Predictions 2024: Innovation

In the latest in our Predictions series, we take a look at what the major innovations of the next twelve months could be.

A broad category to look at, AI, identity, and sustainability all feature highly on our industry experts predictions for what will define innovation in 2024. As we enter a (potentially) cookieless future, what solutions will prove to be the cream of the crop? How can sustainability become central to our industry? Will the seemingly relentless march of AI continue to define our sector’s conversations?

To provide a comprehensive understanding of these trends and many more, we spoke to a panel of industry luminaries to get their thoughts on the innovations that are set to define not just the year, but years ahead.

The industry needs a sustainable identity solution

The future of identity undergoes a transformative shift powered by innovation. Traditionally, identity and IDs are intertwined, but a deeper exploration challenges this assumption. Enter Identity without IDs, implying comprehension of relevance without explicit identification. Leverage non-PII data from mobile sensors, bid requests, or content. With on-device computing, data processing becomes localised, eliminating the need to rely on IDs.

We all have witnessed both Apple and Google moving towards a cookie-less (ID-less) future. This signals a profound shift, calling for sustainable identity resolution and aligning with the computing paradigm shift from cloud to on-device computing. Industry giants underscore on-device computing as the cornerstone of a cookie-less era, shaping the identity resolution landscape. One interesting example is the Chrome Privacy Sandbox's Protected Audiences API (PAAPI), which employs on-device processing to secure data within the browser.

Emma Raz, director of comms, Number Eight

2024 will bring about more use of AI to understand human emotions and behaviours

The current hype around AI feels different to previous cycles, probably because what it offers is a much more profound change than the metaverse, say. We’re now at an extended peak, as the hype continues and new innovations within ChatGPT and generative AI drop weekly. What is emerging, though, is the mature application of AI to solve some of the biggest challenges facing the world today and the creation of AI-powered businesses built specifically to address these issues. 

At DAIVID, we’re embracing AI as our co-pilot to understand the complexities of human behaviour, including the response to advertising and its effectiveness. I predict that in 2024 we'll see many more use cases of AI to understand the sticky business of our emotions and behaviours. I’m positive about this, as the more we understand ourselves the better we can make our future.

Barney Worfolk-Smith, MD EMEA, DAIVID

AI will be innovation's main area of growth

In spite of the gradual online ad market maturing we expect in 2024, the growth area for innovation will definitely lie in the AI-based adtech and martech sectors. Namely, we predict the sharp growth of AI-based hyper-personalisation video ad tech solutions, fueled by the looming deprecation of third-party cookies (if that actually happens in 2024). 

Another innovation trend to shape out the digital landscape as a whole will be driven by the long-awaited rollout of 5G Advanced tech, which should ensure ultra-reliable communications with minimum latency. In this respect, we foresee the wider adoption of XR video ad technologies, primarily in the premium segment, in Q3 & Q4 2024. 

In addition, in the video ad context, one of the other hot trends will imply the uplifted monetisation capabilities for Sticky video ads, unlocked in view of Google’s policy changes in 2023.

Natalie Romankina, CEO, Adplayer.Pro

Sustainability will continue building momentum

While AI dominated headlines in 2023, the ad tech world is no stranger to machine learning in programmatic delivery and data-driven targeting, amongst many other applications.

In parallel, sustainability gained significant traction in the advertising industry, and this trend will only continue to gain momentum as we collectively strive for Ad Net Zero. 

In 2024, the intersection of AI and sustainability will fuel the development of AI innovation across the ad ecosystem to not only gain cost efficiencies or improve ROI, but also reduce carbon output from the production and distribution of advertising. We will see more bid throttling and traffic shaping applications across the supply chain, as they can significantly reduce energy load in network infrastructure. Dynamic creative optimisation will scale to both improve performance and lower carbon emissions by shrinking asset size and bandwidth usage in real-time. The industry will also begin reckoning with AI’s own carbon footprint.

Eric Shih, COO, Cedara

Progress with AI will be a steady evolution

It’s hard to talk about innovation without mentioning the hottest word in tech: AI. In 2024, I believe we’ll see more interest, investment, and innovation in AI and its applications in ad tech. For the most part, we’ll see AI used to optimise campaigns, power personalisation and recommendation engines, and automate various processes.

I also see AI playing a key role in revolutionising reports and insights. Instead of using traditional metrics and dimensions, companies will start to use natural language processing (NLP) to produce detailed reports. AI will change how we use and communicate with tech platforms and how we understand data and insights. But, AI won’t dramatically change everything at once; it’ll be a steady evolution.

Piotr Banaszczyk, CEO, Clearcode

CTV is poised for further transformation

CTV advertising, particularly on FAST, is poised for another transformative leap in 2024 as shoppable and interactive ads reach and mature in new markets outside of the US. They offer viewers a unique blend of entertainment and commerce that can only be delivered via the biggest screen in the home. Picture this: Viewers actively engaging in polls, playing games, and making in-ad purchases, creating a truly immersive experience on FAST. 

Building on the success of collaborations such as Paramount+ "Choose Your Own Ad' Adventure", we can expect new and innovative initiatives that will elevate engagement to unprecedented levels. This year will mark a pinnacle in the evolution of interactive ads on FAST, leading the way for further innovations like augmented and virtual reality. This is just one of the ways in which, FAST will increasingly become the epicentre of ground-breaking developments in CTV advertising for years to come.

Alex, Hole, VP & general manager, Samsung Electronics Europe

AI will spawn its own industry in 2024

AI will spawn its own industry next year. Expect to meet plenty of newly minted AI officers, and for dedicated AI consultancies to emerge on every show floor. In digital advertising, where we are used to rapid change, the threat will not be AI stealing jobs but a company that has adapted to AI stealing clients. Rapid creative versioning, automated media planning, and generative data “storytelling” will be among the most transformative efficiencies.

As the dust settles from this year’s AI hype, two tiers of service will emerge: specialist AIs trained on an organisation’s owned data, and generalist AIs that anyone can use but produce lacklustre results. For example, an established agency with years of performance data could build a unique model to help replicate its successes in future campaigns. If you thought data was valuable now, just wait until every company has its own data-hungry AI to feed.

Eliza Nevers, chief product officer, Lotame

Innovation will create ad tech solutions which reduce emissions while increasing revenues

While there is no doubt that global brands have demanded that their agencies find ways to reduce carbon emissions from the digital media ecosystem, the publishers are pushing back about being the culprits of the massive data waste. One publisher exec said, “Just because some sustainability vendor says I have too many Ads.txt lines shouldn’t automatically take me off the buyers’ approved list…but it does.”

A successful “green” marketplace cannot be developed unless both buyers and sellers can find a way to reduce carbon AND still generate profits. I think 2024 will bring the innovation to create ad tech solutions that will enable publishers to reduce their emissions, offer buyers green media impressions, while also increasing their revenues. In addition, the digital media industry will standardise carbon emission measurement. As this innovation hits the market in 2024 you will see the green media movement really start to scale.

Andy Batkin, CEO, Duration Media

2024 will reshape the ad ecosystem

For retailers launching a media network, 2024 will be a make or break year – one that will reshape the ad ecosystem. There will likely be a massive uptick in outsourced technology partners who can bring a level of expertise and resource that is otherwise difficult to cultivate in-house. 

In addition, those retailers who can articulate a clear value exchange for all stakeholders (brand advertisers, customers, etc.) will be the winners in this increasingly competitive industry.

Chris Grimsey, VP of Sales EMEA, Clinch

Transparency will be crucial in 2024

The verification of online content is becoming increasingly important, especially with transformative global events, such as the next US presidential election, on the horizon. 

With AI already driving concerns over fake political content misleading the population, alongside the increased value of user-generated content for advertisers, it is crucial that genuine creators and commentators are distinguished from potentially dangerous AI-generated content such as deepfakes. 

Media players that focus on content transparency in 2024, harnessing the emergence of Content Credentials to support this, can foster a brand-safe environment where both human creativity and generative AI can play a role, while curbing misinformation. In doing so, we can create a better, safer and more trustworthy ecosystem for all, suppressing bad actors and supporting high-quality creators.

Rob Sewell, CEO, Smartframe

AI will lead to incremental gains in business outcomes

In 2024, the innovative application of AI is set to create incremental gains in business outcomes, particularly in the CTV and retail media space. One way this will manifest is through predictive AI analysis, empowering brands to allocate the right budgets to advertising campaigns for maximum impact.

With privacy taking centre stage next year, AI could also help ad tech businesses solve targeting issues while protecting users' data. 

Video advertising will see an increased focus following advances in optimisation and measurement capabilities. Intersecting with this will be the topic of sustainability, as businesses build supply chains and marketplaces that can endure change, to reduce carbon emissions. This will inspire solutions towards creative collaborations, facilitating growth in new markets and geographies, extending resources and reach.

Finally, there's still much to be done to create more inclusive workplaces as teams with people from diverse backgrounds will be vital in driving innovation.

Stephen Upstone, CEO and founder, LoopMe

The industry will get serious about sustainability

My prediction is 2024 will be the year the industry gets serious about sustainability. IMPACT+ was founded in 2020 and since then we have been working with pioneering brands, agencies and ad tech vendors, who have been looking to be early movers. While there’s no doubt that recently there’s been a broader acknowledgement across the industry of the impact digital advertising has on the planet and the need to do something about it, we are yet to see the industry make moves at scale.

However, I think that will change next year, with the industry reaching the tipping point where environmental KPIs are expected rather than a nice-to-have, and the number of channels measured will expand to encompass all digital marketing activities. From search and social, to ecommerce, audio and CTV, sustainability will become a core consideration and key KPI of every channel and every campaign.

Marion Cardona, co-founder, COO,  IMPACT+