The only thing that’s predictable about the digital marketing landscape is the forces that inevitably shape it from year to year. Constant advancements in technology and consumer behaviors that change even faster than the technology dictate what marketers must know to stay on top of the trends.
For instance, in 2023, we’ve watched artificial intelligence (AI) revolutionize how the world thinks about content creation — but it will continue to influence how businesses reach and engage with their target audience, while voice search will require businesses to adapt their SEO strategies. Just pointing to AI as the trend to watch, however, is oversimplifying a complex technology and its role in an even more complex industry. Join us as we dive into the top trends influencing digital marketing in 2024.
7 Digital marketing trends for 2024
1. Even more attention to privacy
For the past couple of years, the digital marketing conversation has been dominated by concerns about privacy and the changes companies like Apple and Google are implementing to protect user privacy. Meanwhile, European Union (EU) legislation — from GDPR to the Digital Markets Act — is changing the way marketers can interact with audiences. The increased conversation around privacy is changing not only how companies treat data, but how users think about their digital privacy or lack thereof.
Only those with strong and transparent user data protection measures and functionalities in place will thrive. With the growing attention to data privacy and changing legislative norms, marketers will need to focus more on data usage in targeted advertising and rely on advanced tech solutions with an understanding and respect for privacy.
2. First-party data and data clean rooms
The new focus on privacy engenders many spin-off concerns and questions. Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox already default to blocking third-party cookies. And as Google moves closer to the deprecation of third-party cookies, marketers are looking for solutions. Google says it will disable third-party cookies for 1% of Chrome users starting in January 2024. With less data available from the dominant force in digital advertising, there is a renewed focus on first-party data.
Part of the conversation around first-party information involves data clean rooms, a solution that allows brands and advertisers to upload their first-party data to a platform’s clean room and compare it to aggregated data from other sources. Rather than trading user-level data (i.e., cookie IDs, device IDs, etc.), data clean rooms prevent any user-level data from being accessed outside of the data clean room and make it possible to continue segmenting and targeting users. Marketers will need to get comfortable with working with data clean rooms in the privacy-centric future.
3. AI-powered personalization
Even as privacy dominates the discussion, mobile marketers will increasingly depend on AI and machine learning (ML) to deliver highly personalized content and recommendations to users based on their preferences and behaviors.
Generative AI will take on an especially important role in ad creative. As Smartly puts it, “Today, you can use AI to reimagine your products in new scenes with AI, generate copy and design ideas, then put it all into an editable template. When working with video, you can do everything from generate scripts and audio to collage clips together based on theme, to make talking avatars.” And, of course, AI and ML will continue to monitor success and help marketers optimize everything from creatives to ad placement.
4. Rise of CTV and podcast ads
Connected televisions (CTV) and podcasts are not new. In fact, for many, they are merely a part of everyday life. However, a rise in consumption tells marketers that these channels are increasingly important for any well-rounded digital marketing strategy. In 2023, 88% percent of U.S. households owned at least one internet-connected TV device, while more than 110 million Gen Z and Millennials were counted among CTV users.
According to Pew Research, “A decade ago, in 2013, just 12% of Americans 12 and older said they had listened to a podcast in the past month. In 2023, 31% of those 12 and older said they have listened to a podcast in the last week, up from 26% in 2022 and 7% when this was first measured in 2013.” As the number of people tuning into podcasts and streaming videos continues to climb, advertisers will ignore these channels at their own peril.
5. Voice search and SEO
Voice-activated devices and assistants have slowly but surely been changing the way consumers search. DemandSage reports, “There are 4.2 billion voice assistants in use as of 2023. This number will reach 8.4 billion by 2024.” Additionally, over 50% of adults report using voice search daily.
Even Google is embracing a more conversational format with Magi — a search engine that embraces a more conversational format (among other changes). Companies will have to rethink their SEO strategies, ensuring their pages are optimized as much for voice search as they are for traditional text-based search.
6. Continued dominance of video
Video content, especially short-form and interactive videos, will continue to be a dominant format for mobile marketing as it captures users’ attention and conveys messages effectively. TikTok is no small part of this equation, but it’s not the only force behind this trend. For instance, rewarded video ads are incredibly popular with mobile game players, and are worth exploring for advertisers who have not already done so. Though we won’t dive into CTV again, it’s worth noting that this is another important use for video ads.
7. Automation and optimization of ad campaigns
Over the past year, we’ve seen marketing budgets and departments slashed. With fewer resources to rely on, marketers must utilize automation and optimization to reduce costs and focus on strategic campaigns. The right tools can automate tedious, repetitive tasks, freeing up marketers to do more creative tasks. They can also help marketers make better decisions about where to spend their precious ad dollars. To use technology to its best advantage, companies should consolidate their tech stacks. Using comprehensive tools that offer a complete marketing solution – rather than piecing together a variety of solutions to present interoperability challenges – is a competitive challenge and just more efficient.
Additionally, we will see foundational concepts — like app store optimization (ASO) — continue to be a focus for marketers while voice search optimization (VSO) brings new challenges and opportunities.
Summing up the year ahead
Every job description for a marketing position should say, “The ability to predict the future is a plus!” Marketers are constantly trying to anticipate changes in user behavior and how technological shifts will, for better or worse, transform their jobs. As consumers become more discerning and demanding regarding the quality of advertising, staying on top of trends is more critical than ever.
Having rigorous data privacy standards and consolidating tech stacks to provide a single source of truth is imperative to success as the ecosystem continues to evolve. To borrow from Charles Darwin, marketers must adapt or die.