Changes afoot: 2024 predictions & trends in digital-savvy APAC

John McNerney, managing director AUSEA at Yahoo, shares his predictions for the APAC region in the coming year. He expands on data privacy changes, budgeting, the TV landscape, and AI to illustrate his expectations for 2024.

2023 has been a momentous year of business transformation across the industry. The APAC region has solidified its prominence as a driver for digital ad spend, and despite economic headwinds, digital advertising is powering APAC’s ad market growth, with revenues increasing by about 6% in 2023 and expected to increase by another 7% by 2024.

As consumers adapt to the ever-moving flow of the Internet, the clock is ticking for brands without a proper transformation strategy in place yet, and those lagging behind will feel the biggest impact. In addition to challenges such as tighter budgets and changing consumer behaviour, in a region like APAC, marketers will also have to keep up with shifting preferences amidst cultural and linguistic diversity.

Against this backdrop, marketers have a lot to consider in 2024 – understanding where opportunities lie and leveraging them. Here are some ideas on where to get started.

Shifting budgets: Think big, act small

Although APAC’s digital ad spend is promising for marketers, the region is not immune to changing market behaviour. In fact, we will likely be experiencing shorter planning cycles with last-minute budget releases on the brand side – and these are often smaller budgets released in spurts. 

This creates a more challenging landscape for marketers and, in turn, their partner agencies, from creative to media and tech. Yet shorter turnarounds and smaller budgets don’t have to translate to ineffective results. At Yahoo, we proactively guide agency partners on the opportunities out there and how thinking differently can help them do more, even with smaller budgets. It boils down to creating opportunities and harnessing the promises of programmatic advertising – speed, efficiency, automation, scale, and precision - across every channel, from display to native ads and out-of-home.

But while much can be done even with modest budgets, it pays to think creatively and to think strategically in the long-term – thinking ahead and tying these “small-budget” campaigns to the bigger picture instead of simply aiming for the lowest-hanging fruit.

Looking long-term also means considering deeper partnerships brands can rely on consistently as marketers deal with shorter deadlines rather than a shop-and-hop approach. Fast yet effective results don’t happen overnight as you try partners on for size; trusted experts who know your brand best can help achieve that fast turnaround.

A privacy-centric world: Locking down data

Global tech giants such as Google and Meta continue to shape the course of our collective digital behaviour, and marketers in the digital-savvy region need to sit up, pay attention, and be ready for a change of approach.

On plan, 2024 is the year third-party cookies will be blocked by Google, and the industry will likely be thrown more spanners in the works. Yet, as we anticipate their next moves, it all boils down to one thing: the importance of first-party data. 

Today, 30% of all inventory is already non-addressable – and it’s expected to grow to a whopping 75% by 2024. Brands that don’t have a direct consumer relationship will find it even more challenging to reach their audiences without making meaningful updates to their addressability strategy. 

The timeline to catch up with a proper transformation strategy will vary among regions based on existing privacy regulations. Our global scale has necessitated a vigilant approach, with a pulse on and anticipating the varying developments in different regions as discussions around user privacy continue to grow worldwide. And thanks to landmark regulations in other markets such as the EU and even Australia, there are ad partners, like Yahoo, that are already compliant and are already prepared for whatever happens in APAC, privacy-wise. 

Although marketers will have to deal with several changes, the industry will be able to reap the benefits in the long run as these privacy regulations are tied to earning back consumer trust. When audiences trust advertisers and are aware of how their data is used, this benefits the entire industry. 

A different face of TV: bridging streaming and offline watching

Despite APAC clearly being digital-first, by no means is TV dead or even endangered. As audiences seesaw between online streaming and offline TV, Total TV solves this fragmentation problem by understanding and connecting audiences across linear and digital channels. In Australia, this is happening front and centre as TV companies now utilise automatic content recognition (ACR) data to measure their audiences and understand the potential for a multi-currency ecosystem. Down under, Yahoo has also been solving this problem for clients with great success through our partnership with Samba TV. 

We anticipate the rest of the region, such as Southeast Asia, to follow suit and see more brands and agencies clamour for solutions that bridge online streaming and linear TV audiences. With more free ad-supported television (FAST) content being added to the media mix and more subscription streaming services launching ad-funded tiers, Total TV will prove to be of tremendous value to marketers. As more streaming giants get interested in things like live sports streaming rights, it is clear we can expect more disruption to come.

The deal with AI

Then, of course, there’s AI – arguably the hottest tech topic of the year. While AI enjoyed significant attention this year, we haven’t quite felt its impact yet. Instead, it has driven conversations around the anticipation of various possibilities and how it may be able to streamline processes and improve media buys. 

In a fragmented ad ecosystem, AI is but one piece – yet it can prove to be helpful in further optimising efficiencies and enabling better performances. For years, Yahoo has been working on a suite of solutions to solve these challenges – and our AI suite, Yahoo Blueprint, allows marketers to access its extensive history of machine learning fuelled by millions of users for effective and accessible results.

We see the world’s largest companies make their stakes in AI, and we will see this technology get even smarter in the coming year. Ultimately, we will see AI impacting different businesses in various ways and degrees – from improving operational efficiencies to revamping roles in organisations that are commercially, creatively, and strategically focused.

Changes are afoot in the digital landscape for 2024, and while marketers may have their work cut out for them with these developments, multiple opportunities can be harnessed in the coming year to stay ahead of the pack. Staying open and agile is crucial in reaping effective results – embracing industry-wide collaborations and adapting to new technologies and trends can help you win in the evolving digital landscape.