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Where’s the money? Where creative agencies envision growth in 2024

Where’s the money? Where creative agencies envision growth in 2024

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Marketing efforts and campaigns increasingly demand unique ideas and creativity to capture and engage consumers in a world that is overloaded with content. 

Beyond traditional means, 2023 saw many creatives incorporate experiential elements and storytelling to hold onto consumers’ attention. Many anticipated artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and interactive experiences to dominate marketing strategies, according to a report by Hubspot.

These trends continue to hold relevance as we march towards 2024. An analysis by Forbes this year predicted that AI-driven interactions will propel methods to engage consumers in real time and drive conversions.

Additionally, as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies advance, the border between the digital realm and reality is becoming increasingly porous, it said. Brands are set to increasingly incorporate these technologies into their marketing campaigns.

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Similarly, these AI solutions will also drive more personalised consumer experiences, such as through content recommendations and dynamic pricing tactics, according to a report by Brand Vision. Meanwhile, it predicted that AR will enhance the experiences that marketers create for consumers, such as virtual try-on features in the fashion industry or AR-powered home design simulations.

Given these trends, what will power creativity in the coming year? In this third instalment of MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's “Where’s the Money?” series, eight creative agency professionals share their thoughts on what will be the moneymaker of 2024.

Tay Guan Hin, creative chairman, BBDO Singapore

“Virtual reality.”

To Tay, virtual reality (VR) is the winner to bet on for the profit turner of 2024. He highlighted how the market size for VR is on track to nearly double from 2022 to 2024, with the potential to soar beyond $22 billion by 2028.

According to Deloitte Global, the VR industry was set to rake in US$7 billion globally in 2023, marking a hefty 50% jump from 2022. In turn, the market could balloon to US$296.9 billion by 2024.

Citing a projection by the International Data Corporation (IDC), Tay also shared that the VR and augmented reality (AR) headset market is likely to go through a resurgence in 2024, escalating at a rate of 46.8% annually.

This trend will be driven especially by fresh hardware introductions from Meta and ByteDance, the launch of Apple’s Vision Pro, along with the increasing involvement of smaller enterprises, he said. 

With that said, in Tay’s view, the world of VR is likely to take off in big ways.

Rowena Bhagchandani, CEO and co-founder, BLKJ Havas

“Creativity.”

Bhagchandani saw investing in good ideas that can create fame for a brand as the way to go. “We think the industry's money should be in improving the effectiveness of creativity,” she said.

This does not necessarily mean investing in AI, she added.

Amidst media fragmentation in an increasingly cluttered world, Bhagchandani envisaged that going back to basics can bring about growth. This involves trusting the power of creativity and what it can do for a brand.

“We're after that smart marketing money, and what we think should be the future of advertising,” she explained.

Jacopo Pesavento, CEO, Branding Records

“Synergy.”

Pesavento predicted the collaborative dance between human creativity and AI innovation to be the driving force behind the next wave of social media trends, unlocking unprecedented possibilities for creative expression.

“As we step into 2024, the pulse of creativity beats where AI is harnessed to speed up repetitive tasks, enhancing productivity in the dynamic world of creative expression,” he said.

AI tools such as GPT-3 have changed the game for crafting advertising copies, enabling creatives to weave compelling and personalised narratives on an unprecedented scale. Pesavento suggested that as AI in content creation matures, creative strategies will shift to become more efficient and effective.

At the same time, industry leaders are emphasising the human touch in creativity as the core of impactful messages is rooted in human qualities, such as creativity, emotion, and storytelling. Humans bring a unique cultural understanding and empathy to content created through AI, he said. In this way, AI enhances rather than replaces human ingenuity.

Consequently, to Pesavento, the synergy between human creativity and AI innovation is poised to propel growth in 2024, unlocking a new era of artistic expression. “The future lies in a collaborative symphony, where humans take the lead, and AI provides the supporting melody,” he said.

Vinod Savio, chief creative officer, DDB Group Singapore

“Influence.”

“Money will be spent not just to gain attention, but retention,” said Savio.

According to him, brands with the power to influence conversations, culture, and commerce are likely to come out stronger following economic downturns, on top of being better placed to ride the storms.

This is because influence is the currency of trust, the compound interest that accumulates over time, he explained.

“It’s the gravitational force that propels brands, captivates people, and fuels commerce. When executed well, it has the power to turn messages into movements and casual consumers into fervent fans.” he added. 

In that way, influence is more than raking in numbers, but creating a ripple effect where every interaction becomes a catalyst for brand loyalty. Brands can go beyond growing their follower counts by moving hearts and igniting hashtags.

2023 was the year where people sought to do more with less, executing big ideas with small budgets. However, numbers are not the whole story. In the coming year, brands will invest to build beyond vanity metrics.

“In 2024, the money will follow work that can go beyond relevance,” he explained. “Influence isn't confined to being at the right place with the right message. It's about challenging paid formats while nurturing organic reach.”

Fiona Bartholomeusz, founder, Formul8

“AI.”

To Bartholomeusz, AI is bringing about inevitable change to the advertising and media landscape. AI is shaping the way brands connect with customers through content creation and creative development. Its ability to plough through vast amounts of data in seconds affords users historical data and predictive analytics, providing deeper insights into consumer behaviour and preferences.

She highlighted that the change is already happening, and that those who can control and harness the technologies will “rule the roost in any industry”.

“How do we not acknowledge that AI is changing the advertising and media landscape (and everything else) forever?” she said. While AI appears to be here to stay, she pointed out that the challenge would be to balance its adoption for commercial success with the impact it will have on humanity and people’s livelihoods.

After all, AI is both equally game-changing and terrifying on so many levels, according to Bartholomeusz.

Nizwani Shahar, CEO, Havas Malaysia

“Creative business ideas.”

“It's not enough for creatives to sell ideas because they're creative,” said Shahar.

She pointed out that there have been many case studies of mediocre or business-as-usual creative works that claim to be effective. However, in her view, the most successful creative ideas are the ones that can correlate directly to an addressable audience and business results.

With attention placed on both creativity and business effectiveness, ideas can be more directly linked to growth, she said. 

Kunal Jeswani, group CEO, Ogilvy Singapore and Malaysia

“Fragmented.”

Jeswani took a slightly different view, anticipating that growth will be spread unnecessarily thin across a range of channels without focus on a single channel.

He added that now more than ever, marketers are likely to struggle to make divergent choices in budget strategies. However, the biggest share of spend is likely to sit with mainstream digital platforms.

This is because clients have become comfortable with using mainstream digital platforms to drive reach and frequency. Meanwhile, though engagement remains sought after, it is more of a good to have than anything else.

“The key driver of spend is reach and the digital platforms have positioned themselves well to deliver,” he explained.

Desmond So, CEO, Uth Creative

“Brand activation.”

As we navigate today’s marketing landscape, So’s conjecture included a mix of areas. Digital and mobile advertising have become paramount, but brands might approach it differently, depending on their size, status, and objectives.

He envisioned larger leading brands investing more heavily in film production as a way to project a quality image and evoke aspirational sentiments among target audiences. These brands would also need to produce a substantial amount of content to support their campaigns in response to the rise of programmatic advertising. Outdoor advertising such as billboards and transit displays would also help in fostering a stronger brand presence among a wide audience.

Meanwhile, he suggested that brands that do not aim to be market leaders might opt for more tactical programmes and cost-effective production methods, such as motion graphics or simple animations. Depending on a brand’s positioning and target market, the quality requirements of these collaterals would vary.

Across the board, however, brand activation “shows dramatic growth potential”, So said.

“Brands are increasingly investing in innovative experiences to help consumers understand their brand better. Street stunts, private events, roadshows, and other activation strategies allow brands to create memorable and immersive experiences that resonate with their target audience,” he added.

Finally, influencer marketing and celebrity endorsements will continue to play a significant role in brand promotion as brands look to connect with their dedicated fan bases, he added. 

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