- U.S. spending on marketing and advertising will grow 10.7% this year to reach $570 billion, according to the 18th annual forecast from consultancy Winterberry Group.
- The growth rate is more than double what was seen in 2023, a period weighed down by macro pressures. Investments in political advertising, connected TV (CTV) and connected commerce, an umbrella term that includes retail media, will boost the industry in 2024.
- Amid the death of the cookie, marketers will run experiments with alternatives like first-party identity solutions, resulting in a boom for the data-driven marketing segment. Obsessions with generative artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will be another theme even as consumer appetites are an open question.
Winterberry Group is aligned with other forecasters in believing 2024 will be a more vibrant year for ad spending than 2023 while noting that robust top-line growth does not tell the full story. Case in point: the upcoming election cycle, which will provide a boon for media owners, including in the beleaguered offline arena, but give consumer brands pause as they look to avoid getting tangled up in divisive rhetoric and focus instead on more targeted efforts.
The upshot is that creativity will be impacted in the months ahead, echoing a staid 2023, while local advertising prices could rise in a cluttered environment for inboxes and airtime. The consultancy expects political ad spending to reach $17 billion in 2024, accounting for roughly 30% of total growth this year. Tailwinds from political campaigns also mask that underlying growth trends are stabilizing after a wild few pandemic years.
Many key channels are undergoing transformation that will bring ups and downs for brands and publishers alike. The live sports space, one of the last “moats” around linear TV, is jumping to the streaming arena, as evidenced by Amazon’s recent deal with regional operator Diamond Sports Group. CTV spending is expected to grow over 30% YoY in 2024 to hit $33.1 billion as advertisers chase emerging opportunities and a proliferation of ad-supported options.
Networks will respond to these shifts by taking a more disciplined approach to dealmaking, bundling linear and digital buys together and providing better audience-targeting tools, according to Winterberry Group. Blurring lines between linear and digital will still deliver measurement headaches, with more than half (53%) of surveyed TV advertisers citing a lack of common metrics across channels as a top challenge. Pains stemming from data silos were a prevalent theme in Winterberry Group’s findings.
Attempts to tackle cookie deprecation will buoy data-driven marketing but could divide marketers’ attention from fraud, waste and transparency problems. One rising juggernaut is connected commerce, a bucket that encompasses retail media networks. A larger profile for the channel comes with increased complexity around measurement and media buying, a pain point that could be solved by investments in areas like ML and AI, per Winterberry Group.
“Investment in data-driven channels will flourish in 2024, with spending on data, data services and data infrastructure predicted to top $36 billion — representing a 13.9% increase from last year,” said Bruce Biegel, Winterberry Group’s senior managing partner, in a statement attached to the report. “We believe the market is poised to reclaim much of the growth momentum that’s been lacking for much of the last year.”
The chase to realize marketing use cases for shiny generative AI tech could also outstrip consumer interest and clash with governance concerns around personal data handling. Just half (51%) of surveyed consumers have tried out software like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and DALL-E, suggesting media hype is ahead of adoption, with Winterberry Group eyeing 2026 as a more likely window for proper acceleration for the category.