Without a doubt, 2023 brought more than its share of anticipated changes in the digital space. From AI to privacy, the paradigm has shifted. And with the new year, we’ve been inundated with newsletters and posts about what to expect in the digital marketing landscape in 2024. Here are our top picks of notable predictions — ones that promise either great success or warn of extraordinary complexity:

1. New methods of privacy-safe audience targeting

Audience targeting is at the apex of the changes digital marketers have anticipated (and dreaded) for many years. According to Insider Intelligence, B2B spending to acquire audience data will reach $3.91 billion in 2024, with 3.8 percent year over year growth. However, even this important method for reaching target audiences faces unprecedented hurdles with stringent consent and privacy requirements, such as Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which restrict the ways personal data can be gathered and used.

As privacy laws evolve and we face the imminent sunset of third-party cookies — the historic backbone used by marketers to target users with personal ads across the web — the hope of relying solely on first-party data is also fading. Although its use has been held up as the solution to these shifts in landscape because it is collected directly from a company’s audience base, the reality is that the usability of first-party data in audience targeting is limited in many ways. Success will hinge on ad platforms and marketers evolving strategies to leverage audiences rooted in contextual and interest-based data, sans personal identifiers. In particular, the advent of generative and predictive AI may yield opportunities to target very specific user interests and contexts using real-time data, rather than relying on profiling generalized audience demographics.

2. Increase of strategic use of digital TV for effective media buys

As consumers progressively turn from traditional cable or satellite TV to digital options, digital TV, also called connected TV (cTV), is expected to become a priority for impactful media buys in 2024. According to Innovid, strategic creatives (particularly interactive ads) combined with cTV buys have been credited with a remarkable 600 percent surge in consumer engagement. This has been driven by increased targeting specificity for everyday marketers, including the ability to use demographic, behavioral, and geographical information, allowing for ads to be strategically placed — optimizing both relevance and cost efficiency.

Efficiency in ad spend is particularly important in the current market, which has seen a dip in average marketing budgets post-pandemic (down to 6.4 percent of total company revenue, as reported by Gartner) and ad budget uncertainties caused by larger economic shifts. However, evolving self-service options and formats in cTV promise opportunities for smaller budgets to yield higher impacts.

3. Measurement opportunities break through (finally)

With the ever-growing complexity of ad channels and measurement data, marketers have increasingly grappled with aligning metrics from diverse sources into cohesive reporting. However, the evolution of the marketing technology stack, or the varied collection of software tools marketers use to facilitate their campaigns, has brought affordable and robust options into the landscape in 2023, opening many doors towards realistic solutions.

One of the most noteworthy capabilities to arise has been the utilization of AI. Tools leveraging generative AI will reduce data complexity and minimize walled silos, allowing for better access to real-time data and actionable insights. Additionally, the advent of AI and the deprecation of Universal Analytics (Google’s retiring web analytics system) have each propelled marketers towards increased technical proficiency in data analytics, which is a rising tide for curating advertising data and telling the right stories to communicate user engagement and campaign successes.

As a result, despite the data loss due to privacy and consent measures, the available data will be better managed, blended, and visualized, offering a clearer strategic advantage.

BONUS: Gartner predictions for 2026 and beyond

Admittedly, these predictions are years in the future, but we found the potential impacts provocative (read the full set of predictions at Gartner.com):

  • Generative AI-powered search will reduce organic site traffic by 50 percent or more

    By 2028, brands are poised to experience a substantial decline in organic site traffic as consumers increasingly find results in generative AI-powered search. This transformative shift will necessitate proactive strategies to adapt and sustain brand visibility, shift demand generation methods, and potentially re-adopt traditional channels.
  • Measures to safeguard brands against AI-induced deception

    AI-driven misinformation may potentially continue to erode trust. By 2026, 60 percent of chief marketing officers are projected to adopt measures, such as content authenticity technology and enhanced monitoring, to shield brands from the widespread deception catalyzed by generative AI. Embracing strategies such as brand-endorsed, user-generated content will be pivotal in fortifying brand integrity as the landscape evolves.

Without a doubt, the evolving digital marketing landscape demands a proactive stance, and we’re excited for the wave of opportunity these changes will likely bring.