Top 7 Digital Trends For 2016

We take a look at what will have the biggest impacts in the next 12 months


There has been major upheaval for digital marketers in 2015.

Thanks to Apple, ad blocking has become a clear and present danger for many digital publishers, and companies are going to have to adjust their strategies over the next year to deal with the shift. There were also a variety of new social platforms and technologies for marketers to get to grips with, with Periscope’s live streaming technology among the most prominent of those released. Underpinning all this has been, yet again, a steady evolution in the way that we consume digital media, as new trends in what kind of content we look for took hold.

We’ve taken a look at some of the things that will be most important for digital marketers to get to grips with during 2016.

1 Hyper targeted ads

The use of ad blocking software increased by 48% in 2015, and now accounts for an estimated $21.8bn in lost revenue from unseen ads globally. One way that companies are already hoping to stem the tide of ad blocker adoption is by offering ’hyper-targeted ads’. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 90% of consumers find custom content useful, while 78% believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships with them.

Tools like big data can enable far greater customer personalization, allowing people to get things that they actually want. This helps establish a more reciprocal relationship between consumer and advertiser that they are less likely to try and exit.

2 Content Is Still King

The ‘content is king’ mantra was true when the internet first took off, and it’s still true today. Ad blocking means that people will have to look for new ways to promote their products, and must offer content that people will want to seek out and read over the next year, rather than trying to force pop-ups upon them.

However, a Smart Insights survey found that over 68% still rate their content marketing as basic or inconsistent, and this will have to improve in 2016.

Long form content, in particular, is back in trend and companies must look to push more out in 2016. People want narratives that can draw them in, tell a story and make them feel connected to the project. It will also be important to ensure that the content is of the highest quality, rather than some of the keyword stuffed articles that some marketers have been pumping out. Google continues to tweak its algorithm to combat ’black-hat’ SEO tricks, and usefulness and quality of the writing will generally take precedent over cheap tricks.

3 Video Content Will Reign Supreme

More than half of marketers who responded to a survey by Invodo claimed that video content offers the best ROI, and by the end of next year nearly three-quarters of all internet traffic will be video. Video content is going to be especially important because of the explosion of social video. Last year, Facebook more than doubled its daily video views to 8 billion - reportedly overtaking YouTube. Meanwhile, Twitter launched native video of its own in 2015, and Snapchat also continues to grow, with 6 billion daily video views. In total, adult users now consume a total of 66 minutes of online video each and every day. This will only grow. Next year, Facebook is set to roll out features like Suggested Videos and perhaps even a dedicated video feed, which should see it increase even faster.

4 Mobile Will Be More Important Than Desktop/Laptop

Mobile now accounts for 51% of the total time adults interact with digital media in the US, at 2.8 hours per day. According to Forrester Research, mobile is also predicted to be the fastest growing channel among all digital channels at 38% CAGR, so companies need to ensure that their website is optimized for mobile. They must also pay attention to their apps. In 2016, more marketers will attempt to integrate greater utility and value in their mobile apps, enabling them to actively and aggressively promote the benefits of their products across all channels.

5 Marketing Automation

Dun & Bradstreet’s 2015 State of Marketing Data report found that ‘two-thirds of companies that use marketing automation believe it’s critically important to their business, and yet almost 75% think they still haven’t maximized its benefits.’ Marketing automation is not just important, it is necessary. Things like sending mass e-mails cannot be done without marketing automation software, and sometimes it is simply the case that automated programs can do things better than you can. Either way, by outsourcing menial tasks that can be done by machines, there is more time to focus on creativity, driving strategies and innovating in ways that can add value.

6 Virtual Reality

Occulus Rift is released in early 2016, and with it comes the dawn of - almost affordable - virtual reality. A number of other products are also set to be released over the course of the year, and it heralds the biggest shift in visual cinematic experiences since the rise of 3D. VR offers a truly immersive video experience, replicating a real environment to make you feel as if you’re actually there, which is clearly an excellent way to make consumers engage with the narrative that marketers are trying to promote. Companies in 2016 must look to exploit such technologies as soon as possible in their campaigns.

There may, however, be issues with the take up of virtual reality, and many have just dismissed it as a fad. One thing holding it back could be its prohibitive pricing, with the Occulus Rift believed to be set to cost more than $350 on release.

7 The rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist

A study by Gartner has predicted that the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) will spend more on IT than the Chief Information Officer CIO by 2017. Meanwhile, a Marketing Weekly study, ‘The New Marketer – How Data and Technology are Driving the Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist’, revealed that 34% of marketing professionals spend half their time working with technology, and 38% said their role will depend more on it in the next five years. Control of marketing technology is moving from IT and Sales across to Marketing, and we will increasingly see the role of the CMO give way to that of the Chief Marketing Technologist (CMT). 


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