Wrapping up the marketing trends for the year and predicting those of the next is such a consistent staple in the marketing industry that it’s almost a cliché. However, 2023 represented such a landmark year in digital marketing that the subject was impossible to avoid. The rebranding of Twitter (now X), the launch of a new platform by Meta (Threads), and, not least of all; the tsunami-sized waves made by OpenAI’s ChatGPT meant that there was seemingly more disruptive news in the marketing world in 2023 than there had been in the last two years combined. However, technological progress and shifting paradigms don’t recognize fiscal years,so there’s no reason to think this new wave of massive change is due to stop at the end of December. In fact, all signs point towards the opposite: we may only just be seeing the beginning of a shift that will bring about a new world not only for marketers, but for professionals in every sector of the workforce.
2023 and Marketing’s New Frontier
The last year represented a new reality for marketers. Only a few short years after the monumental challenges of 2020, suddenly the industry was facing another massive shake-up with surprises, obstacles, and opportunities around every corner. Banking crises, international conflicts, groundbreaking technological achievements, unprecedented financial changes in social media companies—marketers found themselves having to roll with the punches throughout the year. Of course, we weren’t alone in that regard. 2023 was a tumultuous year for much of the world and, depending on the next few years; may well be regarded in the future as a significant turning point.
The AI Boom: Bubble, Paradigm Shift, or Both?
Perhaps the most profound impact made on the digital marketing space was OpenAI’s new and impressive ChatGPT, which instantly sparked a seeming gold rush. Though it first burst onto the scene at the end of 2022, it was the first quarter of 2023 that saw the transformation from a curiously-impressive chatbot to a potential timesaving miracle (or job market destroyer, depending on who’s speaking). While there was an initial panic around the notion that every marketer was set to be replaced by AI-generated content, images and even strategy; it quickly became apparent that marketing professionals aren’t so easily replaced.
Despite its struggles to perfectly emulate human marketers, certain tasks at which AI is particularly adept, present exciting opportunities for the digital marketing space. Its strengths in analysis and reporting are an absolute game-changer for account management. When used lazily, AI’s repetitive content and otherworldly images made it clear that, while AI is a great tool for everything from idea generation to photo editing; it’s not yet in any position to replace a whole marketing role. Regardless, it is clear that prompt engineering and AI knowledge will soon be prerequisites for many marketing professionals.
As marketing agencies and other businesses try to find the balance of just how much AI to use, the next year or two should serve as an interesting test as to how much is too much—and just how profitable it is. If it lives up to even half the hype it has received by marketers and business owners alike, it could represent a complete shift in the marketing world.
Video’s Continued Dominance
Judging by the steady and meteoric success of video content across all platforms (buoyed largely by TikTok’s continued growth), the favoritism towards video is likely here to stay. One thing has changed this year, however: lower-quality and hastily-made video content is falling to the back of the pack thanks to the increase in high-quality production sweeping the video world. While video marketing is still certainly a good idea in the current landscape, it’s not a simple case of getting more engagement just from a phone-shot short. New and better competition means one thing: go big or go static.
Traversing the Influencer Minefield
2023 saw influencer marketing take off in a big way: but it’s already fraught with more complications than ever before. As more and more platforms encourage influencer marketing, more pale imitations and outright fraudulent schemes have surfaced as a result. Bots and fake accounts being used to pump up the numbers for so-called “influencers” means that anyone looking to take advantage of this channel has to be more careful than ever before. For most, that means simply taking a closer look at the kind of engagement an influencer is getting before having them tout a product or service. Typically, if it passes the eye test, some standard due-diligence should be all that’s needed to ensure authenticity and potential effectiveness.
The Ever-Shifting Social Media Landscape
The last time the social media world was such a cluttered mess, Friendster and Myspace were still averaging millions of daily active users. Despite the last few years of Facebook seeing positive trends (along with Instagram becoming the king of ROI for advertisers), the Meta suite remains a mess—especially for business accounts and advertisers. That hasn’t stopped Meta from launching its own new text-based social platform, however. Threads, Zuckerberg’s answer to Twitter, launched on July 5th—virtually by surprise. Though the platform started off with a boom as millions flooded to the new frontier (presumably due to ease of access for Instagram users), numbers took a significant dip shortly thereafter. However, Meta’s concentrated efforts to grow Threads’ audience coupled with Twitter’s chaotic rebrand to “X” gave it an end-of-year rally: the app’s daily download rates surpassed those of X by early December. What this means precisely for social media marketing remains to be seen. In the meantime, it seems as though there are now a surplus of platforms on which social media marketing must be focused until the inevitable thinning of the herd.
2024: New Horizons and Old Reliables
New challenges and opportunities in the marketing world are often the result of emerging technologies, but the two major predictions for the next year (and coming years) are actually in regards to technologies that have been present for some time. For example: many digital marketing professionals are preparing for the world of voice search optimization (VSO), the SEO equivalent for voice-operated searches on devices such as Alexa, Siri, and Google Home. Recent trends suggest that the queries on these devices differ significantly from the terms typed into search engines, and voice search is being used more frequently with each passing year.
Another trend on the rise is one that might not become fully prominent in 2024, but is something to start considering for most digital marketing professionals: augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). VR has only just begun to truly pick up speed in the gaming and entertainment spaces, and its migration into the digital and social media marketing worlds is inevitable. Many predict that interactive and personalized VR marketing experiences will become significantly more effective than your typical marketing strategies once they take off, as they will allow brands to engage with their audiences in ways we once thought were impossible.
Despite these new opportunities, one adage remains true: the more things change, the more they remain the same. TikTok continues to surge, Instagram continues to be the king of ROI, and Facebook is still the crown jewel of social media platforms. When adapting to changes in the marketing space, it’s vital not to overlook these things in the face of shiny new opportunities.
Predicting the Unpredictable
Predicting the future, even when informed, is a difficult business indeed. The world of marketing is constantly shifting and evolving, and staying alert to trends and new developments is the best defense against stagnation and irrelevance. To stay ahead of the curve, paying attention to industry news via trade publications and email newsletters is a great way to learn which way the wind is blowing.
While it’s recommended to follow more than one, signing up for the Rally quarterly newsletter is one great (and free) way to follow industry trends in addition to picking up useful marketing tips and tricks you can apply to your own brand!