2024 Marketing & Advertising Trends: Ad Format Experimentation, Influencer Power and Brand Reinventions

Brands analyst Ellyn Briggs predicts which topics will be on the minds of marketing and advertising professionals next year
Brands 2024 lookahead
Getty Images / Morning Consult artwork by Natalie White
December 13, 2023 at 5:00 am UTC

Key Takeaways

  • With artificial intelligence and social commerce gaining steam, brands will embrace ad format experimentation in 2024 — on both the buy and sell sides. 

  • Influencers have proven to be powerful marketers for most major brands, but this heightened importance comes with scrutiny, so brands must be vigilant about the influencers they use and that they are good matches for the audiences they aim to reach.

  • After Mattel dominated marketing headlines throughout 2023 for its reinvention of the Barbie brand, more heritage companies will look to replicate the toy brand’s success next year, eager to capitalize on young consumers’ appetite for nostalgia.

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This year, emerging technologies (like artificial intelligence) and sales channels (such as TikTok Shop) kept brands on their toes and changed the ways Americans consume retail and media. And while marketers should expect another fast-paced year on the horizon, 2024 will be defined more so by companies’ proactive manipulation, rather than reactive usage, of these new mediums.

Adland will go all in on experimentation

From ride-hailing services to airlines, companies of all sectors and sizes are seeking ways to sell their customers' time and attention to other brands, which makes sense given that the links between retail and media consumption are clearer than ever.

Because of this, novel advertising partnerships and moments — like Amazon's broadcast of the NFL’s first Black Friday game or Walmart's creation of a shoppable original series — will pick up substantially in 2024. Shoppable TV ads and scripted content centered on the shopping experience could be answers to the question of live shopping's viability in the United States. They still offer consumers a quicker path to purchase, but do so via less in-your-face formats. 

The most novel format of all, however, is AI-generated marketing material.

Consumers Generally Perceive Businesses That Integrate AI as Innovative and Forward-thinking

Shares of respondents who said the following describe companies that integrate AI into their business operations “very” or “somewhat” well:
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Survey conducted Oct. 6-8, 2023, among a representative sample of 2,209 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Consumers’ relatively sunny view of brands’ AI usage (alongside continued growth in their  general understanding of the technology) will fuel bigger and bolder AI-assisted ad campaigns and product features next year. But if brands’ biggest challenge in 2023 was mastering the technology, their chief task in 2024 will be to remain authentic while using it.

Some of 2023’s best-received AI activations have prominently featured a human ethos: Spotify’s AI DJ leverages users’ listening data to create personalized radio stations, while Coca-Cola invited digital artists to create AI works using some of its iconic brand assets. 

Another critical area of development? Labeling. Morning Consult data shows that most U.S. adults support disclosures on AI-generated content. Brands that are clear and upfront about their AI usage will likely be rewarded with consumer trust. 

Influencers will continue to wield power on behalf of brands — for good or bad 

Despite major changes happening on almost every social media platform in 2023, influencers remained resilient. In fact, they’ve become one of consumers’ most trusted sources for product recommendations, inspiration and general entertainment. 

Younger Consumers’ Trust in Influencers, Celebrities Has Grown

Shares of Gen Zers and millennials who said they trust the following “a lot” or “some” when deciding whether to purchase a product or service (2019 vs. 2023):
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Survey conducted June 21-25, 2023, among a representative sample of 2,204 U.S. adults who use social media, including 1,198 who follow influencers, with unweighted margins of error of +/-2 and +/-3 percentage points, respectively. Historical data was drawn from research conducted Sept. 27-30, 2019, among a representative sample of 2,200 Gen Zers and millennials who use social media platforms, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

But influencers are reaching the top of their game at an exceedingly volatile online moment. As the number of platforms and modes of content continues to grow, so too does the ease with which consumers can criticize brands and the influencers that leverage them. 

To minimize the chances of scrutiny or full-on backlash, social media marketing teams should thoroughly vet influencers and ensure that all elements of a campaign — spokesperson, messaging, platform and target audience — are aligned before launch. Brands may also consider scouting and investing in less-known and on-the-rise creators, who will likely have a big 2024 as discourse about the declining relatability of mega-influencers bubbles up.

More heritage brands are ripe for revival, driven by young consumers

Gen Zers flocked to Barbie thanks in part to parent company Mattel’s marathon marketing effort, which included flooding popular online channels with branded interactive content. Though most of the material was tied to the July release of the eponymous movie Mattel produced with Warner Bros., Barbie has been one of the most talked-about brands long after the film left theaters. 

This surprising success story offers a reliable framework for other legacy brands that hope to capture the hearts and minds of Gen Zers (whose penchant for nostalgia is clear): Place dated products in new contexts. Decades-old consumer staples like Stanley and Clinique have already taken note, turning viral moments into movements by continually engaging with young consumers where they already are — online. 

Industries most ripe for reinvention are those related to Gen Zers’ top passions, including beauty, apparel and gaming. But it’s a pursuit that will be accessible to all heritage brands as long as TikTok, which has become known for making the old new again, stays young consumers’ top source for inspiration and information.

A headshot photograph of Ellyn Briggs
Ellyn Briggs
Brands Analyst

Ellyn Briggs is a brands analyst on the Industry Intelligence team, where she conducts research, authors analyst notes and advises brand and marketing leaders on how to apply insights to make better business decisions. Prior to joining Morning Consult, Ellyn worked as a market researcher and brand strategist in both agency and in-house settings. She graduated from American University with a bachelor’s degree in finance. For speaking opportunities and booking requests, please email [email protected].

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