Agency heads share their 2024 ad industry predictions

Looking ahead in 2024

2024 is due to be a bumper year for UK advertising with the Olympics and Paralympics, UEFA Euros, and the likelihood of a General Election all due in the next 12 months. From AI becoming mainstream and the power of brand coming to the fore again, our agency heads give their predictions for what 2024 will look like for Adland.

Karen Martin, Chief Executive Officer, BBH London and Chair of the IPA Effectiveness Leadership Group:

More creativity, more zagging, more difference, more belly laughs, more conversations sparked, more human truths unearthed and conventions challenged, more ‘how did they get away with that?!’, more wins, more doing what we love with the people and brands we love. And a little less chat about how many days we're all doing in/out of the office.

I love our industry so much and think we should take real pride in what we do - and accountability in the impact we can have. Bring on 2024. I for one, can’t wait to see what we all come up with.

Richard Aldiss, Managing Director, McCann Manchester and IPA Chair for England & Wales:

I always enjoy seeing how our industry reacts to cultural and sporting events, and 2024 provides a rich creative canvas that includes the Paris Olympic & Paralympic Games, Euro 24, and a General Election to name but a few. There’s plenty to go at, and that’s without any AI stimulation.

Nicole Lonsdale Chief Client Officer, Kinetic Worldwide and Chair of the IPA Outdoor Group:

Probably the use of generative AI in supercharging dynamic creative on DOOH. Dynamic DOOH campaigns have grown 53% in 2023 – whether they are activated traditionally or programmatically. Dynamic technology cements DOOH’s strength of real-world reach, with its newer capability of delivering real-time relevance. Incorporating AI into dynamic technology will enable the automatic generation of content based on real-time data, such as weather conditions, audience demographics, and social trends, delivering more targeted and contextually relevant creative on screens in less time. And driving greater outcomes for brands.

Jo Arden, Chief Strategy Officer, Ogilvy UK and Convenor of Judges for the IPA Effectiveness Awards 2024:

2024 is going to be a year of change, with an election on top of existing struggles. But here too there is opportunity; Dr Grace Kite reminded us in the ARC Project work that people try new brands when their worlds are shifting. Of course – we celebrate new in the IPA effectiveness awards too, inviting new thinking from new voices on brands we haven’t seen entered before. If we get what we wish for, it’s going to be another great year to be in this terrific industry.

Sue Benson, Managing Director, The Behaviours Agency and IPA City Head for Manchester & North West:

A couple of things come to mind. It does feel like the power of brand will come to the fore again. As performance activity struggles and the economy strengthens I think advertisers will start to shift their emphasis (slightly - the immediate ROI is still a massive drug) towards brand investment. Hopefully, this means greater opportunity for genuine human-led creativity.

And a personal one for me along with a bunch of other outstanding women we’re really driving the agenda for change around the representation of midlife women. Both within our teams themselves and representation in advertising. Exciting times ahead.

Alex Uprichard, Managing Director, IMA HOME and IPA City Head for Leeds & Yorkshire:

If 2023 was the year of the AI genie emerging from the lamp, 2024 is going to be the year where we start to see it become more mainstream, fast-tracking our industry into unchartered territories. I am particularly interested to see the progression of hyper-personalisation, and how that will both inspire and challenge industry talent to harness the power of data and AI to create genuinely bespoke experiences for our clients' consumers. Marketing has the chance to be truly immersive, but there needs to be a genuine value exchange for consumers to let brands into their worlds.

Lauren Thacker, Client Service Director, Cravens and IPA City Head for Newcastle & North East:

The big one is obviously AI as it continues to shape and influence the world around us, and indeed our industry. We will all have to keep up with the fast-paced evolution of AI especially as marketing is a key area of predicted change. I'm really interested to learn more about how to maximise its potential and better understand the benefits, especially creatively, as well as understanding the risks this technology poses.

Kieron Goldsborough, CEO, Different Narrative and outgoing IPA City Head for Newcastle & North East:

Looking towards 2024 I’m interested to see how the development of AI will continue to cause debate and ultimately continues the evolution of our industry. Some see the introduction of AI into the industry as a real threat, something to worry about and that will take people out of the industry. Whereas some see it as simply a new form of technology, something to be explored and utilised. What the actual impact is will be interesting to see, and may well be a mix of these scenarios – but only time will tell, or we could just ask Chat GPT!

James Joice, Managing Director, Fold7 and member of the IPA Client Relationship Group:

As a creative agency that has always understood the power of brand to drive growth, it has been heartening to see the murmur of shifts in the way some sectors are viewing long-term brand building, both in certain forecasts (e.g. AA/WARC) and in businesses like Salesforce doubling down on big brand thinking. We have been lost in the short-termism of immediate ROI for years, that led to the loss by many businesses of the essential building blocks to create brands that have an authentic connection with their consumers. I’m looking forward to seeing where these seeds of change lead in the coming year, because if you really want to see the connection between marketing and the bottom line, it truly lives in creativity and understanding the emotional drivers of our thoughts and actions as human beings.

Tobi Asare, Managing Partner, Head of Growth, OMD UK and member of the IPA New Business and Marketing Group:

In 2024 I’m looking out for more examples across the industry of pitches embodying the Pitch Positive Pledge. We’ve seen some powerful examples in the industry of how pitching or powerful client agency relationships can be a force for good and I am looking forward to seeing more in 2024.

Matt Foster, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), Ogilvy UK and member of the IPA Talent Leadership Group:

From an inclusive advertising perspective, particularly through an LGBTQ+ lens, I am certain 2024 will be another challenging year, particularly for the trans community. If 2023 was the year that brands realised that endorsing Pride would also come with a potential backlash from conservative consumers, I’d like 2024 to see more brands standing by the queer community, sticking by their Pride campaigns and not giving into the loudest voices, which are often in the minority. So I am looking forward to 2024 being the year we see more brands demonstrably staying true to their values and not backtracking.

Claire Lambell, Managing Director, Southpaw and member of the IPA Client Relationship Group:

With the IPA Bellwether report predicting 2024 to hold some uncertainty, with a forecast growth in ad-spend of just 0.1%, I hope to see creativity continue to flourish in the face of adversity, knowing creativity can be the strongest differentiator for growth. I am looking forward to working with our brands and the wider industry to think about different ways to cut through the noise – what could Fake AI OOH 2.0 look like?

Louise Hayward, CEO, NOW and member of the IPA Client Relationship Group:

The more intangible things. A nice increase in marketing budgets and a jump in our GDP contribution would be great. But - the smaller, more emotional things can be the best indicator of how the industry is doing. Things like people feeling they are having a good time - feeling positive and energised. I’ve heard more people saying recently that they are feeling this. That things are really ‘bubbling’. The ‘green shoots’ getting taller. Let’s look forward to a year where we all feel this and don’t say ‘it’s been another tough year’. (And if we do, see my 2023 highlight).

Sonya Arthur, Client President, EssenceMediacom UK and member of the IPA Client Relationship Group:

Being together even more, it feels our industry is back and should be even better next year.

Thomas Walters, Founder & CEO, Europe, Billion Dollar Boy:

Generative AI is very much the buzzword for 2023 - even being named word of the year by the Collins dictionary. But 2024 will be the year we move beyond the hype and actually start exploring the realities of its potential.

So far we have only seen the tip of the iceberg, with ad industry professionals predominantly using the technology for streamlining menial tasks - think Chat GPT for script writing and ideation.

We will see the technology truly start to disrupt the creator economy and advertising industry at large, with increased adoption and refinement of generative AI tools for creative content production - such as MidJourney and Dall-E.

We will also see that translate across to brand investment. To date, we’ve only seen a handful of brave ‘first movers’ explore AI’s potential in the creator economy. The tech produces eye-catching creative assets that stand out from competitors and those first movers also benefit from valuable early learnings. But in 2024, we will see a new wave of second and third-mover brands explore the tech as confidence in its capability grows.

That’s why Billion Dollar Boy has launched Muse, a new innovation unit designed to explore the impact of emerging technologies shaping the creator economy - including generative AI. Muse is the result of a six-month investigative programme following successful pilot partnerships with three household retail brands. We launched their first generative AI creator content and also conducted new, independent research of creator economy opinion on AI. We’ve found that when it’s applied conscientiously, it can supercharge creativity, empower creators and deliver impressive results for brands. The launch of Muse reaffirms our commitment to explore new tech and help brands through that discovery and development process. We’re ready and excited to uncover what more generative AI has to offer the industry in 2024.

 

What were the industry highlights of 2023? Find out what agency heads and IPA group members picked as their key moments and themes of the year.

 

The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and were submitted in accordance with the IPA terms and conditions regarding the uploading and contribution of content to the IPA newsletters, IPA website, or other IPA media, and should not be interpreted as representing the opinion of the IPA.

Last updated 02 January 2024