current trends, major players, latest data

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Marketing and advertising is about communication and influence and span a variety of practices aimed at promoting products, services, and brands to specific target audiences. With the evolution of digital technologies, this industry has transformed, expanding tactics, platforms, and methodologies to engage consumers.

Key stat: US advertising and marketing spending will grow 10.7% in 2024, per Winterberry Group.

This overview offers a foundational breakdown of the marketing and advertising industry, highlighting key trends followed by EMARKETER and curating guides and definition pieces to delve deeper into subtopics and verticals.

A chart showing US ad and marketing spending growth, 2017-2024. (Subscribers only)
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Marketing encompasses identifying customer needs, creating products that satisfy those, setting the right prices, making products available, and promoting them effectively. The goal is to build lasting customer relationships.

Advertising is a specific part of marketing focused on spreading the word about products, services, or brands through paid channels. It’s designed to inform the audience about what’s being offered, using various media to influence perceptions and encourage purchases.

Comparing the two:

  • Strategies and Tools: Marketing uses market research, branding, and sales strategies, while advertising focuses on creating and placing compelling messages on a range of advertising channels.
  • Objectives: Marketing’s objective is to satisfy customer needs and build lasting relationships, whereas advertising aims to generate interest and encourage buying decisions.
  • Relationship: Marketing builds customer value and relationships, with advertising playing a crucial role in direct communication to the target audience.

Marketing or advertising can be handled in-house or a business may hire an outside agency to run campaigns or the entire marketing functions.

  • Guide: Ad Agencies and Holding Companies: Marketing and advertising agencies are essential for brands, offering expertise and digital tools to run campaigns without internal resources. They assist with key strategies like SEO and social media and tackle industry challenges such as ad blocking, media fragmentation, and privacy concerns.

Marketing and advertising both aim to move a customer from broad awareness to the eventual purchase.

  • Definition: Marketing Funnel: This outlines a customer’s journey from recognizing a need, to evaluating options, making a purchase, and ultimately, becoming loyal and advocating for the product through word of mouth.

According to EMARKETER, several key trends are shaping the marketing and advertising industry:

  • Accelerated Digital Transformation: Marketing has been going digital for years, with search engines and social media capturing more consumer attention and traditional TV shifting to streaming. Advances in artificial intelligence are speeding up the transformation. Generative AI tools promise faster and easier advertising and personalized content, potentially changing consumer engagement with experiences.
  • Major Shifts in Data Practices: Customer distaste for invasive data and targeting practices have led to data regulations and policy changes from major tech companies. Apple’s changes to app-based tracking and email analytics have disrupted marketing practices, and Google’s sunsetting of 3rd-party browser cookies in 2025 will change how marketers target customers on the open web.
  • Customer Demand for Omnichannel, Always-On Strategies: Today’s consumer wants friction-free experiences across physical, digital and mobile platforms. For marketers and advertisers, that means coordinating campaigns across search, social media, and retail media, and integrating experiences through text, longform and shortform video, playable game ads, and more.
  • Ad channel disruption: Google’s digital dominance is being challenged. Amazon has carved out a massive ad business for product search, and other retail media networks are gaining share. Gen Z is turning to platforms like TikTok for search, the creator economy is driving more purchases, Meta and its X rival Threads are hot, and generative AI search experiences are creating opportunities for new search platforms.
  • Streaming’s Ad-supported TV Takeover: As we said in our 2024 trends report, the future of streaming is ad-supported, giving advertisers new options for video advertising. As more consumers opt for ad-supported plans, CPMs for streaming ads are dropping, making the channel more attractive.
  • AI’s Rapid Ascent: The launch of ChatGPT in 2022 triggered an AI race that will transform marketing and advertising. Use cases like chatbots, generative search, and scaled content generation directly affect consumer experiences, while AI-enhanced functions like data analysis, coding, and ad optimization could create efficiencies for professionals. Marketers are balancing the promise with the pitfalls, as issues around accuracy, copyright, and data privacy with AI models still need to be solved.

Some marketing channels have prompted whole categories, each with their own considerations. Here are several guides to help you strategize for each category.

  • Guide: Email Marketing: Email marketing still tops the list for engaging customers. As expectations for personalization rise, integrating smarter data use and AI into email strategies is crucial to catch and keep consumer attention in an overflowing inbox.
  • Guide: Social Media Marketing: Social media marketing is essential for increasing brand visibility through organic engagement and paid ads on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Video content drives engagement, and an influx of creators is giving brands new avenues for partnerships.
  • Guide: Influencer Marketing: Despite economic uncertainties and a saturated market, influencer marketing is growing, outpacing traditional social media advertising. This shift underscores the increasing value of influencers as authentic brand representatives.
    • Definition: Creator Economy: Creators are increasingly influencing consumer behavior and driving sales, with 30% of US social media users making purchases based on influencer recommendations.
  • Guide: Retail Media: The explosion of online retail is reshaping advertising as retailers harness their digital platforms and first-party data to create robust retail media networks. EMARKETER forecasts US omnichannel retail media ad spend will total $59.98 billion in 2024.
  • Guide: B2B Marketing: B2B sales involve a complex process focusing on building strong relationships, rather than quick buying. But tactics are becoming increasingly B2C.
  • Guide: Programmatic Advertising: This advertising, which makes up over 90% of digital display advertising in the US, is still developing. Initially for desktops, programmatic advertising is now expanding to mobile devices and connected TV (CTV).
  • Guide: Mobile Advertising: This involves promoting products or services through ads on smartphones or tablets. Participation in mobile is essential now as smartphones have changed how consumers engage in communication, entertainment, learning, shopping, and more.

Marketing and advertising channels are the distinct mediums or platform experiences where marketers and advertisers can place messaging, content, offers and more. Here’s a look at the essential channels.

This chart shows US ad spending on select media formats and channels, 2024. (Subscribers only)
  • Guide: Connected TV: CTV is projected to increase by 22.4% to $30.10 billion in 2024, according to EMARKETER’s forecast. This growth is driven by effective advertising and audience targeting, enhanced by integrations with retail and social media for improved first-party data use.
    • Definition: OTT: This represents the delivery of video content over the internet independent of traditional pay TV services. OTT platforms include subscription-based, ad-supported, and multichannel video programming distributors.
    • Definition: Linear TV: This refers to television content broadcast according to a fixed schedule via satellite or cable, without on-demand viewing.
  • Guide: Video Game Advertising: As the gaming industry expands, advertisers are striking at the opportunity to connect with diverse demographics, including hard-to-reach younger audiences, through this engaging medium.
    • Definition: Esports: Organized video gaming events offer marketers a vast and engaged audience, the ability to target specific demographics, interactive engagement opportunities, extensive brand exposure through sponsorships and content, influencer collaborations, and valuable data insights.
  • Guide: Podcasting: US podcast listeners are expected to listen for an average of 54 minutes daily in 2024, EMARKETER forecasts, giving marketers a chance to reach an engaged audience.
  • Definition: Native Advertising: This form of paid media blends in with the style and context of the platform where it appears and aligns with surrounding content to maintain a seamless user experience.
  • Definition: Retail Media Networks: These ad networks publish ads on retailer websites and are owned and run by retailers or 3rd parties. Since they leverage a retailer’s first-party data, they offer valuable targeting options.

Marketing and advertising strategies go beyond channels. Some companies manage major platforms for commerce, entertainment, social networking, and more. These guides will give you comprehensive overviews of the big players.

  • Guide: Meta: Originally Facebook, Meta has evolved from a college networking app into a global giant owning platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp. Renamed in 2021 to reflect its focus on VR and AR for the metaverse, Meta’s recent efforts have pivoted towards generative AI.
  • Guide: Google: No company has had a bigger effect on the digital advertising ecosystem. Its flagship search engine delivers organic and paid audiences, and its services, operating system, and browser connect the world. At the same time, Google faces unprecedented competition.
  • Guide: Amazon: Amazon dominates U.S. e-commerce and challenges Meta and Google in digital ads through its effective flywheel model. Its Amazon Web Services (AWS) supports global organizations, while it expands into payments, B2B, and logistics to drive revenue amid increasing competition.
  • Guide: TikTok: In a few years, TikTok has transformed from unknown to a highly influential social media platform, with high engagement, an effective algorithm, shopping features and plenty of controversies.
  • Guide: X (formerly Twitter): X has had a rough time since being acquired by Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2022. Advertising revenue has fallen, it’s become less appealing to brands, and has seen a decline in users.
  • Guide: Snapchat: While this is a favorite social platform among Gen Z, it remains in a battle for social media revenue as it competes with major players like Meta and TikTok. With its investments in AI and AR, Snapchat continues to innovate.
  • Guide: Netflix: This platform revolutionized TV viewing and is primed to become a major advertising channel.

Marketing and advertising aim to engage people to buy or use products, services or experiences. But not all potential customers are alike. Attributes like location, income, and age inform how marketers approach an audience. That’s especially true for the three generations below.

  • Guide: Gen Alpha: Gen Alpha includes those born in the early 2010s, who still depend on their parents—mostly millennials and older Gen Zers—for purchases. Like Gen Z, Gen Alpha’s preferences significantly influence household buying decisions.
  • Guide: Gen Z: While still mainly comprised of children, Gen Z has a buying power of $360 billion, a figure that is likely increasing as more enter the workforce. The generation has already influenced changes in how media is served.
  • Guide: Millennials: The largest generation is an important demographic. Having had access to the internet throughout their developmental years, they have a unique perspective and are the second-highest spenders by generation.
A chart showing how content management, interaction and engagement, data and intelligence, and journey management are all interconnected for B2C martech. (Subscribers only)

Modern marketing and advertising, especially digital marketing, rely on a host of tools and platforms. The first step is to think about the entire stack powering your marketing or experiences.

  • Guide: Marketing Technology: Marketers have more than 11,000 tools at their disposal to enable marketing, from niche apps to cornerstone campaign management suites. The tech is getting more powerful with AI.
  • Guide: Customer Experience: Today’s consumers expect seamless, personalized experiences, easy conversion, and proactive support. CX is crucial for brands to stand out, build trust, and maintain long-term customer relationships.

Engines need fuel, and in marketing, that fuel is customer data. A strong foundation of data collection and activation can set brands apart. However, heightened privacy concerns from customers are creating new guardrails for data capture. Here are some key resources to explore.

  • Guide: Ad Targeting Measurement and Identity Resolution: Access to consumer data and identity resolution is crucial for effective marketing, allowing precise targeting and tailored campaigns. But tactics are changing as data access evolves.
    • Definition: Ad Blocking: Ad blocking refers to the practice of users removing or modifying advertisements across digital platforms, encompassing desktop, mobile, and connected TV devices.
    • Definition: Customer Data Platforms: CDPs unify customer data and create single customer profiles. They directly collect and store customer information, minimizing third-party involvement and enhancing data security and efficiency.
    • Definition: Data Clean Rooms: As cookie deprecation and stricter privacy regulations approach, marketers are turning to data clean rooms to merge insights while protecting raw data from external exposure.

Artificial intelligence has powered marketing platforms for years, but the rise of large language models and generative AI capabilities has accelerated that integration. Explore these resources to learn how AI is changing the landscape.

  • Guide: IoT and Connected Devices: By 2025, people will spend about 45 minutes daily with Internet of Things (IoT) devices, EMARKETER forecasts. The rise of AI will make them more powerful.
  • Guide: AI Chatbots: Advances in natural language processing, machine learning, and AI have transformed these tools, potentially reshaping our interaction with software and influencing how we work and manage information.

Definition: Voice Assistants: Assistants like Alexa and Google grew rapidly in the 2010s, but their adoption has stalled. Generative AI could revive them, though.

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