With 2023 in the rearview mirror, we're all looking toward a new year to drive better business outcomes through marketing strategy. To no one’s surprise, the rise of AI in 2023 is affecting nearly all predictions for 2024. And on the horizon has been the long discussed third-party cookie deprecation in Google Chrome, the last major browser to hold out on cookie deprecation.
For marketers to have their best year yet, they need to strategize on how they're using technology to combat data deprecation and optimize their first-party data to continue making important customer connections. Here, we gleaned the top expert recommendations to help you harness the power of AI for your 2024 strategy.
It's here: Chrome starts getting rid of third-party cookies
On Jan. 4, Google introduced one of its first measures to deprecate third-party cookies. Tracking Protection enables users to limit cross-site tracking by restricting website access to third-party cookies by default.
Google announced they were getting rid of third-party cookies starting in 2024. This latest measure is only rolling out to 1% of Chrome users, however, they're targeting to phase-out third-party cookies for all Chrome users in the second half of 2024.
Third-party cookies are a huge driver for marketing strategy. With Chrome doing away with them (and with them long gone from Safari and Foxfire), brands will need to reassess their strategy. To continue reaching customers with personalized, persistent messaging, they'll need to adopt a strong first-party data strategy.
The outputs of AI are only as good as the inputs
AI was undoubtedly a hot topic in 2023, and it will continue to be of major interest in 2024. According to Forrester’s July 2023 Artificial Intelligence Pulse Survey, 89% of AI decision-makers say their organizations are expanding or exploring the use of generative AI. Deloitte predicts it will continue to be one of the top trends of 2024 and will help propel business growth for companies across industries.
But AI on its own won’t be a silver bullet. For AI to really shine, it needs the right data and analytics. “Forward-thinking data and analytics teams know that outputs from AI technologies will only be as good as the data that goes into them, and they will embrace data platforms and data quality practices to support [large language models] and unstructured data as well as data skills training to put their staff in the best position to deliver value with new AI technologies,” according to Forrester's Predictions 2024: Data and Analytics.1
For brands to get the most out of their AI and machine learning tools, they’ll need to examine their existing first-party data strategies. Building the right first-party data strategy will help you navigate the rapid changes of the technology in the future, and set the right foundation for that tech to really shine.
Want to learn more? Hear from Epsilon's Rachel Cascisa on how marketers can leverage both generative and predictive AI for marketing.
A new way of working
Generative AI is changing how the world does virtually everything. In Gartner’s Top Strategic Predictions for 2024 and Beyond, they note the deep impact AI is having across the board, from individual people using it to draw up their resumes to companies using it to hire more efficiently and effectively. Gartner predicts that by 2026, 30% of large companies will have a dedicated business unit or sales channels to access fast-growing “machine customer” markets.
“Businesses and government organizations will find that the addition of GenAI to their strategies will mitigate some problems while amplifying and creating others,” the report says. “GenAI uses a lot of energy, opens the door to faster modernization of systems, helps supplement a deficient workforce and forces a rethink of business models — all at the same time.”
AI is forcing everyone to re-imagine how they look at work--both the structures of their own teams and their processes, orders of operation and, even more broadly, how they approach marketing. A good example is in the digital media space: At Epsilon, we use predictive AI to determine who to message, where to reach them, when to talk to them, and what to say to that person. This is a fundamentally different approach to media buying than what many marketers are used to, where they typically define a broader audience or demographic, and then go to the appropriate platforms and activation channels to reach those people.
AI is already redefining marketing work. Leaders need to figure out where it fits into their plan because it should be there somewhere.
Want to learn more? Hear from Epsilon's head of decision sciences, Steve Nowlan, on how AI works in marketing and how we think about it at Epsilon.
The ever-growing quest for personalization
With so much investment and advancements in machine learning and AI, the ability to personalize content has never been easier or more important. But personalization is so much more than making sure the message makes sense for that person; it starts with who you're reaching, what their preferences are, and then what you might want to say to them. Good marketing feels seamless while bad marketing is very noticeable, but as more companies tap into their customer data to better curate content, those who don’t adopt better data strategies might find their customers dissatisfied.
In 2024, this personalization will be table stakes. This requires strong first-party data strategies. Brands looking to build better personalization can start with martech tools like a customer data platform (CDP) or a clean room if they don’t have a lot of first-party data to begin with.
Want to learn more? See how Epsilon helps Walgreens personalize wellness at scale.
Building integrated martech ecosystems
The future of martech is bright. Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are moving away from marketing cloud tech to adopt integrated tech stacks. As more tech becomes available, brands are going to need their solutions to plug and play nice. According to Forrester's The State of Marketing Enterprise Suites, 20222, 91% of marketers agreed that the ability to integrate is the most important feature of marketing tools, and as AI solutions become an essential part of the marketing tool kit, having an integrated tech stack will be mission critical.
Integrated tech stacks were already on the rise. With the proliferation of digital channels and the deprecation of third-party cookies, interconnected martech tools are becoming increasingly popular. But what's often missing is also that connection to adtech, which creates a gap in what would otherwise be a seamless journey from CRM through to activation. Not to mention, that through-line creates better insights and measurement.
“Marketers taking an ecosystem approach will benefit from flexibility, use case coverage, and productivity across customer insights, brand strategy, and brand execution,” according to Forrester’s Predictions 2024: B2C Marketing3 report.
Want to learn more? A new IDC whitepaper, sponsored by Epsilon, explores how to bridge adtech and martech to create a better customer experience.
1. Predictions 2024: Data And Analytics, Forrester Research, Inc., Oct. 26, 2023
2. The State of Marketing Enterprise Suites, 2022, Forrester Research, Inc., Dec. 2, 2022
3. Predictions 2024: B2C Marketing, Forrester Research, Inc., Oct. 25, 2023