Well, 2023 was a wild one. We had Barbie vs Oppenheimer, The Eras Tour driving the economy, and an AI boom - to mention a few. And with another year behind us, it’s time to look forward to the next. So we asked the Tradable Bits team what the 2024 Fan-Based Marketing landscape will look like, for better or worse!
First, let's recap 2023:
Here’s a quick breakdown of our predictions from last year:
- The ‘cheeky’ brand personality loses its charm, and traditional marketing makes a comeback. 🤔
- This one is tough. On one hand, you have the surreal world of TikTok marketing and many brazen bus stop billboards, but on the other hand, there's a downshift of brands going for "audacious" in their marketing. Humor is hard. One thing is clear for 2024, even if "cheeky" isn't the way brands lean, there's pressure for relatability. That will mean catering messages to specific channels and audiences.
- Web3/Blockchain tech will continue to bubble underneath the surface but won’t make waves like 2022. ✅
- The hype has worn off around blockchain technology. Andrew Pilcher, our Music and Entertainment Strategy Lead believes it was a little too early for this type of tech to enter the scene. So, don’t be surprised if it makes a comeback, but maybe not this year.
- The use of AI to supplement/automate marketing practices becomes more feasible. ✅
- You don’t need us to tell you how this panned out. 2024 will be all about finding sustainable ways for AI use in everyday workflows.
- Experience-based festivals will continue to eat up live event market share as fans spend their money to see more niche artists.
- Fans' appetite for live, in-person events is back - and so is the competition for people in seats. Promoters had to find unique ways to connect with their audiences in 2023, and we'll see even more experimentation around the format in 2024. More on that later.
- Artists will continue to develop their own income streams and begin the migration to owning their first-party fan data. ✅
- Have you had “the talk” about data? More and more we are seeing artists reclaim their fan bases through the use of first-party data strategies. Look for this to continue to grow in 2024.
- Continued exposure and demand for women’s sports & emerging sports. ✅
- Women’s and emerging sports continue to see rising demands as fans' appetites can’t seem to be quenched. Another trend that we think is only getting started.
- Leagues and teams continue to try and expand outside of their region, looking to grow international audience engagement: ✅
- This one’s a pretty safe bet as we see leagues like the NFL continuing to expand and find success in European and even Latin American markets. Even the Australian Football League is getting boots on the ground in North America.
Now, the 2024 Fan-Based Marketing Landscape:
With that, let’s get into the New Year. We touched on a few topics above that will continue to develop in 2024. This year we’ve compiled our team's responses into 6 main pillars that we think you should be aware of.
In no particular order:
- The Importance of Authentic Fan Engagement
- Adjusting to Changes in Viewership Habits
- Data Strategies And The Role of Direct-to-Fan Experiences
- The Rise of Women’s Sports And Fringe/Upstart Leagues
- Shifts in The Ads Landscape
- Festivals Continuing to Experiment
1. The Importance of Authentic Fan Engagement
Fans, more so than ever, are aware that they're being sold to, which means you have to know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em.
In the last 2 years, you've probably heard the phrase, "operate like a media company." Quick transactional pieces with your fans might be a tactic, but your long-term goal should be higher lifetime value per fan and brand longevity. Meaning, that engagement for engagement's sake is okay. In 2024 we'll see more brands enriching their relationship with fans through unique digital and physical experiences - whether that's through loyalty programs, gamification, or experimentation with new marketing initiatives.
With this prediction also comes a couple of caveats from the TBits team:
- It's becoming increasingly important to pair your organic content strategy with your paid ads. If you're viewing both as two different and unrelated teams, you're missing a massive opportunity. (Matt Corney - Digital Ads)
- Be wary of tying in corporate sponsorship just for the sake of it. Both sponsors and fans expect more from brands - find opportunities for tie-ins that are more than a logo slap. (Tiernan Docherty - CSM Sports).
2. Adjusting to Changes in Viewership Habits
RIP to Regional Sports Networks (RSNs). When it comes to sports viewership from home, we're in a transition period. Unbundled streaming services continue to rise, leaving consumers with a wealth of options and little direction. You can anticipate more and more large partnerships to form in this space (MLS & Apple, Amazon, etc) as streaming continues to dominate the viewership space.
Why is this important? As we shift from RSNs to streaming channels, to larger streaming bundles, the importance of fan data can’t be understated. Knowing and owning your audience can be the difference in riding the wave of change we’re currently seeing. Being able to engage with fans directly can make all the difference.
3. Data Strategies And The Role of Direct-to-Fan Experiences
Our next pillar: direct-to-fan experiences and the importance of first-party data strategies. This theme has been trending upwards for the last few years and 2024 is the year of refinement. Look out for teams finding more ways to engage with fans directly, whether that's through more engaging experiences in their app, or at gameday itself.
In 2024 we predict the use of more immersive event-day experiences that capture data on-site, and the use of tools like QR in broadcast to engage fans at home. We expect to see more folks in the live event industry prioritize understanding how folks behave on-site while growing their understanding of "passive" audiences that participate from home.
Whether or not you invest in a CDP, the deterioration of data available to use on third-party apps will continue. Data ownership has been a growing topic of interest since iOS 14, but look for it to take center stage in 2024.
4. The Rise of Women’s Sports And Fringe/Upstart Leagues
Making its way back onto our list is the continued rise of Women’s Sports and Emerging/Upstart leagues. 2023 saw a lot of progress - the Nebraska Women’s volleyball team smashed an attendance record by hosting a match against Omaha at Memorial Stadium, drawing over 92,000 attendees - and it seems the dust has settled post-pandemic. This shows that fans are hungrier than ever for sports and entertainment outside of traditional leagues. Look for 2024 to be another record-setting year, with more dollars going after women's leagues and fringe sports.
5. Shifts in The Ads Landscape
There’s a lot to look out for in the ads landscape this year. The main theme? Attribution. With evolving changes in data privacy, tracking your fans' actions is trickier than ever - especially if you're only relying on pixel-based attribution. 2024 will see more folks looking for tools to track offline conversions, and strategies to more holistically measure attribution. Having a plan and tools in place to measure offline conversions will make a sizable difference in your visibility of how your ads are actually performing.
As of today, we've already seen a shift in tracked conversions through the Tradable Bits' Ad Platform - with around 60% of tracked conversions being offline.
Other notable mentions in the ads world to look out for this year:
- Channel Diversification: Look for brands to be more active on platforms outside of Meta and X.
- The Beast of TikTok: TikTok continues to expand its capabilities, so look for more and more brands to expand their reach using it.
6. Festivals Continuing to Experiment
More competition means more experimentation. Festivals and events know that to stand out in 2024 they need to shake things up. There was a post-pandemic period where selling out felt inevitable no matter the event. As the dust settles and we move back into more normal levels of competition, fans are increasingly hard to capture - which means that if you're not a marquee event like Coachella - unique, niche experiences might be the way to go. That, and making it easier for fans to participate in your event. With rising ticket prices, more competition for eyeballs, and the same amount of hours in the day, fans are more selective of the events they choose to be a part of.
Look for this to manifest in various ways. Some trends we’re already seeing:
- New festival formats: one-day dream lineups, established festivals breaking their fest into various weekends throughout the year (potentially in different cities).
- Never seen before, maybe never seen again supergroups.
- Extended residencies outside typical markets (ie. Vegas) with fans traveling to the artists.
Put a bow on it, that's a wrap!
Well, that’s our crystal ball for things to come in the new year. We can’t wait to see what 2024 has in store.
So here’s to another year of innovation and fan engagement!
Have any bold predictions of your own? Give us a shout on our socials (@tradablebits) - we love to chat about anything fan-marketing.