The media marketplace’s shifting dynamics have reached tectonic proportion with reshuffles at emergent platforms and effects of union strikes shaking up media’s Grand Dame – Hollywood. Despite the myriad instabilities, the coming year may be defined by a single Disruptor: AI. AI doesn’t live in a channel; it’s an industry disruptor across search, publishing, and more. AI will provide value to the end user—and will certainly impact all channels. As AI-fueled advancements push the industry forward, here are other forces at play in 2024:
Sports is the #1 draft pick
Monday night football, March Madness, the Indy 500. Sports are among the last live TV must see events and as such, command a high number of viewers and high demand from advertisers; media spend is up 62% from 2021. But sports is undergoing a disruption unique to this category – a move away from network TV to new terrain: streaming.
These new contracts around broadcast rights aren’t just shifting some event viewing from their traditional linear platforms; the transition to streaming brings new potential advantages and complications. While this may mean sports are primed for cross screen engagement, marketers will face challenges like fragmentation, competitive separation, varied spot lengths and limitations for specific disease states. However, with this trend gaining momentum, it’s clear marketers must navigate this new playing field to connect with the ever-growing audience in sports.
Union strikes’ ripple effect
The writers’ and actors’ strikes upended not just scripted content, but also potentially accelerated viewers’ defection to alternative entertainment outlets. Just as the last such strike launched reality TV from the fringe into the mainstream, this year’s disruption could have a lasting impact.
There has been a content bubble building for some time, with desire to monetize content dwarfing the available creative supply. This disruption could make it harder to win back subscribers as some will shift to platforms with deep libraries. We’ve seen some indication of this; just prior to WGA’s tentative deal major players were experiencing massive hits compared to pre-strike levels with stock prices for Disney, Warner Brothers and Paramount down 20%, 15% and 45% respectively. A bright spot? Netflix’s stock price grew 19% thanks in part to its huge library of international content.
It’s possible also consumers will turn to up-and-coming outlets, including creator-led platforms such as YouTube and TikTok – and stay there once scripted content is back on the lineup. Consumers are already connecting with creators on these platforms, but the potential for a more extreme and permanent shift grows daily. Delayed scripted content could also accelerate or exacerbate subscription churn as subscribers take leave of channels or platforms due to depleted content. Marketers must be nimble and ready to shift media spend to follow consumers, even if that means disrupting long-held ideas of media allocation.
The retail-ization of healthcare
Retail media networks have been gaining in importance for some time, growing at more than 18% annually, but RMNs have evolved beyond their digital advertising roots, now offering brands a way to connect with in stores with cohesive and immersive experiences to drive engagement.
We’ve seen some of the country’s biggest retailers, from Walmart to Costco to Best Buy, heavily invest in and stake their futures on primary care services; this retailization of healthcare is poised to disrupt the entire supply chain as retailers move from media partner to a voice of authority, one with influence over consumers and their health decisions. Health brands are looking to integrate with customer experiences and relationships — and retail offers a powerful solution that could expedite path to purchase.
Social upheaval makes this media ripe for change
Platform changes, user migration and advertiser concerns have plagued social media this year and prompted brands to take a long look at not just where, but if they invest.
While leadership changes have been in the spotlight, consumers also indicated an openness to derivative new platforms – a prime example is the surge of 100 million people flocking to Threads in its first week. Platforms have played off each other for years, capitalizing on competitors’ successes and misses, mimicking popular features. While the influx of users to something new is notable, retention remains a challenge.
For health, we’re watching platforms develop new offerings, such as Pinterest’s health features, as well as eyeing potential acquisitions which could shift the dynamics among power players and offer opportunity for sleeper platforms to emerge. And while the creator economy continues to snowball, social will only gain further fuel as a media powerhouse.
Data partnership: a brave new world
An oft quoted figure in our industry is that 1/3 of the world’s data can be considered health data, a nearly unfathomable ocean of information for marketers to navigate. Compounding this challenge is a stark lack of data collaboration; too often, data kept in disconnected silos or pre-packaged data solutions lacks true differentiation, yielding notable overlap and inefficiencies.
However, the data deluge is entering its crucible moment. Due to the forthcoming dissolution of third-party cookies, resolving for identity will be paramount to effective marketing. As a result, data across organizations needs to be reconciled through collaboration. As a first step, data needs to be freed from legacy systems – leading to greater access and eventual data democratization. This will allow for greater connectivity, especially when said data is hydrated by other sources, via collaborative partners.
Though this level of transparency and partnership would be unheard of several years ago, it is becoming crucial to collaborate across data sets – choosing not to do so will render disconnected data sets to be of limited value in the future state of marketing. As we approach the precipice of the cookieless future, those who are resolved to collaborate for better data outcomes are sure to be the ones building efficiencies at scale.