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Branded Content Trends 2024


2023 is likely to go down as a watershed year for content marketing. Post-pandemic economics, combined with AI becoming widely adopted across the industry, has shifted how brands both think about and execute content campaigns.

With that in mind, here’s 5 things to keep an eye on this coming year, starting with something very timely given it’s taken far longer than I’d allocated to create this post without some heavy lifting from AI!

1. Speed

Content marketing doesn’t have to be complicated – a blog post, for example, needn’t consume considerable resources, but when it comes to more visual creative, turnarounds have always been slower while you wait for a specialist to get that video edited or a graphic designer to turn around images.

Canva and other similar platforms has changed everything – an intuitive Swiss army knife in software form – you only now require a creative mind, not a course in Photoshop. Whilst it’s perfect for SME’s with a low cost entry point, there’s major brands now using the platform for speed. As more brands invest in content, being first may sometimes be better than being best.

2. Testing more creatives

For all the talk of AI taking over the world, the main thing it’s done is enable us to test more creatives and improve personalisation. A/B testing is nothing new of course, but the sheer scale of what can now be tested is - expect way more of this in 2024. Could it actually be your 20th headline variant that delivers 10% more engagement or an uplift in CTAs?

One word of caution – always cast a human eye over any AI generated copy. It’s in no way a replacement for human creativity. Sometimes it’s a useful starting point, sometimes it’s a useful way of expanding testing, but more often than not, it’s a bit meh.

3. Performance Branding

2023 was a bumpy year for many online brands. D2C companies that boomed in the pandemic began to find the going considerably tougher as consumers returned to physical stores. This, combined with a cost-of-living crisis was a nightmare for many companies, particularly those reliant on subscriptions.

I’ve previously written about the death of short-termism and if anything, that accelerated throughout the year with performance focused brands investing in content further up the funnel to grow their brand and drive sales. Expect 2024 to be the year of Performance Branding, where companies who barely had a blog start to seriously invest in content. Which leads us to…

4. (Finally) getting better at attribution

Arguably the biggest thing to happen in marketing over the past 12 months was the launch of Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Google reduced the number of attribution models from seven to three, yet still the number one issue I still encounter with brands and agencies is the inability to measure cross-channel campaigns.

Google recommends cross-channel data-driven attribution and I’ve seen some interesting campaigns this year where content campaigns further up the funnel seem to now be given way more weight than just the last click from paid search. Given the shift towards content from many previously performance focused brands, understanding the impact top and mid-funnel content has on your bottom line is more important than ever.


                 Screenshot 2023-12-27 at 13.10.35-2.     Screenshot 2023-12-27 at 13.10.04-1


5. Authenticity

One campaign has intrigued me more than anything else this year. If you spend any time on social, you’ll have probably seen a HelloFresh campaign with their customers revealing some pretty average looking meals they’ve cooked – really basic stuff; burgers and salmon fillets – that kind of thing.

Not only are they basic, but they also don’t look massively appetising – think bad lighting, no food styling. Now, I’m perfectly capable of both sourcing and cooking these types of meals, and I guess I’m not alone. On X (formally, or still in my mind, Twitter), these sponsored posts have been ripped to shreds by hundreds of users wondering why you’d use this kind of content.

Then it hit me – the thing we’ve all been banging on about for the past few months – authenticity. Every survey of Gen Z and Millennials lists being authentic as the number one attribute they’d like to see from brands trying to sell to them.

So, while I might think the food looks, at best, uninteresting, for many people who can barely make a sandwich, the very idea that with HelloFresh they can actually cook a piece of salmon and boil some spuds midweek must resonate – basically, it really doesn’t look too good to be true. Will we see an increase in more honest advertising in 2024? If this shifted some meal kits then I suspect so!