Zeno Thinks: What to look for in ‘24
It’s 2024! Various predictions through the years would have seen us in flying cars and living on the moon by now, but instead we’ve got patchy Wi-Fi and a growing market for vinyl records. Old predictions show that while what we think may happen might not come to pass, it’s a lot of fun to speculate.
Join the Zeno group chat to see what our specialists think the year ahead has in store for us when it comes to digital, social and technology.
- Rob Stone, Head of Z3
- David Lucas, Head of Technology
- Megan McCullough, Senior Influencer Executive
- Raph Turner, Director, Digital
- Sean McAuley, Associate Director, Technology
- Michael Sheen, Creative Director
Rob: Welcome back everyone! It’s that time of year when everyone looks ahead and tries to predict what we can expect to see in the next 12 months in digital and technology. With the continued development of AI, increasing challenges around digital security and misinformation, more personal and lots of emerging technology it should be an interesting year! What big developments are you keeping an eye on as we go in to 2024?
Raph: I wonder if there will be a Metaverse renaissance this year. Obviously the metaverse was completely eclipsed last year by AI, but Apple is releasing their Vision Pro headset sometime this year and this could be a game changer. We know that each time that Apple released a new device it changed the tech industry, so that's one of the big thing I'm keeping my eyes peeled for!
Rob: That’s an interesting one.
David: I think there could be something in this. There's been a lot of talk about iterative updates to hardware leading to longer upgrade cycles. New device categories could be the key to getting people excited about the metaverse again - if vendors can demonstrate their potential in the right way.
Rob: The metaverse as a buzzword has been killed, but there’s still a lot of demand for virtual experiences and gaming has only been growing over the last year. Not sure if you saw the Paris NYE coverage, but it was quite depressing to see so many people filming it on their phones. A good reminder of how much of our lives are lived online now, even if we are physically present somewhere.
Sean: The metaverse feels like it has followed the classic tech hype cycle, where the hype will have died by the time the masses are actually experiencing it regularly. So the uses are there, even though the media interest has dropped. Think Internet of Things, blockchain and the like where we’ve seen it before, the hype is huge but the delivery is often quiet.
Rob: AI is surely going to be a big one for most this year?
David: People are still excited about AI, but a lot are struggling to find the killer application. This is the year that we need to stop talking about its potential and start showing real use cases that can easily apply to our work and personal lives. The volume of conversation has been overwhelming and we're at (or maybe past!) the point of fatigue for many people now - for AI platforms to get buy-in at scale, they need to show their benefits and how to integrate quickly.
Rob: I think we’ll start to see more specialised platforms, which should help with adoption.
Raph: I think AI is going to play a growing role in the social media industry and particularly on LinkedIn, who are diving headfirst into generative AI. They've already rolled out many new features last year like generative AI profile summaries or prompts for feed posts. Come 2024, I'm looking forward to seeing how they're going to harness it for more personalised recommendations, aligning with our networks, experiences, and how we interact on the platform. It's like having a smart assistant that knows the professional you, which could be a massive boost for networking and career growth. Definitely something to watch.
Sean: Generative-AI is probably the only 'hype technology' in recent years that feels like it won't follow the typical cycle, but it needs use cases. Part of the issue is that people are using AI without actually realising it, but also many ‘experts’ are choosing to focus solely on its lofty future before we're fully realising the more simple, even mundane uses.
Michael: Generative AI will still get all the noise - when you can 'make' a 'movie' from a bunch of prompts, it's pretty close to magic - but the real action will be the less wow but more useful stuff. I don't, personally, think the world needs more content - there's already too much to read, watch and do. Machine learning to help summarise and interpret that content will be a real game-changer. Plus regulation.
Rob: What about sustainability in tech? It feels like many of the larger players as well as many of the smaller and newer ones are making more serious commitments now?
Sean: 2024 will be more of an accountable and responsible year than previous ones. We’ll see several more AI Safety Summits and associated initiatives, same for censorship, but we're also seeing changes with regards to hardware and sustainability. The Austrian government has just announced €200 for its citizens to use when repairing and not replacing its tech, and the UK is also striving to make it easier to dispose of old phones and laptops etc more responsibly. The circular economy we keep hearing about now seems a bit more tangible.
Michael: I'd like to believe that we'll get serious about tech and sustainability. The gulf between Apple's Mother Nature video and the upgrade culture they're still part of is vast.
Despite the Mother Nature video it's impossible to connect Apple Stores to renewable energy sources - all you can do is calculate how much energy your stores use and generate the equivalent amount from renewable sources and pump that into the grid. But unless less non-renewables are used it makes no difference. It's like being a philanderer and a murderer and going to confession and deciding that's alright then.
Rob: I always find the uproar about tech energy consumption interesting. Like pointing out that AI is using a lot of electricity (which is fine if it’s doing things more efficiently) or various blockchain tech using large amounts of computing power, despite transactions using less power than a PayPal or Visa payment.
David: The discussion is also a lot more nuanced than just the energy being consumed. As the tech gets better, energy consumption will reduce - so the emissions now won't necessarily be the same in the future. And the sustainability benefits that some of the AI platforms could bring will surely outweigh the emissions generated.
Rob: What can we expect from influencer and creator marketing this year?
Megan: The influencer landscape is poised for more evolution. With many brands being expected to establish long-term partnerships with influencers, focusing on authentic and relatable content which will enhance their brand rather than short, campaign-based partnerships.
Raph: Definitely, I also think there will be a platform evolution. With the gradual decline of platforms like Twitter/x.com, some influencers are turning to LinkedIn, where credibility is key. That's why for example LinkedIn introduced a Brand Partnership labelling tool in September 2023 for use on paid posts.
Michael: Twitter/x.com’s death is exaggerated - there was a thought-provoking post by Carole Cadwalladr last night. She's had a long, drawn-out court case around whether the Brexit Party was funded by Russia, basically. It's been ignored by most media outlets, but on Twitter it is discussed and dissected. This year is mad with elections all around the world. So there'll be masses of discussion around tech and democracy. Independent fact-checkers will explode.
Rob: Yeah, Twitter/x.com appears to be doing well on overall traffic, volume and general engagement, especially from organic sources when compared to other social platforms, which is different from what you might think given all the noise around the platform. Ad revenue is down of course, but with no real competition, despite Threads making a play for that audience, 2024 could be a huge year for them with the election cycles.
Rob: Do you think we will see different incentives for creators this year? Some of the platforms are building up the revenue share idea but that obviously requires more advertising. Will influencers continue to monetise with brands and partnerships, or will we see more product development?
Raph: I think e-commerce integration is one to look for. More and more brands are sharing revenue with influencers that promote their products. TikTok, especially, has been introducing features like live shopping, which could mean influencers might engage more directly with e-commerce, possibly reducing reliance on traditional brand partnerships.
Rob: It will be interesting to see what happens with x.com and the revenue model there. I saw Elon responded to a Mr Beast post promoting his latest YouTube video, asking him to post it on x.com. Mr Beast replied that his videos cost millions to make, so the revenue on the platform wouldn’t even come close to the cost, but also indicated that he’d be happy to reassess once “monetization is really cranking”.
Megan: TikTok monetisation is starting to get people’s attention, especially for those with bigger accounts. It’s still quite far off the kind of revenue these accounts can generate from brand deals though, so I don’t think we’ll see any kind of significant shift in the way influencers and creators operate in the short term.
Rob: We should hold ourselves accountable here and revisit this chat log this time next year to see how we did...
Do you agree with the team? Have another prediction you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments on our LinkedIn post.