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Sue Mountford: The Top Marketing Trends for 2024

Feb 6, 2024

When looking at the marketing trends of 2023, Generative AI dominated the landscape (and all other news channels!), driving conversations around the way brands will produce content and campaigns for every channel, with minimum effort. However, as we work out how to unlock the power of AI and make it a secure, usable and effective tool for marketers, 2024 must see us make a concerted effort to embrace the opportunities presented by other progressive technologies.

That means harnessing innovations such as Virtual Production and Creative Automation to help brands meet the ever-growing demand for world-class, personalised content without going over budget – and all while delivering on sustainability requirements.

Essentially, we must keep scale, pace, quality, cost, and sustainability front of mind… no big deal!

And alongside all of this, it is also becoming more important than ever for brands and agencies to recognise and understand agency structures and offerings, particularly the relevance of independent agencies in a landscape increasingly dominated by large networks.

 

A new way to deliver incredible film & photography

With the level of creative talent in our industry, marketing certainly is not short of brilliant ideas – but production difficulties (ranging from logistics to budgets) mean that too often we get a watered-down version of the original concept, and at worst something that simply fades into the background of a saturated marketplace.

There’s also sustainability to think about. Yes, you could travel all over the world getting fantastic snippets of footage for your latest ad, but that could take weeks, even months, and at the end of it you’re going to tank your carbon footprint.

That’s where Virtual Production is proving a real game-changer. By creating deep, ultra-realistic CG environments, you open up possibilities that simply would not exist within traditional parameters – shooting in multiple locations in a single day, all from the comfort of a studio.

“Virtual Production is a far more sustainable way to create content”

Capture Studios hosted Myleene Klass towards the end of 2023, and we were able to do just that, taking Myleene from the jungle to a space station without ever leaving our Virtual Production studio, part of a promotion for her latest book, They Don’t Teach You This at School.

I do feel that there can be a hint of snobbery in the marketing sector when it comes to technologies like Virtual Production and Extended Reality. Our aim shouldn’t be precisely replicating real life – we are here to create a compelling story that engages our audiences, and Virtual Production is a tool to do so. If we’re to continue improving this tech to reach the levels of the movie or TV industries, we need to truly embrace it and allow our best creative minds to push its limits. However, we also need to be realistic that today’s marketing budgets don’t stretch to Mandalorian levels so making practical use of this technology within budget is key. Solving problems and telling compelling stories in a cost-effective way that is kind to the planet must be the focus.

This is about giving creatives true freedom and control by removing those traditional production difficulties that I mentioned earlier. You don’t need to wait around all day in the hope of capturing that perfect sunset – with Virtual Production, it is there for as long as you need it. You don’t need to carry your equipment for miles to shoot the opposite side of a lake – just move the lake. Now, your only limit is your imagination.

As well as being a creative tool, Virtual Production is a far more sustainable way to create content, dramatically reducing the travel required to shoot these often-far-flung locations, resulting in lower carbon emissions.

Consumers these days are incredibly conscious when it comes to a company’s actions and ethos with regards to sustainability, and ultimately, they’ll vote with their feet if they don’t think you’re doing as much as you can.

In 2024, the need for efficiency and sustainability at every level of your marketing will see more brands, agencies and production houses embracing Virtual Production to deliver the outstanding film and photography content they need.

 

MarTech will unleash creative talent

As we saw last year, technology innovation will continue to rise to the forefront of marketing as brands and agencies tackle the increasing demand for content and embrace the new opportunities presented by the rapidly evolving MarTech landscape.

Creative Automation has been a buzzword for a long time but has now gone from a ‘nice to have’ option to an essential marketing technology for brands to stay ahead. Eliminating the need for expensive and slow manual production processes, in 2024 marketers must stop seeing Creative Automation as a threat, and instead put the time in to understand how to best utilise it.

“Storyteq users can free up resource and budgets by letting technology take care of the repetitive tasks”

People are worried that automation will kill creativity, no doubt thinking back to a time when templated content was particularly restrictive and extremely basic – but technology has moved on significantly since those days.

Now, users of our Storyteq Creative Automation can free up resource and budgets by letting technology take care of the repetitive tasks, giving creatives and designers space to focus on the brand storytelling that engages customers and drives them to action. It means we see much less of the low-quality, generic “spray and pray” output that brands used to churn out in order to reach the many channels that they need to feed with content.

Heineken is a great example of how Creative Automation is vital for an in-house creative studio. They operate in 160 countries worldwide, with 28 different languages, varying laws on alcohol sale, formats ranging from packaging to digital ads, and many other variations across these markets. Using Storyteq’s Creative Automation platform, they are able to deliver a huge amount of brand-compliant content at pace, while also delivering a 40 per cent cost saving compared to manual creative production.

This year Creative Automation is a must-have, allowing brands to take back control of their content and campaigns, while amplifying the importance of human creativity.

 

Being an independent agency is more relevant than ever

With such a strong presence of large networks within the industry, independent agencies are becoming more relevant than ever.

Firstly, let me clarify that working with these large networks is in no way a bad thing. We all know there isn’t one ‘correct’ approach to marketing, and for some clients the network model can be exactly what they need. Similarly, it may be the right choice for an agency to join a network, giving them access to a greater number and variety of clients that may not have been in reach previously. There will be a trade-off in terms of losing some autonomy, but it’s about weighing up those pros and cons.

“Being independent means we can quickly integrate the latest innovations and technologies into our offering”

The joy of being an independent agency is about flexibility and choice. It’s about having one team around the table, and the right team around the table.

In our experience at ITG that’s often a mix of client, agency and MarTech solutions, all focused on delivering outstanding marketing on every channel. Collaboration is at the heart of everything we do – yes, we can provide a fully end-to-end marketing service ourselves, but we’re equally happy working with any other agencies and tech providers depending on what the client wants (and needs).

We also have the freedom to innovate in the way we see fit. We’re a proudly tech-led agency and being independent means, we can quickly integrate the latest innovations and technologies into our offering and make them accessible to our clients, without needing to adhere to a wider group directive. I’ve already spoken about spiralling content demand and the explosion of new channels, both of which make speed and agility crucial to ensure brands don’t get left behind in these times of rapid technological transformation.

As more agencies join the large networks and the marketing technology landscape gets even bigger, simplifying the complicated, automating the tedious and creating the beautiful (one of our mantras), becomes ever more appealing.

As an independent agency, our clients get services built and designed around their needs, within a collaborative partnership that embraces innovation, opportunities and new ways of working.

2024 is looking exciting!

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