As this year comes to a close, it is a natural time for reflection. Most of us look back over the past year to take stock of our wins, determine if we met our goals and see what we can improve. The end of the year is also when we look forward to setting new objectives and trying to predict what the near future will bring.

It is that look into next year that causes many of us trepidation. Without a doubt, 2024 will be a year of rapid change and possibly chaos. Trends and events set in motion this year will build momentum and accelerate into the next. There will also undoubtedly be surprises in store for anyone trying to build a brand, expand marketing efforts and increase sales. All of it can create an environment of fear, hardship and confusion.

However, your outlook shouldn’t be one of doom and gloom. As the great Albert Einstein once said, “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” That will be true in 2024. To prepare you for what lies ahead, we have gathered our list of what is sure to impact marketing for businesses and brands next year. The better prepared you are, the better the chance of turning any challenges into wins. So read on to see what we think 2024 will bring. In this article, we will discuss the following:

  • The effects of media decentralization and changing consumption.
  • If artificial intelligence plays a role in 2024.
  • Is the data revolution on hold or coming full bore in 2024?
  • Other coming changes and trends that will impact marketing efforts next year.

CONTINUED ECONOMIC UNCERTAINTY

The largest recession ever seen by humanity is on its way, and it will be apocalyptic. No, there will be a soft landing, and we will all be okay. Or, possibly, there won’t be a recession at all, and everyone is freaking out for no reason. Scan any of the media coverage about a possible recession, and you get some variation of those sentiments. Honestly, it is hard to tell if any experts or pundits know what is happening. There is also the strong possibility that they don’t, as many of them predicted a recession at the beginning of 2023.

Regardless of the take, it is easy to see that the economy is in a weird spot. Multiple indicators point in different directions, causing a confusing situation. We might avoid a full-blown recession, but sales have slowed down for many brands. People are becoming more cautious with their spending, and a recent 180 in the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) supports that. After bouncing back as inflation somewhat waned throughout the year, the CCI is now heading in the wrong direction again. What will happen next year with the economy is anyone’s guess; that is part of the problem. Economic uncertainty almost always leads to less spending.

Our take: Many companies are preparing for a potential slowdown by looking for ways to trim costs. However, the worst thing a brand can do right now is to freeze marketing spending. Whether there is a recession or not, cutting or eliminating marketing efforts is a surefire way to decrease sales. Preparing for the worst is always a good idea, but creating a self-fulfilling prophecy is not.

THE ACCELERATED DECENTRALIZATION OF MEDIA

Traditional print magazines once reigned supreme until the internet changed the media landscape forever. Advertising dollars shifted from magazines to digital media, and many publishing companies never recovered. They were broken up, merged, sold off or went away. Now, that cycle is repeating itself as the once-digital upstarts have become the traditional forms of media. Like print before them, they are now being broken up through mergers, acquisitions and private equity groups. Some are disappearing completely or hollow shells of themselves, with staffs mostly consisting of freelancers.

In traditional media’s place, a new crop of content creators has risen across multiple platforms. YouTubers, streamers, freelancers, podcasters, micro-influencers and more were once thought of as nothing more than people searching for likes, fame and free products online. That outdated way of thinking has changed completely as they are now important parts of any holistic marketing efforts. As traditional media continues to wane, their roles will become even more critical as they become the primary ways of reaching your target audiences and possible consumers.

Our take: The fracturing of traditional media has been challenging for many brands. Navigating through a sea of content creators and finding the right ones to partner with can be extremely difficult. However, finding new ways to reach your customers will be one of the biggest marketing opportunities of 2024. Don’t get left behind, as other brands figure it out before you.

THE DATA REVOLUTION CONTINUES

We have written about the revolution in data before. For those needing to catch up, you can read our blog post about why first-party data is rapidly becoming important. A brief primer is that people are increasingly concerned about how their data is gathered and used online. In response, states and governments have begun to crack down on collecting third-party data. So, what is third-party data? It is any data that your brand acquires or uses from a data aggregator (like Facebook, Instagram, etc.) to help target ads and marketing efforts. As the collection and use of third-party data are increasingly highly regulated by legislation, first-party data (data you gather directly from your customers) becomes the only way to target and refine marketing efforts.

While far-reaching legislation like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation and the California Privacy Rights Act has already been enacted, there has been a brief respite in the data revolution. Multiple states have joined California’s data privacy efforts with their own legislation, but many of those laws won’t come online or have been paused until 2024. There is also the American Data Privacy and Protection Act, a federal law that seeks to codify data protection nationwide. While it has yet to be passed, it does show a desire to create a data privacy law on a national scale.

Our take: The data revolution might have hit pause in 2023, but it will be coming full bore in 2024. First-party data will increasingly be the only viable way to target your marketing efforts. If you haven’t begun to gather it, now is the time to do so, as the brief pause is quickly ending.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE’S BOOM OR BUST

Artificial intelligence (AI) burst into the news cycle at the beginning of 2023 with the launch of ChatGPT and other open AI chatbots. Soon the media was flooded with stories about how AI would change the world forever. Most of us would be out of jobs in the near future as AI took over our responsibilities. Seemingly, no matter the profession, artificial intelligence could do a better job than any human. There was no limit to what AI could do. The future would be limitless and possibly somewhat scary, as AI promised to take over almost every aspect of our lives.

The reality was quite different, though. Instead of helpful Tesla humanoids and problem-solving AIs, we got ChatGPT. Its abilities seemed remarkable initially, but the luster quickly began to wear off. While the conversational aspects of ChatGPT are impressive, for other tasks it mines the internet for information. That can lead it to produce a mishmash of misinformation and non-sensical content. Making matters worse is that ChatGPT and other AIs like it present their creations as factual and accurate. AI-created photographs and graphics might be easier to spot (although that is changing), but errors and factual inaccuracies in an AI-generated article are not. Check out our blog post on AI to see if we think it will change marketing forever.

Our take: While the current AI offerings might not have lived up to the immense hype, it is essential to remember that they are first efforts. Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Google and almost every major tech company (and many unknown ones) are working on the next round of AI. How they will impact 2024 is a wildcard, but they are sure to improve upon the abilities of the current AI crop.

THE CONTINUED CHANGE IN MEDIA CONSUMPTION

How people prefer to consume media and content has been undergoing a seismic shift. Magazines, newspapers and television once reigned supreme as the primary sources of information and entertainment. Seemingly unstoppable, the digital age ended their dominance as people migrated online. Some savvy media companies were able to make the transition from print to digital. The others that didn’t or failed to adapt to the new media reality fell by the wayside as their empires collapsed.

Now, those media companies that survived aren’t just facing challenges from the previously mentioned mergers and acquisitions but a generational shift in preferences. People shifted online after print and then to social media. That migration to Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and others led to the rise of influencers. As social media has become somewhat oversaturated and less authentic, another change is happening. People are increasingly turning to content creators on YouTube for information, entertainment and to guide purchasing decisions. YouTube has quietly become an absolute monster and is now the second-most-visited website in the world, with 74.8 billion monthly visitors (only Google is higher). It also has the highest penetration of any social network, with 82% of adults in the U.S. using it. An amazing 86% of YouTube viewers say they regularly watch how-to and tutorial videos.

Our take: Hopefully, your brand is already producing content for YouTube. However, tapping into the real power of YouTube goes beyond creating solely brand content. For 2024, finding the right YouTube content creators to partner with should be at the top of your to-do list. Our blog post on YouTube’s growth, size and scope is a compelling read for those not completely convinced.

DIGITAL MARKETING IS GETTING MORE COMPLICATED

Standing out in a noisy digital marketing landscape is becoming increasingly difficult. The simple days of blindly throwing money at social media advertising and praying for something to go viral are long over. Engagement is slowly trending downward on most social media platforms. Some users are migrating away from the once dominant social media sites, leaving marketers wondering if it is a permanent trend or a blip. Adding to the confusion is the constant introduction of new social media options, with some experiencing significant growth. On top of it all, targeting is now becoming more complex as privacy laws are enacted, and third-party data becomes extinct.

All of the complications facing digital marketing are sure to increase in 2024, but it is still highly effective. Digital marketing costs less than most other forms of marketing and can have significantly more reach. Even with the demise of third-party data, it is still more targeted than any other marketing effort. Customers at every stage of the sales funnel can also be targeted with different forms of digital marketing. While the rise of new social media platforms and technologies can cause confusion, the sheer scale of the “old guard” of Facebook, YouTube, Google and Instagram makes them the most powerful digital marketing platforms for the foreseeable future.

Our take: The old days of winging it with digital marketing or hiring your neighbor’s kid to run ads on Facebook are over. As more digital privacy laws become enacted in 2024, your digital marketing efforts will need a cohesive strategy crafted by experts. Measurable ROI will also take time, as results are not instantaneous, so you must have realistic expectations. Our blog post about what to know about digital marketing in 2023 is a good place to start with your 2024 plans.

LET US HELP

At Kahn Media, we can be a powerful partner for 2024, guiding you through all the upcoming changes and creating an effective marketing strategy for your brand. As a full-service agency, we have in-house teams that are experts in digital marketing, social media management, content creator engagement, public relations, strategy development, event management and content creation. We can effectively handle any of our areas of expertise individually or wholistically as a turn-key marketing department for your brand. And we can usually provide our services more cost-effectively than hiring your own experts. Contact us today to see what is possible.