2023 has been quite a year in marketing. Predicting what will happen in 2024 is harder than ever, but also more important than ever. Over the last ten years, we have seen so many changes and developments. The rise of social media, the growth of the influencer market, and now AI have changed how we do things. Video marketing is more important than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic also shifted trends and caused an increase in the use of video conferencing, but this is now moving to complement face-to-face networking rather than replace it.
The rapid rate of change indicates we’ll see more change in the future. Here are five things we see as key through 2024.
Strategies and AI
The big tech news of 2023 was Midjourney and, of course, ChatGPT. Immediately, “we don’t need writers any more.” Or artists, or graphic…it appeared for a while as if the creative side of marketing could be automated.
Then the problems began to emerge. ChatGPT proved a poor tool, although specialist writer AIs such as Jasper do a better job. Revelations of the unsustainability of cloud-based AI and a growing understanding that these systems were trained on copyrighted data without consent or compensation have taken some of the bloom off the rose.
However, content is not where AI will shine. AI can help support human efforts in a variety of areas, including digital ad placement, sales forecasts, and assisting in customer service. It can analyze detailed data better than humans, automate simple customer requests such as delivery time or appointment scheduling, and drive the customer journey. Over time, AI will transform marketing, but it will do so not by replacing humans in jobs humans are good at, but automating mundane tasks and the business side of marketing. AI will probably not be writing your blog posts, but it will be segmenting your audiences, doing a better job of suggesting alternatives to customers for out-of-stock items, and providing extremely personalized recommendations.
Social Media Breaks Up
The second big tech news of 2023 is, of course, the decline of Twitter, now called X (or Xitter by people denigrating it). Since being purchased by Elon Musk, the social media giant has simply become worse. And worse.
Users continue to flee the platform, or keep their accounts only to “claim” their username and keep anyone else from getting it. They are fleeing to Meta’s new platform, Threads, the open-source Mastodon and, increasingly, Bluesky. Whether any of these twitterlikes will eventually rise to prominence is unclear. Some of them also don’t allow traditional advertising, and many Mastodon instances ban any kind of promotion.
On top of that, TikTok has become an increasingly important platform for advertisers, but concerns over its privacy standards remain. Many brands are moving their primary presence to Instagram.
I predict that the balkanization of short-form social media is not going to improve in 2024. There may even be more platforms. This will force social media managers to be savvy about multiple systems, to cross-post, and to produce more video and visual material for TikTok and Instagram. “Social media manager” will become a broader role, and we may see specialists, especially freelancers, helping businesses with specific platforms.
Challenges For Advertisers
People don’t want to see ads. This is becoming more and more the case, especially as companies push…more and more ads. The ad-supported, cheaper tiers for streaming services are a key part of this development.
The use of adblockers has increased by 11% since 2021. The U.K. has a lower-than-average level, with the percentage in 2022 being 28.9%. Better educated consumers are more likely to make use of adblockers because they have higher concerns about both privacy and malware. People working from home often run adblockers so they don’t end up seeing ads about their job.
Traditionally, social media advertising, which is not caught by adblockers, has been the best way around this. But with the balkanization of Twitter, social media advertising has also become more difficult.
Another challenge has developed. Third-party cookies are already easily blockable in Safari and Firefox, and Chrome will start blocking them by default by the end of 2024. All of this means that advertising online is going to require a more delicate touch, including designing ads that are whitelisted by adblockers, and developing the multi-platform social media strategy already mentioned.
Trust Becomes More Important
Trust in marketing has always been important, but it’s going to become more so. First of all, the AI hype has flooded the internet with low-quality, generic, and duplicate “content.”
To cut through this, brands need to position themselves as experts and produce content that is specific, geographically localized when relevant, and meets E-E-A-T standards – experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Blogs are not dead, but generic blogs that give the same information as twenty other small businesses are. Instead, there will be a growing trend to produce content that relates to specific projects, customers, and ideas.
Small business owners will be pressured to show their faces on their websites and social media, literally, and to demonstrate that they are a real person. The ability to fake images, videos, and voices will create interesting further pressures. They might even make face-to-face events, ironically, more important.
Branding and Brand Awareness
The various challenges with advertising and social media will push overall marketing strategies toward brand awareness. When a social media platform doesn’t allow ads, then the only strategy you can use is to present yourself as a solid brand they want to work with. Building a reputation is going to be every bit as important as it ever was, and will never change.
How you do so, however, might be adjusted. Visual brand awareness is becoming a key part of campaigns, and we see this only increasing in 2024. Consumers expect to see pretty pictures, even of things that might not be so pretty, such as new furnaces.
Overall, I see the AI hype cresting and AI moving to more of a support role, an increase in activities designed to increase both brand awareness and trust, a reduction in traditional paid advertising, and major changes in social media strategy as the landscape itself changes. As a Chartered Marketer and member of CIM, it’s my job to stay abreast of these changes and all the ones I haven’t been able to predict. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how I can help you with marketing and graphic design in 2024 and beyond.