On our weekly newsletter, called ami:INFORMED, we provide a marketing update by sharing a curated list of industry stories that are worth your attention. We cover marketing research, case studies, business innovation and sector related news that affect our clients.

In this round up, we have selected 4 stories that got us debating the state of marketing in February.

💡Trends are struck in a cycle. Is culture stagnating?

A lot was written last year about how we have misunderstood and mismeasured trends, leading into skewed expectations about what trends are good for and how long they last. To top that off, one of the biggest social media trends of 2023 was the meaninglessness of trends. While these types of articles often sound like marketing overreactions, Matt Klein takes a more informed view.

Every year Klein creates a trend report to rule them all: he reads and categorises 70+ trend reports in one distilled piece. It is always a fascinating read, probably the best report on human state of mind you can find, and this year Klein spotted something unusual. Comparing his notes between 2018 and now, he noticed that they are almost identical. Is the issue here our understanding of trends or is culture stagnating? You can read his thoughts here and we strongly recommend looking at the trends too – they are the most interesting part.

✨ Being interesting is an essential part of prospecting

Contagious had a couple opinion pieces last month on where data-led marketing falls short when it comes to attracting new audiences and how interest-based targeting is also not a good indicator of future interest. They are both rallying cries for better creative effort in marketing, but also interesting reads in their own right. This is our favourite quote:

“Put simply, in an interest-based world, we have to become interesting again.” 

🕵️‍♀️ If AI summarises search results, what’s the point in making a website?

“If a web browser sucked out all information from web pages without users needing to actually visit them, why would anyone bother making websites in the first place?” This is the question currently reverberating in the SEO space.

Last year, search engines were either throwing a lot of resources into building LLM tools or partnering with companies like OpenAI which would be able to do that for them, this way signalling to all of us that Search x AI integration is an industry-wide, fundamental change. Some, like Arc Search, took a user-centric approach; they have recently released a feature where AI summarises all search results and if a user clicks through to the website, the browser automatically blocks ads. Currently, 32% of their users opt for AI summarised search but the company is aiming to make it the mainstream way of searching. Bing, meanwhile, is taking a completely different approach that considers advertisers in the process; in Bing Copilot (interactive search), ways of interacting can become data to fuel search ads.

Neither of these options seem to be favourable towards web creators who will be losing traffic and ad revenue. And the industry is unable to provide a clear vision of how our web search and content navigation will change long term, but everyone agrees that it will.

💡For small brands, appearing in media unexpectedly could fuel growth

Bountiful Cow did a study using IPA Databank to prove its “Relative advantage” framework, which approaches planning strategy with the ambition to be distinct from category norms. The framework suggests that conventional planning for growth is made to work for big corporations and not smaller brands with restrictive budgets. Instead, smaller brands should look for ways to stand out from the crowd, and that can be done on a media planning level. It is an interesting read, and we found the 7 principles especially helpful to think about.

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We hope these stories helped to inspire you. Let us know if you have a particular interest in a topic that we have not covered, and we will make sure to include it in the next update on marketing.

If you have a project or campaign you'd like to discuss with us we'd love to hear from you.