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Generating Connection: SJC’s 2024 Media & Marketing Trends

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With a past year marked by significant digital shifts and the surge of generative AI, our 2024 media and marketing trends reflect the rapid pace of innovation. But as insights from our 12 contributors show, we can expect a noticeable shift in consumer preferences away from solely technology-driven experiences. Consumers seek authentic connection, human stories, tangible experiences and trusted sources of truth. </p><p id="">We're excited to explore new innovations in 2024 while keeping the human element central to impactful marketing and storytelling. Join us as we delve into media and marketing trends that capture this evolving landscape.

2024 Trends Quick Glance

Social shopping takes over

More and more, shopping online is driven by social media—who hasn't been broken down by a product testimonial that shows up in your feed over and over until you just have to have it? Making the path to purchase as seamless and mobile-first as possible just makes sense, which is why we're seeing brands use Instagram Shopping features and Shopify integration to entice consumers to impulse-buy. In September, TikTok Shop, which includes live shopping, shoppable videos and product showcases, was introduced in the US. It's not in Canada yet but I'm excited to (hopefully) see it roll out here
– Sasha Emmons, VP Branded and Custom Content

First-party data: Your most valuable asset

Owned audiences and first-party data are so key to success in media this year. These are things like websites and newsletter audiences. We have a lot of untapped potential with our newsletter subscribers that we can use to increase engagement and revenue. Expect to see brands across the industry creating automated email journeys a lot more, integrating AI with them when applicable, and using the data they collect through these audiences and their web audiences to continue to grow. Search and social will continue to be important in media, but as we've seen over the last year with some of the big tech brands, it's very important to own your own data, use it to make decisions about your audiences, and create quality content you know they'll love. Clickbait is very much dead. – Zach Harper, Senior Manager, Audience Development

Short videos to drive engagement

I think this year is going to be all about micro-content: videos shorter than 30 seconds with super quick cuts, bite-sized articles and listicles, teasers in the form of social content and even dwindling runtimes for movies and music. Everyone’s busy and attention spans are shorter than ever, so the pay-off has to be clear right away. This means there will be more room for AI-generated content in some places, but also that things might not be as polished as they once were—audiences will prefer authenticity over perfection. Deep dives, long reads and sweeping sagas will still have their place but publishers and marketers will need to make sure they pick their spots well when it comes to content that requires deep focus. – Cassandre Cadieux, Executive Editor, Branded Content

A quick scan of the headlines will tell you social media consumption is trending upward but if you drill down into the numbers you'll find that short videos (think TikTok, YouTube Shorts and IG Reels) are driving the gains while the rest of the social landscape here in Canada is relatively flat. Oftentimes brands will arrive at short videos by way of cutting longer-form videos down into bite-sized "teasers" so in 2024 we're challenging our teams to come up with tiny but mighty video concepts that deliver on our clients' objectives all on their own — and in under 30 seconds. – Stefania Di Verdi, Senior Director, Content Strategy & Partnerships

AI as a co-creator

Human driven AI co-creative: As creatives explore and experiment with generative AI, we are discovering opportunities to enhance content creation.&nbsp; With the right oversight, data input and direction, human driven creativity can prompt generative AI to assist with research and the technical tasks of creating shot lists, image fill, image resizing, coding, wireframes and more. Although there is much human intervention required to edit and manage the quality of what is generated, AI continues to learn and evolve. AI cannot replace human thinking and creativity but these tools will bring efficiencies through co-creation. – Sylvie Lamont, SVP Creative

AI everywhere! 2024 is the year AI will completely integrate itself to our business and become a crucial part of the industry. As a designer, I see AI as a new tool that will help eliminate mundane tasks allowing many visual artists like me to engage in more impactful creative work. AI is not fully there yet but I'm happy to welcome it as a collaborative partner. – Leo Tapel, Art Director, Branded Content

A demand for real human stories

We’ll see the demand for real human stories that can't be replicated (or created) by AI along with stories with original thinking and sincerity that cannot come from a bot. Also, with US elections on the horizon and continued world conflict, we'll all continue to hone our fact-checking skills every time we engage with social media. – Paul Ferriss, Director, Editorial & Creative,

Beyond keywords: Navigating the AI search shift

How people find and interact with content is going to see a major shift with the wider introduction of Google's AI powered search. High quality content, brand recognition, and trusted authorship are going to be more important than ever. – Jamie Geiger, President, Assembly Digital

Renewed interest in brand licensing partnerships

In 2024, the marketing world is witnessing a renewed interest in a classic marketing strategy: brand licensing partnerships. Catalyzed by Mattel's Barbie movie, this resurgence is redefining a tried-and-true concept. While brand licensing isn't new, Mattel's success story has reignited its appeal, showcasing how beyond-the-norm collaborations can transform a brand into a multifaceted powerhouse. These partnerships, woven into various lifestyle and consumer products, transcended typical marketing. They're not mere endorsements but intricate alliances, enriching the Barbie brand with a pervasive and immersive experience. This approach signals a shift in marketing strategies, where brands now see licensing partnerships not just as a tool but as a revitalized method for enhancing visibility and engagement.

As 2024 unfolds, expect to see more brands emulating this model, blending product with promotion in innovative ways. – Tobiasz Woroniecki, Director, Client Solutions

Exclusivity through luxury print

Retailers are embracing the luxury print trend by curating immersive in-store experiences that feature exclusive printed materials. Limited-edition catalogues, packaging, and custom print collateral accompany high-end products. Niche luxury brands, particularly in automotive and home furnishings, integrate tactile elements to enhance the shopping experience, fostering a sense of exclusivity and craftsmanship. – Amanda Eaton, Director of Creative Services

Print will continue to be a key way for people to engage with content as they choose to step out of the digital stream. – Paul Ferriss, Director, Editorial & Creative, SCL

Connecting with Canadian newcomers

>With the government’s ambitious immigration targets there will be a lot of people moving to Canada — new permanent residents are expected to hit 485,000 in 2024 followed by 500,000 in 2025. But when you scan the current marketplace there are not a lot of media brands in print or digital that accurately reflect, or celebrate, the experience of these newcomers. With advertisers keen to reach newcomers — many actively partaking in the kind of discretionary spending that has slowed among a lot of Canadians — you can expect to see new products and platforms being launched over the next while to capture the attention of this diverse audience. Excitingly, this will include a new lifestyle publication that SJC is launching this fall in partnership with 369 Global! Sign up here to be among the first to receive updates on this exciting venture. – Cameron Williamson, VP, Client Solutions

A focus on wellness and longevity

As we step into 2024, the landscape of events is set to evolve with a focus on transformative experiences that leave a lasting impact. Several trends are anticipated to shape the event industry, reflecting a collective shift towards Longevity &amp; Wellness, Sustainability, Immersive Experiences, and the creation of long-lasting meaningful impressions. Events in 2024 will place a heightened emphasis on holistic well-being. Organizers will integrate wellness elements into their programs, promoting physical and mental health. Expect to see activities such as mindfulness sessions, fitness breaks, and healthy catering options becoming standard components of events. The concept of longevity will extend beyond the event itself, with a focus on creating enduring positive impacts on attendees' overall well-being. – Chantal Roy, Director of Brand Experiences

Longevity and wellness trends are also top of mind and trending. Any content created around achieving a longer healthier lifespan is a hot topic with multi generational audiences. – George Antonopoulos, Senior Creative Director, FASHION & Events

Sustainability as a core value

Sustainability, circular fashion and green choices will also be a main focus in 2024. Audiences have increasingly become more eco conscious about what they buy&nbsp; and seek from responsible brands to balance out their lifestyles. – George Antonopoulos, Senior Creative Director, FASHION Events

Sustainability will be more than just a buzzword; it will become a fundamental value embedded in event planning. Event organizers will increasingly adopt eco-friendly practices, from minimizing single-use plastics to sourcing local and sustainable materials. Attendees can anticipate events that prioritize environmental responsibility, featuring carbon-neutral initiatives, waste reduction, and a commitment to leave a positive ecological footprint.
– Chantal Roy, Director of Brand Experiences

Adapting content to a politically charged year

It is poised to be an especially divisive and politically charged year. I think many people will be looking for an escape from the volatility and negativity. It is an opportunity for marketers and brand storytellers to "read the room" and reflect on what audiences may want or need this year. – Amy Gibson, Director of Product

Experiential platforms will become even more important

Interactive, immersive and authentic content will be key to engaging, growing and creating excitement with audiences. Experiential platforms will become even more important. These platforms offer the immersive and interactive experiences that capture attention, foster a deeper connection and leave a lasting impact. – Deidre Marinelli, Publisher, FASHION

Social: Crucial for community building

A strong social media &nbsp;presence (targeting TikTok, Instagram &amp; Reels) is crucial to stay top of mind and continue to build communities and loyalty with audiences. &nbsp;Collaborating with brands, digital creators, personalities and designers will reach broader more diverse readers and increase engagement. - George Antonopoulos, Senior Creative Director, FASHION & Events

We look forward to exploring these trends more in depth throughout the year, including new projects with our customers. To receive timely case studies, insights and tips, become an SJC subscriber. If you are curious about putting any of these trends in action, get in touch with us.

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