3 Advertising Spend Trends to Watch In 2024

Dan Calladine

Head of Media Futures, dentsu

Digital advertising spend is forecast to reach a record high in 2024 as tech platforms look to increase their ad revenue by introducing fresh formats and carrying more ad placements.

The rise of retail media has brought ads into new spaces such as commerce sites, ticketing platforms and delivery apps, and social platforms are keen to monetize users’ search content. While these new opportunities offer new ways to engage audiences, they could also hurt the user experience.

Brands will have to balance their opportunities against the risks of alienating their audiences.

This article is extracted from The Pace of Progress – 2024 Media Trends, dentsu’s 14th annual trends report.

1. Ad Spend Trends in The Online World

Advertising remains the primary method of monetization for many leading platforms, such as Meta and YouTube. It is also a growing source of revenue for others, most notably Amazon, which has generated more than $40 billion from advertising in the four quarters up to August 2023.  In the quest for revenue, platforms put more ads into their inventories with new placements emerging in the past year.

The search space, a $158.7 billion opportunity in 2024,  is particularly sought after by social platforms. To monetize users’ searches for content like recipes or beauty tips, Instagram has recently opened its search to ads, allowing brands to appear next to organic results.  TikTok quickly followed by launching its Search Ad Toggle to let brands become discoverable in user query results.  Furthermore, the rise of retail media as a category has brought ads into new spaces, including commerce sites, ticketing platforms and delivery apps.

Ad format innovation seems to bear fruit for platforms, with Meta reporting a 34% year-on-year increase of ad impressions across its family of apps.

2. The explosion of the ad-supported segment

Advertising on connected television (CTV) is forecast to experience a spectacular 32.2% growth in 2024,  fueled by the rise of ad-funded video on demand (AVOD) and free ad-supported television (FAST), that let audiences experience the control of watching on-demand and the simplicity of watching broadcast TV, for free or at a reduced fee.

Leaders in the AVOD space are actively launching new formats, as illustrated by the recent introduction of 30” unskippable ads in YouTube Select, a selection of channel packages that record 70% of its impressions through the TV screen.

The offering also becomes more dense, as major streaming players have entered the space to attract more subscribers through a lower price point, and almost every streaming platform now has an AVOD component. Netflix reported that, on average, more than a quarter of Netflix new users now choose the ad-supported plan when given the choice.

It should be highlighted that the rise of ad-supported tiers is not exclusive to video. Audible, Amazon’s audiobook platform, is testing ad-supported access to allow new users to listen for free with advertising.

Discover more on how streaming is changing the world of advertising.

3. A planning balancing exercise

These booming advertising opportunities offer new ways to engage audiences to brands. As part of the Attention Economy research program, a study conducted by dentsu with the AVOD platform Amazon Freevee has proved the potential of CTV to hold longer levels of attention (Freevee results were three times greater than broadcast TV norms) and to drive recall (+5% better recall than the dentsu norms).

Yet, more ads across the board means more advertising clutter, and it will be even more important for brands to dive into audience insights, invest in creativity, and operate careful media planning if they are to drive effectiveness and not oversaturate their audiences.

What’s next in?

As lucrative as it is for the platforms to constantly place more ads into more spaces, these new ads could hurt the user experience, as well as creating massive clutter for brands. Platforms will need to make sure that the balance remains acceptable to all stakeholders.

This is the seventh of ten media trends discussed in dentsu’s The Pace of Progress – 2024 Media Trends report.

Next time: trend #8 – The new faces of growth.