8 adtech trends and predictions to watch out for in 2024

by Bradley Lewington

by Bradley Lewington

8 adtech trends and predictions to watch out for in 2024 image

After a dramatic year for the adtech industry in 2023, what does 2024 have in store? I believe we’ll see less uncertainty but still a lot of change as the emerging adtech trends that reared their heads last year start to take root.

Here’s what I think will be big for adtech in 2024.

A quick look into the adtech industry in 2023

The year began in an uncertain economy. Amidst rising inflation and soaring interest rates, fears of an impending ad recession were palpable. But fast forward a few months, and ad spend predictions became optimistic once again, with ad spend growing each month from July to October.

Google was sued by the Department of Justice (again), marking the third antitrust suit launched against the company since 2020, and resulting in a $700 million settlement with consumers and US states. Bot fraud continued its reign of terror, the data privacy question ramped up, and new advertising mediums (from in-game to audio) started to emerge.

But one topic clearly dominated 2023: AI.

A sentiment that was clearly reflected at the 2023 Digital Marketing Exhibition and Conference, where the world’s biggest digital marketers united under a cautious optimism.

The question on everyone’s lips? Is AI an asset or a threat?

The answer? Well, a bit of both. As Adam Singolda, CEO of Taboola described in his keynote, “GenAI is like the Jedi, it can be used for good and it can be used for bad”.

8 adtech trends to watch out for in 2024

1. First-party data will become adtech’s bread and butter

It’s still a big topic in the world of adtech and one that will continue into 2024. With Chrome, Firefox, and Safari all committed to depreciating third-party cookie use for good this year, first-party data is now a targeting staple.

But with less than one third of marketers feeling that they are using first-party data effectively, we should still expect some teething pains. 2024 will need to be the year when adtechs cement a solid first-party data strategy. It will be the key to what The Drum aptly describes as effective “privacy-preserving personalization”.

We can expect to see more demand side platforms (DSPs) in particular investing in tools and capabilities mobilizing first-party data. If they don’t change their approach, they could quickly end up losing relevance. There are some that are ahead of the curve, that have already put in place their own consumer ID capabilities - walled gardens (a closed platform or ecosystem in which the platform owner controls the data, hardware and content) and hugely scalable platforms. These demand side platforms are the ones to watch in the fast-approaching post-cookie era. 

adtech trends 2024

2. We’ll see a continued rise in contextual targeting

It’s pipped as perhaps the best solution to cookieless advertising that is currently out there and will remain a crucial element once cookies have been phased out. As Sunil Tripathy, Founder and CEO of Kodehash writes, “in 2024, contextual advertising is expected to become even more valuable for marketers…because users perceive contextual ads more positively than other forms of advertising”. 

Rather than using knowledge about specific users to serve a relevant ad, contextual targeting adapts the ad to the context in which it is being served. For example, if the webpage talks about music, the algorithms used in contextual advertising will include ads that are relevant to the context of the page - keywords, phrases, media. It even goes so far as to read positive and negative connotations on a page to make a decision on whether to target it or avoid it. 

Contextual advertising is not new technology - the likes of The New York Times and The Washington Post have been using it for years. As The Drum reminds us, “contextual advertising is the oldest form of ad targeting in the media. In the age of print magazines, it was pretty much all publishers had to rely on. But as publishers moved online and technology progressed, the landscape quickly began to change. Instead of displaying ads based on what someone was looking at, many platforms switched to displaying ads based on browsing history, searches, links clicked, and purchases.”

But the tables have turned once again. Now it’s estimated that contextual advertising will experience 13.8% growth annually by 2030. But it doesn’t come without challenges. As Dave Barr, Chief Revenue Officer at Venatus explains, “the pressing challenge remains attribution – measuring success in this new contextually driven environment”.

3. AI will dominate

DSPs and SSPs are already heavily reliant on AI and machine learning to make data-driven decisions quickly and at scale. But in 2024, AI will start to take on a much more involved role beyond just efficiency and optimization. The global market for AI in advertising is predicted to exceed $100 billion by 2027. So, if 2023 was the year of AI speculation, 2024 looks to be the year of action.

The biggest change is the rapid development of generative AI. These deep learning models used by platforms like ChatGPT and Dall-E have opened the floodgates of possibility, the effects of which could have a significant effect on programmatic advertising. 2024 will be the year when programmatic advertisers will explore generative AI’s full potential.

Google is already paving the way with its multimodal large language modal, Gemini, which is set to be integrated into Google Search and Ads within the year. For programmatic advertisers advances like Gemini are paving the way for enhanced analysis, targeting and ad placement, as well as opening the gates to more interactive and personalized ads.

4. Audio will continue to mature as an advertising medium

While it’s still some way behind programmatic display and video ads, audio continues to become increasingly relevant and sought after in the adtech ecosystem. 

The proliferation of smart assistants in our homes and on our devices has given advertising companies a new avenue in which to reach audiences. It's been forecasted that voice commerce sales will grow by 54% in 2024 as smart speakers and voice assistants become more advanced. And then there’s in-game audio, podcasts and even radio advertising. Where radio used to be in-the-moment with only live airing available, today there are far more options to listen back. 

As Michael Bayston, VP of adtech solutions at Acast put it during a panel discussion at DMEXCO in September last year, “there’s more and more interest in digital audio in people’s lives”. The consensus of the panel, which comprised representatives from AdTonos, Xasis, and Acast was clear: audio continues to grow as a highly versatile medium with an exceptionally diverse audience. It’s, in effect, a performance channel in and of itself.  

5. M&A activity will see a resurgence

Adtech deal activity hit a low in 2022, with deal activity down by 38% in the sector. This was most likely the result of economic and regulatory uncertainty. 2023 saw a marked recovery with deal activity up by 78% in Q1 of 2023. But it was still far from the heights of 2021 when acquisitions soared by a staggering 82% year-over-year. And whilst those peaks will be hard to beat, it’s expected that M&A deals will see a resurgence in 2024.

According to research conducted by Business Insider, Accenture, Amazon, DoubleVerify, Havas, Match Group, Nexxen, Private Equity, Walmart, and the Trade Desk, are amongst the companies most likely to be active in the advertising M&A market in 2024.

6. Connected TV (CTV) will mature 

With integrated artificial intelligence, CTV offers a natural home for real time first-party data collection and therefore better opportunities for targeting with information about the household, device and location.

In 2023, advertisers started to embrace CTV with two out of three using the medium. In 2024, CTV is set to become the fastest growing media channel with an accompanying 39.5% increase in ad spend from 2023. To take the words of AdExchanger journalist, Alyssa Boyle, “programmatic CTV will hit puberty in 2024”.

But that doesn’t rule out teething problems and as Tom Stentiford, Chief Delivery Officer at DAS42 explains, “despite its promise of simplicity and efficacy, CTV advertising comes with transparency problems and convoluted supply paths, which nearly all advertisers complain about”.

2024 will be the year that brands really start to invest in CTV, delivering ads that target viewers with relevant messages to bring awareness to a brand by narrowing audiences by behavior, demographics, context and even the time of the day. 

7. In-game ads will make their mark

In-game ads aren’t new to the adtech world, but they have had limited uptake amongst advertisers outside of the in-game ads that you may be used to seeing in hyper casual mobile games. That’s likely to change in 2024 as advertisers recognize the opportunity that video games offer from a cookieless personalization perspective. As I discussed in a previous blog, without collecting personal data, advertisers can deliver in-game ads that are tailored to how players of that particular game behave and act in a virtual world. 

The in-game advertising market is forecasted to grow substantially in 2024 with revenues expected to reach $109.60 billion by the end of 2024 and a projected market volume of $145.50 billion by the end of 2027.

Moving forward, seamless delivery will be the key to delivering gaming advertising if advertisers are to be successful in this space in 2024. As Dheeraj Matta, Head of Ad Monetisation at Outfit 7 explained during his keynote, Harnessing the impact of brands in games, at DMEXCO in September, successful in-game advertising boils down to brand connection. And for advertisers and gaming companies alike, the most important question to ask is: how does the user experience the brand I’m going to work with?

8. In-app advertising will be one to watch

Mobile app use is at an all-time high. The average smartphone user spends approximately two hours and fifty one minutes on mobile apps each day, accounting for 90% of smartphone usage. It shows that mobile users are moving away from using their mobile browsers and spending much more time in applications.

As a result, in-app advertising (which allows app developers to monetize their apps and advertisers to serve ads to the app’s users), is expected to boom in 2024. In-app advertising spend is projected to reach $352.70 billion by the end of the year with an annual growth rate of 9.02% between now and 2028.

And it’s hardly surprising. In-app advertising has been shown to generate higher click-through rates (0.58% compared with 0.23% for mobile web browsers) and more effective targeting. Some DSPs have even been able to determine where a user is at any given moment and offer relevant, real-time products and services based on location. 

With a new generation of digital-natives populating popular apps like TikTok, it’s fair to say that in-app advertising will remain an adtech staple for some time to come.

Concluding thoughts

So there we have it. Those are my predictions for the top adtech trends for 2024. Whatever 2024 brings - whether it’s any of the suggestions above or adtech trends we haven’t even considered yet - I think we can all agree that we’ve got an exciting year ahead.

What are your thoughts on the future of adtech? Get in touch - I’d love to hear them. 

Bradley Lewington

Bradley Lewington, Sales Executive

In an industry defined by constant innovation, Adtech specialist Bradley helps customers realise their strategies with reliable, scalable infrastructure.
He’s a Reading FC and F1 fan, and father of two.


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