Perspective - In 2024, let’s go beyond business as usual

By Yury Glikin | 11 December 2023
Yury Glikin.

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

This year felt a bit like crossing a road with lots of twists and turns. We had to keep an eye out, lest something catch us unawares from around the corner.

But the road is straightening out - for now.

I, for one, am impressed by the tenacity, optimism and perseverance of those in our industry this year. It hasn’t been without its challenges - I would hazard a guess that not one business was left untouched by widespread economic troubles, but on the other end of the spectrum, I think it could have been a lot worse.

This stress and economic pressures have certainly translated across many businesses- vendors in particular I think have felt the pinch. Agencies and advertisers have had to try harder than ever to rationalise the marketing channels they use, and have tended to stick to a business-as-usual approach or tried and true methods in order to avoid rocking the boat.

But there have been inklings this year - glimmers of the creativity and innovation that this industry is so known for and can do so well in a more welcoming environment.

I’m loath to be just another person talking about attention, but this truly is destined to be a year-defining metric. My hopes for next year are that the conversation evolves from being - well, a conversation - into action. Attention will be the new currency in media buying. It’s something Outbrain has certainly looked at, with our launch of Onyx earlier this year.

I’m sure we’re going to see more solutions in this space - and as we should, for a topic so important for marketers to get involved with.

I have also felt that the industry has treasured its moments of coming together much more this year than ever before. SXSW Sydney was a much-welcome boost to carry most of us into the end of the year after a period that eked out every ounce of resilience in all of us.

An event like that tells me many things - that every marketer out there wants to learn, become more involved, become more creative. That we’re a bigger industry than our own industry events, and that we should be trying to think more outside the box next year.

When it comes to 2024, it’s hard to put my hat on any one trend. There’s going to be two concurrent trends - consolidation and diversification in different areas. I predict we’ll see something of a consolidation in media buying, at least for the bigger agency groups, particularly favouring programmatic.

On the other side, we may begin to see some diversification of media channels. We may even see more marketers moving away from the duopoly, particularly as changes like the Privacy Act Review and the deprecation of cookies come into effect.

The latter change in particular has been anticipated for so long, it’s almost difficult to imagine what it will be like the day that the tap finally gets turned off. In all reality, I’m confident that the preparations and solutions that industry has made over the past few years will mean that the switch may not be as devastating as once predicted.

I do think that over time, and as we become used to a cookie-less environment, we will begin to see the importance of certain methods of marketing - time will tell which solutions were built to last, and which may be slowly discarded.

Another area which I think warrants attention over 2024 is the news publishing industry. There was a phrase I heard at a panel on which our global CEO appeared, by Pedestrian Group CEO Matt Rowley - that we’re currently seeing an “atomisation” of content. This is something I think is likely to continue into next year.

Consumers will continue to change in their preferences around news consumption, and I expect shorter, punchier, pieces of content will continue to dominate. Of course, there is also the AI-shaped elephant in the room, and there are sure to be more initiatives and policies coming from major publishers over the next 12 months in this space. When they do, it would be wise for marketers to pay attention.

When it comes to the current state of play, there are a few things to note. Particularly, the focus given to certain parts of the funnel. More clients and agencies are moving towards mid and bottom of funnel activities rather than brand. Generally, we can put this down to an increased need to have measurable outcomes in a time when marketing channels are under scrutiny.

However, businesses are not willing to give up on brand marketing altogether, and there’s more of an interest in “brand-fuelled performance”, which is the idea of leaning into brand and awareness activity in order to drive performance and conversion. This kind of thinking is indicative of this time, where marketers are trying to streamline their work and identify efficiencies in their strategies.

Personally, I know we will be focusing on innovations like video and high-impact formats next year. I know we won’t be alone in trying to embrace new technologies next year, and who knows if this time next year there may be another new platform or tool that’s swept us all by storm.

All things considered, 2024 is shaping up to be an ever bigger year than this one - and I, for one, am curious to see what we all come up with.

 Yury Glikin is Commercial Director (ANZ) at Outbrain

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