As we step into 2024, it's essential to explore and understand the evolving digital marketing trends that are shaping the future of content creation and consumption. Technology is disrupting markets, habits and day-to-day living at a faster pace than ever, and brands need to be ahead of the curve to maintain and grow their audiences.
From the immersive realms of AR and VR in marketing to the rise of AI-driven personalization, the growing emphasis on sustainability, the dominance of vertical video, and the resurgence of extended digital storytelling, each trend represents a significant shift in how brands and consumers interact in the digital world.
1. Generative AI’s Controversial Role in Digital Content
Generative AI exploded in 2023, with mixed reviews. Despite concerns around the ethical use of the technology, AI tools have quickly made their way into digital marketing, from free tools like ChatGPT to extensive video and imagery creation software and everything in between.
It’s not a trend that looks set to slow down in 2024. But debate rages about the direction AI will ultimately take in terms of its implementation in content creation.
Most experts seem to agree that in 2024 and beyond, this market will settle into a more harmonious union between the speed and scale of AI, and the essential, nuanced judgement of human creators.
For example, not many marketers will rely on AI for their entire video marketing strategy. But they can use the technology to quickly produce several storyboard ideas, or to help sharpen up scripts or copy.
AI may significantly reduce the time and effort involved in content creation, allowing brands and creators to focus on adding value through creative input, strategic thinking, and ensuring brand alignment. In 2024, the initial AI excitement is likely to turn to conversations around this digital content/AI relationship and how best to leverage it.
2. The Rise of AI in Shaping Digital Consumer Experiences
AI-powered customisation has been a key trend in digital content and consumer experiences for some time. But the rise of AI is taking things to the next level, offering the chance to provide real time personalisation throughout consumer experiences.
Personalisation methods started with big data and machine learning, using vast amounts of data to understand individual preferences. Companies now use AI to analyse consumer behaviour and offer tailored content and marketing. For example, Netflix and Spotify suggest movies and music based on user history, while Amazon provides personalised shopping experiences.
The future of AI customisation will likely become more advanced with technologies like 5G and IoT, offering even more personalised experiences but also raising privacy and other concerns.
“I also think that AI will help personalise the viewer experience more and more, ensuring that users are shown the most appropriate content based on their existing viewing habits. I also see this as a potential threat though, as there is a real danger of creating echo chambers and for people to just be shown the same types of content over and over. There is real value in variety and serendipity, so there needs to be a balance struck.”
- Alex Hryniewicz, Managing Director (Network), Little Dot Studios
Studies show that personalization increases consumer engagement. A key question for the future is how brands will balance personalised content delivery with privacy concerns, and creating overly siloed online experiences. This balance will be crucial for the future of digital trends, making AI customization an important area to watch.
3. Vertical Video Continues to Gain Traction
Platforms like TikTok have led to the explosion of vertical video content. Other platforms have swiftly followed suit, with features like YouTube Shorts gaining huge ground in terms of viewership and engagement.
In 2024, vertical video is set to become a staple in the way content is consumed and produced, especially among the mobile-first generation. Brands are rapidly adapting, creating vertical videos that are developed specifically for this format, making them engaging but also succinct enough to hold the fleeting attention of viewers.
The format's popularity is evident in the numbers. For example, one report showed that 75% of all video plays are on mobile devices, showcasing a strong preference for vertical viewing. And a study by MediaBrix found that vertical videos have up to 90% higher completion rates overall compared to horizontal videos.
The continued rise of vertical video is a testament to the dynamic nature of digital trends. It's not just a passing fad but a significant shift in the way we consume and create content. As we move into 2024 and beyond, it will be intriguing to see how this format evolves and continues to shape the digital content landscape.
But it’s not the only video content format to focus on in 2024.
4. The Rise of Extended Digital Storytelling
Juxtaposing nicely with vertical video is a trend on the other end of the video paradigm: the focus on longform, extended digital storytelling.
Tarif Rahman, Senior Content Strategist here at Little Dot Studios says not to discount the combined impact of short and long-form video, especially as platforms like YouTube are starting to make a return to more in-depth content formats:
“If you’re wanting to ace YouTube in 2024, ultra-long form content will be key. I’m talking anything over an hour, full episodes, documentaries etc.,” says Tarif. “YouTube is going back to its long-form roots, but you’re still going to need to balance this properly with YouTube Shorts, and one strategy cannot replace the other.”
This shift is marked by brands and content creators increasingly experimenting with longer-form video content. Platforms like YouTube and live-streaming channels are becoming hotbeds for this in-depth, immersive content. Statistics reveal an upward trajectory in the average time spent by users on video platforms, and brands are leveraging this by creating content that delves deeper into storytelling.
And this is perhaps the greatest shift of all—the understanding that “video marketing” as a catch-all strategy requires a lot more nuance in a world where multiple formats, platforms and audiences have their own algorithms and preferences to cater to.
The impact of this trend is significant. It's reshaping how brands approach content creation and audience engagement. Extended digital storytelling is not just about longer videos; it's a paradigm shift towards more authentic, transparent, and educational content. This approach is crucial for building brand loyalty and trust in an increasingly sceptical digital environment.
5. Sustainability Stories in Digital Content
A heightened focus on sustainability is driven by consumer awareness of environmental issues. Global brands are finding that building sustainability into their production, business and marketing practices resonates strongly with target audiences.
It’s a trend that’s set to become more urgent and even more impactful in 2024. Younger consumers, in particular, are increasingly seeking out brands that actively engage in and market eco-friendly and inclusive products and practices.
“That really excites me as it presents a golden opportunity for storytelling,” says Saunders Carmichael-Brown, Sustainability Ambassador at Little Dot Studios. “I’m looking forward to seeing how creative people from different industries can come together to work on new, exciting, interesting and innovative projects that have a greater purpose and a common goal to serve everyone's needs.”
While many brands are embracing sustainability, some lag far behind when it comes to leveraging digital channels to build awareness around their policies and achievements in this space. In 2024, we predict that more brands will seek to build their sustainability stories into their digital content and channels to drive a deeper level of connection and engagement with their customers.
6. Immersive Experiences & Metaverse Marketing
This trend in particular looks set to redefine customer engagement and brand storytelling in 2024 and beyond.
Originating from the rapid advancements in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies, this trend directly responds to the growing demand for interactive and personalised content. The increasing accessibility of AR and VR devices over the past couple of years have laid the groundwork for immersive content experiences to flourish.
Brands can leverage AR and VR to create virtual showrooms, interactive product demos, and gamified experiences—to name just a few. Some examples include virtual try-ons in fashion retail and interactive 3D property tours in real estate.
This trend is revolutionising marketing strategies by offering unprecedented engagement and personalisation. It's particularly influential among Gen Z consumers, who value immersive and interactive experiences. By letting consumers experience products and services in a virtual environment, brands can enhance customer experience and set new standards in digital marketing.
7. Digital Marketing in an (Almost) Cookie-less World
In 2024, the decline of cookies is set to re-shape digital marketing, driven by growing privacy concerns and stricter data regulations. Cookies, especially third-party ones, were crucial for tracking user behaviour and targeted advertising. But now brands are adapting to a more privacy-focused approach.
Instead of relying on third-party cookies, marketers are shifting towards using first-party data, (gathered from interactions on their own sites) and contextual advertising (which targets ads based on the content being viewed). They're also exploring new technologies like machine learning and universal IDs that respect user privacy while still providing insights. Contextual advertising, in particular, requires a deeper understanding of content and how it relates to consumer interests and intentions.
What the transition away from cookies really amounts to is the need for building direct customer relationships, respecting privacy, and using data ethically.
8. Gen Z’s Increased Presence and Purchasing Power
Gen Z's continued emergence as active shoppers and influential consumers is set to shape digital marketing and content trends in a significant way in 2024.
This generation is made up of digital natives who grew up with the internet and social media. But they’re now entering the workforce and have more spending power.
Their unique characteristics and preferences are pushing brands to rethink their digital marketing strategies. Gen Z values authenticity, social responsibility, and personalised experiences, which reflects in their shopping behaviours. For example, they’re more likely to support brands that align with their ethical values and offer genuine, relatable content.
As we move forward into the future with Gen Z’s influence on the rise, brands must focus on authentic, engaging digital content now more than ever before.
From Brand to Broadcaster: Stay Ahead of Digital Trends in 2024
Whether you’re paying keen attention to vertical video, want to better leverage the algorithms and content preferences of different platforms, or need broadcast-quality stories to engage your audience, let our content superfans here at Little Dot Studios lead the way.
From our in-house production teams to our proprietary measurement techniques, we’re experts at building audiences and engaging them in a meaningful way. We’ve worked with some of the world’s biggest brands to generate millions of views across digital channels. Talk to the team today to start your story.