Digital News

What will trend in digital marketing this year?

The digital landscape is evolving faster than ever and as a result, so do the rules and trends. It feels like yesterday that ChatGPT launched onto our screens and although Elon Musk acquired Twitter at the end of 2022, we’re still debating whether we should call it X yet. We say it every year, in fact we have in 2022 and 2023, but the new year brings new exciting opportunities for digital marketers.

Madano Digital have summarised our predictions on what the next 12 months will bring for digital marketing.

Artificial Intelligence is no longer a trend, but it is now part of our toolkit as communication professionals.” - Chiara Cava

2023 was a defining year for Artificial Intelligence (AI) in marketing and communications. OpenAI’s ChatGPT transformed how the public can use AI and it forced policymakers, universities, business leaders and many other industries to develop frameworks to use the technology appropriately.

For content and creative teams, one of the most exciting (and slightly terrifying!) developments is the release of image generators, whether it’s Imagen 2, Firefly or Midjourney, to name a few.

With guiding prompts, the technology can produce visuals, which have been used in campaigns such as Heinz’s ‘This is what Ketchup looks like’ or Panadol’s ‘Pain’ campaign.

With more than 60% of marketers using AI in their activities, we can expect more products supporting marketing and content production. However, as we enter a big year for elections globally, we must be wary of artificially created content, which has already flooded the internet. Whether it’s fake speeches or augmented audio, we can expect to see how AI will influence changes to copyright law and intellectual property this year.

Want more? We recently hosted Madano Digital Labs, employing AI-image generation to design visuals based on answers to the question: “What does digital look like to you in 2050?”, learn more here:

“Users change the way they search – meaning we need to change the way we reach them” - Dasha Volchenko

There are three ways in which the search landscape has changed. More and more users are moving away from relying solely on Google and top links on the results page and moving to voice, chatbots and zero-click searches.

Voice search

With voice search, people tend to use more natural language, impacting keyword strategies. Marketers need to focus on conversational and long-tail keywords (~5 words) to align with how users verbally express their queries.

Voice searches also often have local intent, requiring businesses to optimise content for local searches and ensuring their online presence is easily discoverable through voice-activated devices.

AI Chatbots

AI and chatbots are changing the way users find information online. Companies should take this into account when creating content answering users’ queries, making content easy for AI technologies to understand and use in its responses. One way to do this is to use a question-and-answer style in your content.

Think about including Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in your articles. Then, structure your content around common questions and situations a user might ask about.

Zero-click searches

There's an increasing trend of zero-click searches, where users don't click on any search results. This is mainly due to a continued improvement in Google's advanced search features, such as knowledge panels, local packs, and direct conversion tools, immediately satisfying user intent by providing concise and exact answers.

To adapt to zero-click searches, marketers should aim to secure featured snippets, as they are prominently displayed at the top of search results, providing users with instant information. Utilising structured data markup helps search engines understand content better, increasing the chances of being featured in snippets and improving visibility despite the absence of a click-through.

“The digital landscape in 2024 is increasingly about leveraging AI to create highly personalised experiences for users” - Magda Karipidou

With AI and Large Language Models (LLMs) becoming integral to our daily digital interactions, the digital landscape in 2024 is increasingly about leveraging AI to create highly personalised experiences for customers. This means using AI to understand and anticipate user needs and preferences, enabling the delivery of more relevant and impactful content.

This trend is evident in Google’s introduction of the Search Generative Experience (SGE), which signifies a shift from traditional search methods to a more intuitive and context-aware approach. SGE represents a new paradigm in search technology, delivering personalised search experiences that understand and adapt to user preferences in real-time.

Social media platforms like TikTok and Snapchat are also innovating with AI, redefining search and user experience, blurring the lines between social media and search engines. Notably, 74% of Gen-Z users now use TikTok for search purposes which indicates a substantial shift in search behaviour among younger demographics. This trend is further underscored by the introduction of search ads on TikTok and AI features like TikTok’s ‘Tako’ and Snapchat’s ‘My AI’ chatbots, which aim to enhance in-platform user engagement and demonstrate the broader adoption of conversational AI across social and search platforms.

For brands, the challenge now lies in using these tools effectively to craft highly personalised user journeys across multiple digital channels. Digital marketing strategies will need to focus on creating content and experiences that are tailored to individual user preferences to ensure brands remain relevant and competitive in a rapidly changing space. Crucially though, this needs to be done in a way that preserves that human element that will help brands stand out in a sea of dry AI-generated content.

“Augmented Reality will be a game changer in 2024” – Mia Modaro

Augmented Reality has gradually evolved from a novelty to a transformative tool across various industries. In 2023, we've witnessed AR's potential in creating immersive ad campaigns, revolutionising campaign collateral from retail and gaming to healthcare and education.

Examples of that revolution range from The North Face's AR campaign featuring a jacket on Big Ben to Maybelline's mascara and eyelashes on the London public transport system. AR has transformed everyday landscapes into vibrant advertising billboards. These large-scale AR campaigns not only capture attention but also elevate brand awareness and engagement to unprecedented levels.

In healthcare, AR has made significant contributions to the industry including applications in robotic-assisted surgery, wound care management, physical therapy and rehabilitation, real-time patient records, exposure therapy, and hospital navigation. For example, AccuVein uses AR to visualise veins, making procedures like injections and blood draws more accurate and efficient.

As we look to 2024, it's clear that AR will continue to shape the digital landscape. When used correctly, it can create immersive experiences and practical solutions across various sectors, making it a digital trend that is here to stay. Whether it's fashion, transport or healthcare, AR is proving to be a game-changer with a promising and immersive future.

“Threads will emerge as the new short-form channel to be on” - Kelvin Morgan

The initial launch of Threads in July 2023 came with little fanfare, matched by limited app functionality, however it did attract millions of downloads thanks in part to its integration with Instagram. Although user numbers have fallen since the Summer, there remains a chance of a resurgence, which is driven by a number of factors out of its control.

Firstly, we need to address the continued fallout of X. Elon Musk’s latest foul-mouthed rant (at the time of writing) at fleeing advertisers won’t have boosted his reputation or X’s chances of improving its advertising revenue outlook, which is the main way X generates money. What may save the platform from a financing perspective is that over half the world’s population will be voting at various levels, including in the United States, India, Indonesia, the European Union, and here in the UK this year.

The X team have been on the charm offensive, as they look to use a blockbuster election year to bolster the revenue they generate from political advertising. Although this may help finance the company, it may have other repercussions which include misinformation and increased safety concerns on the channel.

On the other hand, Meta is continuing to develop Threads, which is seen as a valid alternative to X. Meta is trying to find a niche, as seen with its product updates, so it avoids being seen as a X copycat. Recent developments are similar to X functionality and include post edits, polls and tagging users who are only on Instagram. So if Threads is to be a success, it needs to offer something clearly different to X.

Meta does have the scale (and the money) to make Threads work. It’s clear that Zuckerberg has deprioritised the Metaverse for investments in AI and new products such as Threads. This year, Meta needs to find Threads’ niche and leverage its integration with Instagram to maintain user numbers over time. If it can nail this, there’s a clear role for it in our social media playbook.

“Although a cookie-less world presents challenges, we foresee this year businesses leveraging targeting solutions which focus on first-party data” - Grace McLean

Digital marketers have been anticipating the cookie to crumble for a while now. Later this year, Google plans to eliminate third-party cookies, used for tracking a users’ web activity.

Although a cookie-less world presents challenges, businesses leveraging targeting solutions which focus on first-party data and contextual advertising in line with privacy policies will benefit.

First-party data, embracing AI and machine learning

Since third-party cookies are out, it's time to embrace first-party data. To speed up your customer understanding, businesses can use AI to then learn patterns, make predictions and generate personalised recommendations for your marketing plans.

Reviving contextual advertising

79% of consumers state they are more comfortable seeing contextual ads than behavioural ones. Contextual advertising involves placing ads on web pages that align with the content of those pages, for example, displaying ads for sunscreen alongside an article about skin cancer. This method segments ads based on parameters such as keywords or website topics. As regulations become stricter, there is a shift away from behavioural marketing towards contextual advertising as its less intrusive.

Privacy first

This year, we expect stricter data privacy regulations. Businesses should commit to ethical data practices by ensuring transparency, maintaining high quality data, and staying compliant with regional privacy laws. Clear communication about data collection methods is key to rebuilding customer trust.

Embracing first-party data strategies and dependable AI partnerships will be essential in navigating this landscape.

If you’re interested in learning more about the latest changes in this dynamic digital space and what they mean for your brand, please don’t hesitate to reach out to [email protected].