At the outset of 2023, marketers expressed a sense of cautious optimism. After a challenging 12 months, is the outlook any brighter for the marketing industry? What trends are the ones to keep a close eye on in 2024?
New Digital Age (NDA) in association with GroupM Nexus recently hosted a live Predictions Breakfast event in central London, where an invitation-only audience gathered to hear a range of senior industry experts reveal their personal predictions for 2024. The event opened with Zuzanna Gierlinska, Chief Solutions Officer of GroupM Nexus, chatting to Jem Lloyd-Williams, CEO, Mindshare about the prospects for the year ahead.
Offering his advice on tackling uncertainty, Lloyd-Williams said: “As marketers, we have a tendency to be dazzled by the next big thing on the horizon. Concentrating on the things that you know aren’t going to change too much is usually a good place to start your planning for the year ahead. In terms of 2024 specifically, having the right partners in place from a data wrangling perspective will be important. No one person or team or specialism will be responsible for driving a business forward. It’s going to require more of a squad effort and a lot of collaboration.”
Addressing the pending deprecation of cookies on Chrome, Lloyd-Williams commented: “The interesting question is how do we change our mindset and expectation, rather than simply try to find ways around the problem that allow us to keep chasing people around the internet. 2024 will be about trying to deliver better advertising experiences for human beings, which, happily, will also deliver things like increased efficiency and performance while reducing the environmental impact of our digital campaigns.”
Reasons to be cheerful
Next, NDA’s editor Justin Pearse chaired a panel discussion where he and Lloyd-Williams were joined on stage by Katy Allison, Head of Media & Campaign Planning, M&S Food; Matt Bourn, Director of Communications for the Advertising Association and Ad Net Zero; and Richard Fuller, Managing Partner – Growth, at GroupM Nexus.
Fuller kicked things off on a positive footing, pointing out that investment in the pure play digital space was up 7.4% in the past year, while next year’s growth is projected at around 5.5%. He said: “There’s overall growth within the market, although traditional channels will need to be more agile and pivot towards their digital offerings. Retail media is still quite small, but is poised to grow massively. Digital Out of Home is also a really interesting space where GroupM Nexus are doing some brilliant work at the moment.”
As someone with a background in TV buying, Fuller admitted he is most excited by the innovations happening in the CTV arena: “TV is having a moment right now. Legacy broadcasters like ITV and Channel Four are moving into the addressable ad space and doing some really clever things as a result. Add to that the number of people now consuming content on free ad-supported streaming channels and it’s clear that TV, the most important, most impactful media we have, is starting to up its game in a big way.”
An uncertain future
Allison of M&S Foods agreed that the ad-supported streaming TV marketplace offers a lot of potential for brand advertisers, but feels there are still questions that need to be answered: “I’m interested to see how the ad-funded tiers being added to Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video manage to scale their inventory. As a brand, we’d like to get a bit more detail from them about what audiences are actually there. We’re also looking at innovation within the format space, such as sponsoring programmes or actually creating ad-funded programmes with broadcasters like Netflix.”
Allison added: “As a brand, we feel very responsible for where and how we show up in front of consumers with our ads, but I find it interesting that a lot of digital platforms are trying to push us to stay broad and automate the bulk of our media buying. It’s important to us to stay in control rather than show up everywhere and annoy people.”
The Advertising Association’s Bourn revealed that the topics his members are talking about right now include talent recruitment and retention, skills and training, and building an inclusive workplace.
He said: “The feeling is that 2024 will be another tough year for the economy. Our role at the Advertising Association is to help position marketing and advertising not as a cost line to be cut in hard times, but rather as an investment in growth and, from a political point of view, an investment in jobs.”
On the subject of politics, for anyone hoping that the geopolitical scene might be a little more stable in 2024, Bourn had an ominous warning: “There’s going to be a record number of elections next year around the world, 76 in total, with over 4 billion people casting their vote. What on earth that means for the political landscape is anyone’s guess. Strap yourselves in.”
Find out more about NDA’s full programme of events for 2024.