2024 Digital Outlook: Top Trends & Biggest Changes Shaping the Future of Marketing

If you know Assemble, you know a new year means a new outlook! With 2024 swiftly underway, we’ve gathered all our research and made predictions on all the latest and greatest in digital production in our highly anticipated 2024 Digital Outlook.

With AI disrupting the digital world in just about every way imaginable, we’ve got a lot to talk about — including a couple of last year’s trends that never lived up to the hype. Here’s what you have to look forward to and prepare for in 2024.

Preconceived Notions Shattered: The Theme of 2023

First up, let’s talk about some of the 2023 rumors that fell a little short — starting with the Metaverse. Sure, there’s still hope for Zuckerberg’s augmented reality branch, Reality Labs. But right now, it’s safe to say it’s been off to a very slow start, reporting over $21 billion in losses last year. Why? Well, for starters, a lack of clear definition of what it actually is. Pair that with limited real world applications, technical challenges, privacy issues, and competition from established players, and you have a recipe for failure. Many believe Meta company itself is actually stunting its own growth, with a level of power and influence that creates challenges for smaller players to join the game, while limiting its potential for innovation. With Zuckerberg not ready to give up, only time will tell what will come of the Metaverse in the next couple of years.

Blockchain also presented a bit of a letdown this year, but we’re far from seeing the end of what it could become. This concept of decentralizing of the web is likely still going to become a big influence across industries like healthcare, transportation, cybersecurity, banking, and more. Cryptocurrency has provided us a taste of what this distributed digital ledger can achieve in terms of privacy and security of data, but challenges in scalability and complexity have led to its slow progression. However, emerging AI technologies will likely help developers address these issues and boost its impact in the near future.

Last, but not least: Apple’s Vision Pro, the company’s first spatial computer that uses the physical space around you as a canvas for digital outputs. But let’s be honest, how many of us are up for paying $3,500 for a headset — especially when you can get a Meta Quest Pro for $400. If Apple can figure out how to convince a large enough group of early adapters to make the investment, we’ll see what it brings to the table in the next year or so.

AI Becoming the Ultimate Co-Pilot

While plenty of people have expressed their concerns over AI technology replacing jobs and posing a handful of security and privacy threats, just as many people have readily jumped on the AI train to make their lives easier — and cheaper. But if there’s one thing we have learned, it’s that AI still very much needs us. And the creators of these tools aren’t denying it. Instead, they’ve rebranded AI as a “Co-Pilot,” offering humans the ultimate assistant to just about anything they need.

For example, developers can input all the criteria of a new project into ChatGPT to see if their client’s request is even possible. It can then tell you what it would look like, what architecture is the best to use and why, along with alternative options to choose from. Then when the coding begins, tools like GitHub’s Copilot (also appropriately named) can suggest lines of code or translate scripts into whatever language you need, expediting the overall process by about 40%, if not more.

Project Managers can enjoy a similar productivity boost when creating proposals and planning jobs. They can input project details, audiences, timelines, and more to receive comprehensive outlines in a manner of seconds. Our designers are also seeing tools like Adobe AI come in handy for what used to be time-consuming photo editing. Simple prompts can remove unwanted components or change backgrounds, while also expediting photo resizing to meet aspect ratio requirements, freeing our team up for more creative tasks.

When it comes to digital sales, AI is taking the filming out of video production. Tools like Heyday can turn conversations into written notes, recordings into learnings and languages into other languages. You can now take one interview and turn into dozens of unique interviews thanks to machine learning. By studying one recording, it can duplicate mannerisms, lip movements, gestures, etc. to create body doubles and unique videos from scratch, essentially saving marketers tons of time and money in video production. If you’ve ever seen Minority Report, you get it. If not, check it out in real life as AI-generated Vladimir Putin interviews the actual Vladimir Putin.

And the future is only looking more automated. Once AI starts working more seamlessly in combination with a whole internet of technologies, we’ll start seeing it cater more widely in our personal domains. Our refrigerator will tell us when we’re out of the specific items we typically keep in our fridge, while our car informs us of where to go to get it. Thanks to super custom models with an intrinsic understanding of our typical behaviors, AI would predict things we need or questions we’ll ask before we even ask them or know we need them, learning from our entire ecosystem of electronics and devices — cars, phones, TVs, coffee makers. Like a real personal assistant, it won’t be long before AI knows just about everything there is to know about us.

But for now, we’ll let Co-Pilot stay in the passenger seat. From coding, design, event planning, brainstorming, formatting, and more, AI can just about support and expedite any process by providing inspiration and inception when we need it most. But this acceleration does still come at a price. While many people are enjoying the instant gratification that AI provides, the same doesn’t always translate to their audiences. Authenticity, quality, and originality will remain supreme when it comes to creating loyal customers. Because regardless of how much information you provide them and how quickly, they aren’t willing to sacrifice the level of personalization and detail they continue to demand. With countless current tools on the horizon, making time to slow down and focus on the details will mean standing out in an increasingly crowded space.

Nearshoring Taking Off

If you haven’t considered nearshoring as a solution for your growing team, this year you should. Similar to offshoring, nearshoring offers all the same cost-saving benefits of cheaper labor and contract-based hires without the time zone challenges. While traditionally, companies would look overseas for these sorts of resources, nearshoring to Latin America has been gaining massive momentum across the US for the several benefits it provides.

Ranking #1 in the highest-quality service talent and digital tech skills in Latin America, Costa Rica specifically has become THE hub for high-quality and efficient development talent, boasting a strength of productivity that’s unmatched by its European and Indian counterparts. These individuals don’t simply take instruction, but instead, become an expert partner that can guide you to the best solutions. And these skills are only amplified by cultural compatibility and proximal convenience. Think about it; when you’re outsourcing to developers whose workdays start as you go to sleep, losing hours in communication lags can delay projects significantly.

But the best part is the time and effort it saves you in the hiring process — and beyond. Nearshoring agencies like Assemble have years of experience building a trusted network of the best talent in Latin America with the knowledge of where to recruit, what skills to look for, how to vet potential candidates; a process that can take several weeks when starting from scratch. Regardless of your project needs, a reputable nearshoring agency can tap into their extensive resources to find you the talent you need, whether one developer or six.

And while there are several companies that offer nearshoring, not all can deliver the same results. At Assemble, we pride ourselves on the ability to find the right resources across all the criteria that matters. Depending on our client’s needs, we ensure they’re matched with the right talent — from their work style, soft skills, customer services, and more — so they fit perfectly into your team. The result is less errors, and a more enjoyable experience.

##Virtual Experiences Giving Everyone a Piece of the Action

While stadiums and arenas continue to fill up with thousands who love the thrill and energy of in-person events and entertainment, new technology is now making that experience possible for a much wider audience — no travel or lofty investment required. While automation continues to challenge us to improve the user experience, virtual reality is making live experiences a lot more convenient.

Streaming services are now offering live sporting events with a 360-degree view as if you were actually there. Sit court side as you cheer on your favorite NBA team or do the wave with everyone in the baseball stadium across the country. But unlike many of the fans actually there, you can actually become part of the action with a highly realistic experience from the player’s perspective. Step up to the plate or feel the pressure of a 250-pound lineman running toward you, and instantly see how your stats match up to real players. VR and AR are gamifying the future of sports, and it’s only the beginning.

But athletes aren’t the only ones to benefit. VR is revolutionizing the shopping experience as consumers and retailers alike can take advantage when it comes to everyday shopping. The cutting-edge technology is helping retailers offer a more immersive and memorable shopping experience by enabling customers to try on clothing and sample products in a virtual environment that resembles the real world. With 70% of visitors saying VR would make them more likely to purchase products online, this is great news for retailers. Even in-stores, consumers can compare products for nutrition info, ingredients, etc. in a 360-view, without having to even physically pick each one up, facilitating more confident purchasing decisions.

Similarly, VR is furthering the “try before you buy” mentality for homeowners and designers; a perk which for companies like IKEA, has led to a 35% increase in sales in just a few months. Using photos or video of their interior, customers can digitally place furniture and decor from the stores into their space to see how it looks. With augmented reality, they can even visualize flat design elements, such as paint color, wallpaper, flooring, and more. On a larger scale, we’ll start seeing a major shift in the construction and development industries as engineers and fabricators use the technology to enhance drawings, save time and money through less errors and omissions. What’s new and exciting now will become a requirement to stay competitive in several industries in the near future.

Social Media Technologies Creating More Opportunities — and Overcrowding

Speaking of consumers and VR, let’s segue into social eCommerce. These immersive technologies are certainly redefining the online shopping experience as social commerce platforms make more significant investments this year. By harnessing the power of AI, algorithms are only getting stronger, analyzing behaviors preferences, and past purchases to suggest highly personalized and dynamic product recommendations. It will also lead to increasing market penetration as an additional consequence of no third-party cookies (see #6).

Videos will continue to dominate the space, with shorter attention spans and quicker consumption driving campaign strategies. As consumers continue to rely on their favorite social platforms to combat their boredom throughout the day, they’re only rewarded by faster and easier navigation, making their news and entertainment more accessible than ever. As a result, marketers will continue to take advantage of these spaces in more creative ways, engaging audiences more interactively to encourage them down the sales funnel. But while many companies will allow consumers to buy directly through these social platforms, they’ll need to keep the focus on driving customers to their site to capture this prized user data. The best way to do that is creating assets and content that’s relevant to each specific person and platform. In short, maintaining consistency and creativity will be key.

Increased User Privacy Forcing Marketers Back to the Drawing Board

All that talk about a cookieless future is really going to make its impact in 2024 — and marketers are going to feel it. Last year was all about empowering the user, enforced by laws such as The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), Utah Consumer Privacy Act (UCPA,) and Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act, just to name a few. Each of these legislations was designed to set strict guidelines on data collection, processing, and security, granting individuals greater control over their personal information. The now all-to-familiar cookie opt-in prompt became a requirement by all website publishers thanks to the CCPA, giving consumers the power to allow or reject the storage of their data. This year, Google will officially begin the gradual blocking of third-party cookies. So as we transition from a world where user interactions and behaviors across domains and browsers are accessible to all, brands are going to have to take data collection and tracking into their own hands — or utilize new methods of advertising.

That means a major shift for big retailers too — such as Target, Walmart, Amazon and more — who were currently functioning as new age media companies, offering brands the opportunity to tap into their massive library of audience segments to sideswipe their own lack thereof. Marketers will no longer have access to their customers’ behaviors and interests across these retailers’ various brand platforms. Instead, we’re likely to see these conglomerates start improvising new solutions and services that help the little guys collect their own data in easier, more effective methods. We’ll start to see more retailers like this stepping up in new ways to help marketers obtain relevant information on their customers without relying on their third-party data or the highly limited targeting capabilities of current social platforms to do so.

But the real morale of the story — marketers are going to have to rethink and remodel their customer engagement campaigns to create better customer experiences if they want to generate loyal followers and subscribers.

If you’re interested in learning more about the emerging trends redefining the world of digital in 2024, or you have questions about how to boost your own strategy, contact Assemble to learn more. The New Year is well underway — are you ready to make it your best one yet?