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How SG agencies can do better in 2024, according to adland CEOs

How SG agencies can do better in 2024, according to adland CEOs

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2023 certainly shook up the advertising industry with immense technological developments and evolutions in the media landscape. As we enter 2024, the industry is poised to boom even more. 

For example, the influencer advertising industry is poised to prosper after growing its revenue by 17% to over US$30 billion in 2023, according to recent studies.

While some consumers have started to lose trust in influencers, 2024 market projections suggest that global influencer ad spending is expected to jump by 13% to hit US$35 billion in 2024. This comes as brands and companies continue to pour billions into influencer advertising.

Don’t miss: Top 5 developments in the AI space in 2023

Beyond influencer advertising, we are also likely going to see greater gen AI usage in the space. It was found by editorial and research strategy company Media Collateral that 74% of communications professionals across the APAC region have integrated the technology into their work.

When it comes to how communications professionals are utilising Gen AI, 75% say that they it is used in content generation, ideation and optimisation while 37% of the industry also use the technology for strategy and planning. Other usage cases include automated data summarisation, audience sentiment analysis and predictive content targeting to name a few.

As we welcome 2024, MARKETING-INTERACTIVE spoke to seven chief executives in the advertising industry to find out how the industry can do better and successfully tackle 2024.

1. Kasper Aakerlund, president, UM APAC

Noting that AI has moved beyond a mere concept to become a necessity, Aakerlund said that the advertising industry in Singapore now has an opportunity to embrace and capitalise on the technology.

Embracing AI and integrating it into the advertising industry would enable it to enhance performance and accomplish objectives on a larger scale, he added.

“The technology will help us work smarter and faster, making the industry more exciting and inspiring than ever before – delivering us to an era of true dynamism.”

2. Jeff Cheong, CEO, DDB Group Singapore

To Cheong, the advertising industry can do better in three main areas this year – inclusivity, environmental impact, and data.

Advertisers should shape their ideas and solutions in a way that represents a wider range of voices and communities. At the same time, they should adopt sustainable practices and technologies when producing work.

On the data front, Cheong suggested that there should be more investments in first-person data. “First-person data demonstrates a respect for individuals’ autonomy and privacy,” he said. He added that investing in first-party data can enable brands to be more ethical, transparent, and respectful of consumer privacy and data usage.

3. Nimesh Desai, CEO, Wunderman Thompson Singapore

Desai highlighted three interlinked areas for improvement, regarding clients, technology, and talent. He stated that consumer spending is returning to a level of normalcy following the post-pandemic frenzy. In turn, marketers would have to be more effective and efficient with their budgets.

“Technology, especially AI, is being adopted more radically than ever before, but the 2024 focus will be on using the technology that has been invested in effectively,” he said, noting that this would be particularly imperative in markets where talent is scarce, such as Singapore.

He added that many young people are choosing not to join the advertising industry, diminishing its understanding of its consumers and causing a disconnect between brands and audiences. This is compounded by a widening inequality between the top and bottom strata amongst consumers, he said.

“As an industry, we need to focus on retaining and attracting talent,” he added. “We are at an inflection point. If we don’t turn around this industry as a place to be and a reason to belong, 2024 will start seeing more people shying away to other sectors.”

4. Prakash Kamdar, CEO, clients and solutions, SEA, and CEO of Singapore and Indonesia, dentsu

“To help brands and businesses remain compelling and competitive, we will need to up our game in using AI and AI-driven tools,” said Kamdar.

This applies upstream, in areas such as data analytics, to gain a deeper understanding of audience behaviour and preferences, and well as downstream, such as in the personalisation of communications and experiences at scale. To him, both elements should work seamlessly in one continuous and infinite feedback loop.

"2023 was the year of experimentation with AI in the ad industry, while 2024 will be the year where its use becomes mainstream,” he added.

He also pointed out that the industry will need to be better in leveraging entertainment and gaming platforms to help brands connect with hundreds of millions of deeply passionate audiences.

5. Will Lee, founder and managing director, That Marketing Guy

Lee said that as we look ahead to 2024, the advertising industry would not only need to adapt to technological advancements, but also harness them for a deeper connection with audiences. This involves infusing creativity into every aspect of its work, from branding and public relations to advertising and digital marketing.

He added that the industry is at the threshold of a new era, armed with new tools such as ChatGPT and Midjourney. Likening this to the shift from traditional pencil-and-paper methods to digital tools such as Adobe, Lee anticipated a migration from heavy execution to profound conceptualisation in the immediate future.

He also observed a shift in the dynamics of trendsetting, with brands reacting to trends rather than being the trailblazers that sparked new ones. In turn, he expressed hope that the industry could take on a more active role in trendsetting.

“In doing so, we aim not only to stay ahead of trends but to set them, rekindling the spirit of innovation that has defined our industry,” said Lee.

6. Stephanie Nerlich, global president, McCann

To Nerlich, 2024 should bring a greater collective focus on the impact that the advertising industry makes. 

"Our industry taught the world to sing, fought racism, and showed girls they could play," she said, pointing out that advertising exists both to sell products and change the way people think.

While small, on-the-fringes ideas are effective for the industry to stretch its creative muscles, Nerlich emphasised that real impact comes when larger enduring ideas are delivered.

7. Eunice Tan, group CEO, The Secret Little Agency

Tan brought attention to the image that the advertising industry holds, highlighting a hope that 2024 would bring more reevaluation of what it means to enable its people to live a sustainable creative life. 

"Our business is obviously a people business. Logically, in order to put out amazing work, we need to treat people well and right," she said.

Yet, she pointed out that the industry has picked up a reputation as one that churns through human capital, cultivating an image of a tough, ruthless lifestyle with little work-life balance.

"If we're meant to empower creativity, we're not sending out the message that being in the industry begets a sustainable creative life," she said. 

"Even amidst AI and automation, we are in the business of creativity. Our strongest currency is creativity and fostering the best environment to do so," she added, explaining that the industry needs to understand what makes its people feel like they have something creative to offer. 

Related articles:
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10 media trends marketers should take note of in 2024

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