Well done, marketing people; here we are at another end of the year. And what a year it has been, full of new monarchs, wars, natural disasters, and many sporting events.

We are in the warm-up to the actual holiday period when it feels jam-packed, but the Christmas stuff starts creeping in. This “before” period is less about parties and Christmas ads to me (they are all lovely) but more about what the great minds across agency land and beyond claim to be the shiny new things we get to tackle in the New Year. It is the season of 2024 predictions!

So, before we all shut our laptops and mute Outlook, here is my stab at it. This is not supported by any hugely robust research methodologies (I read a few other prediction lists and talked with my agency peers), and all opinions are primarily my own.

Before we get into the list, I think we need to tackle the AI elephant in the room…

2023 saw progress in the AI space like no other, from the launch of ChatGPT to where we are now with integration across almost all digital ecosystems. Despite all the recent chaos at OpenAI, this is not just a news story and is almost too big to be a trend or prediction. This is not a Metaverse or a flash-in-the-pan new metric, but the new normal.

Together have already deployed AI across our media planning, buying, and many back-end and operational systems. And we are preparing for it to touch every part of our business. We’re already developing custom AI models to drive better client outcomes, such as the image recognition model our team built for COLORSTEEL that recently won best in show at the IAB Digital Advertising Awards.

So, consider AI covered as the most critical factor in our industry in 2024.

So, here are my 2024 predictions:

  • The third wave of digital; retail media finally hits 

Some described the momentum behind retail media across the UK and the USA as hugely significant as the landscape shift we saw with social media. But despite attending a fantastic Brainy Breakfast with many great promises and ambitions laid out on the line in early 2023, New Zealand feels like it is trailing. So, my first pick for 2024 is retail media and the yet-to-hit wave of opportunity.

  • A cookieless future and the true dawn of privacy.

Again, this is not a new topic, but one that will hit in 2024 and hit big: the era of ID-less advertising.

We have the opportunity to create a scalable, privacy-first paradigm to replace old and, frankly, quite archaic industry practices. The biggest cheese at the biggest media buying group in the world recently said that “those who spent billions on cookie-based solutions may regret it.” Personally, I think it would be silly to discount any solution, but it is clear that privacy is front and centre for all regulatory conversations globally and is non-negotiable.

Every brand/advertiser needs a complete assessment of their data technology infrastructure for this new world. Identifying what tools and capabilities and prioritising what gaps need filling or remedying. If your agency or partners are not talking to you about this, find one that is!

  • Search Generative Experience changes the search landscape

Google has just gone global with testing its new AI-powered search, opening it up to 120 more markets. From early testing, we see a very different search environment from what we are used to, with results that visually look different to the regular result pages within Google.

In terms of the results, this is where it gets spicy… the most significant changes are that trusted retailers and publishers are given more visibility, while brand websites are featured less. Reviews and opinions are also more prominent than we have seen before as more ecosystems are incorporated into the platform, such as TikTok comments. It now delivers more relevant information for every search and removes the need for the user to navigate away from the results page.

Early 2024 will be a learning phase as agencies must grapple with the new technology. At Together we’re creating testing plans in this space in preparation. Advertisers will need to set expectations in their business that the Search landscape is set to change significantly, potentially reducing the overall volume of site traffic.

  • The video on-demand landscape shift

It was only in late 2022 that we heard Netflix and Disney+ were going to offer advertising tiers on their subscription VOD platforms. They have not made their way to NZ shores yet, but adopting ads onto premium subscription platforms has changed consumers' expectations of the platforms and opened the door for local offerings.

Two weeks ago, we learned about the launch of digital advertising on Neon, the first locally-owned subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) platform to enter this space. This new-to-market offering provides advertisers an exciting opportunity to buy video pre-roll and ad on pause alongside some of the most premium global shows.

Meanwhile, a big kudos to TVNZ+ for pushing forward with a strategy of backdated long-tail content mixed with the best new shows; it has worked, and they have seen strong audience delivery continue. I hope the new and improved ThreeNow will see similar success, as its makeover is bringing it up to date with its competitors.

In short, the abundance of video streaming options may soon overwhelm advertisers and agencies (as it does to consumers), which is great if we can get to a single source of measuring it all…

  • Enter CPM trading on Linear TV

This is another exciting move from our broadcaster friends, looking to solve the complexity of the old linear TV buying models and taking a critical step towards more joined-up measurement. In mid-2024, we will say goodbye to TARPs as the broadcasters move to sell audiences in cost-per-thousand models similar to digital.

Long may we dream of a single currency, but this is a pretty sizeable step forward for the AV market in New Zealand. A longer runway to launch means that, hopefully, some of the more significant questions (questions of control and transparency) can be answered before then. This is phase one of a journey towards an addressable AV media mix, with the future being a blended CPM combining linear and BVOD. 

To round things off, I want to clarify that this list is not about new and shiny things to obsess over next year, but one that gives hope for positive evolution for all involved in our industry. It looks pretty exciting to me! 

Source: Bridget Whalley, General Manager, Together