Happy new year! Welcome to the first digital news to watch of 2024. Our team of digital specialists have rounded up their top stories to kick off the year, including emerging digital marketing and tech trends, what to expect from Google’s new AI search and how Cadbury’s multichannel approach to Christmas 2023 drove a 5.3% sales rise.
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There have been some seismic technological shifts over the past 12 months. Each new week seemed to bring fresh, often baffling and sometimes nerve-wracking news from the tech world: Meta unveiled a pair of AI-enabled glasses; ChatGPT being endowed with a voice and the ability to analyse images; crypto wunderkind Sam Bankman-Fried’s conviction for fraud; the boardroom coup, interregnum and counter-revolution at OpenAI; Google’s release of multimodal AI system Gemini. And that’s just scratching the surface. Behind the scenes, deep-pocketed tech companies are continuing to push forward with tech research and development that could soon transform our world much more profoundly than anything we’ve seen in the past year.
Google’s Search Generative Experience continues to evolve with user feedback from their Google Labs experiment, which seems to have been extended as their previously announced December 2023 end date has been removed from the site. Changes include adding images and videos into responses, as well as increasing the speed at which AI responses are generated and ad placements within their generative AI responses. Despite concerns around the traffic decrease that SGE could cause for sites ranking organically, Google claim to be prioritising approaches that continue to drive organic traffic to websites by including more links within their responses.
In the face of ongoing economic uncertainty, brands are gearing up for a pivotal year in 2024 with a strategic emphasis on growth. While there will be many opportunities to drive profitable growth, one key theme emerges: privacy prioritisation. Strong privacy foundations enable accurate measurement while building consumer trust. Research demonstrates that only 3 per cent of consumers feel in control of their data online. Yet trust is crucial to driving customer loyalty and growth. In fact, 43 per cent of people say they’d switch from their preferred brand to a second-choice brand if the latter provided a good privacy experience.
Over the festive period, there was plenty of chatter in the SEO community around an influx of spam results being surfaced in Google Search. This led to brand new domains, registered within 24-48 hours, being able to rank for thousands of low search volume long tail and local phrases due to these being lower competition. Google continues to periodically introduce spam updates as part of their pre-announced algorithm updates across the year to combat this type of spam.
With the depreciation of third-party cookies, larger brands are able to leverage emerging tools to utilise first-party data instead, but the same isn’t always true for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). A recent study by UpCity found that nearly 90% of SMBs are worried about losing access to this third-party data. While first-party data has a clear advantage over third-party data, its use and collection can be costly. Smaller companies may have a harder time accessing consumers as the shift to first-party data continues.
Digital marketing agencies may prove a lifeline for SMB marketers in the coming years. Ninety-two percent of respondents who utilise third-party data report looking to digital marketing agencies for support, with 56% already doing so and 36% planning on doing so in the next year.
Christmas has always been a. For this year’s approach, Cadbury teamed up with agency partner VCCP to put a multichannel twist on the established ‘Cadbury’s Secret Santa Postal Service’ concept. More than 280 digital, static and fly posters turned into interactive sites with QR codes, enabling the public to send a free Cadbury chocolate bar via an interactive mobile experience. 77% of people responding to the campaign were actively interested in gifting chocolate, while visitors to the online hub hit 1.4 million – a Cadbury’s UK record.
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