The marketing landscape is continually evolving, and as we stride into 2024, brands must stay on the cutting edge of industry trends to remain competitive. From embracing outcomes as the primary input for budget planning to navigating major changes in performance marketing, these five essential trends will define the marketing landscape in 2024.
Trend #1: Outcomes will become the new budget-planning paradigm.
The way brands plan their budgets is undergoing a significant shift, with outcomes as both the first and also most important input for planning marketing budgets. What was previously positioned as an “expenditure” can now be more accurately described as an “investment” in growth. This requires not just a shift in the mindsets of marketing and finance professionals, but also a shift in how these teams work together.
- Measurement Will Matter More Than Ever: In the past, marketing budgets were allocated based on past expenses or estimated costs of specialized channels or tactics. In 2024, measurement, and by extension measurability, is paramount. Brands need to emphasize marketing KPIs that directly or indirectly contribute to measurable business growth through robust measurement frameworks or architectures.
- Investment Does Not Equal Expenditure: Budget planning is moving from expense-focused to outcome-driven. Brands are treating their marketing budgets as strategic investments, which allows for more dynamic budget allocation. This approach helps brands prioritize high-impact initiatives and ensure that their resources are used strategically.
Trend #2: Expect major changes in how we execute & measure performance marketing.
2024 will be a year of disruptions for the performance marketing status quo with the planned changes to arguably its most important facets: search engine marketing. The rapid advent of AI is bringing a host of noteworthy changes to marketing ecosystems which are likely to have substantial impact on performance marketers ability to drive results day-to-day.
- Google Search Generative Experience & Organic Search: It is widely anticipated that Google’s search generative experience (SGE) will transform the ways in which organic search results are ranked. (That is, if the experience we get access to via Google’s Search Labs is the version that will eventually be rolled out to Google search results.) Though the exact timing is still unclear, Google will likely launch SGE via a search algorithm update sometime in 2024 – and it’s expected to cause disruptions in the types of signals that SEOs try to pick up through their various tea leaves. PPC search leaders will be pulling fewer levers directly in-platform as PPC dynamic inventory expands its grasp of paid search budgets.
- General Development of AI Technology: AI is rapidly changing the marketing industry in other areas beyond search, offering powerful tools for personalization, customer engagement, and predictive analytics and even content or creative asset production. Personalization, on websites particularly, are expected to accelerate both from new AI-based startups and from legacy technology providers like Salesforce’s Interaction Studio.
- Brand Discovery: With the vast number of brands and products competing for consumer attention, brand discovery is becoming increasingly challenging. The gluttony of AI-generated content will increase the already crowded online marketplace making it difficult for brands to stand out among the noise. Brands must focus on building strong, recognizable brand identities and leveraging data-driven insights to reach and engage with their target audiences effectively.
Trend #3: Brands will need to figure out how to maximize the value of their marketing technology stacks.
Marketing technology (martech) has become an integral part of marketing strategy. In 2024, brands must learn to better activate their MarTech stacks and be aware of the burgeoning share of an overall budget that it consumes. As these technology costs grow, finance teams see them as increasingly ripe areas for cost reduction, particularly if the expensive technology is under-utilized or not delivering at the planned value.
- Dashboards Deliver Information, Not Insight: Clients are no longer satisfied with data dashboards alone. They seek partners who can provide insights, guidance, and data-driven strategies based on the information collected through MarTech tools which puts an emphasis on adding a human-layer to convert the dashboard information into actionable insight.
- Utilization Trumps Buying New Solutions: Instead of continuously investing in new MarTech solutions, brands should focus on optimizing and maximizing the value of their existing stack. Strategic utilization is more important than purchasing additional tools. In many cases this can be done through contracted specialists to help get the most value out of the tools already within the stack.
Trend #4: Brands will learn how to harness the power of first-party/zero-party customer data.
As my counterpart on A&G’s Media team will tell you, first-party and zero-party customer data are becoming the cornerstones of audience design and growth. Brands must prioritize deterministic audience development built upon their intelligence enrichment and rethink their data collection strategies by creating value exchanges at key customer touch points.
- Engage, Don’t Gate: For ownable touchpoints like a website, create opportunities for your brand’s audience to tell you their interests, needs, or desired value exchange. Tactics like on-site quizzes or calculators of all sorts are a great way to capture zero party data to enrich brands’ audience profiles.
- Enrichment & Intelligence Beat Volume: Rather than collecting vast amounts of data, brands should focus on enriching their existing data supplemental zero-party or enriched first-party data. This approach leads to a more personalized and effective marketing strategy and can guide more meaningful decisions about the kind of audiences that matter most to brands.
- Build Data Based on Use Cases or Activation Plans: Brands should collect data based on their specific use cases or activation plans. Collecting everything can lead to data overload, inefficiencies, and tech debt. Focusing on what matters most ensures that data collection is purpose-driven by creating a data strategy that plans out how the data would be used and what decisions it would inform.
Trend #5: Companies will need to balancing brand spending with performance spending.
For the majority of marketing budget planning priorities today the overarching priority is to maximize short-term performance marketing and communications before investing in longer term brand development. Fortunately, with the prominence of data-based decisioning available to marketers, this budget balancing between brand and performance can be a primarily scientific exercise instead of a guessing game.
Marketing leaders are increasingly accountable for driving business growth and as such it will be important to ensure that long-term goals aren’t sacrificed to achieve quarterly growth targets or vice versa. In 2024, it will be important for businesses to find a balance between brand and performance spending in order to achieve their overall marketing goals in a way that aligns with a 3-5 year brand vision. Businesses need to invest in brand building to create awareness and loyalty to enable material multi-year growth, but they also need to invest in performance marketing to drive leads and sales within the fiscal year.
All in all, 2024 promises to be a year of transformation in the marketing landscape. The common theme among these trends is increased accountability for marketers to act as business growth-drivers and technologists. Marketers and brands that embrace these five crucial trends will be better positioned to navigate the evolving marketing terrain and drive success in an increasingly competitive and data-driven industry. Staying ahead of these trends will be the key to unlocking new opportunities and achieving marketing excellence in the years to come.
Want to learn more about A&G’s approach to performance marketing strategy? Contact us today to schedule a quick 15-minute chat with our Analytics team.
About the Author
Tyler Jordan is the senior vice president of the Analytics team at A&G.