strategic shifts, challenges, and opportunities facing the business and tech sectors in 2024, aimed at equipping C-suite executives with the information needed to navigate these complex landscapes effectively.

Social commerce

Social commerce continues its rapid expansion, with sales in the U.S. projected to reach $82.82 billion in 2024, marking a 23.5% increase from the previous year. This growth demonstrates the increasing consumer preference for shopping within social media platforms, where users can purchase products directly from their feeds without needing to leave the app.

TikTok and its TikTok Shop are leading this trend, setting new standards for the industry. The platform’s integrated shopping experience simplifies the buying process, combining entertainment with instant purchasing options. This approach improves user engagement and drives sales by reducing the steps to purchase, thereby shortening the sales funnel.

Role of the creator economy

The creator economy is experiencing significant growth, with 44% of advertisers indicating plans to increase their investment in content creators. This investment reflects a strategic move to leverage creators’ ability to connect with audiences in authentic and engaging ways.

Social commerce is making creators more sophisticated in commerce capabilities, empowering them with tools and platforms to monetize their content more effectively. As creators become more adept at using these tools, they help brands tap into niche markets and personalized customer segments, driving sales through targeted and influencer-led marketing campaigns.

Predictions for social platforms

Threads, introduced as a competitor to Elon Musk’s X (formerly known as Twitter), shows considerable potential to displace X as the platform of choice for brands and advertisers. With X facing challenges in maintaining brand engagement amid various changes, Threads offers a fresh, brand-friendly environment that could attract those looking to diversify their social media presence and reach audiences in a more structured and less controversial space.

Ad-supported streaming

Key developments in streaming

Amazon’s recent move to introduce ads on Prime Video is set to generate substantial revenue, with projections nearing $5 billion. This figure comprises $3 billion from video ads and an additional $1.8 billion from subscribers who opt to avoid ads by paying a fee. Amazon’s approach of defaulting users to the ad-supported option at launch is a strategic move that contrasts with the more cautious strategies of Netflix and Disney+ when they launched their ad-supported tiers.

Warner Bros. Discovery is exploring a merger with Paramount, less than a year after launching its Max service. This potential consolidation could create a more comprehensive platform that combines diverse content libraries and ad inventories, offering advertisers more comprehensive solutions for reaching their target audiences.

Focus on premium content

Advertisers and brands are placing a heightened value on premium content, recognizing its effectiveness in driving brand and business outcomes. High-quality, engaging content tends to yield better results in terms of audience engagement and brand recall, making it a preferred choice for businesses looking to maximize their investment in streaming platforms.

Transparency and digital challenges

Businesses are prioritizing the elimination of waste and addressing media fragmentation as central to improving their marketing efficiency. Current campaigns run on an average of 44,000 websites, indicating substantial programmatic waste and inefficiency. Marketers are actively seeking solutions that streamline their advertising efforts and reduce unnecessary expenditures to improve their return on investment.

MFA websites, known for their poor user experiences, continue to negatively impact campaign performance. These sites often host low-quality content designed primarily for advertising revenue, which can lead to brand association with subpar content and diminished user engagement. Marketers are becoming more vigilant in monitoring their ads’ placements to avoid these pitfalls and maintain the quality of their brand’s online presence.

Artificial intelligence in marketing

With 87% of marketers having used or experimented with AI, the integration of this technology into marketing strategies is widespread. AI’s ability to analyze vast amounts of data and generate insights makes it a valuable tool for developing targeted marketing strategies and enhancing customer experiences. However, data collection practices and the potential for misuse have led to increased scrutiny, with legislative and legal actions looming as potential disruptors.

AI offers unmatched opportunities for achieving hyper-personalization, combining large-scale data analysis with nuanced insights to create highly personalized marketing experiences. The balance between AI-driven personalization and the human touch is essential, as it makes sure that strategies remain grounded in genuine creativity and empathy. This balance helps businesses engage with their customers more effectively, fostering deeper connections and driving loyalty.

Alexander Procter

May 22, 2024

6 Min