How technology will shape social connections in 2024 

Jake Thomas, Head of UAE at Snap, highlights five areas where technology, media, and creativity are likely to collide this year

AI will supercharge AR experiences

The Middle East and Africa is expected to see the world’s fastest AI spending growth through 2026, according to forecasts from the International Data Corporation.

AI has long powered social media and communication platforms by helping to deliver a more personalised experience.

For instance, we used AI to create an incredibly realistic Barbie Try-On lens to coincide with the blockbuster film release. It went on to be the best performing lens ever on Snapchat. Now, AI is helping to create even more sophisticated and advanced augmented reality (AR) experiences.

We can also expect more AR experiences as generative AI makes it easier for people to create them without the need for complex coding and programming.

Friendship ‘recession’ will fuel closer connections

Various academics and NGOs have noted how we’re entering into a ‘friendship recession’. People have never been more connected, and yet loneliness is on the rise, with many admitting that they have fewer close friendships in comparison to the past.

With social media having become saturated with people sharing carefully curated, polished versions of themselves, we predict a growing desire for authenticity and genuine connections.

Creator economy will evolve, again

Over 200 million people now consider themselves creators. In 2024, marketers are expected to spend more than $32 billion on influencer marketing. Moreover, the creator economy is predicted to approach half a trillion dollars by 2027, according to Goldman Sachs Research.

We expect to see more creators in the Middle East start to experiment with AI tools to help get creative, produce content, and crunch data.

Transforming the experience of fandoms

You don’t have to be in the stadium or even watching the game live to be a sports fan anymore. Sports fans say that a huge part of their experience is via their phone, following live event commentary online or celebrating with others all over the world.

Image Credit: Snap

Incredibly high mobile penetration in the region–coupled with more ambitious sporting events in everything from golf to football and boxing–is setting the stage for mega moments next year.

With both the Olympics and the Euros on the agenda for 2024, we expect to see sports marketeers take fan engagement in the Middle East to the next level, as clubs and brands fully embrace more immersive technologies like AR and digital fashion to bring fans into the action.

Measuring effectiveness

The economic climate will keep up the pressure on businesses to demonstrate ROI in their digital marketing efforts in 2024. The good news is that the advent of new measurement solutions means brands have even more visibility when it comes to engagement around their e-commerce campaigns, especially when done over social media.

We expect a shift towards multi-touch attribution solutions that track and determine the value of different customer touchpoints.

The continued acceleration of privacy platform changes in the Middle East will also see businesses further reduce their reliance on user level data, shifting towards other measurement tactics like marketing mix modelling.

By Jake Thomas, Head of UAE at Snap