Industry insiders polled by Ad Age forecast more AI disruption, economic woes and a tumultuous year with the US elections on the horizon

By Ad Age Staff. Published on January 02, 2024.

While we have no crystal ball to predict exactly what advertising trends and events will shape 2024, it’s always helpful to get a sense of what top executives are thinking about heading into the new year. So, we asked industry leaders in the ad business to predict what the year 2024 might bring based on their knowledge of current issues and trends. Here we present those takes from 80 top executives.

Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

Erin Amend, VP of creators and casting, Day One Agency

One thing I’m very excited about for 2024 is visual effects creators. I’ve seen this rise in interest from brands wanting to partner with VFX creators and people who have unique skill sets that are a bit different in terms of media format, whether that’s interesting animators or stop motion, or just really cool VFX. We’ve seen brands have a lot of success from working with these kinds of creators, especially brands who are willing to kind of take a step back from the traditional brand playbook and be a little less precious with their brand look and feel. I’m already starting to see a lot of interest in those creators, and I think that there'll be even more in 2024.

Kamran Asghar, CEO, Crossmedia

With all the emphasis on artificial intelligence, marketers will yearn for real intelligence. Powered by seasoned humans who can make fast, smart decisions on where best to spend and how best to creatively connect with their customers. This means a re-integration of creative and media and the elimination of brand versus performance silos. Having an agency leadership team that can navigate the multi-discipline, multi-agency dynamics is a lost art, but a hugely valuable resource for any marketer astute enough [to] know that there are significant cost savings and productivity gains from integration.

Chaucer Barnes, chief marketing officer, Translation

Times ahead are so challenging: war, credit crunches, divisive elections, and an overall lack of mobility and comfort. As I see it, smart brands will respond to these challenges by rigorously evaluating their emotional category more closely than ever, and without nearly as much regard for their competitive category as before. Two emotional takeaways will be at the greatest premium: enablement brands and escape brands.

Mike Barrett, co-founder and chief strategy officer, Supernatural

2024 is going to be the year of integration. We will see: The integration of Large Language Models (LLM) and Robotics like this. The integration of non-LLM AI and other AI workflows (as we are currently doing with our own strategy engine). The integration of data stacks and LLM models to make the data conversational (as we do with our audience tool). There will be more instances (like is Q* real?) and the singularity is actually on the table. But in terms of what I’d bet money on, these key integrations are coming fast.

Lisa DeBonis, global chief product officer, Huge

An upturn is not expected anytime soon. To navigate this landscape in 2024, leaders will need to take bold risks and make strategic decisions aimed at fostering innovation and growth. Leaders who identify and leverage these shifts will not only survive but thrive in this environment. The rise of super apps is evident in the banking sector, moving to seamlessly integrated platforms that combine a range of services.

Organizational creativity, once elusive, has recently become measurable through AI-driven data capture and is now a valuable source of capital. As such, expect to see an increase in companies quantifying and exploiting their creative potential to achieve category-defying growth. When it comes to social media, there’s a growing demand for safer, more personalized spaces to connect, shop, and consume entertainment. Platforms that initially united people may now be driving them into carefully curated digital worlds, highlighting the delicate balance between safety and preserving free expression.

The broader theme for 2024 is alignment. Understanding the “whole human” is critical, yet equally important is acknowledging our globally connected world, across companies, technologies, communities, cultures, and governments.

Jared Belsky, CEO and co-founder, Acadia

2024 will be the year we see “Retail Media Island” come closer to mainland digital advertising. This will happen in several ways. First, we will see more budget fluidity with retail media and digital media budgets starting to be planned together. Second, we will see more RFPs demanding that retail media, performance media and overall media come together because of pressures on budgets and fees. Third, we will see organizationally the retail media and marketplaces teams come closer to broader marketing teams, versus being tucked into sales organizations. Fourth, we will see agencies finally realize they need to organize better here and have true expertise to offer clients, versus a repurposed “search guy” now wearing an Amazon hat.

Scott Bell, chief creative officer, Droga5

Many brands won’t be at full blast in key time periods due to the Olympics and elections. So they’ll make up for it in big ideas that require less traditional media weight and more earning the way to consumers through brave executions. It should be the perfect opportunity for creative agencies as the whole point of creativity, as we see it, is to help our clients punch above their weight and gain more than their fair share of attention. You don’t get those results by playing it safe. You have to go big, so it should be a really fun year ahead.

Ana Bermudez, senior VP and managing director, Alma

In 2024, we will feel the end of the general market as we know it. We think we’ll see the industry take a different approach to making creatively effective work for different audiences, including diverse ones, and we will have to abandon the idea of one single general market and instead adopt an audience-first approach. This means more thinking about the motivation behind a consumer's behavior, instead of designing a catch-all, one-size-fits-all campaign that doesn't always leverage deep consumer insights that are much more valuable for building authentic connections with brands.

Jessica Berger, senior VP of innovation, Publicis Media

The launch of Apple’s mixed reality headset Vision Pro will be a pivotal moment for immersive entertainment. While initial cost barriers might impede widespread adoption, the exposure to new forms of immersive experiences, coupled with their intuitive and user-friendly nature, will act as a catalyst, motivating brands to invest in 3D interactions and new forms of branding strategies.

Brian Berner, global head of advertising sales and partnerships, Spotify

AI has been the talk of the industry in 2023 and I don’t foresee that changing in 2024. Like many businesses, Spotify is having extensive discussions about how to manage the powerful potential of AI technologies. From our AI-powered DJ to our AI voice translation pilot, I’m excited about the evolution of AI and, in particular, the potential for leveraging AI for audio ad creation in partnership with creators.

Yannick Bolloré, chairman and CEO, Havas

I believe that AI is here to stay, and I predict 2024 will be the year of the “human factor” behind AI. Thus far, we’ve experienced the expansion of generative AI at an unprecedented pace. Rapid growth will continue and, with nearly everyone adopting the technology, it will push both agencies and clients towards creative excellence to stand out. The power of human creativity and ingenuity will be more important than ever to make the difference.

Retail media will grow exponentially in 2024 to become the second-most invested space in advertising after digital but before TV in the coming years. We’re already seeing increased investment in this space and though large players, like Amazon, own the majority of brands’ investments today, we will see a growing appetite from all retailers to invest as it becomes an important new source of revenue in the mid-term.

The 21st century will be Asia’s century. Asia is the world’s most populated continent and the demographics there are very young with many consumer habits differing greatly from those in the United States or Europe. Outside China, in regions where the middle class is still growing at a rapid pace, we will continue to see a rise in investment from advertisers in high-volume sectors such as food, retail and cars.

Julie Bowerman, chief marketing officer, Kellanova North America

I think most senior marketers right now might admit, if they were having an honest conversation with you, that marketing is not as easy as it once was. There was a time that once you nailed a great 30-second ad, you had done your job. Today, while many of the principles of marketing haven’t changed, the tools, skills and ideas that we need to succeed and have cut through for our brands are vastly different and continue to change at a rapid pace.

With that in mind, I think capability building will continue to be a must for 2024. To succeed today, companies need all the tools that allow us to connect to our consumers’ lives. Without a doubt, the ways in which we gather and analyze consumer insights and determine audience targets for our marketing and media plans as well as the ways in which we measure our marketing effectiveness, can now be automated via AI. The influence of AI will clearly accelerate in ’24 and beyond.

Alvin Bowles, VP, global business group Americas, at Meta

If generative AI was the new kid in school in 2023, my prediction for 2024 is that this is the year it becomes prom king, with even more brands embracing this new trend in technology to surprise and delight their customers. It’s a new era of AI digital experiences for consumers—one where our generative AI tools help practitioners create and scale ads for businesses quicker and more effectively.

Chris Brandt, chief brand officer, Chipotle

In whatever form it takes, AI will certainly be a top buzzword and is likely to drive change in 2024. In times of rapid transformation, it’s imperative to focus on innovation and being nimble enough to react to new opportunities and challenges. That’s been our philosophy at Chipotle for years and I’m excited to embrace what’s in store for us in the New Year.

Marc Brodherson, senior partner, McKinsey & Co.

2024 is hopefully the year when the term “retail media” gets retired and replaced by “commerce media” and hits escape velocity. We are on pace to see multiple companies outside of e-commerce/retail build $1 billion-plus advertising businesses and for off-platform revenue to rapidly accelerate across digital publishers and CTV. And we will see leading brands across categories start moving from experimentation to turn “commerce media” into an established media-buying line item, with real cross-platform performance and buying standards.

Melissa Burdick, co-founder and president, Pacvue

Amazon’s new “Audience-based Creative” will once again lead the ad industry and establish new performance benchmarks. In 2024, retailers will again follow Amazon’s playbook to establish a new standard for targeting shoppers across channels. We’ll see the advent of hyper-targeted, shoppable ads across all the big [retail media networks], as well as connected TV and streaming TV by the third quarter 2024.

In order to scale, we are already seeing retailers begin to take more ad operations in-house—Target and Kroger, most recently.  This trend will accelerate as retailers focus on building the muscle to attract the optimal number of advertisers to their platforms, as well as maximize ad revenue.

Retailers will have to pay more attention to social commerce platforms, particularly TikTok Shop. Last year, consumers were being driven from TikTok to Amazon. Now, with shop options directly in the TikTok platform, it could pose headwinds to retailers reliant on these channels to drive traffic.

Katie Burke, global innovation and thought leadership lead, Accenture Song

Gen AI is going to start to enhance the flow of work. Think about [day-to-day tasks]. Do I need to help articulate this in a way that this person understands [it] a bit better? It’s a lot of that nuance of communication and enhancement where we're going to see a great deal of discussion in 2024. And then in general on the interfaces, which is beyond just work. When you see this layer of intelligence coming into things like commerce, customer service, even just discovery, we’re watching what would be almost an invisible step change into the experience of our digital interactions and that's consequential for work and for marketing and sales. It’s a broad spectrum of impact for organizations to think through, whether it's internal [or] what you can do to grow and deepen your customer loyalty through a better interaction.

Kara Buckner, president and chief strategy officer, Fallon

As time spent on virtual and digital platforms continues to rise, real-world experiences will have an increased impact. In 2024, marketers will look for more ways to create immersive in-person moments, like NEST New York scenting Fifth Avenue with its holiday fragrance, Arby’s transforming an Atlanta location into a “Good Burger” restaurant or the grandiose scale of the Sphere in Las Vegas.

Jon Cook, global CEO, VML

As marketing needs to evolve, agencies have grown in scale, range and depth of in-network capabilities. At the same time, agencies must become simpler to access. Marketers are looking for fusion and the possibilities that advanced integrated capabilities can unlock–but not at the expense of simplicity and ease of navigation. Simplicity will be at the heart of agency evolution.

The speed of innovation and evolution of AI models will only get faster. As fast as it feels like things are moving right now, today is the slowest rate of change you’ll experience the rest of your life. How to make the right strategic investments and remain ahead of business-critical evolutions and changes are definitely top of mind for every executive and category out there.

Kristyn Cook, senior VP and chief agency, sales and marketing officer, State Farm

When you think about consumers of all generations, as they navigate this environment that can be challenging at times, how do you provide them with the peace of mind, with solutions to help? I think leaning into what we’re trying to do, relative to service and who we are and what we stand for as a company—those eight powerful words (“Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there”)—tell the entire story of our brand and mission of service.

We will also double down on [Iowa Hawkeyes college basketball player and brand partner] Caitlin Clark. She embodies what it means to be a good neighbor; her willingness to help others, not just as a great player on the courts, but she’s a major driver in bringing forward the excitement and progress along women’s sports. Women’s basketball in particular is a platform we’ll continue to lean in on. We’ve long been synonymous with sports but we believe women’s sports are having a moment.

Nick Coronges, exec VP and global chief tech officer, R/GA

Battle for the portal to the internet will heat up. As new internet users get accustomed to using the AI interface popularized by ChatGPT, competition to own this new portal will become heated. The incumbents will leverage their install base, while the challengers will continue to innovate. End users will benefit from better, faster, smarter ways of getting what they want.

Jill Cruz, exec VP, commerce strategy, Publicis Commerce

CTV and retail media networks will create deeper and more fruitful partnerships. This will be driven by the “commerce everywhere, all the time” trend and networks’ established desire to diversify brand-building media to benefit non-endemic and endemic objectives alike. This trend will only grow as networks compete to offer the best industry capabilities. With time and increased investment, these partnerships will expand and become more effective and popular with advertisers, but we may eventually hit a saturation point where all retail media networks will have a CTV offering and will be hard to distinguish between them.

Tara DeVeaux, CEO, Burrell Communications Group

The ad industry will arrive at a clearer, broad-based understanding of intersectionality as a subset of multiculturalism—not a replacement for it. Burrell hopes to help drive that comprehension and conversation, powered by our recent investment in a first-of-its kind segmentation study undertaken in partnership with the University of South Carolina. Moving beyond mere culture as the constant, the hope is for the industry to adopt a greater understanding of this connected mindset and consciousness so brand messaging resonates more strongly with Gen Z consumers, as well as with the distinct segments that exist within Black and non-Black communities.

Permele Doyle, U.S. president and co-founder, Billion Dollar Boy

It’s still early days, but I think brands are going to start really considering how they show up on the big social commerce platforms like TikTok Shop and their strategy for really driving commerce with creators. It’s something we’re definitely hearing from a lot of brands and groups—we’re seeing them really focus on using creator marketing to test commerce and drive sales, not just drive brand awareness or consideration.

Michael Duda, managing partner, Bullish

The creator economy will bleed into new DTC propositions. Brands inspired by the MrBeast playbook will recruit celebrities born out of YouTube fame to add organic distribution to their marketing strategy.

Lynne Fields, head of strategy, North America, FutureBrand

Amid political and economic uncertainty, and Gen Z being known as being “the sensible generation” (as they make more rational purchasing decisions), there will be an increased need for brands to express “tangibility”—less fluff and more tangible benefits. In 2024, we will see a lot less emotional branding and more focus on why a brand is essential.

Jason Goldberg, chief commerce strategy officer, Publicis Groupe

In response to the growing desire among American consumers to make their money go further, brand loyalty has waned, making people more open to experimenting with cost-effective store brands. At the same time, retailer-owned brands have evolved beyond mere alternatives to national brands, becoming distinctive and differentiated products. As a result, retailer-owned brands are poised to secure a larger market share than ever before.

Jeff Graham, president and CMO, Cactus Denver

Like every other business, we’re on the whip-end of macroeconomic trends that are beyond our control. We’re still saddled with inflation, which is worse in the EU; there are wars and instability around the world upsetting markets; and we're all but assured of a chaotic political matchup between two of the most unpopular old, white guys on the planet. But crises be damned, what history has shown us is the American consumer will be there, credit card in hand, ready to buy more stuff. Whether it's 9/11, the Great Recession, or COVID, consumer demand always seems to propel our nation, and the ad industry through tough times. Bottom line: 2024 will be a little better, but not by much.

To be more specific, it’s going to be one of those years where flat budgets are a good planning outcome, and the pressure will continue to be on our client partners to prove ROI for every dollar spent. Negative pressures on agency margins aren't letting up. Talent costs have gone up right along with inflation. Yet clients want more from their agencies for the same or lower fees. In addition, new business opportunities seem to be smaller and more project-based versus annualized AORs. As always, agency staffing flexibility and a laser focus on core operating benchmarks is going to be the key to scratching out a decent living in 2024.

Mark Grether, VP, general manager, Uber Advertising

Commerce media networks have proven their dominance over the last few years, and we’re only just seeing the beginning of what’s possible. In 2024, with the final relegation of cookies, the power of their first-party data will finally be unleashed. Commerce media owners that can bring together awareness and transaction opportunities will outperform pure-performance players. First-party data combined with AI will enable mass customization of creatives, making the user experience on these platforms even more enjoyable to consumers. These brand messages will be even more powerful with the rise of mobility media networks, where we will see offline and online behavioral insights and targeting come together in a way that moves consumers to action.

Christine Guilfoyle, president, ANA’s SeeHer

2024 will be the year to prepare for Gen Alpha; if you’re not starting now, you’re missing out. The generation is expected to live an average of 100 years and will be growing up with AI, as the technology itself evolves. Gen Alpha is set to be the most diverse generation thus far, so taking the necessary steps to accurately market to and represent them early is crucial (especially with such a long lifetime value).

Anthony Hamelle, executive director of digital and social, TBWA\Chiat\Day New York

When it comes to AI and influencer marketing, with creators being given AI tools by platforms like YouTube, TikTok and Meta, we’re going to see big mega-influencers become even bigger because now they can reach worldwide audiences without any respect for language barriers with the help of AI dubbing tools. And that is going to put those creators in an even better position for global deals with brands, and those brands are, for sure, going to want to work with an influencer not just in one market but everywhere. On the other end of the spectrum, more niche, micro-creators are going to have the tools to produce much more content at the same cost.

Yadira Harrison, co-founder, Verb

Getting out of a “survival mode” mindset. Across the industry and throughout 2023, there has been (underground?) chatter on how the economy has affected us personally and professionally given layoffs, reduced spend and just overall stress. I can see a world where we leave that in 2023 and dig deep for creative solutions to get back to a thriving mindset. Whether through mergers and acquisitions deals, new service/product offerings, trying out brand new roles—or just taking a beat to breathe. I think we’ll embrace creativity with constraints in a whole new way.

Ben Hennes, chief creative officer and co-owner, Happylucky

As we see audiences increasingly identify as part of the LGBTQ+ Community (greater than 20% and rising amongst Gen Z and Gen Alpha) and the shift away from a binary understanding of gender (greater than 50% of Gen Alpha saying gender is irrelevant), we predict that this conversation will continue to gain even more velocity.

We will see the rise of queer voices and queer creators leading the way in the future of communications and experiences. We will see a shift from an understanding of these communities being on the fringe, to seeing them as being on the frontier.

Christy Hiler, president and owner, Cornett

I predict we will see not only a significant increase in the number of female agency owners, but explosive growth from female-owned agencies putting in the hard work to earn the recognition and rankings. I also predict that, with the election, negativity will be consumed in huge volumes in 2024. Brands will lean hard into humor and feel good because consumers are going to need it.

Matt Hofherr, partner, chief momentum officer and chief strategy officer, Barrett Hofherr

Halfway through 2024, wise CFOs will begin to realize marketing is a revenue center—not a cost center. Working alongside their CMOs, they will once again rely on agencies to help grow their bottom line. Expect a slow first half of the year followed by a strong second half.

Margaret Johnson, partner and chief creative officer, Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Brands are looking at a potentially wild year ahead between the election cycle and the explosion of AI-powered content. There’s a mix of fear and excitement. Fear around your brand getting dragged into politics or co-opted in the culture wars. Excitement about the powerful new possibilities that AI offers. I feel certain we are going to see an above-average number of firsts in advertising in 2024 thanks to the power of AI to make creative visions real.  

I also think CMOs are overwhelmed by the number of platforms and how you make your brand consistent across all of them. I could see a resurgence in mascots and spokescharacters as they tie platforms together nicely and give consumers something they can follow and look for. Having an AI-powered spokescharacter also gives you the flexibility to react to issues happening in the world, like elections.

Sarah Ivey, chief strategy officer, North America, Havas Media Group

In 2024, I think we’re looking at a year in which brand safety will be even more top of mind and really difficult to control. From global geopolitical crises and a contentious election year for the U.S., to platforms where brand guidelines will need to be in flux to cope, brands will need to literally play it safe. I predict we’ll see more investment in advertising against tried-and-true platforms and content amid the increasing challenges.

Soyoung Kang, CMO, Eos

In an increasingly fragmented attention economy, it’s more and more difficult to drive broadscale cultural moments and conversations, especially for a challenger brand like Eos. So we are putting a spin on that familiar adage “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” and instead we are embracing the idea that “community eats strategy for breakfast.” Smaller, more targeted and more authentically engaged communities are driving outsized impact on our brand and business growth. This is how we can hack the challenge of marketing clutter in 2024.

Dave Kaufman, senior director of global marketing, Reality Labs, Meta

In the years following the pandemic, advertising has taken on a more serious, often self-important tone. But when you think of the best advertising campaigns throughout history, there’s a sense of humor, cleverness, and levity that run through so many of them. In 2024, I think we’ll see smart brands stop taking themselves so seriously and remember that humor is a useful tool for earning attention and driving effective business results.

Abbey Klaassen, U.S. CEO, Dentsu Creative

2024 will be the year “and” overcomes “or.” It’s time to eliminate what we at Dentsu Creative see as “false choices” many marketers feel forced to make—driving brand or performance; long-term or short-term; humanity or automation. For us, that’s meant implementing mechanisms for full-funnel thinking and creative solutions, backed by a single P&L. Successful brands and agencies in 2024 will be the ones who can hold multiple priorities and deliver on multiple capabilities.

Jeremiah Knight, chief operating officer, Saatchi & Saatchi

First, we anticipate that the ad world will continue to grapple with generative AI. We’ll definitely see novel gen AI concepts, bots, and experiences make their way into the mainstream and to the awards circuits as agencies build off of various APIs. The thorny legal issues regarding the use of AI-generated imagery and video will start to work through the court systems and become more clear on who actually owns contested IP from generative works.

Second, the pendulum swing. We predict that toward the end of 2024 there will be a backlash of sorts against generative AI; a desire for uniquely human creativity, a desire for real, authentic creativity. There may even be consortiums that develop “verified human” marks to ensure people can tell what’s authentic human-generated content from brands and what’s gen AI.

Amy Lanzi, CEO, Digitas North America

The ongoing debate between brand and performance strategies will persist into 2024, significantly influencing how brands allocate their finite investments. While there’s a rising demand for brands to engage on social platforms through creator-led campaigns, the convergence of data and media will be equally as essential to drive outcomes. Unquestionably, 2024 will bring a layer of influence from evolving technology from AI, AR/VR and gaming.

Mike Law, CEO, Carat North America

In 2023 we saw brands refocus marketing efforts, no longer viewing it as expendable, but as an opportunity to drive growth. In 2024, brands will focus on finding the perfect intersection between brand and demand, by creating the best and most attentive customer experiences. It will be critical that the importance of brand love is not lost in the pursuit of performance; they must co-exist for sustainable growth. Brands will emphasize and focus on the content they are showing up in and around, a hugely important issue for the industry to build trust and safety in media.

Eric Levin, chief content officer, Publicis Media

In 2024, we will see the rise of AI-enhanced content creation. AI stands at the crossroads of identity and social life. As usage of AI-powered features and tools enter new media territory, people’s expectation for seamless brand interaction will change. AI will be the requirement, not just an option.

Greg Lyons, CMO, PepsiCo North America Beverages

In the dynamic landscape of 2024, we expect people to have a heightened focus on value, holistic wellness and the pursuit of daily moments of joy. When budgets are tight, consumers will continue to reevaluate their priorities and make trade-offs in

Ross Martin, president and co-founder, Known

Without question, economic pressure is creating greater urgency than marketers have experienced in years, and CMOs will be forced to do far more … with far less. But in 2024, modern marketing finally rises to the challenge. So yes, it feels almost impossible now, like we’re hurtling towards the edge of a cliff. And then you realize, “Holy shit, we can actually fly.” And that’s why this is the most exciting time to do what we do.

Leah Meranus, CEO, Dentsu X North America

In 2023, we saw brands shorten the purchase cycle as they expanded their retail media strategies and leaned into a host of new opportunities in social commerce. In 2024, we will continue to see social platforms empower brands to create and engage in seamless shopping experiences, driving customers directly to purchase in more innovative and effective ways. Beyond retail, I think we’ll see more brands lean into the power of identity-based marketing to understand audiences and drive more personalized experiences. Marketers, agencies, platforms and tech partners are all going to have to come together around improved identity-centric media solutions.

Nick Miaritis, chief client officer, VaynerMedia

In the United States, in particular, streaming is going to open up the world of television advertising to be very much reminiscent of what the world of biddable digital and social has been. The idea that you can serve contextually relevant [TV] ads now to different audiences all watching the same program is going to proliferate at a scale that none of us can really fathom because TV’s never meant that to us. I don’t think it's a “death of” prediction. The brands that move fastest into it are going to reap so much upside because it's not mainstream yet. My great hope is that our whole industry stops putting things in front of people that they don't want to watch in ‘24 more than they did in ‘23.

Julie Michael, CEO, Team One

International travel is back with a vengeance. Taylor Swift and Beyoncé have reinvented concert-going. Business conferences are inspirational again. And the adventurer-in-all-of-us is biking, hiking, dancing, exploring, eating, drinking, and collecting new experiences at record rates. What this means is that experiential marketing will grow again in 2024.

With AI helping to aggregate and automate data, most brand marketers have become excellent at performance marketing. Being “efficient and effective” is table stakes. The brands bringing something creative, inspirational, beautiful, funny, surprising or provocative into the world in 2024, are the ones who will win the hearts of new customers.

TED talks, HBR modules, podcasts, online quizzes and games, Masterclass, Morning Brew or Chartr are all ways people integrate short bursts of learning and inspiration into their daily workflow. I predict marketers will want to be part of a microlearning agenda for information-hungry, time-starved people.

Marissa Nance, CEO and founder, Native Tongue Communications

2024 is going to be loud. Very, very loud. Those who decipher how to be heard, despite the noise, will succeed.

Julia Neumann, chief creative officer and partner, Le Truc

Celebrity endorsements will come to life in more subtle and subliminal ways. Brand partnerships have become diluted, especially in this past year, as the more you see someone’s face tacked onto a product, the less memorable their endorsement becomes.

We learned from the cultural moments with the highest impact in 2023, such as Barbenheimer or Taylor x NFL, that you can’t force the conversation; you need to inspire it. Brands will try to replicate the virality of these events in 2024 through a formulaic celebrity plug, realizing that water cooler conversations have to happen organically or not at all.

To increase their clout, brands must be more strategic about the public figures they partner with and how these partnerships will be announced—less in-your-face and more calculated and authentic. You may not even realize ads are targeting you until you catch yourself bringing it up in conversation for the fifth time. Which brands will demonstrate agility in seizing these opportunities? It will be fascinating to watch.

Melanie Norris, managing director and head of planning, BBDO Worldwide

In high-churn categories like telecoms and utilities, the reconsideration brief is always in play. It is always our brief to help clients win customers back. But increasingly, all sectors can adopt the principles of “the winning customers back brief.”

In a context where the consumer votes with their feet and is more disloyal than ever, being proactive around reconsideration is smart. Understanding the anatomy of reconsideration is key. Winning back is not as easy as winning over. Reconsideration relies on a client being truly restless around (self) reflection and improvement.

From an agency point of view, the reconsideration brief is often the dream brief, it means we get to be forensic in our brand analysis, change the conversation, play with category conventions. We’re already seeing this in client and new business briefs. 2024 will be the year of reconsideration.

Micky Ogando, president and chief creative officer, Bakery

The boutique-ification of the industry will continue—not just for creative agencies, but also for media ones that understand how to serve up campaign work in ingenious ways. Driven by a growing recognition that overreliance on digital advertising and its flawed reporting is not the answer. Clear-eyed brands will increasingly seek out independent agencies that can deliver high-quality creative work that stands out. While some may continue to chase the next cheap and easy promise—cough AI—the best marketers are realizing that smart, funny, beautiful work that moves people is the key to getting an edge.

Tom O'Keefe, CEO, OKRP

More brands will seek to engage with the growing multicultural marketplace with advertising that is authentic and relevant to specific consumers. Successful brands will go beyond the line items on the media plan and tell more culturally relevant and diverse stories created by native Spanish speakers, and Black and Asian creators. They will also demonstrate authentic economic support for diverse communities through a long-term commitment to embracing DEI through content, community and the teams within its organization.

Andrew Panay, CEO, Panay Films

Building systems and networks that remove barriers between talent and brands will be one of the largest value drivers in 2024. Vital to a team’s ability to move at the speed of pop culture is the strength of their relationships with the top talent driving culture—be it creators, writers, directors, actors, musicians, etcetera. In the film business, we go artist-direct so nothing gets lost in translation. Having that access on the brand side has the potential to build a single creative team across all parties and enable bolder thinking, independence and speed without sacrificing quality.

Ralph Pardo, CEO of North America, Omnicom Media Group

The importance of creator media is going to accelerate in 2024. We’re going to see a lot more AI-enabled use cases that are actually meaningful. Last year was talk and hype and 2024 will be: “Okay, where’s the proof?” I believe that we’re going to have proof as an industry. That may be quite revolutionary for lots of clients. Fundamentally, it may rock some longstanding historical notions of how we get to great marketing. I see a future where our industry is smaller, not bigger, and it'll be more focused on high-value strategic thinking.

Tracey Pattani, CEO, BSSP

We will find ourselves at the bottom of the barrel of “do more with less.”  This strategy will no longer work for anyone, including company shareholders. 2024 is a year we will return to a mentality of smart investment and building. We’ll manifest ourselves out of two years of stagnation and fear. We hear it in the chambers of client relationships, where marketers are spent managing declining budgets and rising expectations. 2024 will be a year we selectively choose real strategies for long-term growth. Selectively, an election year will bring new headwinds.

Elizabeth Paul, chief brand officer, The Martin Agency

While agency brands may not matter to some holding companies, they sure matter to talent.

In 2023, we saw an acceleration of the trend towards agency brands disappearing amidst consolidation and business being swept up at the holding company level. The efficiency story is clear. But look at the annual rankings of where talent wants to work. As long as this business rises and falls on talent, the importance of agency brands will reign supreme.

Serious has become the wallpaper of advertising. In an age of polycrisis, the majority of brands (67%) have adopted a serious tone to reflect serious times. Yet, as humor has declined, it’s become all the more effective. While humor makes up only 10% of ads today (33% register as “lighthearted”), it accounts for more than 50% of the most effective ads. Humor is also what consumers say they want—91% of people prefer brands to be funny and 72% say they’d choose a brand that makes them laugh over the competition. Cannes Lions announcing a comedy category is another indicator of humor’s resurgence. In 2024 I predict more brands leaning into the lighter side.

Marco Pupo, co-founder and chief creative officer, Atlantic New York

Following the mass layoffs we’ve seen across brands and their marketing departments in 2023, short-staffed in-house teams will likely experience a higher demand for new agency partnerships and project-based work. While this demand will surely present growth opportunities for certain agencies, it will also mean an increase in smaller and/or mid-sized pitches that might not justify the financial investment for other agencies. I hope 2024 brings with it a continuing trend of leading agencies declining to participate in unfair pitch processes, and a more open dialogue--as an industry—around how these practices can be improved in the years ahead.

Rob Reilly, global chief creative officer, WPP

Gone are the days when everyone is protective of their trademarks, personas or reputations. I predict more and more interesting and unexpected partnerships between brands, people, platforms and innovations. Surprising consumers with super-dope-hyper-collaborations is where it's at in 2024.

Erica Roberts, chief creative officer, BBH USA

The pendulum will swing back to creativity in the service of brand building. In recent years, marketers have become preoccupied with data. While it’s key to making smarter business decisions, data alone doesn’t build a deep and enduring brand connection with consumers—and it certainly won’t make them laugh. So I predict we’ll see a shift from data in the service of effectiveness to data in the service of creativity. Here’s to the birth of lots of big, enduring creative ideas in 2024!

Troy Ruhanen, president and CEO, TBWA\Worldwide

2024 will be the year we finally say real iconic work for real paying clients is back.

Nicole Souza, CMO, Saatchi & Saatchi

Social commerce will continue to be a force in successful marketing plans. We know that social media plays an important role in how consumers find, learn about and share information about brands and products. It only makes sense that marketers take advantage of in-app conversion and posts that are shoppable.

Brands with an acute understanding of the cultural makeup of the communities they are speaking to will thrive. It's no longer enough to reach segments based on pure data and market tactics. Understanding the culture that drives a particular group or segment is core to a brand’s success in winning over people in those communities. Once embraced by a community, the brand’s potential is unlimited.

Carlos Santiago, co-founder, ANA AIMM

In 2024, we will see the inclusion and consideration of a greater number of diverse-owned and diverse-targeted media platforms in programmatic buys in order to increase the percentage of investment and create a more equitable media industry. And overall, we are likely to see more tailored content and experiences that cater to each individual's preferences, needs and behaviors, including those from diverse cultures.

Maggie Sause, director of Go to Market, Red Antler

Expect a lot more personalization in everything; from what creative gets served, to what products are recommended, to how an end-user completes a purchase. Video and short-form content will become more relevant than ever as platforms continue to dismantle the lines between where purchases are made and where content is consumed. This becomes particularly important as community building and “value beyond product” content are prioritized, putting greater emphasis on high-value storytelling and volume.

Dennis Self, general manager, data solutions, Epsilon

Consumers’ expectations and behaviors are constantly changing, and marketers can’t afford to wait for audience updates to their campaigns. Marketers must act fast, and they need their data to act quickly as well. AI paired with quality data will give marketers the ability to build their desired audiences more quickly and make those audiences stronger over time. The end results are faster, better and smarter business outcomes as marketers reach and convert their in-market consumers with absolute precision.

Ed Starr, managing partner, BMF

At BMF, we predict that 2024 will see more emphasis than ever on the health and wellness sectors as consumers will continue to focus on key pillars of longevity. Investment into exercise has proven to be the No. 1 defense against challenges connected to sickness, anxiety and overall well-being, and we expect to see even greater reflection of that in the advertising and marketing industry. Podcasts like Huberman Lab will continue to thrive and serve as a source of real influence on how people choose to spend their time and money, while brands such as Canyon Ranch and physically active experiences will only keep growing.

Alanna Strauss, exec VP, entertainment and Culture Lab, The Martin Agency

What is most often considered ancillary in advertising—entertainment, social, and experiential—will become more of the focus as we see that those brand moments continue to capture incredible mindshare. Traditional advertising will always play an important role, but it will no longer be the main hub with everything else surrounding it.

Emily Stutzman, CEO and co-owner, Happylucky

In a backlash to AI, misinformation, and the isolation, loneliness and overload of digital media, consumers will seek out more analog, connected, emotional and sensory brand experiences. We will see brands prioritize creating meaningful connections, loyal relationships and KPIs rooted in memory, like brand recall and brand affinity, being prioritized over short-term vanity metrics like impressions and likes. Call it collective effervescence—the power of IRL experiences to connect our humanity, bridge divides, align us in purpose and shift hearts and minds.

David Suarez, co-founder, Bandits & Friends

With the upcoming election and continued disarray in the world, humor will continue its rise and become the most popular and effective genre of advertising. Digital and social will continue to drive aspects of business, but with the inconsistency of some platforms (i.e., X (formerly Twitter), YouTube inventory being in question, etc.), brands will course correct from a somewhat unhealthy focus on performance marketing to prioritizing long-term brand building. Also, Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce will announce they are having a baby. It’ll be a boy, 9.1 pounds. You heard it here first.

Alphonzo Terrell, CEO and co-founder, Spill

In 2024, URL and IRL will come closer and closer together. The most successful brands will create products that can facilitate online and offline connections as a single user experience. We’ve seen some interesting examples in retail, but there is a really strong opportunity to see this applied to new sectors like QSR, social and others. At Spill, we want to make the in-person experience as rich and rewarding as the online experience by partnering with like-minded brands.

Alicia Tillman, CMO, Delta Airlines

We still very much live in an experience economy. This was the case pre-COVID and it is arguably at an even higher level now as customers continue to have many choices when it comes to brands. They are absolutely prioritizing brands that focus on driving their loyalty and bringing them exceptional experiences. We think about that tremendously as marketers as an absolute priority and focus for us.

We are sponsors of Team USA and we are heading into an Olympic year in 2024. That’s really big for us. It’s also a presidential year in the U.S. and that’s a big one. When you have a presidential year, the whole question of trust is one of the first things that is on people’s minds and if they feel they’re being failed in any way from the political system, they naturally turn to brands to give them a sense of hope and promise.

Rahul Titus, global head of influence, Ogilvy

2024 is the year where you’re going to start seeing employee advocacy really come into its own in terms of fully formed programs—everything from employee retention to marketing to loyalty. The most exciting part to me is employers using employees as part of their B2C marketing and comms strategies. We’ve seen beauty brands like Sephora and L’Oreal really lead the way in this and incentivizing their employees to basically promote their products [on social media] with discount codes and access to exclusive offers. A lot of that has been quite grassroots, so far, but I think in 2024, it's going to suddenly get very professional.

Another one of the big trends we’re going to see 2024 is the growth of livestreaming, which we’ve already started to see in 2023. We always talk about our phones being our second screen and how you would watch a reality show while also looking at X (formerly Twitter) to look at what people are saying about it, but we're now seeing that second screen becoming the main screen. We don’t believe in TV being your main screen anymore in the world of influence. You want to watch a TV show? TikTok. You want to watch an influencer? TikTok. And with the launch of TikTok Shop, we’re going to really see influencer commerce become mainstream and TikTok Live being almost the QVC of social media.

Lauren Tucker, founder and CEO, Do What Matters

Talent.Talent.Talent. The divide between talent and management will continue to widen as agency and holding company leaders desperately hang on to old-school, 20th-century management practices and policies. Across generations, talent will find new ways to express their creativity and business acumen outside the walls of traditional agencies, and marketers will go to this well of talent to find more powerful ways of connecting to the increasingly multicultural and global market. Holding company leaders who realize their primary mission is to nurture and advance talent will win more business than those who focus on deal-making. Agency leaders and marketers who marginalize or abandon inclusion, equity, and diversity will yield share-of-market to enlightened leaders who know inclusion management is the key strategy for managing 21st-century talent and engaging the 21st-century consumer.

Tyler Turnbull, global CEO, FCB

In 2024 we’re going to see even more CEOs embracing marketing as an imperative to business growth. A fundamental shift is already occurring in the relationship between CMOs and CEOs. With greater pressure on marketing investments, creativity will prove the most effective way to activate business across every touchpoint in a consumer journey. I expect to see more innovation in the way creative ideas are being delivered–more unlikely channels such as email/CRM and commerce, which are quickly becoming the go-to creative canvases for brands. In other words, great work will continue to separate itself from the mass of mediocrity and true marketers will lean into it more than ever.

Steve Viglione, exec VP, executive director, marketing science, BBDO

2023 was the year of generative AI, a year of radical transformation. But what was notably missing from this movement was each and every company’s sales, customer and proprietary data. Models were primarily built on public data. Concerns around data security and privacy held companies back from super-powering their models with first-party data, and for good reason.

In 2024, companies will realize the power of their internal data by building those same large language models on top of their own data in privacy-safe ways. Marketers will wake up, open their computers, and instead of looking at screen after screen of dashboards, they will simply ask a blank text box, “What do I need to do this week to improve my campaign?” The invisible analyst will evaluate the current state of the campaign, explain how it’s performing, identify the risk areas and make suggestions on how to improve.

Aaron Walton, CEO and founding partner, Walton Isaacson

Because AI is definitely part of any 2024 trend discussion, I decided to ask ChatGPT to speak to 2024 ad agency predictions. AdAge readers may be relieved or at least amused to read this response: “As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, I don't have specific information on advertising agency industry predictions for 2024. Industry trends and predictions can evolve rapidly, and new insights may have emerged since then. To get the most accurate and up-to-date information, I recommend checking industry reports, publications, and reliable sources in the advertising and marketing sector.”

AI is a tool, a multi-faceted tool that helps with innovation, ideation, and investigation of a whole host of variables. I see 2024 bringing a greater appreciation of AI.

If everything lives “in culture,” and we need culture to identify how we as human beings connect with the world around us, then the promise of AI isn’t to prostitute the culture. It’s to present clear signals around how culture is being built and by whom. While bias can still live within the people programming the machines (including those that are AI-powered), the hope is that AI is built intuitively to discern when outside voices are not being accounted for. But for bias not to live within AI (as Google found out with Tensor flow), the people programming it have to come from a position of anti-bias first.

Over the years, DE&I added a B for Belonging but, no matter the letters, the actual work behind the idea receives a lot of lip service across corporate America. Diversity was diluted once virtually any combination of people could fall under the diversity umbrella. Similarly, inclusion. But Belonging speaks directly to company culture and, when paired with Equity, gets to the heart of things employees of all walks of life are hungry for. So, 2024 could be the year of BE. Get Belonging and Equity right and the other key dimensions of DE&I success will follow.

Also, those of us who already prioritize diversity and inclusivity (mostly diverse people ourselves) are tired of the way others treat this like a trend or optional. But we are not going to let this critical area of our business slip backward on our watch. Leaders are becoming more and more diverse, and they are calling the shots.

Shannon Washington, global chief creative officer, Gotham

Craft. It’s a given that craft be present in what we do, yes, but more often than not, today’s agency creatives are playing a game of imitation, relying largely on the labor and talent of others to express the intangible of their own imagination. So with the rise of generative AI prompt-based tools in creative agencies, I am already seeing a delta of who does and does not know the basis of their craft to communicate their ideas. From Bauhaus versus brutalism design and persuasive versus expository copy, to understanding the impact of Spike Lee’s double dolly can have visually in a film … knowing these and more specific craft references are how our creative instincts go from head to hand, without relying on a mid-level designer to “find something” when, as an art director, you should know the art you want to direct.

In all, I predict we will see how far we can push our imagination with these tools quicker and with clarity—that is if we invest the time in knowing the history and roots of our craft. Crazy right? AI will force the analog, “back to basics” in us after all. No YouTube tutorial, just craft vibes.

Deacon Webster, co-founder and chief creative officer, Walrus

We’re heading toward an industry where there are only two types of ad agencies: VML/Accenture-type behemoths that differentiate themselves around pipes, heft, AI, data, reporting, optimizing, price—everything BUT the creative product—and independent shops whose bread and butter will be to experiment and push creativity forward in a highly customized way. I see continued trouble for the mediocre middle.

Daniel Weisman, group media director, Noble People

2024 will be one of the hardest years ever for brands to stand out. The presidential election will squeeze ad space, sour consumer moods and create a toxic cloud over cultural tentpoles and brand-safe staples like the NFL. Fresh video content will be delayed, leading to clutter. Streaming services will hike prices and lose reach. The open web will become irrelevant. Meta and Google will continue to homogenize who you target and how you show up via AI. Budgets may shrink. Inflation may persist. You can’t just rinse and repeat the same strategies in 2024.

James Young, exec VP, head of digital production, BBDO North America

In 2024, I expect significant advancement in the [gen AI] space, but perhaps not with the same kinds of headline-grabbing splashiness we’ve come to expect and get excited by. From what I’ve seen and heard, I think the fine-tuning of models is going to get where we need to start creating consistent outputs (characters, for example) and highly reliable objects. For example, being able to train a model on a particular product and then generate images with one-to-one representations of that object will have significant impacts on asset production. Especially when generated by models trained on licensed materials.

I also expect these tools to become a lot more user-friendly in ways that allow even more people to apply them to their workflows. They’ve already attracted massive user bases, but I expect to see a big shift towards people adopting the utility of these tools into their day-to-day work habits.

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