What the media industry can expect in 2024

Fire Tiger Media's Duncan Bell shares his predictions

What does 2024 have in store? Duncan Bell from Fire Tiger Media outlines his top media industry predictions for 2024:

Prediction 1: retail media as a channel is about to explode

2024 is going to be the year of retail media. Retail media is expected to grow by 22.5% and hit over $55 billion of ad spending in 2024. A brand’s digital store-front, digital packaging and digital shelf space are now all up for grabs as brands begin to take the in-store knowledge they’ve built up in previous decades and start applying this online.

The other main driver — Amazon, Alibaba.com, Shopify, et al have realised just how much money there is to be made from advertising revenue. Amazon has just delivered $12 billion of revenue from ad services in Q3 2023. That’s up 26% from last year and is an increase of $2 billion from Q2 this year alone, accounting for 8% of its TOTAL revenue.

That’s also double the revenue in one quarter (Q3) than the entire US newspaper industry is expected to make from advertising in the whole of 2023 —$5.5 Billion.

Prediction 2: every agency’s new biz pitch will be about their newly bought or launched ecommerce specialist

2024 is going to be the year of retail media, and the big holding companies know it. Take a look at the largest acquisitions, mergers and business launches by the big 6 in the past year, and you can see they’re gearing up to claim as much of the retail media ad spend pie as possible — from Havas Media Network acquiring ecommerce consultants Expert Edge to GroupM announcing the merger of Essence and Mediacom to form EssenceMediacom.

All this activity guarantees that every big pitch in 2024 will revolve around each agency’s ability to integrate all this newfound data into an all-in-one solution to help their clients.

Prediction 3: Amazon, Shopify, and Alibaba.com will heavily promote new AI-powered advertising tools, to help retain as much retail media ad spend in-house as possible

From image generation to optimisation tools, to bid management, to advice on when to run promotions/discounts/product launches — retail platforms are developing interactive tools that can help any size of business run their digital store successfully. As mentioned in prediction #2 — the big agency holding companies are falling over themselves to get a share of this fast-growing channel. However, Amazon is deliberately creating tools to convince advertisers on their platform that using Amazon’s in-house ad management tools are more than sufficient. Why pay an agency to do what you can automate easily yourself?

Any agency entering a pitch that includes retail media in 2024 needs to be humble about what they don’t know. Instead focus on their advertising expertise — highlighting how advertising on other channels helps sell more stuff on Amazon. Because that, in the end, is the whole point.

Prediction 4: social commerce sales will hit $1 trillion globally

This will be seen mainly in Asia as the value of 2024 social commerce sales is expected to grow extremely quickly in the region. China is expected to see over $500 billion of social commerce sales in 2024, Japan’s social commerce market is expected to reach $263 billion, and South Korea’s social commerce sales could reach $20 billion.

Comparatively, the US is lagging behind, predicting it to be $84 billion next year, while Europe is expected to generate $60 billion in social commerce sales next year.

This is all being driven by the social networks’ ever-more-seamless marketplace tools. Obviously, WeChat is dominant in China (and growing in Africa) and is already a one-stop-shop for everyone’s daily shopping needs. But look out for ever-improving capabilities on Instagram Shopping, Facebook Marketplace, Pinterest ‘Shop the Look’ TikTok Shop, and Snap Inc. Dynamic Ads

Prediction 5: digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) will get bigger, better and more automated

In 2024, DOOH is expected to make up 30% of all OOH spending — potentially reaching a worldwide total of $130 billion. And 33% of that is expected to be done programmatically. And with automated buying metrics, linking your digital OOH campaign to times, days, retail events (a la Black Friday) and even the weather, there’s a huge variety of ways that the planning and buying of outdoor campaigns can create real value on top of stunning creative.

Prediction 6: Tom Cruise will save box office cinema … AGAIN (in 2025)

I originally had this as Tom Cruise saving cinema in 2024, but they’ve pushed back the release date of Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 2, until May 2025! Which means cinema ad spend in 2024 is likely to take an even bigger hit. It’s a case of 2023 setting the bar so high that it will be difficult to repeat, as cinema ad spending is expected to have increased by up to 40% YoY. (To put that in perspective, the next highest growth channel was OOH at 5%, according to Statista).

But the Hollywood strike has affected productions for next year and in the UK, stubbornly high inflation rates means the cost of living crisis will linger well into 2024.

However, as cinema comes back down to earth, it’s an opportunity for brands who stick with it — or add cinema as a new channel in 2024. As others flee the big screen post-Barbenheimer, cinema as a media channel is likely to be less cluttered and provide an excellent way for advertisers to stay top-of-mind in the fragmented media landscape. Especially for that hard-to-reach 18-34 year old audience.

Prediction 7: A ‘tsunami of AI-generated shit’ is about to appear online

There’s a lot of chatter about AI-generated ads going on in the marketing industry. It’s rare now for a day to go by on LinkedIn now without some over-sized branded item CGI’ed onto a famous London landmark, prompting the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ of the digital marketing community that would normally be associated with a fireworks display. While there’s no doubt AI is going to be an extremely helpful tool — allowing work to be done faster and of higher quality — most commentators agree you still need human input to be of high quality. You require a critical human eye (HI?) to judge between the good, the bad and the nonsensical creative output of AI tools.

Prediction 8: there will be a deluge of deepfakes

2024 is set to be the biggest election year ever! So what does this mean for advertisers? Well, it means the online media space is about to become extremely cluttered — and there will be an explosion of deepfake videos and illegitimate, misleading, low-quality content. And in the highly programmatic, algorithm-led, cross-border DSP media buying world — it’s almost guaranteed that YOUR brand is going to appear next to some content like this. As the digital media landscape becomes ever-more divisive, subversive and untrustworthy, 2024 is a huge opportunity for news brands to remind consumers about journalistic integrity that can only come from accredited sources.

Prediction 9: printed newspapers will see an increase in readership, as voters seek out trustworthy news sources

2024 will be the biggest election year in history. And as I mentioned in prediction #8, online media is likely to be flooded with AI-generated deepfakes and misleading content. 2024 will also see the first round of elections since Covid-19 and lockdowns in 2020 — when print circulation cratered and hasn’t really recovered.

So as voters in many countries around the world decide what to put on their ballot — including most notably the US, UK, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Russia and many European nations — several will look to printed copy to guarantee authentic, legitimate, not-faked news coverage. However, whilst I think there will be a small print bump — the bigger opportunity for news brands will be increasing revenue via digital subscriptions. In 2023, it’s predicted digital circulation revenue will increase by only 2%, and digital advertising revenue will actually fall by 11%.

Featured image: Joshua Brown / Pexels

Duncan Bell, International Media Consultant at Fire Tiger Media

Duncan is an International Media Consultant and former Head of Strategy & Insight with 15 years experience across 3 of the world’s largest agency groups.Previously Head of Strategy at Havas Hong Kong, working on domestic, regional and global campaigns, Duncan was responsible for leading strategic responses to briefs on annual campaigns and new business pitches, bringing both media and creative together under one strategic banner.Duncan has also previously worked in London and is now remotely operating out of his hometown, Edinburgh in Scotland. Category experience includes Luxury Fashion & Accessories, Luxury Hotels, Airlines, Tourism, Finance & Insurance (including Crypto!), Automotive, Gaming & Entertainment, Tech, Fashion eCommerce, Sporting Events, B2B and Government campaigns.Being a native Scot, Duncan has an intrinsic passion for whisky as well as being an avid sports fan, especially rugby, hockey and skiing.

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