The AdNews end of year Perspectives, looking back at 2023 and forward to next year.
As 2023 nears an end, we’ve witnessed a year of unprecedented innovation, brand resilience, and marketing evolution. From the rise of Web3 technologies and consumer-facing AI to the mainstreaming of NFTs, the landscape has been reshaped in ways that have far-reaching implications for the industry.
This year, brands took a leap from merely selling products to becoming cultural architects. Sustainability, social justice, and community building were not just buzzwords; they became integral to brand identities. Companies like Patagonia and Tesla led the way, but even traditional brands identified the need to shift towards more purpose-driven narratives.
Marketing saw a Web3 revolution. Although “NFTs” became seemingly a ‘dirty word’ across the mainstream audience, the marketing world has continued to embrace Web3 technologies, with many global brands embracing digital collectibles and token-gated community activations to create exclusive experiences, unlocking a new brand loyalty paradigm.
In addition, Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality broke out of their niches to become part of the mainstream conversation. From AI-driven personalized shopping experiences and all the rapid developments that have been unveiled to the public, to AR fitting rooms, innovation was not just a department in companies; it became a crucial part of the modern business.
Brand activations are exploring fresh territories for engagement - Roblox has emerged as a significant platform for brand activations, particularly in 2023. Home Depot, for instance, entered Roblox to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its Kids Workshops. The campaign was a massive success, with over 7 million users entering The Home Depot in Roblox since its March debut.
Another standout example is Vans, which became the first fashion company to reach over 100 million Roblox visitors with its virtual skatepark and skate shop, “Vans World”. These activations are not just about brand visibility but also about creating immersive experiences that resonate with the platform's young and digitally savvy audience.
What to Expect in 2024?
As we gear up for 2024, the marketing landscape is set for a shift, driven by next-level technology and dynamic consumer behaviour. In–game activations will see a surge in the virtual worlds. platforms like Roblox and Fortnite will go beyond mere visibility. Brands will create immersive experiences that resonate with their audience. Data analytics will tailor in-game experiences, additionally NFTs (digital collectibles) can be used as tickets for exclusive events for entries; tiered NFTs will provide different levels of access and experience.
In the new year, AI will evolve from broad models to specific, trainable agents that can handle tasks from customer service to personalised marketing. Data privacy and ethics will be front and centre for ethical AI. Real time personalised content creation through AI is on the horizon. AR will look to merge digital and physical worlds, with geo–targeted activations offering a new layer of engagement for the masses.
From immersive in-game activations in virtual worlds, to hyper-specific AI agents and geo-targeted AR ads, brands have a smorgasbord of innovative strategies at their fingertips. We will undoubtably see more brands embracing this technology to create a deeper connection with their community and create never-before-seen experiences, ultimately driving a mutual exchange of value.
The creator economy will continue to adapt, with the line between creator and consumer becoming harder to differentiate. Consumers are becoming creators, with more UGC tooling available at our fingertips than ever before, and creators are becoming consumers – contributing to the new world of content and experience.
We will no longer perceive “gamers” as we used to, with “gamification” seeping through agencies and brands alike, becoming a crucial component of brand development and marketing campaigns. Games like Roblox will continue growing its user base, integrating AI and AR technology into the gaming environments to allow for assisted creation of virtual worlds and objects. Expect to see more brands embracing this with their own virtual storefronts, in attempt to leverage the user base to drive awareness and drive more revenue to their ecommerce channels.
Through utilising the technological advancements in AI, AR and other emerging technologies, the world of branding, marketing, advertising and media will continue to evolve – empowering creators and consumers alike to participate in an ever-changing ecosystem of storytelling, experience, loyalty and community.
Communities will become more clearly defined, with the rise of platforms such as Discord and Reddit becoming a focus for brands of all sizes to cultivate a loyal, engaged and active digital community. We will see brands embrace community tiering and loyalty systems powered by blockchain technology, which will enhance the user experience through loyalty and increase the lifetime value of their community.
The future of marketing is set to have a positive impact on not only the brands that choose to participate, but the consumers who engage. It is safe to say that 2024 will be a year full of innovation and technological wonders.
Scott Cleaver is Head of Innovation at No Standing
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