As we have stepped into the new year, the marketing landscape continues its dynamic evolution, presenting both challenges and opportunities for businesses. In this comprehensive exploration of the marketing terrain in 2024, we delve into key predictions across Paid Social, SEO, SEM, and Programmatic Advertising. From the profound impact of AI to the strategic shifts of crafting unique experiences, join us as we present trends that will shape the digital marketing strategies of businesses in the coming year.
The predictions for Paid Social all start with the continuous focus from online businesses on the shift from growth to profitability. A transition from short- to long-term gains accelerated in 2023 and should remain an ongoing focus going forward.
The understanding of incremental impact will be crucial to leverage social media platforms. The channel mix will continue to grow for many advertisers, partly to avoid being too dependent on certain channels, but most importantly, to make the most out of the opportunities as the platforms continue to evolve. If it was hard to measure the incremental contribution from one source with the typical in-channel attribution window, understanding your marketing efforts with multiple channels and objectives in the mix becomes a totally different ball game. Putting time and effort into getting as close to the truth as possible is more important than ever, and advertisers who master it in 2024 will have a clear competitive advantage.
Upper-Funnel Layers for Strong Incremental Impact
Much in line with incremental impact comes the evaluation of which marketing activities you include in your Paid Social setup. While the system's algorithms are great at maximizing your results, the era of pure performance is over. Working outside of conversion objectives will help the systems find users of both short- and long-term value. Adding upper-funnel layers to your setup will not only build your brand and fuel your performance activities over time – it shows a strong incremental impact when it's being evaluated with MMM and statistical studies. The upper funnel was a trendy topic in 2023, and for those who are tracking behind, it will be a must-win battle in 2024.
Measurement and Creative Mix
Measurement opens the door to developing your Paid Social setup, but the end product, and what the users ultimately consume, is naturally the content. As advertisers expand into new channels and objectives, it becomes more important than ever to have a structured way of developing your content. Combining your own production with UGC and understanding their purpose in your creative mix is what will drive results in 2024.
TikTok Fuels Shift Towards Smaller Creators
Working with UGC has evolved over the years and content creators are the new influencers – much thanks to Tiktok. The content is cheaper and is often observed as more native and genuine compared to content provided by bigger influencers. The upcoming year will be the time advertisers realize that buying volumes of content from smaller accounts is often more efficient than bigger influencer collaborations. It also opens the door for more experimentation with the messaging.
Quality over quantity
With the rise of AI content on the web, the amount of low-quality content is growing rapidly. We’ve already learned that AI-generated content has the potential to increase distrust if used incorrectly. To meet this, you’ll need to make sure that the content you publish is content you want your brand to be associated with. Users will move towards reliable information where you can deliver proof of authenticity. This will lead website owners to further focus on E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authority, and trust) signals, which we believe will play a role in Google's upcoming updates to ranking signals weighting.
AI, and its correct use
With AI being one of the biggest topics in 2023, it’s no surprise that it will play a huge role in our upcoming year. The development of AI tools has skyrocketed with an incredible speed, and many are realizing the huge potential these tools have for both automation and production, incorporating them into their planning and deliverables.
In 2024, we believe that understanding the correct use or combination of these efficient tools and when manual work is needed for each client and case will play a major role in how these tools are used and the quality of your output will be.
We need to determine when to focus on quantity and automation effectiveness, or when to focus on manual quality in the deliverables.
Google Search Generative Experience (SGE)
Expect lower traffic to category and product pages as Google aims to be the direct source for product purchases. SEO strategies need to adapt to the evolving customer journey influenced by AI-driven SERPs. SEO professionals should gear up for a paradigm shift in strategies to navigate the changing landscape of AI-driven search experiences.
With a combination of content across the web growing faster than ever and Google using AI to tailor the SERPs, the need to provide a good user experience will increase parallel to this. Making sure that you can attract, keep, and make users happy enough to play a big role in their customer journey will be more important than ever.
Closer collaboration with Social Media
There’s been quite a lot of discussions about the surveys that state that TikTok is the number one search engine of choice for many of “Gen Z”. This is of course something the more traditional search engines like Google are keeping a close eye on.
How traditional search engines will respond to this is not that clear yet, but the three most important reasons for the choice of Gen Z are:
The video format of the results
More relatable answers
We can expect that these may play a role in how content is angled going forward.
Furthermore, as an SEO, now may be a good time to build a closer relationship with your SoMe department. Make sure that your strategies are aligned. Lastly, it can be a good idea to expand your knowledge within TikTok SEO or Instagram SEO as well!
The SEM landscape in 2024 is characterized by significant technological advancements and an evolving regulatory environment. By understanding these trends and proactively adapting your strategies, you can achieve success in this new era of digital marketing. Embrace innovation, uphold ethical standards, and continuously learn to stay ahead in the dynamic world of SEM.
Adapting to a cookieless future and regulatory changes
The digital marketing landscape is undergoing a significant transformation as concerns over user privacy and data security lead major browsers to phase out third-party cookies entirely, increasing the importance of first-party data. In navigating the evolving legal landscape shaped by data privacy regulations like GDPR, prioritize user consent and transparency in data practices. To address the challenges posed by the loss of tracking and cookies, integrate tools like Google Consent Mode. This feature allows you to adjust cookie behavior based on user preferences, ensuring compliance with privacy regulations. Additionally, leverage Enhanced Conversions by Google for more accurate tracking without relying solely on third-party cookies.
The integration of artificial intelligence into SEM is changing how campaigns are created and optimized. AI's ability to analyze vast amounts of data and identify patterns enables more efficient targeting and personalization. Embrace AI tools for audience segmentation, predictive modeling, and dynamic content optimization. Stay informed about new AI developments and train your team to synergize with AI for better campaign outcomes.
Search Generative Experience (SGE)
SGE represents a significant shift in how search results and advertisements are generated, with AI playing a central role in determining what users see. This new AI-driven environment may reduce control and predictability in ad campaigns, presenting new challenges in achieving visibility and effectiveness as it will be hard to understand how to optimize for visibility, and many predict an increase in zero-click results.
The need for standout content
In an increasingly automated SEM landscape, the power of unique and personalized content becomes more pronounced. Tailor your content strategy to meet the specific needs and interests of your audience, whether through data-driven product recommendations or solution-focused service information. Analyze your industry's unique dynamics and utilize insights to create compelling content that cuts through the noise.
The Rise of Predictive Analytics
Leveraging predictive analytics involves using data, statistical algorithms, and machine learning techniques to identify the likelihood of future outcomes based on historical data. Tools like Google Analytics and SEMrush can provide valuable insights into user behavior while techniques like customer segmentation and conversion probability analysis can enhance the precision of your SEM strategies.
Integrate these tools into your SEM approach to anticipate user needs, optimize ad placements, and refine bidding strategies for improved ROI.
Cookie Deprecation - Walled setups
Apart from the purely structural and regulatory changes that will come along in 2024 with the deprecation of the cookie, we expect to see several implications on a platform level following these developments. It’s highly likely that advertisers will stay with the platforms that they already know and invest in, securing tracking and consent-related issues rather than explore new channels and platforms. For the advertisers that have an unsatisfactory tech stack in place, contenders pushing cookie alternatives will likely gain attractiveness and market share with various degrees of 1st party ID solutions, to name one.
Attention as a metric is still in its infancy, few viable solutions exist today to meet the growing demand for optimizing and evaluating activities based on attention. There will be several independent initiatives during 2024 that will have varying degrees of success as to what actually drives attention. What’s clear is that we need to go beyond pure visibility and find the sweet spot of Visibility, Situation, and Interaction - the combination of these will be what drives actual attention and results.
Short-term Media Planning
With the current macroeconomic climate, it’s expected that short-term media planning will continue into 2024 with a focus on performance and flexibility. Instead of planning for the year, strategic planning may go as short-term as monthly and/or quarterly planning to ensure that media activities are maximizing on desired KPIs.
Connected TV (CTV) as its own channel
CTV is expected to become a bigger share of media plans, and with the European Market catching up to the US it’s also expected that there will be a lot more inventory available, either through global players such as Disney and Netflix, but also through bundling of inventory on more regional levels. The CTV environment already demands somewhat different technical setups from other sorts of TV buying and online video, this is likely to categorize CTV even more as a separate media channel.
Media measurement and channel contribution
No marketer has been able to miss the changes to digital tracking in recent years (Apple ATT, ITP specifically) that have limited marketers' capabilities to track and measure correctly channel and media mix performance. Chrome is rolling out an update already to deprecate 3rd party cookies which means our traditional measurement approach and attribution models are becoming even more problematic in terms of giving meaningful answers to what works and what doesn’t from an incrementality perspective.
There are more or less three ways that brands can measure marketing performance
Digital Tracking/Multi-Touch Attribution (MTA): MTA has long been the default for online marketing, where you leverage browser cookies or other identifiers to track the source of conversions and sales. The problem with MTA is that it does not tell us anything about incrementality or causality, e.g. would the person being exposed to an ad have converted either way.
Marketing Mix Modelling (MMM): Statistical modeling method to evaluate which marketing channel has the most impact on sales. This allows for continuously reallocating investments to high-performing channels to maximize the marginal contribution of the whole media mix.
Experiments/Lift Studies: Regular validation tests to see what performance would look like if specific channels would be paused, scaled up, or down in spending, test, and control groups and geo experiments. It is a form real-world validation method for the contribution of an activity
We cannot rely on attribution solely anymore and we need to think in new ways by having a good understanding of available measurement techniques and how to use them in tandem. We predict that a combination of measurement techniques used together in a holistic manner will be used by more marketers during 2024, starting with the more sophisticated ones. A resurgence of marketing mix modeling has been ongoing for the past couple of years and I believe this will accelerate during 2024 when more brands start using this technique to get a sense of channel and entire media mix contribution to sales. Another method is what we call experiment or lift studies which are going to become much more used as well. Experiments are a broad term but in terms of measuring marketing activities the best methods are geo experiments, matched market tests, or simple spend scaling tests that can give a better understanding of the incremental value or contribution of a tested channel.
Measuring the true value of marketing activities is more important than ever and the ever-changing landscape of digital tracking for the worse makes it crucial for brands and marketers to incorporate more measurement techniques into their toolbox to 1. Understand channel and entire media mix contribution to sales in a better way and 2. minimize wasted ad spend as much as possible going forward.
Hyper-Personalization Takes Center Stage
Within the landscape of artificial intelligence, 2024 marks a significant shift towards hyper-personalization in marketing strategies. As businesses continue to integrate AI into their campaigns, the emphasis will extend beyond mere efficiency. AI algorithms will evolve to interpret user behaviors, preferences, and contextual cues, enabling marketers to deliver tailor-made content that resonates with each unique audience segment. This move towards individualized experiences is poised to redefine customer engagement, fostering deeper connections and driving enhanced campaign performance.
Crafting Unique Experiences with AI
As businesses aim to stand out in the crowded digital landscape, the key differentiator lies in the ability to leverage AI for personalized interactions. From dynamically adjusting ad creatives to predicting customer needs, the AI-powered personalization wave will reshape the marketing landscape. Those adept at navigating this shift towards crafting unique experiences for consumers will not only meet rising expectations but also forge ahead in cultivating lasting and meaningful customer relationships.
The marketing landscape in 2024 presents exciting opportunities and challenges. For personalized insights or further discussion on these trends, don't hesitate to reach out. Your digital marketing success matters to us!