Macro Marketing Trends: Q1 2024

March 13, 2024

Collective Measures
2024 is here — and there are many trends circling the marketing landscape. Our experts outline what marketers should pay most attention to.

Macro Marketing Trends: Q1 2024


2024 is in full swing, which means a number of platform and industry updates have been announced. But which headlines should marketers follow as the year progresses? Enter: Collective Measures. Our experts reviewed the marketing landscape at large and have surfaced three marketing trends to watch from Q1 2024:

  1. AI and search platforms
  2. Evolving video landscape
  3. The rise of media integrations

1. Search platforms are infusing AI into their offerings 

Google and Bing are embracing an omnichannel marketing world by offering full-funnel capabilities, using AI to identify audiences, create content, and enhance both paid and organic search results. Search engines’ ultimate goal is to understand and address user intent. Whether that’s answering questions directly in search results or serving an ad based on a user’s readiness to purchase or convert, these platforms are increasingly smarter and more capable of tailoring user experiences. To kick off the new year, here are two key changes to keep in mind:

1. Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE)

Following in Microsoft’s footsteps (a rare occurrence) after Bing AI, Google will be rolling out Search Generative Experience (SGE) publicly this year — possibly before its big I/O event in May and potentially in gradual increments. Like featured results (quick answers, people also ask, etc.), SGE will address searcher intent directly in organic results, but will be backed by much more AI power and with information from multiple sources in a single answer.

Driving forces: Google has readied searchers for SGE over the last five years with a move away from keywords and toward intent-driven content, and with featured results that created 0-click searches. As Google becomes increasingly skilled at matching intent, marketers may rightfully worry about loss of organic visibility and traffic. Especially for informational and mid-funnel content, it may be more difficult to rank in top results — and if you do, that spot is now shared with competitors. 

Strategies for success: The core concepts of a strong SEO strategy have not changed. Ensure healthy technical and foundational elements throughout your website, clearly structuring and defining your content and products for search engines. Make sure your content is helpful and clear, always optimizing for E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authority, and trust). Combined with a solid organic search measurement plan, these strategies will allow for success in a new AI-powered SERP.

2. Objective-based buying

While SGE aims to match intent within the search engine results page, new paid formats aim to match intent outside of it. With social platforms becoming search engines and retail marketplaces, and display ads distributing social content, it’s no surprise that search engines are also moving toward an omnichannel approach. A perfect example of this is Google’s new AI-driven Demand Gen offering. Like Performance Max, Demand Gen is agnostic of specific media channels and serves ads throughout the Google ecosystem. And like Performance Max campaigns, Google pairs what it knows about each user with an advertiser’s marketing objectives to determine which ad formats to serve. Within the same campaign, a user could see a banner ad, discovery ad, video ad, or search ad to push them toward the next stage in their journey.

Driving forces: Search engines have been pushing their networks of non-search ad inventory even more this year in the spirit of full-funnel visibility. With the rollout of Demand Gen, these advancements mean that marketers need to increasingly relinquish control to search engines and lean into AI algorithms for optimal ad performance.

But on the flip side, Google is offering marketers several new AI features to help build campaigns strategically. Google has provided creative tools like automatically created assets, optimization features like portfolio bidding, and new AI-driven campaign setup betas like conversational experience, all of which leverage Google’s AI power to set campaigns up for success right from the start.

Strategies for success: Marketers need to embrace automation to not only make their job easier but to also allow for more strategic, critical thinking. Of course, we have to test and learn, but the combination of AI technology with strong human insight will lead to optimal performance.

2. The 2024 video landscape will be unlike any other

Whether it’s predictable changes to TV buying, like the Summer Olympics or 2024 election cycle, or emerging partnerships that impact buying and consumption, 2024 is sure to bring another year of change for video advertising.

Inventory disruptors

In 2024, both TV content viewed and TV ad prices will be affected by three events — the halo of the Hollywood writers’ strike of 2023, the Summer Olympics, and the presidential election. While each event offers both opportunities and obstacles for marketers to reach audiences, most advertisers will want to consider aligning their strategies with changes in content, timing, and ad prices that these disruptive events will have on the TV landscape.

Driving forces: 

  1. The Hollywood writers & SAG strike: This large strike (and associated delay in scripted series) has impacted TV programming, resulting in decreased ratings and driving users toward streaming platforms where content is more plentiful. 
  2. The Olympics: The 2024 Olympic Games are sure to draw huge scale through both linear and streaming, as NBCU’s Peacock will be streaming all coverage live — the first time that the Summer Games can be streamed in their entirety. As of Q4 2023, total sales are pacing ahead of prior Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. Overall, the company anticipates that anywhere from 20%–25% of total consumption will be through digital channels and Peacock.
  3. The 2024 election cycle: As in years past, political ads are poised to clog up the linear and streaming spaces as November 5 approaches, causing higher prices and a potential shift in timing among non-political advertisers. U.S. political ad spend is expected to increase 30% from 2020 to $12.32 billion in 2024, with nearly 72% of that spend expected on linear TV, up 8% since the last election.

Strategies for success: Due to these factors, streaming may continue to be more enticing for many advertisers as its larger inventory equates to fewer supply and demand issues that cause prices to skyrocket. As always — but especially given the trifecta of events in 2024 — marketers should consider the timing of their spending, and what type of content to lean into or avoid based on budget and goals.

Streaming consolidation 

After years of fragmentation in the streaming video landscape, some of the largest streaming services are beginning to acquire and consolidate content to bolster content offerings. Notable examples include the Disney+ and Hulu merger, Max now housing HBO and Discovery+ content, and Paramount+ adding Showtime’s content library.

Driving forces: In addition to these mergers, platforms are also beginning to adopt more ad-supported subscription tiers at a reduced price for consumers — a change to the models from the fragmented platform days, which predominantly featured high-cost, ad-free subscriptions. Streaming services are also being bundled with other, non-endemic consumer subscription products. Examples include Verizon cell phone pricing tiers that offer discounted ad-supported Netflix or Max plans as a “Perk” to their customers. Instacart also has a bundled offer, where Instacart+ members are given a Peacock subscription as a perk of their membership.

Strategies for success: With less fragmented platforms, this is likely to entice streaming service growth (especially at ad-supported tiers), which offers advertisers greater scale. But, without a clear platform monopoly, this should create competition between platforms for not only quality content offerings, but also for better ad offerings (units, targeting, lower minimums) to entice advertisers to spend and reach their user bases.

If subscription consolidation wasn’t attractive enough for consumers looking to stream content, the emergence of streaming services offered alongside other common product offerings should also provide a boost to streaming platform user bases on ad-supported tiers, again granting advertisers greater scale.

3. Media integrations are on the rise

Alongside consolidation within media conglomerates, cross-platform integrations continue to emerge in digital media and social properties. New opportunities within retail data targeting and partnerships in Big Tech were also introduced in recent months.

Retail media, programmatically

After years of keeping their customer data close to the chest, retailers are exploring new ways to monetize their customer data to marketers within non-endemic environments, outside their own properties and platforms. DSPs and programmatic advertisers in particular are benefiting from increased access to retailer data to boost buying signals as third-party cookies phase out. 

Driving forces: Ad spend in retail media was an estimated $46B industry in the U.S. in 2023, with Amazon representing nearly 75%. This share could grow even larger in 2024 as Amazon launched Prime ad-supported connected TV (CTV) in January 2024. This means that the 163M U.S. Prime viewers will be defaulted to ad-supported programming unless they pay a premium of $3 per month to opt out. This entry into ad-supported CTV is expected to further accelerate advertising dollars in CTV while competing with Roku and Hulu, and will likely shift spend from linear TV (which is forecasted to decline in 2025 according to some industry analysts) while CTV is expected to see growth through 2027.

In addition, in late 2023, The Trade Desk announced new partnerships with Instacart and Sam’s Club, allowing advertisers to leverage first-party shopper data programmatically across the open web. The data are likely to attract packaged goods advertisers seeking to leverage the historical purchase data to target brand, category, lapsed, or new brand buyers. Instacart and Sam’s Club join a list of retail media data providers already partnering with The Trade Desk that includes Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Macy’s, The Home Depot, and grocers such as Albertsons, Meijer, and Kroger.

Strategies for success: For marketers, data-rich audience targeting through various programmatic channels plus Prime CTV is increasingly valuable as cookie depreciation limits previously used targeting capabilities. Specifically, the launch of the Prime ad-supported tier is expected to have a maturation effect on the retail media industry as brands and publishers become more comfortable with retail media partnerships.

Platform integrations and partnerships 

Social media channels are increasingly partnering with other platforms to elevate the user experience, expand reach, and increase their revenue and data collection. These collaborations allow platforms to fill in gaps of their existing offerings with established best-in-class experiences.

Driving forces: The most significant example of this is the partnership between Meta and Amazon, who have collaborated to allow Amazon shoppers to buy products on Meta platforms without leaving the apps. This integrated, seamless shopping experience sets both parties up to benefit financially. Meta gains better targeting and optimization by using information from Amazon (and stores that offer “Buy with Prime” to show consumers ads), leading to better conversion rates. Amazon gets more transactions from the large Meta discovery platforms’ ads, which expands and complements Amazon’s intent-based (aka keyword search) model. The connection also enables data sharing across the two walled gardens and serves to bypass challenges with Apple’s App Tracking Transparency policy. This closed-looped measurement ensures advertisers accurate Amazon conversion attribution from Meta advertising.

The Meta-Amazon deal also helps Amazon address increased competition from TikTok Shop, which launched in September 2023 and combines TikTok’s discovery engine and ecommerce storefront to reach more than 150 million users. Despite Amazon’s size and clout, that could be seen as a credible threat, particularly given TikTok’s reach with younger Millennial and Gen Z consumers. In the last few months, TikTok has also been testing revenue sharing with Google search results in-app, and has integrated with Spotify (whereby TikTok users can now easily save songs to Spotify). While no money is exchanged, it is believed this is a longer-term play for TikTok in the music category.

Strategies for success: For advertisers with an active Amazon storefront, there’s a prime opportunity to test and learn on Meta platforms (specifically related to the targeting and attribution enhancements). More broadly, the recently observed collaborations in the social landscape may signal a new phase in the landscape as Meta and TikTok appear to begin a sort of arms race to win the social shopping space. Advertisers should continue to monitor changes here to ensure they can capitalize on opportunities to match their sales channels and audiences.

What marketers need to know 

To remain successful in today’s evolving landscape, it’s critical for markers to keep a pulse on emerging trends and technologies. By proactively tracking and testing opportunities related to these trends, marketers have the opportunity to garner key learnings that can help future-proof marketing strategies. As the year progresses, keep a tab on our identified trends and seek out related opportunities to stay ahead of the rapidly changing landscape.