Doing More With Less In 2024

The shift in how consumers interact with media and technology has always impacted how marketers reach and engage with audiences.  The difference today that feels much harder in 2024?  Marketers must work much harder to get in front of fewer people.  

A few trends to bring a balloon-popping vibe to your New Year’s celebration:

Less traffic

Consumer search behaviors will fundamentally change in 2024 as generative AI takes over the search bar and searches become more guided and conversational. Rather than an infinite scroll of results, search becomes more of a zero-sum game with no click outs. Despite 70% of ad revenue coming from search, Google is rolling out Search Generative experience in its UX.  GAI in search may skip the browser altogether as ChatGPT, Bing’s Deep Search, and even Google’s own Bard can be embedded in products.

The result for marketers? Initially, less directional traffic. The days of “surfing the web” and “clickbait” are over as results are curated, cribbed, and served up with citations (not links). Forget what you knew about SEO as navigation rapidly changes.



Doing more with less traffic

Be something to (fewer) somebodies:

  • Plan ads and content based on how they show up in SGE AI summaries and how branded content surfaces in social search.
  • Generative answers work best on questions that have been asked a lot before. Curated communities and niche content will still get good traffic.

Less reach

Consumption of mass media has yielded to the algorithmic discovery of content. The U.S. ad market, slated to grow next year to north of $760 billion, serves up ads alongside almost infinite content carved up into relatively tiny pockets of people.

Streaming ad-supported impressions are not making up the linear-sized hole in TV reach.  There is more than $10 bilion missing in “TV” ad spend adjacent to the premium FEP content that shows up on a 55” screen, evaporated by SVODs and changing relationship with smaller screens.   Reach may only get worse as digital channels, particularly search and retail media, dominate ad spend.

Doing more with less reach

  • Just get somebody’s attention: The increasing fragmentation of media and audience attention necessitates more innovative, attention-based strategies from advertisers.
  • Don’t plan for channels: Every media channel has become more complex and bleeds into the borders of each other (video podcasts, shoppable social, etc.)

Less control at the bottom of the funnel

With evolving privacy regulations and the deprecation of third-party cookies, advertisers face signal and control loss over digital campaigns. Marketers will have less capability to attribute campaign outcomes unless they are asking a media provider or retailer to grade their own homework.

Enter retailers who use their excellent data, a clean room, and your CDP to safely use your first-party data. RMNs leverage retail platform data to create highly targeted, bottom-of-the-funnel inventory. It’s great, but it’s also a shift in control to platforms with rich consumer data, like Amazon and Walmart.  Retail media has a big thumb on the media budget scale for brands who need to maintain good relationships with retailers for physical and digital shelf space.  

The influence of those controlling the purchase data is only spreading in ecommerce. After strong efforts to keep social commerce within the platform, Meta quietly allowed Amazon to start linking accounts.  Consumers can log in and buy through Amazon right in their feed. This means Amazon, not Meta (and perhaps the advertiser depending on what Amazon is willing to share), is getting more feedback and data to help with ad targeting and performance.

Doing more with less control

  • Collect secondary signals: dig into your customers’ journey and need states to fully understand purchase triggers that map to a sale.
  • Incrementality testing: Compare active campaigns against geo or audience holdouts where possible.

And finally, some good news to buoy the new year: Less inflation

Central banks don’t need a recession to bring inflation down; it’s already cooling.  Core inflation was 2.9% at a six-month annualized rate in November, down from 5.1% for the six-month period before

2023 was another year that challenged marketers with a lot of change due to evolving technology, eroding audiences, and economic uncertainty.  But change is our thing. How many other industries employ “trendhunters”? Let’s take these lessons learned and toast to a fresh start in the new year.  Happy New Year!

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