Marketing Briefing: What to make of the most important marketing trends for the first half of 2024?

Marketing Briefing: What to make of the most important marketing trends for the first half of 2024?
Marketing Briefing: What to make of the most important marketing trends for the first half of 2024?

The first half of this year has been a strange combination of marketers wanting to get back to basics (the push to prioritize brand building) and exploring new, emerging areas (commerce media plays, generative AI). At the same time, marketers, who continue to struggle with tight budgets and rising expectations to do more with less, seem to be burying their heads in the sand when it comes to issues that don’t require their immediate attention (the looming TikTok ban, the delay to Google’s cookie crumble).

Before the second half of the year begins, let’s take a look back at marketers’ priorities for the first half of 2024.

Generative AI

In the first six months of 2024, marketers and agency executives alike have been touting generative AI as a tool to drive greater efficiency and speed. Some, like Shapermint, Klarna, and US Bank, have already touted the use of generative AI for just that purpose. Much of marketers’ use of generative AI has focused on chatbots, research, translation, and personalization, rather than creating commercials using generative AI tools.

While there’s a lot of talk about using generative AI to create commercials, most marketers haven’t yet taken that route. Toys ‘R’ Us made headlines in late June for using OpenAI’s Sora to create a strange commercial in which the main character’s image wasn’t consistent throughout and the images were too close to reality yet too far from it – a true uncanny valley image. If generative AI touts efficiency and speed as a tool for marketers, video tools have yet to deliver.

Back to basics

Amid the race to stay on top of the game, some marketers have spent the first half of the year refocusing on the basics of marketing. The trend of recent years toward performance over brand building came as no surprise. CFOs hold marketers’ wallets, and as budgets continue to be cut, marketers need to prove what they’re doing is working. It makes sense to prioritize performance to show the CFO that the budget is working. But this focus on performance may have gone too far for some in recent years. The return to basics has led marketers to recalibrate their priorities, issuing RFPs on brand building and linking the position more closely to growth. All of this is happening while the CMO role has evolved rather than eliminated.

Everything is an advertising network

The rise of retail media extends well beyond traditional retail, with financial brands like Chase (hello Financial Media Networks) and airlines like United (Travel Media Networks) recently unveiling their offerings to marketers.

It seems that every brand that has a lot of consumer data has realized that they can generate additional revenue by making that data available to other advertisers. So now everything is an ad network. Or at least it seems like some brands would like it to be that way. This trend is expected to continue. Retailers’ media spending continues to rise, so why wouldn’t brands take advantage of those advertising dollars?

According to data from eMarketer, retail media is expected to account for 15.2% of marketers’ total ad spend this year, up from 13% in 2023. The company also predicts that retail media spending will account for 21.8% of marketers’ spending by 2027. Even so, some sort of consolidation or bundling will have to happen at some point. Few marketers have the resources necessary to test every offering.

Google delay

Earlier this year, it seemed like Google was finally going to kill Chrome. The long-awaited change would force marketers to not only prepare for a post-cookie world, but figure out how to truly master it. Marketers like Tropicana and others prioritized first-party data strategies and helped retail media networks with their data pitches.

But once again, Google has delayed the end of the cookie in Chrome. And once again, it seems like marketers have put the post-cookie future on the back burner instead of focusing their attention on current trends like generative AI and the creation of ad networks.

Which TikTok ban?

TikTok has become a staple of major marketers’ social media budgets in recent years, so the largely cavalier reaction to the looming ban is somewhat surprising. Perhaps that’s intentional. TikTok doesn’t seem to be debating the ban much either, continuing to operate as usual and continuing to promote the app to marketers at Cannes Lions.

If that’s the case, then why should marketers be worried? It could also be that marketers have been through this multiple times before, as the threat of TikTok disappearing has appeared and disappeared a few times before. It could also be that there are backup plans in place to move money and collaborate with influencers across platforms. Be that as it may, the threat of a TikTok ban isn’t a huge cause for concern for marketers halfway through 2024.

3 Questions Lara Balazs, former EVP and Chief Marketing Officer, Intuit

Last month, Balazs announced in a LinkedIn post that she would leave her position at the end of the year. Intuit declined to provide further details.

How is Intuit navigating the boom in generative AI while simultaneously addressing privacy concerns?

Privacy is always our number one priority, we always care about our customers’ data. It’s their data and we will always make sure that their privacy is protected. We know that if we take that data and anonymize it, but ultimately use it to leverage and apply AI to it, we can actually create personalized experiences and offer more relevant information to the customer. For example, we have published data and AI principles and standards that we adhere to. But we know that by using privacy data in the right way, we can give a customer a better experience.

How do you use AI for internal purposes?

We’ve been using AI for a long time. In fact, we publicly stated five years ago that we were going to be an AI-driven expert platform company. We’ve used AI and machine learning to not only power our products but also our marketing. That’s what we will and are doing with Generation AI. We’re more in testing mode with Generation AI today. But the idea that Generation AI can personalize, give us better testing, give us media optimization, creative optimization, get customer insights and leverage those through these models is the direction we’re going and we’re doing in testing mode now.

Has generative AI delivered on vendors’ promises, such as cost and time savings, etc.?

It’s proven to stand the test of time. It’s so promising today that there’s no question it’s going to be a game changer. We’re committed to using today’s generation of AI in a way that will definitely lead to better experiences and better marketing. The promise is there. — Kimeko McCoy

In numbers

Social and political issues have become increasingly polarized in this presidential election year, and advertisers will be paying much closer attention to what content their ads appear next to. But a new survey from Stagwell found that ads near news stories such as politics, inflation and crime are just as successful as ads near business, entertainment and sports stories. — Kimeko McCoy

  • In Generation Z, the average purchase intent for brands whose ads were placed next to high-quality news articles on the Middle East conflict was 65%compared to 66% for inflation and 67% for crime – differences that are statistically insignificant. The purchase intention was 69% for sports (widely considered a “safe” news topic) and illustrates a minimal four percentage points Difference between the “riskiest” and the “safest” topics.
  • In wealthier households, the average popularity ratings for brands whose ads were placed next to high-quality but political news articles about former President Trump and President Biden were 72% – Only two percentage points less than brands whose ads were placed next to a non-political entertainment post.
  • Among mothers, the average purchase intent for brands whose ads were placed next to articles about inflation (a potentially negative story) and the economy (a more neutral story) was 70 %, There is no difference between the two. The purchase intention was only two percentage points less so for brands whose ads were placed next to a news report about a crime with the words “subway shooting” in the title – words that are blocked by default under today’s brand safety practices.

Quote of the week

“They’re probably licking their lips at the moment when it comes to taking over this business.”

— Jonathan D’Souza-Rauto, Biddable Product Lead at media agency Kepler, when asked what Oracle’s competitors think about closing their advertising business.

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