Your 2024 Trend-tervention: AI, Video, and The Mind-Hack That Will Make You Like Marketing Again

by Cameron Kirkpatrick



Here’s the thing. We are one of many (read: countless) agencies putting together a list of “trends” that you should follow this year. You will find, as you probably already have, that we believe the same things will result in “success” for your brand that everyone else does. Our insights? They’re not born of some wholly independent discovery from a year spent observing consumers with Jane-Gooddall-level dedication. Our data points? They had to have come from the same place where your other favorite-but-less-fun blogs found them or the numbers wouldn’t line up and you’d be fretfully pulling out your hair, wondering whether posting more reels could increase engagement by 11% or 11.5%. 

All of that said, why should you bother reading this particular take on the year ahead in digital marketing? Because you’re in desperate need of a reality check. 

Without saying (election year trigger warning) “make marketing fun again”, we really believe marketing was always supposed to be exactly that—good, clean fun. You guys – we all got into this field because law school was too much work. Don’t you remember your first marketing gig and how you, like the rest of us, skirted by with some personal “expertise” that you mentally copy/pasted from an article just like this one? At least in that era, you could still manhandle your most effective brain cells into developing an idea that was so nuanced, so universally inclusive–some real “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” shit–that you actually WANTED to work through the weekend. The challenge matched the reward. Now, your best ideas are fodder for a 24-hour Instagram story and by the time you get to reviewing the performance data, the algorithm has started favoring something else entirely.

You can’t trust all of these trend prediction lists. You can only trust what you discover while submitting to the grind. Take all that good work you’ve done studying audiences and fine tuning your strategies into account, then be brave enough to put something bold into the market knowing it might fail. That, blended with some ChatGPT-ing and some light Googling, is how this trend list was born.

Are you brave enough to get real with me in 2024? Let’s claw our way through another year in our increasingly-chaotic digitally-driven world with a healthy amount of self-awareness for a change. Remember: no one can predict the future, a fact made evident by the third and final point in this piece (yes, I’m shamelessly baiting you into reading all the way to the end), and if you can make this the year you finally accept that, you might just start loving marketing again. Let’s ride.

AI Will Reach Kardashian Levels of Influence and Impact

Can I name-drop the Kardashians without paying royalties? Could Kris’ third assistant look into this for me? These are the mysteries that keep me up at night.

While most of us can hope to achieve only 15 mere minutes of fame, AI is clearly campaigning to become a cultural juggernaut of our time. Sliced bread had a good run, but the new idiom will name AI as the best thing to happen in recent memory. Love it or hate it (and from what I can tell, there aren’t any other options in between) AI is here to stay. Why? Because humans are addicted to innovation, and AI is simply too helpful (read: cost-effective). The same simple automation that you enjoy in your tech stack today? Yeah, it walked so AI could run. We paved the way for this innovation by creating those tools, and now it’s here—it’s quite the “play stupid games, win stupid prizes”, self-fulfilling prophecy when you think about it. 

As it pertains to your actual job and not the collective social ennui, AI will likely become your best friend in 2024. Your clients will seek it out, and your teams will beg you to let them lean on the great efficiencies and capabilities that this machine-learning tech promises to offer. As it pertains to insights, AI will serve as a powerful ally in deciphering vast amounts of data, empowering marketers with the kind of deep insights into consumer behavior that you need to keep up with the ever-changing social outlook. By identifying patterns and trends, AI will enable marketers to make informed decisions, ensuring their strategies are not just creative but also data-driven.

We’ll see the most substantial impact in the space of consumer engagement, with brands leaning on AI to take the simple convention of chatbots to the next level. They’ll not only respond to customer queries but also anticipate needs, creating a seamless and efficient sales experience. Artificial Intelligence will take personalization to new heights by analyzing individual preferences, behaviors, and even past interactions, allowing marketers to deliver tailor-made content and offers, and create more meaningful connections with their audience.

That automation tech we mentioned earlier is getting an AI glow-up of its own. Mundane and repetitive tasks will be totally automated by AI, allowing marketers to focus on more strategic and creative aspects of their work (or take longer lunches). With everyone questioning just how far AI will go in changing the way we reach audiences, my take is that platforms like ChatGPT and MidJourney are the MySpace of AI. We’ll really see what AI is capable of when it reaches Meta status, or when it releases a shapewear line. Whatever comes first.

Flat Content In All Its Forms Will Meet Its Demise

Bring out your best all-black looks; we’re fast-approaching the funeral of flat, static content. Is anyone else experiencing mild deja-vu? Has this bullet point not wedged its way onto every trend list around the globe since the dawning of YouTube? We may never know the answer, because every credible marketer out there seems to believe 2024 is the year video nails the coffin of static content shut for good. And it very well may be; short attention spans are getting shorter (the collective human race should probably look into this) and brands are finding that video can help them check every box. It makes sense; why solicit written reviews when you could show customers a video of someone living their best life with your products? Our clients are requesting it more frequently, which makes sense given that our clients are humans trapped in social media’s death-grip like the rest of us.

Video content has a unique ability to captivate audiences. Marketers will find that video, whether generated in-house or via UGC (User Generated Content) not only captures attention but sustains it. In 2023, 96% of marketers favored video in their overall strategies. (So basically, like, ALL marketers?)  In 2024, marketers will increasingly harness the emotive power of video to tell compelling stories that resonate with their audience. From brand narratives to product journeys, video allows for a more immersive and emotionally resonant experience. A not-too-shabby 86% of brands today are making use of video, (a number that apparently has risen by 25% in the past 3 years.) These data points don’t account for the, you know, quality of the video content, but it’s safe to say that whatever you put out there, you should make sure it looks good.

This is both great and terrible news for your creative team, who at this point are trying to pull up on their drinking as opposed to doubling down. Video is harder and more time-consuming but it’s also a more fulfilling challenge. My advice: see how you can help them become the power players they’re capable of being by listening to their needs and trusting their expertise in the content creation space.

Pull The Ripcord: The ‘Never Normal’ Is Here To Stay

If you’re anything like me (the real me, not the client-facing me), you’re quietly hoping for, well… quiet. You’re hoping that the pre-pandemic calm with all its nuclear-family-fueled comfort will come back and marketing will make sense again. 

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but: nothing is ever going to make sense again. Bedlam is here to stay.

There’s a growing acceptance of a new idea called the ‘Never Normal’, a concept that suggests it’s time to embrace chaos, put a ring on it, and buy a cookie-cutter home with it. The digital realm is peaking faster than a high school quarterback, and until AI fabricates whatever alarming new experience is next, we have to accept that the societal norms and go-to notions that inspired some of the best campaigns of your career are, as of this moment, six feet under. You don’t know as much as you think you did because tomorrow holds no promises. You might think the same tactics that impressed your clients years ago will hold up today but they won’t. This particular “trend prediction” is one of metaphysical reckoning; to thrive in this “never normal” you might just have to accept that you “know nothing”.

If all of this information induces some dread, you’re not interpreting it the right way. This is the chance to evolve. Your brand (your personal one, included) needs to be designed for change—rapid change. Thriving in the ‘never normal’ age demands a pragmatic and positive approach from marketers. As the landscape constantly evolves, here’s a guide on how marketers can not only adapt but thrive in this perpetually changing environment.

5 “Never Normal” Steps To Hack Your Marketing Mindset

  • Embrace Technology Innovations:
    Stay on the cutting edge of technology. Embrace emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and (ugh) blockchain. Integrating these innovations into your marketing efforts will not only enhance efficiency but also keep you ahead of the curve in delivering unique and memorable experiences.

  • Human-Centric Approach:
    In the ‘never normal’ age, the human touch is more vital than ever. Understand your audience deeply, empathize with their needs, and tailor your marketing messages accordingly. Authentic connections will foster brand loyalty and trust in an ever-evolving landscape.

  • Adaptability and Resilience:
    Cultivate adaptability and resilience as core competencies. The ‘never normal’ age is characterized by unpredictability. Be prepared to pivot swiftly, learn from setbacks, and view challenges as opportunities for growth and innovation.

  • Continuous Learning Culture:
    Foster a culture of continuous improvement learning within your marketing team. Encourage skill development, staying informed about industry trends, and fostering a mindset that embraces change. A team that is constantly evolving is better equipped to navigate the challenges of the ‘never normal’ age.

  • Storytelling for Connection:
    In a world bombarded with information, stories create connections. Whether through video (primarily this), written content (rarely this), or interactive experiences, storytelling will be a powerful tool for marketers to engage and captivate their audience.

There’s an unmistakable “The Last of Us” vibe in the digital marketing space that shows no signs of going away, and you need to be prepared to Pedro Pascal your way through it. In other words, embrace it. It is perhaps the only way we marketers can navigate the uncertainties of this new era and turn them into opportunities for growth, success, and something vaguely reminiscent of the fun we used to have before words like ‘algorithm’ entered our industrial lexicon. It’s a landscape of perpetual change, but within that change lies the potential for unprecedented achievements, and just maybe, some wicked sense of joy.

If you haven’t noticed, everything we do here at Villain HQ is a bit tongue-in-cheek—surely you didn’t think our trend forecast would be any different. We don’t know what 2024 has in store for us—no one does. That’s the crazy-glorious part of working in our field; it will always be interesting, challenging, and confusing. It will always force us to adapt. It will press us to stop thinking of a globally impactful, multi-faceted campaign for social change and spend entire workdays thinking of what the next great TikTok dance challenge may be. It will always do this because, as marketers, our job is not to astound. Our job is to cater to the needs of the people, both the known and the unknown, the basic-bitch and the beatific.