Perspective - Finesse to master the algorithm and the ethos

By Luke Spano | 1 December 2023
Luke Spano.

The AdNews end of year Perspectives, looking back at 2023 and forward to next year.

2023 was a year of evolution with significant juxtaposition.

On the one hand, the emergence of AI into the mainstream enabled us to take major steps forward in how we interact with, benefit from, and ultimately rely upon tech. On the other hand, we saw brands embracing a more human-first, consumer centric approach to engage audiences. As tech becomes increasingly entangled in our lives, we crave and prioritise more of what makes us human - connection. I’m excited to see how this evolves as we move into 2024.

I believe there are some key trends for the year ahead that savvy brands should absolutely be looking to capitalise on to better engage audiences.

Of course, there’s the AI of it all. The smart people and companies will deeply integrate AI into their day-to-day activities. The smartest people will do it in ways that change their day-to-day activities, shocking everyone else when they hear about it. As David Droga recently mentioned at SXSW: “What AI is going to do is make everything about best practices. But when everybody is doing best practices, then that just becomes the norm. So then nothing is distinctive. There has to be another layer: who's going to add the layer above best practices?” I’m excited to find out.

Forward-thinking media will evolve to buy on attention. We’re seeing this with brands like Uber already embracing attention as a primary metric in all of their buying decisions. It makes sense. Your focus is your reality. Where we spend our time and attention is where we end up spending our money. But our industry, despite the fanfare around innovation, is a slow-moving beast. And this change contradicts much of what the media industry is built on - which is reach -so while I expect attention metrics to start to become common for many brands around the country, it’ll be the disruptors embracing this change before the legacy brands jump on.

The demand for authenticity won’t be satiated. We’re continuing to see brands spend millions of dollars producing slick, highly edited content… But we’re also seeing many brands move away from this approach and focus on less produced and more accessible, authentic content. Humans crave genuine connection. When I can laugh, or the face behind a brand is vulnerable and honest - I’m connected. For younger audiences, it can feel like you’re hiding behind a veneer of high production value or values, which stymies connection rather than reinforcing it. Put real faces doing authentic things on screens for your brands, and you’ll drive stronger connections and better retention.

Context still wears the crown. Marketing is so much more powerful when you’re engaging not just the right consumers, but when they are in the right mindset to be thinking about your product, brand or service. We’ve seen time and time again that it’s the powerful combination of the right context and strong creative that drives marketing effectiveness, and this is going to get stronger as the desire for authenticity grows and constraints on access to people’s data increases. 

Within your own category, what are you seeing brands do that is interesting?

Publishers are creating content that is truly audience-first. These are the businesses who have their ear to the ground of audience interests day in, day out, seeking to understand what people are looking for in terms of formats, topics and trends. They’re the innovators and the ones who have their finger on the pulse of where brands intersect and can embed themselves within culture.

Some great examples of this are:

  • Urban List - co-creating content with their audience. The UGC led content approach has produced some incredible audience engagement. Urban List also demonstrates how walking the talk when it comes to purposefully featuring marginalised voices and communities that can drive benefits for brands across a wide range of campaigns.
  • Junkee - It’s been incredible to watch this brand (as well as sister brand Punkee) evolve this year. Something we particularly love is how these brands execute face-to-camera videos featuring their own staff, or even extending to TikTok creators to drive cut through for brands where their audience is spending time.
  • We Are Explorers - interactive destination maps, and hyper-local adventure content pinned to the map to help people who are actively planning their trips. It’s beautiful, authentic and such valuable content at its very best.
  • The Design Files - is bridging the gap between consideration and purchase through beautiful creative in the right context, creating beautiful custom shoots and shoppable executions for homewares products.
  • Missing Perspectives - an inspiring local publisher that is making global waves. Missing Perspectives was created to give a voice to young females, and its  mission and vision is so aligned with the audience and their engagement and growth in the last 12 months has been epic to see.

As technology integrates every facet of our lives, and the quest for genuine, contextually relevant advertising intensifies, I wonder: how many brands will be able to balance these seemingly contradictory demands? It takes finesse to master the scientific and the empathic; the algorithm and the ethos. But for those that do, the rewards are clear.

Luke Spano is the MD of Avid Collective

Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop us a line at

Sign up to the AdNews newsletter, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for breaking stories and campaigns throughout the day.

Read more about these related brands, agencies and people

comments powered by Disqus