It’s the most wonderful time of the year, where everyone, punch drunk from Q4, stuffs their hot take into the oven, bastes it with buzzwords and serves it up for post-Christmas party reading and, if you’re lucky, gets to put the leftovers in a 2024 trends presentation. It seems like only yesterday that some were lionising the wise men of LinkedIn, bearing the ‘gifts’ of the metaverse, Web3 and NFTs as the transformative future of our industry.
There’s a joke in there about that particular fad yielding neither profits nor prophets, but you wouldn’t catch me making it.
Generative AI has certainly stuck around a little more robustly and it’s a given this will be one of the great unknown changes going into 2024, because so many organisations are using it… though it’s terrifying and uncontrollable, or thrilling and tameable, depending on who you ask.
While our industry reckons with the advent of the AI revolution, however, there are some more prosaic but equally transformative changes coming to the channel mix.
Third party cookies disappearing
It wouldn’t be an end-of-year article about upcoming changes without a reference to the impending deprecation of third-party cookies in Chrome, a hackneyed joke about Santa having to eat something else and a laboured reference to how many times it’s been the ‘year of the mobile’.
We can (relatively) safely assume that the Q3 full phase-out is going ahead, so it’s time to make sure the ground is fully prepared for that. Smarter people than me are working on brilliant technical solutions to this on the ad tech and publisher side. However, fundamentally, if how business success is measured and optimised is reliant on little text files, whose wholesale removal has been heralded for years, get moving quickly on your first-party data strategy.
A proper, future-proof, first-party data approach is underpinned by a strategy that knows what information you’re collecting, why you’re collecting it and what systems you’re collecting it in. It sounds incredibly basic, but stripping it back will mean the opportunities that are being worked on are much more readily available, and means you have relevant data from people who want to hear from you.
The next step for social
The social landscape has had a big year. Twitter has rebranded and is roasting on an open bin fire. Threads, Bluesky and Mastodon (among others) have sought (or been sought) to fill the space, and seem to be getting there on at least product, active user base or ad offering; though striking the blend of all three will be a huge challenge.
The most likely source of ad money will be Threads, and right now brands should be ready and waiting for that growth and familiarising themselves with the tone of the platform. Meta will try and make it as frictionless as possible to transplant existing Facebook/Instagram assets on there. That might lead to Advantage+ related snafus, as Facebook content is chopped up by AI tools into the different aesthetic of Threads.
Meanwhile TikTok, Snap, Pinterest and Meta’s existing products look to be setting their sights on shoppable formats. Meta’s collaboration with Amazon in the US should roll out more broadly, potentially offering a closed loop to FMCG advertisers that will have retail media players both worrying, but also very ready to launch into a new lucrative opportunity to grow their booming category.
Data clean room offerings could go more mainstream too, judging by the growth of the various partnerships between retailer loyalty programmes and advertisers (e.g. how Infosum are helping power ITV’s Matchmaker and Channel 4’s BRANDM4TCH). Both of these are resolutely about infrastructure and governance and it won’t necessarily get the approval of the Chief Information Officer right off the bat.
As with data, use the rest of 2023 to find your use case, justify it and put it into the stocking of your internal bureaucracy.
No advertising on a burning planet
And finally, it wouldn’t be Christmas if we weren’t ending on a maudlin note of abject terror. The grim reality remains that the planet is heating up far too quickly, not helped by the chair of COP28 having a side hustle in petrochemicals.
Fortunately, the likes of FuturePlus — who we’ve recently started working with — can offer solutions for how to set your business towards meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals, while companies such as Scope3 and Greenbids are helping demonstrate that reducing emissions in the media supply chain is not only beneficial for the environment, but also good for business.
As an industry we are fantastic at driving consumption and growth, but we’re also really good at driving behavioural change. Brand purpose may not have had the greatest of years in 2023, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for not setting the foundations for the future, even if you’re not shouting about it in comms.
Featured image: Jonas Von Werne / Pexels