Our Digital Marketing Predictions for 2024 - What Does the Future Hold?

Digital Marketing | 7 MIN READ

The year of AI? How would you summarise 2023? Our world never stands still, and this year has been like no other. As we move into 2024 hand-in-hand with generative AI, marketers have more tools at their disposal than ever before to make an impact, albeit in an ever-expanding online world. Some of our team members share their thoughts on what might happen in the digital marketing world in the coming year. Suffice to say AI features more than once or twice.

Our 2024 predictions for digital marketing

It will be another challenging year with GA4

Headshot of Julian Erbsloeh

As anticipated, 2023 was a year of change that created new challenges as organisations migrated their tracking, reporting, and data analysis processes to the GA4 / BigQuery ecosystem.

Julian Erbsloeh, Strategy Director 

While we are still waiting for feature parity with the old UA360, the challenge will continue deep into 2024 for some of our biggest clients. The additional year available to GA360 clients has prolonged some pain and delayed some of the more extensive and complicated migrations.

Don't be fooled by the July 1st deadline for deprecation - UA360 will start to lose functionality as early as March 2024, which will make for an interesting start to the new year.

Another widespread challenge was the scarcity of talent in the analytics sector. Analytics skills on the Google stack were in high demand, making it hard for agencies and in-house teams to find people to build their teams in line with their requirements. To combat this trend, we dedicated considerable effort to starting the Fresh Egg Academy - a 12-month programme training new analysts and data engineers.

This innovation has easily been the most exciting and rewarding thing I have done in the past year, and I am so excited to see the results of all that work next year and the progress of our first academy students.

2024 will bring new challenges, too, including:

  • Chrome dropping 3rd-party cookies (we'll see if this happens), consent mode 2.0, reporting challenges around stitching historic backed-up UA data with raw GA4 data, and whatever else Google has in mind for us.
  • There will be some last-minute migrations, some adjustments to existing GA4 data structures that didn't quite get it right the first time, and a lot of trying to match numbers or work out how to best visualise something.
  • GA4 is hard; not getting it perfect with the first implementation is just part of the learning curve, so don't keep struggling with it if there is a better way of doing it

I tried to avoid talking about AI, but how can I when so much is happening in that space? So, alongside helping our clients to fully adapt to GA4 and integrate it into all of their data processes, we will help them to get AI-ready by building out the required data structures in BigQuery for them, help them automate time-intensive work and dream big about what might be possible.

This type of work excites some of our guys, so I look forward to seeing what they will achieve next year and what innovative solutions others come up with in 2024 that impact how we work. 2024 feels like a lucky number, and I look forward to the new year.

Customers will prioritise authenticity over polish

Headshot of Stephen Courtney

In the past decade, fraud, fakery, and “black hat” marketing have degraded customer trust in online content. However, the saturation of communication channels with artificially generated content in 2024 will see a new era of scepticism and doubt in digital media.

Stephen Courtney, Strategy Director 

As customers learn to disregard factors like design gloss and content polish, businesses hoping to win their trust will have to find new ways to distinguish themselves.

For established brands, this authenticity crisis will underline the value of long-term customer relationships. At the same time, consumers may begin to prefer direct purchases from trusted brands, abandoning online marketplaces that source their products from unfamiliar vendors (a recent survey by Salesforce identified a 36% increase in this behaviour since 2019). However, the flood of artificially generated content presents a serious obstacle for smaller businesses and challenger brands.

In a price-conscious digital marketplace, confidence in the authenticity of digital media will become a competitive factor. Online shoppers will be more discerning about reviews, only trusting platforms with robust verification, and social media will play an ever-expanding role in customer journeys as consumers lean on the real-world experiences of their personal network. Any business hoping to win new customers in 2024 must shed the layers of abstraction and association that previously defined brand identities, giving customers unprecedented access to the reality of their people, products and practices.

Agencies will take advantage of the efficiencies of AI and automation that return genuine value to their clients.

Headshot of Vicky Voss

Agencies are always quick to lecture clients about the importance of data and analytic technology in driving business growth. However, are they taking a step back to reflect on how they can use AI to improve output, efficiencies and results?

Vicky Voss, Client Partner 

Instead, many agencies (still) rely on Excel and antiquated software for regular tasks such as media planning and translating quote sheets into booking forms. With clients' purse strings tightening, agencies must evaluate what internal operational processes need to be automated to find efficiencies.

By simplifying workflow and removing these manual and time-consuming processes, these agencies can focus on what will enable them to stand out in a highly competitive market: providing real client value. The technology is a win-win as it will also result in a more profitable agency that can continue to scale.

2024 might be the strategic pivot towards automation that has gathered pace in the past year. Having your data ready in the correct format for AI is paramount while safeguarding client data is a non-negotiable action.

2024 will see more and more people looking to increase their learning within digital in the charity sector

Headshot of David Somerville

2023 has been a tough year for the charity sector. There's no question that the recent (and current) economic downturn, coming off the back of a global pandemic, has made it hard for charities, especially those seeing an increased demand for their services and a decrease in funding or donations.

David Somerville, Strategy Director 

However, despite this, there are some signs of positivity - the recent Big Give Christmas Challenge raised over £33,000,000 in just seven days, with over 94,000 donations. From personal experience, I know that much of the generated income was driven through great digital activity engaging people online, for example, across social media and email.

Also, we have seen several examples of brilliantly executed digital campaigns and charities embracing how to use digital channels and platforms to deliver more for them.

There are challenges in the sector, especially for smaller organisations (where having spoken to many people), it can feel like it is behind the curve sometimes when it comes to digital. Several reasons dictate this, including a lack of budget to invest in training or recruiting the people with the best digital skills, legacy, or traditional views on the role of digital within a charity.

Regardless of this, organisations are maturing. We see this being driven often by a desire from more and more people to ensure their charity is giving its supporters what they are now demanding in terms of digital experience.

A vital part of digital maturity development is improving digital knowledge and skills.

That's one of the reasons why we recently launched CharityWise, as we identified a need in the sector for affordable digital learning - our online training events get hundreds of attendees, many from charities and nonprofit organisations.

We were hearing feedback that people wanting to learn more about digital topics were looking for a trusted source of information and resources that are up to date, created by people living and breathing digital activity daily.

2024 will see more and more people looking to increase their learning within digital. However, one critical factor here is making time for learning. With professionals being busier than ever (especially in organisations restructuring or struggling to recruit), time for personal development is often the first thing cut from diaries.

So, if there's one thing I urge you all to try and do, it is to protect time for yourself and your teams. Yes, your time is limited; however, why not flip your thinking on this and see that investing time now might mean you learn how to do something more efficiently, therefore saving yourself time in the long run.

Expect to hear more about composable architecture

Headshot of Julian Erbsloeh

From reusable component-based design systems to pairing the right technologies for your CMS, Frontend and Asset optimisation - expect to hear the term 'Composable Architecture' more in 2024.

Ash Hitchcock, Head of Development 

Composable architecture in development is a design approach that promotes the creation of small, independent, and reusable software components. These components can be easily combined to build more extensive and more complex applications. Composable architecture will continue to gain popularity in 2024 due to the following:

  • Flexibility and agility
  • Reusability
  • Improved scalability
  • Enhanced development efficiency

Composable Architecture will become more prominent, driven by several factors, including:

  1. Ever-changing business needs: Businesses operate in a rapidly changing world, requiring them to adapt and evolve their applications frequently. Composable architecture provides the flexibility to accommodate changes without significant overhauls.
  2. Cloud-native development: Cloud-based architectures favour composable components, which can be easily deployed, scaled, and managed in a distributed environment.
  3. Maturation of microservices: Microservices (a key aspect of composable architecture) have become more mature and widely adopted, making it easier to implement and manage composable systems.
  4. Continued adoption of headless architectures: Headless architectures also drive the adoption of composable architecture, allowing for enhanced content delivery and presentation flexibility.

2024 will see AI playing a bigger role in digital marketing

Headshot of Lee Davies

As we look towards 2024 and beyond, there is no question the evolutionary role of AI in digital marketing will continue to evolve. 2023 witnessed the rise of the technology with ChatGPT becoming the go-to AI tool of choice for hundreds of marketers.

Lee Davies, AI Engineering Director

In the coming year, we will see even greater innovation where marketing strategies become more dynamic, predictive, and personalised than ever before. Here are four thought processes we can anticipate in the next 12 months of digital marketing with AI.

  1. The Google Bard vs OpenAI battle for supremacy will continue to rage (with Apple and open source models catching up fast): As we were writing this prediction, Google announced some rather seismic news around ‘Gemini’, its platform that will begin powering Google Bard. In the release, Google showcased performance numbers that put humans and ChatGPT4 to shame. With Bard having struggled to gain traction given its output and slow performance, there is a lot of ground for the search giant to make up; the question is, can it? If the ‘free’ Gemini-powered Bard does become a step up from what is currently available, then (possibly) Google may make up some ground; albeit, there is a lot to make up, so time will tell.

  2. Enhanced Predictive Consumer Insights: AI will evolve to offer even more precise predictions about consumer behaviour. Leveraging deep learning and neural networks, AI will analyse patterns in massive data sets, offering unprecedented insights into future market trends and consumer preferences. Marketers will be able to anticipate consumer needs even before the consumers themselves do, leading to incredibly targeted campaigns.

  3. Are we talking to humans or chatbots? AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants will evolve to offer even more personalised and efficient customer service. These AI assistants will be able to handle complex queries, provide real-time assistance, and improve overall customer experience.

  4. Autonomous Marketing Decisions: AI systems will increasingly make autonomous marketing decisions based on real-time data, leading to more agile and responsive marketing strategies. This shift will require marketers to adapt to a more supervisory role, overseeing AI decisions and ensuring they align with the marketing strategy.

It's going to be another busy year in search

Headshot of Joseph Halsall

As ever, expect lots of innovation and change in the ever-progressive world of search. The team and I think the following ideas are ones to look out for as we head into 2024.

Jospeh Halsall, Head of SEO

  1. Visual search capabilities may become more sophisticated: Head of SEO Joseph Halsall says, "With search engines improving their ability to analyse images and deliver relevant results. Optimising for visual search could become a more integral part of SEO strategies. Platforms like Pinterest have been early adopters of visual search technology. Users can take pictures or upload images to find related content on the platform. This trend influences broader search engine practices, with an increasing focus on visual elements."

  2. Google suffers a partial defeat in its antitrust case in the USHead of Technical SEO Mark Chalcraft says, "With Apple and Samsung forced to open up the choice of search engines on its handsets. Bing's share of the global search market increases slightly, with consumers opting to stick with what they know for the most part. Global media hail this as a humiliation for Alphabet. However, there's further legal jeopardy for Google in the EU and Australia, and they go into 2024 with significant challenges facing them."

  3. We'll see increased volume and volatility regarding Google updates: Senior SEO Manager James Wardleworth says, "I suspect we'll see increased volume and volatility regarding Google updates. They constantly change, test, and update their systems to assess content/site quality. The last few months have been hectic regarding confirmed core, spam and helpful content updates. Recent confirmation of further changes coming on Twitter/X last month indicates that we'll see this continue and possibly increase in volume. Provided we continue to produce people-first content that is helpful and provides a positive experience, I can't see future updates having a significant impact. However, it will be fascinating to see how their continual push for rewarding content that is helpful, relevant and engaging plays out through 2024."

  4. We're going to see increasing personalisation generated through AI: SEO Technical Director Stephen Jones says, "We're going to see increasing personalisation generated through AI. Search engines will further position search assistants that will overlay personalised recommendations on top of search results, but worryingly, the methodology of how and what these systems learn will remain opaque. Governmental legislation on AI implementation and ethics will continue to lag behind the pace of development by tech companies, who will argue that as far as their scoring goes, more 'correct' results from AI-generated systems justifies greater involvement in core search functions."

  5. Buckle up for another year of volatile results: SEO Manager Tom Burnett says, "In a year of algorithm and helpful content updates that have cumulated into volatile shifts in SERP results, I suspect we will see more of the same in 2024. On a positive note, the coming "shakeup" in result types coming from the AI-led search generative experience (SGE), should it make its way to UK shores next year could mean we adapt strategies toward images, videos, structured data and more to ensure Google can connect the dots, something I am very excited to see play out."

What about our 2023 predictions?

So, what of last year's predictions? Our future gazers did a pretty sound job. There is never a dull day in digital marketing, and there has certainly been a lot going on in 2023.

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