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2024: Trends & Spends

1st February 2024

2023 was something of a wild ride.  

 Google gave us more core updates than ever before, the AI conversation reached a media fever pitch, all the while businesses continued to navigate economically uncertain times. 

 When it comes to looking ahead to the rest of the year, one thing that we can always be certain of is uncertainty. But embracing change can be a tightrope walk.   

On one hand, you want to push the envelope, grow, and embrace new things. But on the other, you want to be cautious and only fully adopt those changes that bring you actual benefits and results. 

The only way to be able to manage change is to be open-minded. Be quick to try new things but be even quicker to move on from those that do not serve your needs.  

Our annual Communications Trends and How to Spend report explores what’s on the horizon; looking at everything from AI to ESG and sustainability, how client servicing is shifting and why Google’s next core update, might just be its most impactful to date.  

 

AI on the rise?  

The rise of AI over the last 12 months has been nothing short of sensational. But there have been some high-profile blunders, that we all should learn from. 

A lot of the discourse around AI has been centred around it ‘replacing’ creatives. But we need only look to Google’s launch of Bard to see that this isn’t, or shouldn’t, be the case.   

In being overly reliant on the accuracy of its own AI, Google wiped a huge amount off its share value overnight. This is proof enough that human involvement in the creative process isn’t at risk of being replaced. As Izzy, our content manager explains:  

Despite concerns regarding its impact on creativity, the reception of AI in content creation is largely contingent on how we use it. Creators will have more time to refine their ideas in areas where human ingenuity remains indispensable as AI becomes an ally to tasks.” 

AI is where we should be the most inquisitive. Many platforms are now caveating that their results may not always be accurate. Being over-reliant on its outputs may not be best for business.  

Video: a step change in both content and delivery.  

Video remains king of the hill when it comes to content, that’s not a ground-breaking statement. 

But where businesses can and will find greater success, particularly with their owned content, is recognising that production value is not the marker for success, authenticity is.  

“There is still a place for larger-scale production and video content. Audiences still want to be wowed by content. But that kind of strategy can’t really be maintained.” Says Simon, our Marketing Operations Manager.  

Creating content is no longer about those big, expensive content set pieces. Look at TikTok, we’re now seeing more businesses and corporates taking up the platform. But the big lesson here is not trying to force your will upon the platform.  

Those who are leaning into the platform, keeping it low-key and light-hearted are the ones getting noticed… and will continue to do so. 

In the longer term, as both potential customer bases and workforces become younger and even more digitally native, this kind of authentic content-driven presence will be the difference maker when it comes to brand loyalty from within and without.  

Client Service 2.0 

Whatever product or service you’re delivering, client servicing is now up for scrutiny, like it never has been before. As our client services director, Helen explains:  

 “It’s no longer sufficient to be seen to be helpful, responsive and good to work with. Clients want to better understand the how.” 

This could be anything from clients wanting to understand your ways of working. They’ll want to get under the skin of your processes and your best practices. The agency/client relationship now goes far deeper than just service provision. 

Shared ethos is now crucial and there’s a new level of transparency, particularly around planning and measuring success, that needs to be considered. Particularly for those seeking to build long-term relationships built on mutual success. 

What’s happening at Google?  

It’s a question that’s been asked many times in the last 12 months.  

The search giant usually puts out one core update per year. Last year, they put out four. As our strategy lead, Joe explains:  

A lot of this has been around Google’s ever-impactful E-E-A-T guidelines. Experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness are all key things that content needs to showcase to get ranked highly. 

For a lot of businesses, this was a lot of change in a short space of time. These updates had immediate effects on content and web traffic. Many businesses are still clawing back the online reputations they’d built before these core updates.  

But Google is set to roll out perhaps its most impactful ‘hidden gem’ update this year. 

“This update will seek to showcase personal opinions on the SERP (search engine results pages), which means that we could see social media accounts getting airtime on SERPs, blog posts being returned, and even forums such as Reddit could get page one visibility.” 

Read the full report 

At AMBITIOUS we are committed to staying at the cutting edge of our industry,   

With our comprehensive approach that follows our insights, ideas and impact model, we have the structure, expertise and services to ensure resilience to market changes. We also recognise that effective and authentic comms can help businesses stay ahead of the competition, in an increasingly competitive digital and traditional comms landscape.  

To read our Communications Trends and How to Spend report in full visit: https://www.ambitiouspr.co.uk/trends-spends-24/ 

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About AMBITIOUS

AMBITIOUS by name and by nature, we are a PR led communications agency that delivers integrated strategic communications - online, offline and everywhere in-between. Proud to be crowned winners of The Drum Magazine's RAR Best PR Agency of the Year.

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