Article

James Swift

12 February 2024

Contagious Radar Report: What’s Changed? 

How have industry attitudes shifted over the past 12 months? We scrutinise our Radar survey responses from 2023 and 2024 to find out.

We’ve just published our second annual Radar report, canvassing over 100 executive-level respondents from advertising and marketing about a range of issues to help you figure out where to focus your time and attention in the year ahead.

And now that the Radar report is in its sophomore year, we can compare the datasets from 2023 and 2024 to see how attitudes have shifted over the past 12 months — or, not, as the case may be.

What follows is not a statistically rigorous analysis. Neither the survey nor the pool of respondents were exactly the same across both years, so we’re not always comparing like with like. But it will suffice as a finger-in-the-wind evaluation of what’s changed.

MORE OPTIMISTIC

For a start, people are more optimistic about the state of advertising and marketing going into 2024 than they were going into 2023 — but you’d need an electron microscope to detect that change. 72.7% of Radar survey respondents said they were optimistic about the industry’s prospects in 2023, and 72.8% said so this time around. At that rate of increase, you can expect the whole industry to be singing from the same cheery hymn sheet somewhere around 2296.

LESS IMPACTFUL

Asked specifically about whether they were optimistic about the ability of advertising to make an impact on the world beyond selling stuff, the number of respondents who answered yes decreased over that same period — from 84% to 80.6%. Given what happened in the US with Bud Light and Target, and with all the push-back against companies' ESG and DEI efforts, perhaps that’s not surprising.

BUDGETS STILL TOUGH

The ad industry’s biggest challenges remained largely the same across both years. Respondents picked recession and budget cuts as their primary concern going into 2023, followed by retaining and recruiting talent. Going into 2024, people are again most worried about budget constraints and economic conditions, although ‘clients devaluing creativity’ took the runner-up spot this time.

AI ATTITUDES SHIFTING

Attitudes towards generative AI have become more favourable. Or rather, fewer respondents are willing to dismiss it as a flash in the pan. In 2023, 69.8% of respondents believed that generative AI would ‘radically disrupt’ advertising in the next five years, while 11.5% said it would never do so. Heading into 2024, 70.9% of respondents now think the five-year window sounds plausible, while only 5.8% clung to the belief that it’s a damp squib.

MORE AVERAGE, LESS CRAP

Finally, 85.4% of respondents this year feel that the output of the ad industry is ‘totally average’, compared with 80.8% in 2023. That’s not quite the damning indictment that it appears to be, given the number of respondents who believed that the industry’s work was crap has decreased, from 11.1% to 4.9%.

This is just a snapshot of industry attitudes, which does not lend itself to an easy conclusion. But if we had to boil our findings to one neat take-out, we’d say this: strive for greatness but take your victories where you can find them.

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