Marketing Briefing: What will the top marketing trends in 2024 be?

This Marketing Briefing covers the latest in marketing for Digiday+ members and is distributed over email every Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET. More from the series →

If you’ve read our final briefing of 2023 then you’ve already read a recap of the major marketing trends of last year. To kick off the New Year, we’ve once again asked folks to predict what they expect will be big in marketing this coming year. 

While of course, “someone will predict the death of ‘traditional advertising’ [sic] for the 25th year in a row,” said Lachlan Badenoch, chief strategy officer at Carmichael Lynch, the predictions for 2024 focused on cultural shifts and potential third-party cookie fallout. (We already covered AI in the previous briefing so we’ve skipped that here but yes that will continue to be a major factor next year.)

Keep reading for marketers and agency execs predictions for the big trends of 2024. 

Control (or lack thereof) of brand narrative

Marketers are used to having control over their brands — whether they’ve truly ever had it is another conversation — but in 2024 marketers will have to get used to giving up some control if they want to truly be a part of culture. As we previously reported, marketers are starting to recognize that they’re having to change tactics to influence how their brands are talked about online rather than hoping for the control they once had to continue.

“In 2023, we witnessed the growing abdication of brand control, spurred on by a deepening of audience and creator control over messaging and brand meaning,” said Tom Krell, cultural connections planning director, EP+Co, in an email. “Some of the year’s biggest and best social trends, including the rise of ‘deinfluencers’ and brands learning how to involve culture in product storytelling (like we saw with the Grimace Shake trend), contributed to this.” 

Krell continued: “Further, concerns about consumer privacy, evolving user privacy laws and stricter data privacy standards have changed the ways brands can control the messaging milieu. So what does it all mean? In 2024, culture will take control of brands. But less control does not mean less brand power. The brands that handle the loss of control most gracefully, by co-creating their identity and messaging alongside and within communities will win big.”

Listening to what consumers want and responding

Finding ways to become part of communities, whether that’s through more investment in influencer marketing (an obvious and expected trend of 2024) or group chats or some other way, will be necessary in the new year. Putting processes in place to respond quickly when your brand is talked about online, will also be crucial for marketers this coming year.

“Accelerating brand response to the speed of culture: TikTok and the social landscape at large is moving faster than ever and brands have gotten better at taking something that happens, or indirectly involves them, and creating rapid, custom responses that often lead to earned attention,” said Matt Lang, director, marketing strategy for Gale. “For brands that can pull it off, it’s a smart playbook — we’ll see more brands looking to execute at speed in 2024.”

Speed is just one element that marketers are starting to adopt. Spending more time listening and responding when their brands are talked about has become more important for brands this past year. That will continue in 2024.

“Gen Z and millennials are rewriting the marketing playbook and pointing straight toward TikTok,” said Arielle Carter, gvp of social content and engagement strategy at Razorfish.

“This platform, once overlooked, is becoming a bustling marketplace for organic engagement, where brands can finally let their true colors shine. They can’t create manufactured personas or chase forced trends. 2024 belongs to the brands that break free from the mold and are the ones who listen, who understand, and who build communities around shared values.” 

Ripple effects of the death third-party cookie

Google has already kicked the can down the road, so to speak, a few times when it comes to the death of third-party cookies in Chrome. While the company says the deadline is still on, marketers and agency execs have been skeptical that they’ll stick to it. The urgency marketers had early on when the death of the third-party cookie was announced has waned with many not nearly as prepared as they should be. When — er, if — the third-party cookie finally does crumble in Chrome this year, marketers and agency execs expect it’ll be messy. 

“If Google retires the third-party cookie as planned, I expect to see drama,” said Jeremy Whitt, executive media director, Hanson Dodge. “We’re all still more reliant on third-party data than we want to admit, and there’s such little consensus as to whether we’ve ‘solved’ the problem with existing probabilistic or deterministic solutions. Will new audience graphs be reliable enough?  Will we depend more on publishers for data? Will advertisers need to abandon some tactics due to a combined lack of scale and addressability?” 

While those questions remain, marketers will bolster efforts to collect first-party data through their websites, chatbots, apps and more to help manage the shift. It will likely have to go beyond brands’ owned channels, though. 

“In order for first-party data to work in 2024 and beyond, brands need to provide enough value for customers to encourage them to share their information long-term,” said Sarah Morris, director of digital strategy and investment, PPK. “As we head into 2024, using incentives like sweepstakes and coupons to collect customer data and then activating on it with partners who have identity graphs will play a big role in helping brands big and small adapt to a cookieless future.” 

Aside from prioritizing first-party data efforts, in 2024 there will be a push for more transparency “across data, inventory, and commercial terms,” noted Joshua Lowcock, president, Quad Media. “With the spotlight increasingly focused on non-disclosed inventory sources, consumers in the US, at a State level, getting more control over their data rights, and third-party cookie deprecation set to (finally) become a reality, the ability for bad behaviors to hide in the industry-self-induced complexity will come to an end.” 

Lowcock continued: “This will pull back the curtain on illusory data and media offerings and force more disclosure and transparency by all industry participants. Marketers will concurrently demand transparency to avoid waste in their marketing investment but also to solve for acceleration in compliance and reputational risks. I am optimistic that this will drive positive change, renewal, and innovation in the industry.” 

3 Questions with Eric Pallotta, CMO at sleep wellness company Hatch 

You recently joined Hatch as CMO. What’s on your to-do list as new CMO?

This is a new product in a new category. A three-second ad on Meta is challenging for us to close the sale. So what I have started doing is really pushing everybody upwards in the funnel. We’ve been doing a lot more long-form — YouTube, connected TV. Those ad products that are helping us tell a longer story about sleep.

Telling longer form stories seems to be a popular tactic right now. Talk about what that means for Hatch.

[It’s] the first time we’ve done connected TV, the first time we’ve done extensive YouTube advertising. We also did a little bit of an out-of-home experiment in a couple of cities in the U.S. We’re understanding what being a full-funnel marketer is doing on our whole process. That’s the other big mission that I’ve undertaken is: Let’s become a full-funnel marketer. Let’s tell a longer story, in longer form video and audio about what Hatch does, and therefore also build the brand. 

As part of being a formerly really prolific direct response marketer, we had that quick-turn iteration, A-B testing ads model really down pat. So anytime you search for Hatch, you would see tons of ads from us really pushing the device, very straightforward. This is the first time that we’ve done a campaign that’s really rooted in consumer insight. 

Talk me through transitioning from Netflix VP or brand to Hatch CMO. What important learnings from Netflix can be applied to your role at Hatch? 

I am so proud of my time at Netflix. I was there for almost 10 years, had an incredible job satisfaction and was there when we went from being a licensed content company to being an original content company and also the international expansion. One of the lessons I’ve taken away is [that] consumers are the ultimate judge. You can be really proud of a piece of content or a piece of creative you put out there. But ultimately, consumers are going to decide whether it lives or dies, and the same is true in advertising. — Kimeko McCoy

By the numbers

Creators and influencers have become a marketing must-have as a way to authentically engage shoppers. But creators say the relationship with brands can be challenging thanks to late payments, poor communication, unclear remits and more, according to recent research from fintech company Tipalti. See details from the findings below:

  • 95% of creators say the experience they have when collaborating with a brand significantly influences their likelihood of working with them again, and 61% say they have stopped working with brands for that reason altogether.
  • 79% of creators recommend brands to work with to their peers based on their own experiences.
  • Of those negative brand experiences, 57% of creators say they’ve been paid late by a brand, and half say it caused them financial strain. — Kimeko McCoy

Quote of the week

“The thing about brand IP is it shouldn’t be done in any one way. The approach to it should be, I believe in the power of collaborations, the power of fandoms.”

— Jesse Unger, head of strategy at Mother in Los Angeles, when asked about the focus on brand IP given the success of efforts like Barbie and Super Mario Brothers in 2023.

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