Though the “Rise of the Machines” is well underway, there are trends other than Artificial Intelligence (AI) that are at the top of our minds at the start of 2024. The year ahead is fraught with challenges both analog and digital, from a pivotal presidential election to economic uncertainty. But it is the aforementioned digital revolution that has humans racing to determine how they can integrate AI into their marketing and business models.
It’s important to keep in mind that AI isn’t the sole harbinger of change; other forces like cybersecurity concerns and the ripple effects of a presidential election all cast their shadows across the marketing landscape.
In our quest to figure out marketing's future, we asked several Chief Marketing Officers from our ranks to apply their decades of knowledge to share predictions and key insights for what lies ahead.
“AI isn’t just about the good – it’s the good, the bad, and the ugly,” proffers Angela Hill, Chief Marketing Officer at Chief Outsiders. This nuanced dichotomy sets the tone for the AI revolution, which has the possibility for innovation, transformation, and unforetold dangers baked into its DNA.
Chief Outsiders has assembled an AI “Tiger Team” led by CMOs Ed Valdez and Angus Robertson to understand how best to use AI to accelerate the “Growth Gears” – Chief Outsiders’ proprietary go-to-market methodology – on behalf of its clients.
“If CFOs or CMOs have not thought about it yet, they’d better hurry up, because the genie is out of the bottle,” Valdez said. “We need to combine the best of people with the best of AI.”
AI's potential in marketing seems to be nearly limitless with its capabilities of streamlined workflows and automation. Yet it also raises critical ethical concerns about creativity and copyright. A lack of clear AI policies and the risk of copyright infringement brings these challenges to the forefront of many business leaders’ priorities. Already, there are multiple lawsuits specifically related to artificial intelligence and copyright registration for the works that are created using AI. This is all happening while AI and AI-enabled tools – such as ChatGPT, DALL-E, and even Zoom and HubSpot – are being used with abandon in marketing departments everywhere.
Without defined procedures or policies, inadvertent infringement poses substantial risks, especially for large corporations. The need for proactive AI policies and legal safeguards is paramount in leveraging AI's advantages without risking legal repercussions.
"AI tools are going to save you time and money,” agrees Per Ohstrom, Chief Marketing Officer, “but no one's thinking about the risk analysis. What are the repercussions for using AI?"
With the departure of cookies from the marketer’s toolkit, Connected TV and IP targeting have stepped in to take up the slack. The former is forcing marketers to reimagine the TV screen as an opportunity for hyper-targeting in much the same ways as smartphones and other mobile devices. "You can dial it down to the demographic and a specific household," says Chief Marketing Officer Saj Sahay.
The shift from traditional to hyper-targeted advertising offers unparalleled precision in reaching desired audiences, revolutionizing TV ad placements.
Moreover, the impact of IP targeting will be much more fully realized in 2024. This technology, which allows marketers to leverage footfall traffic data to enhance ad campaigns, gets us closer to the ideas of futurists like Philip K. Dick (think “Minority Report”).
Says Sahay, who has already experimented with this type of technology: "I was able to test messaging, get that data, then refine the messaging in an instant."
These twin approaches not only allow companies to optimize ad spend, but also illustrate the potency of tailoring marketing messages based on empirical data, marking a paradigm shift in advertising strategies. On the other side of the coin, this transition raises crucial concerns about data privacy and protection. Furthermore, cybersecurity challenges, particularly for small and medium businesses, are “going to go up exponentially,” says Sahay. The susceptibility of SMBs to cyber threats is a harbinger for more fortified security measures across the entirety of the customer’s digital journey.
Storytelling continues to be the best way for companies to stand out amongst the clutter – and marketers can expect to see this continue in 2024. “The customer journey is changing, so content marketing will be even more important than ever,” Ohstrom says. This is especially true for the B2B customer journey, where sales calls were replaced by digital touchpoints as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ubiquity of TikTok, Instagram, X, and Facebook in marketing will continue to drive the conversation in the B2C universe – with many of these outlets poised to steal a share of shopping revenues away from Etsy and Amazon. “The key to success is going to be to build long-term, two-way relationships with customers [on social channels], because they have to know you and trust you before they buy from you,” comments Ohstrom.
The impending presidential election year's historical influence means that “a lot more money will be sloshing around in the communication and advertising space,” said Ohstrom. And with AI able to mime, conjure, and fabricate any order of real-looking content, “it’s like giving the car keys to a 12-year-old,” Ohstrom said. “Political campaigns aren’t going to be able to refrain from using AI to generate fake videos and fake photographs.”
Of course, as with any presidential election year, economic swings and cybersecurity threats are worth watching, say our CMOs, necessitating proactive strategies to navigate potential shifts. “It’s going to put more demand on us as marketers to be mindful of how we use information,” Ohstrom said.
Beyond technological advancements, the emphasis on education and vigilance against cybersecurity threats will be a crucial strategy for growth in the coming year. "Educating your employees... is probably going to be a ton more effective than AI," Sahay says. Integrating relevant insights into business strategies can facilitate a proactive approach which allows organizations to leverage technological advancements while navigating the complexities of the evolving market.
By considering these trends and challenges, businesses can proactively prepare for a 2024 that demands not just an embrace of technological innovation, but also strategic adaptation and awareness to operate successfully in a changing world.
If we at Chief Outsiders can help you to understand how future trends will impact your business and help you to prepare, please reach out.