“It is fascinating to see how people rely on strangers for advice on everything—from menopause, recipes to financial planning. These communities have the power to build or break a brand,” said Oindrila Roy, managing director, Publicis Worldwide India, in an interview with Storyboard18. Roy believes that in a hyperconnected world, branding is becoming complex. This year was tougher for many reasons, one being how consumers are trusting opinion of their online communities more than ever before, she says.
That apart, she touched upon (what else) generative AI. Roy thinks in 2024 AI will further enhance creativity. Brands will also start looking at the growing popularity of dark social soon, and 2024 will also be the year when Web3 will go mainstream, according to Roy.
Here are edited excerpts from what she had to say about the year that was for the advertising business and more.
What are the key marketing trends that stood out for you in 2023?
In 2023, it was refreshing to see that brands are taking a step beyond brand purpose and moving towards building purposeful brands. Brands such as Ikea have always been purposeful but newer brands are also taking a step towards that direction. For example, a high-end mobile phone brand recently recalibrated their camera tuning models and algorithms to more accurately highlight diverse skin tones, correcting the feature that captured unflattering photos for those with darker skin tones. After years of greenwashing and genderwashing in the name of purpose, finally it seems like brands are investing in long-term value creation by investing in products which align with values that matter to their consumers.
Use of generative AI: If there’s one thing the whole marketing world is talking about, it is generative AI. With ChatGPT and platforms such as Midjourney, AI has taken a turn from being processing-intensive tech to being generative tech. It can create a concept and help it travel from an idea stage to go-to-market readiness in record speed. Having said that, in our business, the human touch remains crucial, with Gen AI becoming an active collaborator in the process. As a group, we believe that firms that are early adopters of the AI wave will gain a competitive edge, and we aim to be the leader of the pack.
Crowd trusting is now mainstream: Branding in the hyperconnected world has always been complex. But in 2023 I feel it has become even more so with consumers today trusting the opinion of their online communities more than any other source. We have been scanning through some of the conversations. It is fascinating to see how people rely on strangers for advice on everything—from menopause, recipes to financial planning. These communities have the power to build or break a brand.
What are the key tasks that you have listed on your to-do list for 2024?
More effective use of AI in understanding emerging trends in culture: One of the key must-do’s in my list in 2024 is to incorporate more AI in our work. One of the many things that I want to prioritise is to incorporate AI in cultural trend analysis, how best can we employ AI to predict emerging trends leading to valuable insights by scraping through social media posts and conversations, online searches, content consumption patterns and other digital footprints. I am sure our clients will find this information very valuable, especially for dynamic cohorts like Gen Z.
A significantly more collaborative way of working: The Publicis Groupe has a great collaboration model—'The Power of One’. It brings together all the capabilities that a modern-day marketer needs to solve the multitude of challenges they are faced with. This necessitates a collaborative way of working between creative agencies, media agencies, tech practices such as commerce, content and even production. With collaboration becoming extremely critical, one of the must-do’s in my list is to create a through the funnel building branding framework. When decisions need to be made quickly and collaboratively, having everyone on the same page, speaking the same language helps and that’s when a framework becomes critical in 2024.
Building a strong culture within the agency: It’s a personal belief that only a great culture can nurture great creativity. While we have set some great culture pillars for the agency, in 2024, it’s in the must-do list to help every team member understand the significance of our culture document and live it every day.
What advertising trends do you think will take the spotlight in 2024?
Growing popularity of dark social: With growing privacy concerns, more and more people are engaging with each other privately through channels that are untraceable. Here’s where most meaningful conversations and recommendations take place which can make or break brands. With the growing importance of dark social and buying into conversations becoming almost impossible, we will see fresher trends in social media advertising, especially in the sphere of private communities, nano influencers, niche content, etc.
Collaboration between AI and human creativity: We will see stronger innovations in creativity as human imagination partners more closely with generative AI. Hopefully, we will not just see AI being used to make current work better, faster and cheaper but being employed to create new things that wouldn’t have been possible earlier.
Web3 will go mainstream: Looking at the way the Gen Z audience interacts on platforms like Roblox and Fortnite, and trends such as the Avatar economy and the generation’s need for new online experiences, there is a possibility more brands will invest in Web3. This will need a fresh strategic thinking for brands that are comfortable with a mass-media-first approach.
2024 for the advertising industry will be…
Stronger and better equipped to deal with the dynamic marketing environment.