The advertising industry enters 2024 at a time of dynamic change. In 2023, advertisers faced economic uncertainty and increased complexity as publishers like Google, Amazon and others rolled out new advertising formats and brands sought innovative solutions for reaching their markets. 

Rapid advances in artificial intelligence and automation emerged in parallel, creating new opportunities for agencies and advertisers alike to “tech-enable” their businesses. But many faced challenges in implementing concrete strategies for harnessing these tools.

As we look to a new year, the industry will start focusing on more practical applications of these technologies. Understanding the following key trends will help them do so while unlocking scalable growth opportunities amid industry-wide change.

1. Brand safety and compliance will become increasingly important.

As AI becomes commonplace, effective safeguards are critical, particularly in advertising. AI algorithms—while incredibly sophisticated—can often overlook critical brand-safety guidelines, leading to placements that can impact a brand’s reputation. 

AI also lacks the human intuition to discern sensitive context, which can lead to compliance issues. For example, generative AI is effective in enhancing and supplementing content production, but without brand-safety guidelines and oversight, it might produce an ad that violates various rules and laws, resulting in noncompliant copy that could result in legal repercussions.

Advertisers must increasingly couple AI with brand safeguards and combine it with automation to scale execution. Fortunately, the technology exists to accomplish both these objectives. Systems powered by AI have the capability to oversee and enforce brand guidelines over multiple communication channels. Automating this procedure allows businesses to sustain a uniform brand persona, mitigate potential problems tied to credit issues and save precious time and resources that can be more effectively allocated to pivotal business operations. 

In 2024, advertisers should therefore not simply be exploring and testing generative AI, but assessing how it will be coupled with brand safety and automation.

2. Data normalization will spur productivity gains.

Data normalization plays a critical role in digital advertising, but it has historically been an overwhelming workstream, especially because the data we get from various sources are often not clean. For example, humans can easily recognize that “Yamiha” is a misspelling of “Yamaha," but automation platforms have traditionally struggled to effectively weed out this type of data inconsistency. (Our teams have found 14 different ways that people have spelled or abbreviated “Yamaha.”) 

This type of unclean or non-normalized data causes poor results if you’re attempting to automate your workflows.

AI shows massive promise in this area. It can identify patterns and trends that can be harnessed to create effective advertising strategies. AI algorithms can also standardize or normalize disparate data sources, ensuring that the data from diverse platforms is compatible and can be analyzed as a whole. 

This process enhances the accuracy of data analysis and facilitates the development of comprehensive insights about consumer behavior, enabling advertisers to tailor their strategies to the needs and interests of their target audience. Those who do this effectively stand to reap significant advantages both strategically and operationally. 

3. Reporting will be transformed into a competitive advantage for agencies willing to embrace automation and AI

Gathering reports and insights for various clients in different verticals can take teams hundreds of hours of manual work each month. With a critical need to gather metrics and KPIs quickly, reporting is a constant race against time. Not only that, any time spent on this laborious, manual effort pulls your analysts’ attention away from strategic, growth-oriented work. 

Using both AI and automation for monthly reporting offers incredible potential in gathering meaningful insights around campaign performance, customer engagement and even return on investment—a feature already enhancing consistency and efficiency through the Fluency platform

With AI, users can streamline their monthly report creation tailoring each one to meet the unique preferences and tone of individual clients, assisting strategists to deliver personalized insights to them. The benefits are significant: Reports take exponentially less time to create, strategists enjoy more bandwidth for strategic analysis and teams experience more consistency in how they deliver for clients, allowing the entire agency to deliver more value. 

4. Automation will power custom local campaigns at scale.

Most industry forecasts predict continued growth in advertising spend, even as the economy remains uncertain. But behind the macro-level trends lies a more nuanced reality. To succeed in 2024, advertisers and agencies will need to navigate a growing number of choices in where to spend, to leverage localized data to optimize campaigns in real time, and to manage a growing volume of local campaigns.

Automation will increasingly rise in importance to mitigate this and create transformative effects in the process. Historically, advertisers have struggled to deliver long-tail advertising   campaigns at scale because of the sheer volume of assets and data points needed to deliver them. However, across our network we are observing a sustained increase in both the volume and success of this type of advertising. This trend will likely only continue next year, unlocking major competitive advantages for advertisers willing to invest in this strategy.

All four of these trends speak to the increasing overlap between human-powered advertising strategy and the technologies that help scale it. Next year stands to be a very productive and potentially transformative one for those willing to embrace this convergence.