Trailblazing Tomorrow: Projections From The UK's Most Disruptive DTC Leaders
February 10, 2024
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As we approach the dawn of 2024, industry leaders are already envisioning an eCommerce market that promises big shifts in the way we shop, connect and conduct business online.
We caught up with some of the UK's leading voices in the eCommerce performance marketing space, drawing insights and predictions that shed light on the trends, innovations, and challenges that are set to shape the eCommerce space in 2024.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. Ryan Walton, Founder & CEO of Aura Ads (eCommerce video ad service)
This year marked a significant shift towards a creative-first strategy for brands looking to succeed on paid social. As we move into 2024, it's likely we will continue to see more aggressive deployment of resources and heightened strategic thought being put into performance creative, particularly as it's now the only meaningful variable you can control to enhance performance on paid social.
UGC and creator ads will continue to thrive, particularly with brands looking to target a younger audience, as we know the Gen-z audience values an authentic, 'let it all hang out there' comms strategy.
Generative AI offers an interesting scale opportunity for creative, particularly in regard to multi-variant testing and creative at scale. We'll absolutely see more evolution in the technology, and I'm particularly interested in the AI Sandbox Meta that's due to launch early next year, and how this will help advertisers with creative at scale.
AI-backed, Advantage+ has emerged from Meta as a response to the ongoing privacy changes instigated with IOS-14, this will continue to help advertisers regain control of campaign performance on Meta into 2024.
Finally, I'd expect to see more evolution in the TikTok algorithm, particularly in optimising for conversion as the platform continues to gain traction with advertisers. It's certainly going to be an exciting year ahead!
2. Jamie Bolton, VP of Growth at Fospha (Marketing attribution platform for eCommerce)
The market is expected to continue correcting in favour of paid social over paid search. This shift is fueled by growing discontent over the launch of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), prompting more brands to seek alternative measurement methods. With a move away from last-click attribution models, brands are gaining confidence in investing in paid social advertising. This transition is potentially challenging for Google but advantageous for other platforms. The trend favouring paid social is one I anticipate to persist throughout 2024.
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands spending over $50,000 per month on Meta (formerly Facebook) are expected to make running upper funnel ads the norm. Cheaper CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) will attract more advertisers to the upper funnel. Fospha’s research suggests that this approach is not only cost-effective but also contributes positively to return on investment (ROI) and ad spend (ROAS). This shift signifies a strategic move towards engaging customers earlier in the purchase journey.
Brands that view measurement not as a chore but as an opportunity to differentiate themselves will emerge as winners. Recognising that everyone in the industry is looking at the same data and acting on similar signals, proactive brands see measurement as a tool to stand out in a competitive, auction-based media environment.
Instead of blindly following conventional strategies dictated by measurement, these forward-thinking brands embrace the opportunity to do something different and capitalise on cost-effective acquisition channels such as TikTok and upper-funnel marketing.
Staying ahead of industry norms will be key in 2024. Leveraging alternative measurement approaches, and viewing data not as a guide but as a strategic advantage will be important. As brands explore unconventional avenues and embrace differentiation, they position themselves to capitalise on emerging opportunities and secure cost-effective customer acquisition.
Looking forward to 2024, I expect to see acquisition costs start to gently rise as CPMs rebound higher after their 2023 drop. Combined with this, customer demand may fall as the effects of inflation start to trickle through to customers' pockets and take their toll.
Typically in times like these, unsophisticated advertisers, or those without proper knowledge of how to optimise the platform tend to lose out as their costs increase beyond what they can stomach.
Conversely, advertisers who are focused on making effective creative, in varying styles and optimising each style to the different stages of the funnel with proper test and learn approaches, should be able to seek out strong results at high spend levels.
With the ever increasing lack of individual data accessible within the platforms, creative will continue to play a more and more important part in the success of businesses' advertising capabilities compared to ad structure and in-platform audience optimisation. It's likely we will see more "AI generated" ads although the effect of this may quickly become stale and I suspect UGC will continue to reign supreme thanks to the continuing popularity of TikTok & Reels.
More mid funnel channels such as TikTok will continue to refine their ad platform offering and become increasingly important to a brand's channel mix and we may start to see a serious resurgence from the likes of Snapchat who will also be offering much cheaper upper funnel traffic.
However, all these things tend to be somewhat circular and as CPMs rise, advertisers will likely spend less, eventually leading to CPMs dropping again but the macro impact of consumer sentiment and the wider economy will be the biggest factor in deciding how pronounced these changes are.
4. Dave Morrisey, Vertical Lead eComm & Retail at TikTok
2024 is the year of creators being the best shopping assistants at scale, as we see creator led marketing supercharge sales in TikTok Shop.
2023 saw many brands explore and master marketing on TikTok For You page which drove consumers to the brand’s TikTok Shop to convert. Unicorn Cosmetics saw a 17% drop in CPA and 18% increase in coichnversion rate by taking this strategic approach.
What we are seeing is that old adage of “people buy from people” playing out on TikTok. Creators who are authentic and entertaining, are driving unprecedented levels of engagement and thereby conversions for brands. 62% of TikTok users stated that creator led marketing is the best way for a brand to connect with consumers. On TikTok, real people buy from real people.
2024 will see this momentum scale up. Authentic creators become the gateway for brands to connect with consumers, and convert them all in one app, thanks to TikTok Shop.
Certain emerging trends are becoming increasingly evident. The core media platforms, such as Meta, Google, and TikTok, are progressively getting more ‘sophisticated’. This advancement is primarily characterised by an increasing reliance on automation and AI. Platforms are clawing more control away from traditional media buyers and creatives. It's safe to assume the direction will not change in 2024; things will only accelerate.
Whilst platforms are advancing at an increasingly fast pace, the fundamental principles of consumer psychology and direct response marketing remain as relevant as ever. As the landscape becomes more complex, the clarity of messaging and effective communication will be crucial in cutting through the noise.
To truly excel in the upcoming year, it's essential to have a comprehensive understanding of consumer behaviour and view performance through multiple dimensions. Avoid a fragmented approach. By making incremental improvements at each stage of the consumer journey, you can extract maximum value from your budgets.
To crush it in 2024, focus on effective communication and a full-funnel strategy that addresses every touchpoint in the customer's experience. This holistic approach will be key to thriving in the dynamic digital marketing landscape.
As we stand on the brink of 2024, the collective insights from the UK’s performance marketing leaders paint a vivid picture of the eCommerce landscape. As we march into the new year, staying agile, embracing creativity, and understanding the multi-dimensional nature of consumer behaviour will be paramount for success in this dynamic and complex environment.
We are Aura Ads, a unique performance creative agency designed for D2C eCommerce brands. We help clients sell more online and grow at scale with our bespoke video and static creative delivered on a monthly basis.
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