Digital marketing trends we’re watching in 2024

January 9, 2024

Before we begin, some musings:

It is that time of year again where I sit down (much later than I planned) and write out our predictions for the following year. I have gotten fairly good at this over the years (if I do say so myself), but I will admit, predicting the trajectory of digital marketing in 2024 is a bit more daunting than usual.  

Chat GPT was barely a bullet point in my 2023 post, and I am not sure I had even heard the term “generative AI”.  Now AI developments are happening at such a rapid-fire pace that it is hard to keep up with the almost daily new tools, features, and opportunities in generative AI and marketing. This pace of change is only likely to accelerate into 2024.  

I am far too humble to profess that I know what 2024 will bring to the digital marketing space, but I do have some ideas about what you should focus on to make sure the ride is as safe and enjoyable as possible! So, I hope you have settled into your seat because even the recap is going to be lengthy on this year’s post!

2023 Predictions Recap

You Need to EAT (Even) More

In 2023 my number one recommendation was to focus on “EEAT” (experience, expertise, authority, and trust). What can I say, I was very, very right. In both May and September, Google released significant algorithm updates dubbed the “Helpful Content Updates”, that caused significant changes to SERP positions (and organic traffic) for many informational sites that have held top positions for years. In 2024, EEAT even MORE. 

The Paradox of Ad Personalization In 2023

The legal bills at both Meta and Google are mounting as they spend time mired in defending the ability to personalize advertising globally. And their developers are working overtime to build new systems to ensure compliance. 

While the loss of targeting in digital ads was not as significant as I expected in 2023, certainly website data privacy challenges were. Several organizations we work with chose data privacy over collecting marketing data, in preparation for the regulations and enforcement that are sure to come. For most in-house marketing teams, expect to spend time in 2024 on balancing data privacy and maintaining the integrity of your marketing data.

Google Analytics 4

The move to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has been exactly the headache we predicted. And while the switch over to GA4 was fairly seamless in the summer, the reporting challenges in subsequent months certainly kept our teams busy.  We are very much looking forward to the date very soon when all of our accounts have year-on-year comparison data in GA4 and our data-blending skills can take a break. More on GA4 below.

Future-Proof your Web Analytics

Last year I suggested you start looking at new analytics platforms. And while this is still not a bad idea, I am happy to say that Google released several tools and settings in 2024 that may just help them skirt a lot of the data protection issues of Chrome and Universal Analytics. Take a look at your GA4 reporting identities (to be sun-setted in 2024) and Google Consent Mode (in Tag Manager) as examples of these efforts. 

Update: Google announced in late December that Consent Mode will be mandatory for Google Tag Manger users who generate website traffic in the EU by March of 2024

Give your Google Business Profile the love it needs

This is still true and still will be true in 2024.

Google Ads

AI came to Google Ads this year and the marketers are being heavily marketed to. Google doubled down on it’s “Google Ads Specialists” to try to push an unheard-of level of automation. Honestly, we stopped taking their calls mid-year. Their recommendations had become so diluted and not at all focused on the goals of the business, only the goals of Google sales targets.

I say this every year, but as the bots take full control, its more true now than ever. You need someone who knows what they’re doing managing your Google Ads, or the AI-enhanced algorithms that now run the platform will do what it has been trained to do; spend as much of your money as possible.

Meta Stuff

Honestly, I think Meta had a pretty quiet year (relatively speaking). They have their own LLM (large language model) called Llama2 that they are working on, some interesting new AI-based content creation features, and they’re still betting on augmented reality, but on the ads side, things are pretty much business as usual.

There is the small detail where they pulled Canadian news from the news feed as a result of Canadian legislation requiring online platforms to profit share with news organizations. But we have not seen a impact of this change for most of our clients. (And we all breathed a collective Canadian sigh of relief when Google reached an agreement late in November so we can still FIND the news online).

Oh, and they rolled out an ad-free subscription model to users in the EU (as part of complying with regulators). I predict 2024 will be the year of watching subscription models for social media platforms flounder (I am looking at you, too, “X”).

Microsoft Ads & LinkedIn

It was certainly a growth year for LinkedIn Ads, with a projected ad revenue increase of 789 million dollars in 20231. While the Microsoft Corporation earnings in Q3 2023 increased an impressive 18% year over year ($49.4 BILLION for you numbers folks).  Suffice to say the Microsoft Corporation had a very very good year.  

Unfortunately, Microsoft Advertising still doesn’t have the market capitalization to make sense for many of our Canadian-based clients. And while we are continuing to experiment with their new offerings as they become available, Google Ads is still the primary platform we recommend for search advertising. 

LinkedIn however is a different entity all together. We are all-in on LinkedIn advertising for some B2C clients. More on this below.

  Community Building is going to be more important

Yes, this was important. Brands need to do more of it. Even if you are a smaller, local business, you should do more of it.

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