Ride the 2024 tidal wave – Marketing Predictions
Is it new year, new you, or is it new year ‘nowts changed?’ Whatever zest (or lack thereof) you feel towards the new year, at Fishtank we’re always aware that the marketing landscape is as prone to shifts as much as a Saharan sand dune. No industry has been more susceptible to change over recent years than the marketing industry; gone are the days of a single Wonderbra billboard causing traffic collisions – now we are required to engage with a consumer via multiple touch points as the digital world is all around us all the time.
In attempting to enlighten ourselves – and you, the beloved reader of this blog, we’ve tapped into the talented minds across our departments and compiled a list of trends, insights and observations we believe will be at the forefront of all things marketing in 2024 (and it won’t be just about AI).
The great cookie countdown has already begun following announcements from Apple, Google and Mozilla that the use of third-party cookies will end completely by the end of the year. This simple invention designed to follow you around online, personalise ads and add convenience to your internet experience has become the lifeblood of the online ecosystem and kicked off a digital marketing revolution – but ever-growing privacy concerns from the public have led to distrust of Big Tech and its data misuse.
The chatter in marketing meetings (and discord chats) around the world offers solutions for this new age – from the plausible to the simply hair-brained, whatever the outcome, the simple answer is either adapt or die.
Like a New Year’s diet, designed to help trim off last year’s excess baggage, as marketers, maybe we should be starting the process of weaning ourselves off cookies and exploring alternatives such as collecting more first-party data, contextual advertising or leveraging the use of more subscription-based marketing activities such as email marketing. This shift in the marketing dynamic means now marketers have a new challenge ahead of them to get creative with getting that all important data in our hands whilst still providing people with an easy and enjoyable online experience.
Cookies, 1992-2024 RIP.
First envisaged in Philip K. Dick’s 1956’s groundbreaking short story ‘The Minority Report’ and turned into the 2002 film by Steven Speilberg 2002. Tom Cruise runs around a fictional Washington DC in the year 2054, facial recognition cameras are constantly scanning his eyes everywhere he goes – this provides him with personalised biometric advertisements everywhere he looks. Although this is not quite a reality yet, we already have many pieces of technology in today’s age that will usher in a new era of hyper-personalised advertising.
Personalisation has been a cornerstone of customer-centric strategies for years, but hyper-personalisation takes it to an entirely new level in how businesses could engage with their customers. In the era of big data analytics playing a part in most marketing decisions, we can now expect to see the creation of highly personalised and targeted experiences for each customer.
Audience targeting has always been a very binary process; groups and communities of people were easily categorised, and we understood their behaviors and interests to help clients tap into these demographics and new markets. Post-pandemic marketing landscapes are now a new challenge for marketers to get around with consumers becoming trickier to understand. Social constructs are much more skewed today with people living more multifaceted lives; sexuality and gender are fluid, boundaries between different cultures are bleeding into each other and age is no longer an indicator of a life stage. The key for marketers now is to recognise the limitations of current practices which now seem outdated – our approach to audience segmentation should be as dynamic as the age we live in. The future of marketing is always going to be an ever-changing fast-paced environment, and here at Fishtank we are ready to meet the challenge.
Some believe that memes started with the internet, but linguists report that humans have used memes to communicate for centuries. In an internet-saturated world, the broad changes in culture, technology and communication have made sending memes the ubiquitous way for one to share a cultural nugget of information.
We predict the evolution and propagation of a meme in 2024 will become even faster. With each new meme, trend or fad, the one before it quickly becomes as irrelevant as yesterday’s newspaper. Marketers are beginning to leverage the public’s insatiable appetite for memes, whether it’s in the resurgence in popularity of songs by Sophie Ellis Bextor or Kate Bush thanks to a throwback tune being used in the latest Netflix series or people desperate to get their hands on a Stanley cup to suddenly signify that their drinking vessel is as on trend as they are.
A simple meme can provide a way for an idea or a product to hop onto the cultural discourse of the day. Their ability to spread like a virus does mean it makes sense for marketers to include meme strategies as a way to capture the public’s attention, however transient the trend may be.
Our SEO wizards here at Fishtank are forever concerned about optimising our client’s websites and content to rank higher on the mighty overlords of the search – Google. However, recently the most switched-on marketers have been optimising social media content with equal detail. It was reported that in 2023 40% of younger audiences (Gen Z) were using platforms such as TikTok and Instagram to search for products and services as opposed to Google.
As platforms grow it’s only normal for platforms such as these to morph into something else beyond their original function as new features are added and user bases begin to define and shape the world around them. Now it seems only fitting to re-write the marketing playbook once again and consider how keywords and metadata are likely to add the extra push needed to boost discoverability.
What comes up, must come down. We’re sure it comes as no surprise that social media engagement on particular platforms has been on a steady decline. When did you last get poked?! So what’s changed? The brief answer is it’s not that we’re spending less time on social media, but instead, how we are engaging with it has changed. Keeping in touch with family and friends used to be our main priority on socials but their primary function of being just a social platform has now been reshaped, with many users using them to check up on the news or discover and keep up with current lifestyle trends. Meanwhile, Gen Z users are flocking to platforms such as Instagram or TikTok instead of old favourites such as Facebook or X (formerly known as Twitter) and so these older sites are seeing a slow decline in users.
Social media companies are forever thinking of creative ways to retain audience engagement, but some platforms do a better job than others. The ease and accessibility of Instagram and Tik Tok coupled with their design built around creating more visually-oriented content means that they will continue to see a steady rise in popularity as others will fall by the wayside and soon be talked about in the same breath as Myspace.
Animated typography is a compelling trend primed to redefine our digital experiences and encourage our designers to roam free with their creative excellence.
Moving headlines and subheadings, changing colours, and dynamic transformations will help capture attention, set a tone and entertain audiences with an attention span that is decreasing year by year. With bold enthusiasm, moving typography that moves will be able to showcase a more expressive side of a brand and add a playful and tactile element to create work with an arresting nature.
Two dimensions just aren’t enough, right? We’re now embracing a world where 3D designs will become more prevalent as advancements in technology can do the heavy lifting for us – meaning designers can add a new dimension to the user experience by creating newer, more immersive environments for audiences. Surrealism coupled with maximalist compositions will become a mainstay in interactive media and web design where the ability to create more immersive and dreamy landscapes will transform user interfaces into in-depth and captivating experiences.
Mascots have played a significant role in our relationships with brands for many years: the Michelin Man, Tony the Tiger and Microsoft Office Assistant, paperclip Clippy, are all mascots that are thoroughly etched into our minds. These mascots have become synonymous with these companies and are well-loved by many due to their ability to personify a brand by adding a relatable and human touch.
Our work with Central Technology gave us a chance to create our own memorable character, which went on to be a mascot known as Cal the Calculator. Our development of the character gave us a chance to explore new avenues in conveying a brand’s personality in a way that would truly make it stand out from the competition.
Unique and vibrant protagonists have been stealing the show for decades now, providing an unparalleled way for brands to create a sense of storytelling and to add another layer of depth and personality by embodying a company’s spirit. We feel that mascots will be used more often as companies look to create new ways of building emotional ties, increasing a sense of loyalty and turning consumers into devotees in a marketplace where the same old tricks just won’t do anymore.
AI remains at the forefront of tech innovation. The two letters high on any developer’s agenda are finally justified as something worthy of discussing that will soon be a casual part of a developer’s day-to-day workflow. Tech’s most exciting innovation in decades has now matured into something companies are heavily investing in with the promise of making all our lives easier.
AI’s confluence into our digital lives has already begun to bring about change on a monumental scale with applications such as voice search, chatbots and content personalisation. The sheer speed of development within the AI sector is enough to have anyone shaking in their boots, but this new era of possibilities should be viewed as one of excitement. The expanding relationship between web solution development and AI means that if they work in harmony with one another, developers can focus on creativity and innovation.
In 2024, web design will be built to prioritise accessibility. In a multi-faceted world where design opens us up to more diverse experiences online, organisations are now becoming aware of the need to provide accessible solutions. There’s a huge business case for taking steps to make your website more accessible: with over 14 million disabled people living in the UK, there’s potential for businesses to lose out on a sizable chunk of their customers with a reported 55% of people have reported abandoning a purchase due to accessibility issues. That translates to a possible annual loss of around £120 billion for UK businesses.
Some of our previous work for the charity Henshaws showed us the effect design has on our daily lives and demonstrated to us how our web development and design teams had to be less linear in their thinking and instead be creative and flexible in their design and development approach to create adaptable digital experiences to integrate thoughtful accessibility solutions.
The use of multi-touch, multi-functional and even multi-screen interfaces has become commonplace as we take the internet everywhere with us. On our work screens, on our tablets and then onto our phones as the internet continues to follow us around and invade our space everywhere we go. Considered fairly new in the world of web development, a PWA (Progressive Web App) is an innovative technology that allows developers to launch a web page so that it feels like an application while maintaining its visual components and functionality, thus creating a seamless transition as we take the same website to another device.
The benefits of a PWA can be powerful in all sorts of digital experiences. Besides the obvious accessibility benefits, PWAs use less memory, have faster installation speeds and can even be stored locally on your device as an app. The advancement of having a locally stored website/app means it can also be used offline – if you don’t have an internet connection you can still utilise any functionality the site includes. The marketing team need not worry though, a PWA is still stored online and can be indexed by search engines meaning they are SEO friendly. A powerful tool for sites that operate within the e-commerce realm.
By blurring the boundaries between apps and websites, this new era of web development is not a technical approach to something, or necessarily a piece of technical architecture that one can point at, but more a goal of how our different ways of using the web will be engineered to create a harmonious experience from one device to the next.
After unpacking 2024, the unchartered waters of the digital marketing landscape make for some interesting sailing ahead for us marketers, but with uncertainty come opportunities as the industry is susceptible to change at an accelerated rate. Ideas that were once science fiction are now starting to become reality and a new generation of consumers is now starting to have an even larger voice – and I am sure readers will agree that AI is mentioned over 50,000 times at every work meeting(!)
How we continue to connect with audiences may not be as straightforward as it once was, but we should aim to continue to be agile, informed and creative in our approach to understand how we, the consumers, tick as we become ever more fickle and fancy about how we traverse the digital landscape.
The one question remains, if these ideas do take hold, then would they change our world for the better, or will we be left longing for the good old days when the cookie jar was full?