In the ever-evolving media landscape, staying ahead of the curve is crucial to organisational success.
Sheffield agency Jaywing, one of the top ten integrated agencies in the North, works with clients including Bettys, AO and The Entertainer.
Its team of paid and organic media and PR specialists have put their heads together to uncover the trends and strategies that are set to redefine the media landscape in 2024.
Here they run through their key predictions.
1. Investment in Connected TV will grow
Video advertising has been a key medium for communicating with audiences for a very long time. It is not a static field, however, with evolving technologies for video communication leading to changes in video advertising.
Connected TV (CTV) has become the perfect place to combine the big screen and the high impact of TV, with 72% of users across the UK preferring connected TV to linear TV and 67% of users stating that they would prefer to see ads that are relevant to the content they are watching.
According to Hannah McNally, Paid Media Director at Jaywing: “I think we’ll see ad revenue stabilise and investment into CTV grow, with increased audience consumption.”
Connected TV attention will pave the way for brand recall with CTV viewing proven as the best state for ad exposure. Through combining the three vital elements that are needed for engaged user attention, CTV is therefore a prime platform to reach users who will retain advertiser messaging and take action.
2. With cookies on the way out, users must choose between convenience and privacy
With 2024 being the year of demolished cookies, users are going to have to decide at what point they’re willing to give their data to businesses and what that value exchange is. As cookies are phased out, different and increasingly thoughtful approaches to drive unique reach and continued messaging will be required. Methods include leveraging first party data, retargeting and consolidation.
“Users will have to decide what’s more important to them – convenience or privacy,” says Hannah McNally, Paid Media Director at Jaywing. “When someone needs a lift home after a night out, for example, are people happy for Uber to know their geo-location? Or when a pair of shoes go on sale that someone has had their eye on for a few months, are they happy to be remarketed to?”
3. Brands must embrace their inner human
User generated content’s (UGC) importance will grow in 2024, with consumers increasingly relying upon peer recommendations and influencers when making purchasing decisions. According to Lucy Watson, Client Services Director at Jaywing: “In a world now dominated by AI and AR, it becomes crucial for brands to prioritise being human. As we can see in platforms like TikTok and Instagram, a notable switch to user-generated content is taking place. Users are increasingly placing emphasis on authenticity, striving to share narratives that feel genuinely human and unfiltered.”
As well as creating a sense of community around your brand, UGC builds trust. Through encouraging UGC via polls, reviews and social media campaigns, brands can resonate with their audience by tapping into authentic content.
4. AI will continue to infiltrate paid media
From a paid media point of view, we are already seeing AI being fully integrated into different platforms and into different channels. Google Ads has Performance Max and Demand Gen, both powered by AI, and we will continue to see this continue to grow.
One of the big areas where we’re going to see Google take AI is into content creation, asset creation, utilising Generative AI. Looking at Performance Max specifically, we can now give Google a prompt and it will generate the images and the text required for that particular campaign.
In terms of the quality and usability of AI-generated creative, this is questionable as the output is not always tailored to the audience, channel or campaign objective. Human-created creative, on the other hand, is intelligently backed by data and science. This is echoed by Thomas Child, Paid Media Innovation Lead at Jaywing, who adds: “We know what works for a specific audience, we know what works for a specific demographic, so we can really tap into that.
“In terms of what we think is coming next, I think that any new product within paid media is going to be driven and powered by AI. Google has just launched its new AI product, Gemini, which is looking like it’s going to be an incredibly powerful tool and even better than the current AI solutions out there. It will be interesting to see how Google integrates that with Google Ads, plus how Meta responds.”
5. We’re on the cusp of the biggest organic search revolution in a decade
According to Sam Cant, SEO Lead at Jaywing, with the testing and rollout of Google Search Generative Experience (SGE), we are about to see the biggest shake up in the organic search industry in the past 10 years. Google will be adding AI-generated content directly onto search results pages, which will come with significant impacts to the brands who are occupying the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) currently.
It is easy to discount this change as being unachievable for Google, given the limitations of AI. Google has, however, already invested hundreds of millions of dollars into SGE, recently announcing Gemini. This is said to outperform Chat GPT and strengthen Google’s product offering even further.
6. The rise of zero-click searches
There is no doubt that with large sweeping changes, there will also come winners and losers. These will be decided by who is already looking at and understanding SGE and incorporating it into their organic strategy.
Changes will be coming to product SERPs, particularly with comparison terms, where Google can generate evaluative content directly on the SERPS; something that we are already seeing in testing environments. Q&A and editorial content are another obvious target for Google as we start to see the rise in zero click searches.
Sam says: “We’re going to start to see an increase in zero-click searches and it’s about how we react to that, how we understand the data behind that, and how we can build a strategy that is going to complement this new landscape. With the rise in zero-click impressions and zero-click searches, we need to be able to evaluate the success of our content in Organic.
“It is expected that Google is going to incorporate some of this data into Search Console as it’s done previously with Discovery and with SERP features. However, they’ve also got a history of not giving us the full picture and not giving us all of the data. And as we can’t rely on traffic data as much, this is going to become really, really important.”
7. PR will rely more on experts than brands
According to Jaywing’s PR Lead, Charlotte Hutchings, the media want to hear from experts and real people, rather than brands: “We need to hear from experts within our client’s businesses such as mechanics and motoring experts for car brands and interior designers for homeware brands. A story is much more likely to get covered if it offers credibility, unique insight and authority from an expert. Equally, a strong case study story from a normal person, with tons of imagery is the golden nugget for a story.”
At Jaywing, we conducted a review of the media landscape in 2023 and saw across every sector that real life stories are a huge trend that are currently performing very effectively. At 45%, almost half of our total estimated views were generated by expert comments.
8. The era of the micro influencer has arrived
The global influencer marketing industry is set to hit a staggering $21.1 billion by the end of 2023, surpassing forecasts that pegged it at $15 billion for 2024 (source: Together).
As 2024 unfolds, Charlotte Hutchings expects to see a continuous shift towards micro influencers; influencers that have a small follower count, but deep authority and resonance within niche communities: “For many ordinary people, huge influencers now seem unrelatable and inauthentic, posting constant advertorials on their channels. Many customers now want to relate to smaller influencers who are authentic and live lives that are more like theirs.”
9. Use AI tools with caution – and as part of a PR toolkit
AI was definitely the buzzword for 2023, and it’s not going anywhere in 2024. Chat GPT has taken the world by storm, and as an industry, we are hesitant about the impact this could have on the quality of content being created. Charlotte adds: “We should be cautious when it comes to using AI tools for written content creation; however, we’ve seen a rise in PR campaigns using AI-generated images, video and other creative elements, which I believe could help take PR campaigns to the next level creatively.”
AI shouldn’t replace PR tactics. It can, however, be used as part of a toolkit to enhance the overall experience or to optimise a process.
As people seek to engage with individuals who reflect their own experiences and values, the era of mega influencers with millions of followers is giving way to a more authentic and relatable approachCharlotte Hutchings, Jaywing’s PR Lead
10. Authenticity trend will continue in PR
In recent years, the landscape of PR has undergone a significant transformation, with a notable shift towards authenticity and credibility. The media’s increasing demand for expert voices has led to a change in the way companies communicate their stories. Rather than relying solely on statistics and faceless brands, the emphasis has shifted to human interest elements and real people behind the scenes. This shift not only adds a level of credibility to the narrative, but also enhances the overall effectiveness of PR campaigns.
The rise of influencer marketing has brought about a renewed focus on micro and niche influencers. As people seek to engage with individuals who reflect their own experiences and values, the era of mega influencers with millions of followers is giving way to a more authentic and relatable approach. This trend is expected to continue gaining momentum, with a projected focus on micro influencers in the coming years. The emphasis on authenticity and relatability reflects the evolving preferences of modern consumers and highlights the importance of genuine connections in PR strategies.
Looking ahead, Jamie Crane, PR Lead – Media and Science at Jaywing adds: “The challenges of trust and authenticity in the face of fake news and AI advancements are set to become even more crucial in 2024. As the industry embraces technological advancements such as ChatGPT, the need to balance innovation with quality and authenticity in content creation becomes increasingly vital.
“Despite these challenges, the industry anticipates continued growth and prevalence, with an increased focus on proving the tangible business benefits of PR and organic activities. The shift towards demonstrating commercial impact and making a real difference to clients, signals a new era of accountability and value in the world of public relations.”